Why is this Voluntary Separation Program (VSP) being offered?
The VSP is being offered to free resources for reallocation in support of the university’s strategic goals. The VSP will offer eligible faculty members a lump sum payment equal to one (1) year’s annual base pay as stated in the UNT faculty salary notice for fiscal year 2020 in exchange for voluntarily separating from the university.
Who is eligible to request participation in the program?
The VSP is available only to those individuals who have completed at least fifteen (15) years of continuous service at UNT in a budgeted position by the separation date, which must occur on or before August 31, 2020; and who have one of the following types of appointment during the period the program is open:
- Tenured faculty; or
- Administrator with tenured faculty appointment
Why is 15 years of service to UNT required?
UNT wants to recognize tenured faculty, who joined the university in or before 2005, for their extensive service.
Who is not eligible to request participation in the program?
Even if a faculty member meets the eligibility requirements, they are disqualified from participation in the VSP if the faculty member:
- is on faculty development leave between September 1, 2019, and May 31, 2020;
- is a principal investigator on an external grant or contract that extends beyond September 1, 2020, and is unwilling to transfer the grant to another qualified individual within UNT or execute the sponsored project as a retired PI (if retirement is applicable) with carrying approval from the department chair and dean to allow continuation of the project;
- is currently on an approved modified service agreement; or
- has submitted a notice of resignation or retirement before the first date of the VSP application period
If I am currently on modified service, may I participate in the VSP?
If I applied for modified service, may I participate in the VSP?
No. If you have applied for modified service and received approval of your request, you are not eligible for this program.
When may I submit my request to participate in the VSP?
The application period for the VSP begins on Friday, May 8, at 8:00 a.m. and ends June 30, 2020. Requests received in the Provost’s Office after 5:00 p.m. on June 30, 2020 will not be considered. Requests will only be considered if they are completed in their entirety and signed and dated by the submitting faculty member.
How do I request to participate in the program?
Faculty members who wish to participate in the VSP must complete two documents, a completed UNT Request to Participate in the Voluntary Separation Program form and a Voluntary Separation Program Agreement and Release of Claims to the UNT Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs (Provost’s Office) during the application period. These documents have been included in the announcement packet and are also available on the Provost Office website.
Do I have to be eligible to retire in order to participate?
No. All faculty members who qualify to participate in the VSP may apply regardless of whether they are eligible to retire. Faculty members who request to participate in the program are approved may choose to resign or retire, if eligible, at their sole discretion.
Will participation in the VSP help me retire early?
No. This program does not change retirement eligibility criteria, nor does the separation payment made through this program count as earnings for retirement purposes.
When will I be notified if I am accepted in the program?
Receipt of requests submitted during the application period will be acknowledged electronically by the Provost’s Office using the preferred email address listed on the request form. Faculty members whose requests are approved will be notified no later than July 15, 2020, using the preferred email address listed on the request form.
How much of the incentive payment will I receive under the program?
Each eligible faculty member whose request is approved and is not withdrawn within the prescribed revocation period will receive a payment equal to one (1) year’s annual base pay as stated in the UNT faculty salary notice for fiscal year 2020. All federal and state taxes will be withheld as required by law. The VSP payment does not qualify as “earnings” for retirement purposes. Therefore, no employee retirement or insurance deductions will be withheld and UNT will not make retirement or insurance contributions. The payment will be made no later than October 15, 2020, in the same manner as the last regular paycheck received by the faculty member, e.g. via electronic funds transfer/direct deposit.
How will faculty members be selected once the requests are submitted?
Approval of a request to participate in the VSP must be consistent with the needs of UNT, must result in a net benefit to the university as determined by the institution, and funds must be available. Therefore, not every eligible faculty member’s request to participate in the VSP may be approved. Applications will be considered in the order received.
When will I receive the payment if my request is approved?
Payment will be made no later than October 15, 2020.
What should I do if I decide I no longer want to participate in the VSP after submitting an application?
Requests to participate in the VSP may be withdrawn by the submitting faculty member. A faculty member who wishes to withdraw the request to participate in the VSP must deliver a written statement of revocation to the Office of the Provost via e-mail to Bertina.Combes@unt.edu no later than seven (7) calendar days after submitting the signed Voluntary Separation Program Agreement and Release of Claims form. The statement must express the faculty member’s desire to revoke the separation agreement, and must be signed and dated by the faculty member.
Delivery of a statement of revocation to the Provost’s Office constitutes a withdrawal of the faculty member’s request to participate in the VSP. Notification of receipt of withdrawal will be made to the preferred email address noted on the request form. Requests not withdrawn will become effective the next calendar day following the expiration of the seven-day revocation period.
When may I end my employment?
Faculty members whose requests are approved must separate employment with UNT no later than August 31, 2020. A request to separate after August 31, 2020, will not be considered under any circumstances.
If I have opted to spread my nine-month salary over 12 months, what will my effective separation date be?
Your separation date will be August 31, 2020. Benefits coverage will remain in effect through August 31, 2020. Amounts reserved for summer payments will continue as normal, and include deductions for insurance premiums.
If I did not opt to spread my nine-month salary over 12 months, what will my effective termination date be?
May 31, 2020. You will continue to receive insurance coverage through May 31, 2020.
If I’m approved to participate in this program, may I still work during fall 2020?
May I delay receipt of all or a portion of the voluntary separation lump sum payment until the next tax (calendar) year?
No. The funds will be paid in one lump sum on or before October 15, 2020.
Will I have to pay taxes on the VSP payment?
Yes. The payment made under this program will be subject to federal income tax withholding and other appropriate federal taxes.
May I tax shelter the VSP lump sum amount?
No. The VSP payment is not considered earnings, so contributions cannot be tax sheltered.
What will happen to my unused vacation leave?
Unused vacation leave will be paid out in accordance with Texas law. These monies will be in addition to the VSP payment.
May I tax shelter the vacation pay-out?
Yes. A lump sum payment for any unused vacation leave that you receive upon separation is eligible to be tax sheltered. If you wish to make a contribution to a tax shelter plan, please contact a benefits representative in the UNT System Human Resources Department toll free at 855-878-7650. You may wish to consult with a tax attorney or other tax professional to learn if these programs will be beneficial for you.
How does the VSP affect my health insurance coverage?
Your insurance (e.g. health, dental, etc.) will continue through the end of the month of separation date. For questions regarding your insurance coverage, please contact a benefits representative in the UNT System Human Resources Department toll free at 855-878-7650.
Will I be eligible for COBRA insurance?
Yes. Employees separating under this program are eligible for COBRA benefits if they are not eligible for retiree health insurance or other health insurance coverage. For questions regarding COBRA benefits, please contact a benefits representative in the UNT System Human Resources Department toll free at 855-878-7650.
May I be reemployed at the university?
Faculty members who receive a VSP payment from UNT are not eligible to be rehired in any full-time position by UNT for five (5) years. These individuals may be hired as part-time adjunct faculty members as permitted under UNT policy and practices.
May I dispute a decision not to approve my request to participate in the VSP?
Any dispute concerning the participation in the program should be addressed to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. The decision made at this level will be final. Disputes should be written and received within ten (10) days of receipt of the denial notice to participate in the program.
Will this program be offered annually?
This is a one-time offer and there is no guarantee that the VSP will be available in future years.
Who should I talk to if I have questions about the VSP or the Separation Agreement?
This program is administered by the Provost’s Office. Faculty members who are uncertain whether they are eligible to participate in the program may contact Bertina Combes at Bertina.Combes@unt.edu. Questions about separating from the university, including benefits, should be directed to Human Resources 855-878-7650. Faculty members should speak to their personal attorney about how the VSP and separation agreement affect them.