ISSUE 19 • JUNE 2011

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Separation Leave Payments

Effective July 1, 2011, the University will change its process for recovering and charging separation leave for benefits eligible classified staff, professional staff, and librarians. The term “separation leave” refers to payments made to employees for accumulated annual leave at the time of separation and accumulated sick leave at time of retirement or death (valued at 25% of current hourly rate).

What's different?

Beginning July 1, 2011, lump sum separation leave payments will be charged to a central University budget instead of to individual department budgets. This new process is funded by a modest increase to the fringe benefit load rate that is charged against classified and professional staff and librarian salaries, just like other components of the University’s fringe benefit rate are now.

What does this mean for departments?

Departments should complete the Employee Separation Payment Authorization (ESPA) form for payment of annual and sick leave as follows:

  • If the effective date of the separation is prior to July 1, 2011, the charge will be assessed to the individual budget(s) as is presently done.
  • If the effective date of the separation is on or after July 1, 2011, the charge will be assessed to the new separation leave budget for payment of sick and annual leave only (Payment Types 1, 2 and 5 on the ESPA form). We will provide you with the new budget number after July 1, 2011.

As usual, submit completed ESPA forms to the Payroll Office, which will review requests and process them accordingly.

What else does a timekeeper need to know?

  • This new process only applies to annual and sick leave payments. It does not apply to sick and annual leave used in the normal course of employment and the Annual Attendance Incentive Program.
  • Compensatory Time and Pay in Lieu of Notice for Layoff (Payment Types 3 and 4 on the ESPA form) are not charged to the new central budget. Departments will continue to enter their own budget number(s) for these payment types.
  • Information about the ESPA form and the reserve budget number, once announced, will be listed on the OWLS User Guide ESPA information page.

This new process will eliminate large, unanticipated separation leave payouts, which are especially challenging when assessed to budgets with fixed periods, and to sponsored project budgets.

As the new process becomes more familiar, the OWLS Team will work to reprogram the ESPA form to automatically fill in the new reserve budget number for separation leave payments.

Update Your OWLS Records

At the end of each fiscal biennium, the University is required to report the value of accumulated annual and sick leave to the state Office of Financial Management. The University's Financial Accounting Office has asked that departments using OWLS update all OWLS records through the end of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011.

Please ensure that all records are up-to-date no later than July 15, 2011.

Review Twice, Audit Once

A successful review starts with a well-informed auditor. Auditors should first become acquainted with the guidelines found in the OWLS User Guide. This critical resource includes information an auditor needs to know and things to look for when conducting a leave record audit.

As we approach the end of the fiscal biennium, we encourage departments to audit OWLS records to confirm that leave use and time worked are accurately reflected. Pay close attention to the following most commonly missed items in an OWLS audit:

Annual Leave (A) – Was the 240 leave maximum for classified staff followed? Was annual leave in excess of 240 hours on the employee’s anniversary date deducted? Was annual leave used when a comp time balance was available?
Bereavement Leave (B) – Were more than three days used for a single death of a family member?
Compensatory time (CA, CAS) – Was comp time for classified staff used or deducted by June 30?
Discretionary leave (D) – Was discretionary leave for professional staff used or deducted by December 31?
FMLA (F) – If FMLA use immediately preceded a holiday, were the holiday(s) also designated as FMLA covered? The holiday(s) should be designated “HA” and “HUF”.
Holiday credit (HA) – Is the employee eligible for holiday credit? Was it used or paid by the deadline?
Leave without pay (L) – If leave without pay preceded a holiday, were the holiday(s) also charged to LWOP in OWLS and OPUS?
Overtime paid or accrued as comp time (CA, CAS, OP, SP) – Is the employee eligible for overtime, and if so, was it calculated correctly based on the employment type?
Probationary or trial service periods – If the employee used paid and/or unpaid leave during either of these periods, was the period end date extended correctly?
Shared Leave (SH) – Recipients: Is there an unused balance remaining in the recipient’s record? If so, should the leave be returned to the donor(s)? Donors: Were the donated hours deducted from the donor’s leave balance(s) after receiving notice from HR?
Sick leave (S) – Did the employee participate in the Annual Attendance Incentive Program? If so, were sick leave hours deducted correctly?

Compensatory Time & Holiday Credit Deadline

June 30 will soon arrive and all compensatory time (and holiday credit for employees outside of the medical centers) will need to be used or paid by that date, unless a request for an extension was made to HR. To request an extension, supervisors must contact Human Resources Operations for authorization.

Payment of comp time and holiday credit should be entered in Electronic Time Reporting (ETR) and, correspondingly, deducted from the employee's OWLS record through the "Time Reduced to Payment" option.

Leave Record Maintenance

Are you struggling with overtime rules, holiday credit eligibility, work schedule designations, or any other leave policy or record keeping procedure? Are you unsure of how to make certain entries in OWLS, like FMLA on a holiday? If so, you’re just one class away from leaving your struggles behind.

This class will take the mystery out of overtime rules and how they’re different for contract-classified, classified non-union, and professional staff employees. You’ll learn everything a timekeeper and OWLS record auditor needs to know. Sign up for a class (Q0160) wiith Professional & Organizational Development (POD) and struggle no more.

More Mythbusters

The Myth: The OWLS record begin date can be changed by the timekeeper.

BUSTED! The Record Begin Date is the only entry, once saved, that cannot be changed. Contact AskOWLS to delete the record so you can start over.

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