University of Minnesota
Office of Human Resources
http://www.umn.edu/ohr
612-625-2016

RECESS Frequently Asked Questions


Participation Eligibility

Why is the RECESS program only available to non-represented employees?
Represented employees have terms and conditions of employment outlined in their collective bargaining agreements. Interested employees should contact their unit Human Resources staff to discuss what options are available to them.
Is this program the only form of voluntary reduction in hours of work available?
No, this program targets a particular approach that provides certain special features. Employees should discuss the various options with their unit Human Resources staff.
If I am already working in a part-time appointment without medical and dental coverage, can I apply for this program to get the added subsidy benefit?
No. This program is not available to increase the benefit for those who are not currently eligible. This program is an incentive to support those who are willing to reduce their work effort as a means for their department or college to save on salary expenditures.

Impact on Benefits

How does participation in the RECESS Program affect eligibility for the Regent Scholarship Program?
Participation in the RECESS Program will not affect Regent Scholarship eligibility for those whose work effort remains at the 75 percent and above level, given other eligibility criteria are met. For those individuals whose work effort, as a result of participation in RECESS, falls below 75 percent, the Regents Scholarship benefit is limited to 2 courses per academic year, again given all other eligibility criteria are met.
How are my medical and dental benefits impacted if I sign up for the RECESS program?
Your medical and dental benefits are not impacted if you sign up for the RECESS program. Your subsidy will continue during the program as if you were working 100% of your appointed hours.
How are my life insurance benefits impacted if I sign up the RECESS program?
Your life insurance benefits are not impacted if you sign up for the RECESS program. You will receive the same amount of basic life insurance as you receive before you enroll in the program. The University contribution toward your basic life insurance will continue. Your voluntary life insurance will not be impacted.
How will my Faculty Retirement Plan contributions be impacted if I sign up for the RECESS program?
Your Faculty Retirement Plan contributions are based on the actual covered salary you are paid each pay period. If you reduce the amount of covered salary you receive, your contributions will be reduced as well.
How will my Minnesota State Retirement System contributions be impacted if I sign up for the RECESS program?
If you are currently in a year that would count in your highest five years of earnings for retirement purposes, reducing your salary would reduce your high-five salary calculation as well, and could reduce your MSRS monthly benefit. Please contact MSRS 651-296-2761, or toll free at 800-657-5757 for additional information.
How will my disability coverage be impacted if I sign up for the RECESS program? What happens if I become disabled?
If you have voluntary short term disability or voluntary long term disability coverage, your coverage will continue in force and will not be impacted by your participation in the RECESS program. Your benefits, should you become disabled, will similarly not be impacted.

If you are eligible for the Academic Disability Program, your payments for medical leave (the first three months of illness/injury) and your first 9 months of disability coverage will be capped by the total amount of income you expect to earn, based on your reduced schedule under the RECESS program. For example, if you typically earn $1,000 per pay period, and are participating in the RECESS program with a 50% reduction in hours, so that you now only expect to earn $500 per pay period, your medical leave and disability benefits for the first year of disability will not exceed $500 per pay period. In addition, your Faculty Retirement Plan contributions while you are disabled will also be reduced due to your reduced salary. Your medical and dental subsidy, as well as your life insurance waiver, will not be impacted.

Payments for Academic Disability Program disabilities lasting more than 12 months will continue to be made by The Standard according to the existing contract and should not be impacted by your participation in the RECESS program.
How will my flexible spending accounts be impacted if I sign up for the RECESS program?
If you reduce your work effort by 25% or more, you may change your flexible spending account enrollment (both health care spending accounts and dependent care spending accounts). You must contact Employee Benefits at 612-624-9090, or 800-756-2363, option 2, within 30 days of your program enrollment to take advantage of this option.
How are my vacation and sick leave accrual rates impacted if I sign up for the RECESS program?
Because vacation and sick leave hours are accrued based on the actual hours worked, participation in this program will reduce the amount of vacation and sick leave you accrue while you are enrolled.

Layoff and Non-Renewal

Can I be non-renewed or laid off while on the RECESS program?
You cannot be laid off or non-renewed while participating in the RECESS program, however, the University reserves the right to rescind your participation in the RECESS program with 30 calendar days notice to you. Once your participation in the RECESS program has been rescinded, you are no longer protected from layoff or non-renewal.
I have received a non-renewal notice. Am I allowed to participate in the RECESS program during my notice period?
For the answer to this question, consult with Pam Bintner, Office of Human Resources at 612-624-6556.
How does my participation in the RECESS program impact the Layoff Severance Program?

Because the University must rescind your RECESS agreement prior to issuing a notice of layoff, there will be no impact on your participation in the Layoff Severance Program. The one exception to this is that the Years of Service calculation depends on the actual hours worked in each year, so participation in the RECESS program may impact the number of years for which you are credited under the Layoff Severance Program.

The medical insurance subsidy under the layoff severance program will not be impacted by your participation in this program, with the possible exception that the number of years of service determines the length of your continued subsidy.

How does my participation in this program impact the Non-Renewal Program?

Because the University must rescind your RECESS agreement prior to issuing a notice of non-renewal, there will be no impact on your participation in the Non Renewal Program. The one exception to this is that the Years of Service calculation depends on the actual hours worked in each year, so participation in the RECESS program may impact the number of years for which you are credited under the Non Renewal Program.

The medical insurance subsidy under the non-renewal program will not be impacted by your participation in this program, with the possible exception that the number of Years of Service determines the length of your continued subsidy.


Length of Time

If I participate in the RECESS program, do I need to reduce my work effort for my entire appointment in a fiscal year?

No, with approval, you may participate in the RECESS program for a lesser duration but your work effort must never drop below 50%.

Your participation must begin on the first day of a pay period within your appointment during the fiscal year, and end on the last day of a pay period within your appointment in that year.

In order for a request under the RECESS program to be approved, the reduction in work effort should be at least 10%, and for a length of time of at least 5 pay periods (10 weeks) in length.

How would I get permission to extend my participation in the RECESS program beyond my current term of appointment?
You would follow the same procedures used to get initial approval to use the program, but would use the forms covering the next fiscal year.
Is there any limit to the amount of time I can request participation in the RECESS program?
The total amount of approved time that any one person can have his/her work effort reduced under the provisions of this program is 24 months, spread over any number of years.
Do I have the right to modify or rescind this agreement, once it has begun, if I change my mind?
This agreement can only be modified or rescinded through mutual agreement of the employee and those authorized to sign the agreement within the unit. However, the University reserves the right to rescind your participation in the RECESS program with 30 calendar days notice to you in the case of impending layoff or non renewal.
Would I have the right to discontinue my participation in the RECESS program when my new appointment term begins?
Yes, agreements to use the RECESS program are made for a single academic appointment term (or for Civil Service, through the last date of a fiscal year.) To extend its use beyond this time requires a new agreement.
When do I need to request an extension?
Your agreement to participate in the RECESS program in a subsequent year must be signed and submitted to OHR at least 30 days prior to the date you plan to begin the RECESS program in that year.

Tenure

I am a probationary faculty member. If I reduce my work effort through the RECESS program, will it mean that I have stopped the tenure clock?
The circumstances with respect to tenure-track faculty need to be worked out on an individual basis. Any probationary faculty member considering the RECESS program needs to 1) work with their department and college to specify what their effort level will be with respect to teaching, research and outreach, and 2) work with the office of the vice provost for faculty and academic affairs to determine the effect such participation in RECESS would have on their tenure clock.