Original Issuance Date: July 1, 2015

Last Revision Date: December 4, 2023

1.     Policy Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to provide the necessary information certain current university staff need to make an informed decision regarding whether to accept a voluntary reassignment to academic staff status as a result of a title change in their current assigned position.

2.     Responsible UW System Officer

Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer

3.     Scope and Institutional Responsibilities

This policy applies to all UW System institutions and the UW System Administration, except for UW-Madison.

4.     Policy Background

Under certain circumstances, an employee hired into a university staff position may be subject to a title change into a new job title that is classified as academic staff.  In those cases where this is an involuntary title change, initiated exclusively by the UW System or a system institution, the employee may have a time-limited right to choose whether to remain classified as FLSA exempt university staff or to accept a reclassification to academic staff.  Due to the differences in benefits and working conditions between the two classifications, this policy has been adopted to ensure that affected employees have adequate information to exercise this choice.

5.     Policy Definitions

Please see SYS 1225, General Terms and Definitions, for a list of general terms and definitions.

Definitions specific to this policy:

Incumbent employee: As referred to in this policy, any employee with permanent status holding a FLSA exempt university staff position.

6.     Policy

A. Eligibility for Voluntary Reassignment

When a FLSA exempt or FLSA nonexempt university staff employee with an expectation of continued employment has a title change which would move their current position to a FLSA exempt academic staff title, the employee has the choice to remain as university staff in an FLSA exempt position as long as they hold the position or choose to voluntarily reassign to academic staff if the following conditions apply:

I. The title change is involuntary on the part of the university staff employee. The employee does not have the option to decline the title change, and;

II. The title change must have been initiated by either the UW System Administration or a UW System institution.

Appointment terms for an academic staff appointment will be determined by each institution’s policies.  This choice is not available to an employee moving into a new or vacant position, either through a search or via search waiver.  Employees voluntarily moving into a limited appointee position shall have concurrent appointments as described under UWS Job Security.

Project employees, rehired annuitants, and temporary university staff are not eligible to have their positions voluntarily reassigned to an academic staff position.

B. Voluntary Reassignment Process

Each incumbent employee must receive all necessary information from the employing UW institution in order to be fully educated on all potential ramifications of choosing to have the position voluntarily reassigned to an academic staff position.  The information given to each affected employee must include at a minimum:

  • Compensation ramifications, including eligibility for overtime payment;
  • Differences in paid leave accruals, including vacation and sick leave accrual;
  • Differences in ability to bank and accumulate any paid leave;
  • Differences in Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) designations;
  • Differences in employee paid benefit programs (e.g., income continuation, life insurance);
  • Differences in appointment terms and job security; and
  • Differences in eligibility to participate in collective bargaining.

An incumbent employee choosing to have his/her position voluntarily reassigned to the academic staff must declare his/her intention to do so in writing.

The effective date of the voluntary reassignment will be the first pay period following the employee’s written voluntary reassignment request, consistent with best practices as advised by Benefits and Payroll operations.

 The type of appointment to which the position will be voluntarily reassigned will be determined by the employing UW System institution.  After an incumbent employee accepts a voluntary reassignment as defined in this policy, there will not be an opportunity to return to university staff service in the same position.  Once an incumbent chooses to voluntarily reassign to an academic staff position, the employee will no longer have the option to hold a university staff position that is exempt from FLSA.

C. Impact of Voluntary Reassignment on Employee Benefits

On the effective date of the reassignment, the employee will be eligible for all leave and insurance benefits available to academic staff or limited employees and ineligible for all associated benefits available to university staff.

I. Sick Leave

1. All accrued sick leave will be transferred to the academic staff appointment.

2. The employee will receive an 18-month sick leave initial entitlement per SYS 1212, Sick Leave.

3. Previously accrued sick leave and sick leave granted under initial entitlement (IE) is immediately available for use.

4. If an employee retires during the 18-month initial entitlement period, the entire amount of the initial entitlement will not be available for sick leave credit conversion. The number of sick leave hours available for conversion will be equivalent to what the employee would have earned if not in the initial entitlement period.

Example: Full-time, annual basis employee; IE starts January 1 and employee retires July 1 – retires 6 months into IE period.  Employee would have earned 48 hours of sick leave during this period if not in IE (6 months x 8 hours of sick leave/month).  48 hours of sick leave available for conversion (as well as any hours earned prior to the Initial Entitlement).

II. Vacation, Vacation Carryover and Banked Vacation

1. The employee will earn 176 hours of vacation per fiscal year (pro-rated if part-time). The number of hours of vacation earned in the year of reassignment will be pro-rated based on the effective date of the reassignment.

2. Any vacation accrued in the university staff appointment during the year of reassignment will be transferred to the current fiscal year’s vacation allocation in the academic staff appointment. The amount of vacation that transferred from the university staff appointment plus the new vacation allocation cannot exceed 176 hours.  If it is greater than 176 hours, any remaining vacation hours will be moved to vacation carryover and must be used by the end of the fiscal year (June 30) that the leave transferred to the new appointment, or the hours will be lost.

3. Any vacation carryover from the university staff appointment that was earned in the calendar year prior to reassignment will be treated in the same manner as section 6.C.II.2 above. It will first be credited to the current fiscal year’s vacation until the 176-hour limit is reached and any remaining carryover will be moved to vacation carryover and must be used by the end of the fiscal year (June 30) that the leave transferred to the new appointment, or the hours will be lost.

4. The number of hours in vacation carryover may not exceed 176. If the number of hours that need to be moved to vacation carryover is greater than 176 hours, any remaining vacation will be paid out to the employee.

5. Any banked vacation (classified sabbatical) will be transferred to the banked vacation account (annual leave reserve account) of the academic staff appointment, even if the employee is not eligible to bank paid leave as an academic staff employee.

III. Personal Holiday

1. If the reassignment is effective at any time from July 1 to January 1, the employee will receive 36 hours of personal holiday (prorated if part-time). Any remaining personal holiday from the university staff appointment must be paid out to the employee.

2. If the reassignment is effective at any time from January 2 to June 30, the employee will not receive additional personal holiday hours until the beginning of the next fiscal year (July 1). Any remaining personal holiday from the university staff appointment will be transferred to the new appointment and must be used by June 30 following the date of reassignment, or it will be lost.

IV. Wisconsin Retirement System

The employee will be covered by the Teacher WRS category as of the effective date of the reassignment and earnings and service will be reported on a fiscal year basis.

V. Income Continuation Insurance

If the employee is enrolled in Income Continuation Insurance (ICI), the employee must complete a new ICI application and select an elimination period within 30 days of reassignment.

If the employee is not enrolled in ICI, the employee may have an opportunity to enroll in coverage within 30 days of the reassignment.  See Section 208 of the ICI administrative manual for detailed information.

VI. Employer Contribution Towards Health Insurance

If the reassignment occurs within the first two months of an employee’s state service, the employee is eligible for the employer contribution towards health insurance on the first of the month on or following the date of reassignment.

7.     Related Documents

Wis. Stat. § 36.115, Personnel systems
SYS 1210, Vacation, Paid Leave Banks, and Vacation Cash Payouts
SYS 1211, Personal Holiday & Legal Holiday Administration
SYS 1212, Sick Leave
SYS 1253, FLSA Designation

8.     Policy History

Revision 2: December 4, 2023

Revision 1: December 22, 2021

First approved: July 1, 2015

Reviewed by the Board of Regents, December 7, 2012.

9.     Scheduled Review

December 2028