What is the Voluntary Time-Off (VTO) Program?
The Voluntary Time Off (VTO) Program helps employees balance their work with their personal or family demands by allowing them to reduce their working hours for the fiscal year without losing the County benefits afforded to a full-time employee. To participate in this program, you must be a permanent full-time employee. Your Supervisor and Department Head must also approve your request to participate in the VTO program.
How do I sign up for the VTO program?
Please refer to the VTO Quick Reference card that can be downloaded on the VTO page on the Employee Benefits website.
When can I sign up for the VTO Program?
VTO applications are accepted year-round. However, employees wishing to get the maximum time off for the year must submit a VTO application to their Supervisor and Department Head by June 20, 2015.
How does the VTO Program work?
Under the VTO Program, you can choose to reduce your annual working hours within a fiscal year by either 1%, 2%, 3%, 4% 5%, 10%, 15% or 20%. (See VTO Hours Calculation Table below).
VTO Hours Calculation Table for Full Fiscal Year
Number of VTO Hours Available for Time-Off
If you submit a VTO application for 10% time-off by June 20, 2015 and your Supervisor and Department Head approved it, you would receive 208 hours to use as time-off for the entire fiscal year (July through June). If you enrolled in VTO in the middle of the year, the amount of VTO hours available to you depends on the percentage of VTO you choose and the number of pay periods remaining in the fiscal year (see VTO Hours Calculation Sheet at www.smcgov.org/hr/benefits (click on “Voluntary Time Off”).
You “pay” for the VTO time-off by a reduction in your paycheck for the remainder of the fiscal year. In other words, your hourly pay rate is reduced by the VTO percentage you choose. For example, if you choose to reduce your working hours by 10%, your bi-weekly gross pay will be reduced by 10% for the remainder of the fiscal year.
All VTO hours are available for you to use as “time off” immediately upon enrollment in the VTO Program (e.g. if you apply for VTO by June 20, 2015 and it is approved, your VTO time will be available to you starting the week of June 21, 2015– see next question for more information about using VTO in June 2015). You can use the additional time off as a shorter workday (e.g. 7.5 hour work day), a shorter workweek (e.g. one day off per bi-weekly pay period), or a block time off (e.g. one week off during the year). Your schedule must be mutually agreed upon between you and your supervisor.
Although your VTO hours are available to you upon enrollment in the program, you are “reimbursing” the County for these hours through a reduction in your bi-weekly paycheck until the end of the fiscal year.
When can I start using VTO hours?
If you submit a VTO application by June 20, 2015 and it is approved, you can begin to use your VTO time-off the week of June 21, 2015 .
If you use VTO hours between June 21 and June 27th, you must contact your payroll coordinator about entry of hours on your weekly timesheet. Due to the transition of payroll from one fiscal year to the next, your payroll coordinator will need to provide assistance in entering VTO hours during this we-week period.
Can I change my VTO % of time-off or cancel my participation in the VTO program during the year?
You cannot withdraw from the VTO program or change your reduction in working hours before the fiscal year ends unless you transfer to another department, promote to a higher classification, or terminate employment.
What happens if I am promoted, transferred, terminated or if I resign from my current position?
If one of these situations happens and you have not used all of the VTO hours you had “paid” for up to that date, the County would pay you an amount equal to the number of unused hours at your hourly pay rate. If you used more VTO hours than you have “paid” for, the amount overpaid to you would be deducted from your paycheck, if available. If not, you would be responsible for reimbursing this overpayment to the County, using your regular hourly rate of pay.
What happens if I don’t use all of the VTO hours before the end of the fiscal year?
Any unused portion of your time off acquired from this program will be computed and any necessary pay adjustments will be made. It will not be carried over to the next fiscal year.
Can my Department Head reject my VTO application?
Yes. Your Department Head has the discretion to approve or reject your VTO application.
Does my participation in the VTO Program impact my benefits?
Participating in the VTO Program has no effect on your health, dental or vision coverage; years of service for purposes of retirement; life insurance; step increases; probationary period; or seniority. In addition, there is no effect on the accrual of vacation, sick leave, holiday, and management administrative leave. However, time off taken for these benefits will be paid at the reduced VTO rate. VTO hours used are not considered as time worked when determining eligibility for overtime compensation.
VTO may impact the salary upon which your retirement benefit is calculated if VTO is taken in the last 12 or 36 months of your employment (depending on your Retirement Plan). VTO also impacts short and long-term disability benefits since these benefits would be based upon the reduced VTO rate. VTO hours are not eligible for the County’s integration and restoration of hours as a result of receiving state disability payments.
What happens if I go on leave of absence during the time I am participating in the VTO program?
The number of VTO hours available is based upon you remaining in a paid status until June 18, 2016. Going on an unpaid leave of absence during the time you are participating in the VTO Program could result in you taking off more time that you “paid” for. This is possible because, once the fiscal year starts, the total number of VTO hours you elected for the year are immediately available for your use even though you have not yet “paid” for them.
If you go on leave of absence and you are using your vacation, holiday, compensatory or sick leave time during your leave, your paychecks you receive while on leave will simply reflect the reduced VTO hourly rate. If you go on unpaid leave of absence at any time while participating in the VTO Program, the number of VTO hours available to you will be re-calculated and reduced accordingly. If you go on unpaid leave of absence and exhaust all of your paid time off, you will be required to reimburse the County for any amount owed for the VTO hours you have used but not “paid” for.
Who can I contact for more information about the VTO Program?
For more information about the VTO Program, visit https://hr.smcgov.org/voluntary-time-vto, or contact Employee Benefits at (650) 363-4227.