New proposal would cap time off for state workers

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – It's an expensive problem that Virginia is trying to solve. As a result, state employees who save big chunks of their time-off might want to make different plans. A new proposal encourages workers to take the days they've earned, or risk losing them.

It sounds so hard to believe; that people don't actually use all their vacation and sick time. But sometimes, state workers find it difficult.

"When you request it, you can't get it granted," said Ron Jordan of the Virginia Governmental Employees Association.

As executive director, Jordan represents 20,000 state employees, a fraction of the larger workforce that, intentionally or not, has banked millions of dollars worth of unused vacation and sick time. Time that is costly, especially when longtime state workers take their days all at once or cash them in.

But now, there's a proposed cap on the time that can be rolled over from year to year: 120 hours, the equivalent of 15 days.

The change, first reported by Virginia Statehouse News, is significant because, currently, state workers can roll over more than 400 hours of vacation and sick time.

Monday, the state's director of human resource management, Sara R. Wilson, explained it this way to the House Appropriations Committee: "Use it or lose it. That is a significant change."

Jordan sees it another way.

"That's a cut in benefits," he said.

State H.R. calls it part of a simpler, and more efficient time-off policy that would save money in the long run. Employees tell their association they need to know more.

"Their attitude was, 'Let's simplify it, but let's not do any harm to employees in the process,'" Jordan said.

The cap is not official, yet, but it represents another potential cost saving measure in a down economy. Wilson told the committee Monday that any new policy would not take effect for at least a year.

Additionally, under the proposal, any time exceeding the cap that workers have earned so far, would be frozen and paid out when they retire, or leave for another job.

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