FAQs for Phased Retirement Program
This information highlights several important issues regarding the Phased Retirement Program (hereinafter referred to as the “Program”), but it is not intended as a substitute for the full program policy statements. All deans and eligible faculty are urged to review the program materials carefully. A written notice that the program materials are posted on the Faculty Affairs website will be mailed to eligible faculty members each year.
Faculty should consult their deans to discuss the work plan and other departmental issues. Questions related to employee benefits, including retirement benefits, should be directed to the Benefits Manager in Human Resources at 336-770-1451. Other questions related to the Program should be directed to the Director of Faculty Affairs at 336-770-3261.
What is the purpose of the Phased Retirement Program?
The Program is designed to provide an opportunity for eligible faculty members to make an orderly transition to retirement through half-time or equivalent) service. The goals of this voluntary Program are to promote renewal of the professoriate in order to ensure institutional vitality and to provide additional flexibility and support for individual faculty members who are nearing retirement.
Who is eligible to participate in the Program?
The Program is available only to full-time faculty members on at least a 5-year contract. Participating faculty who are members in TSERS must be at least age 62 upon entering the Phased Retirement Program, have at least five years of full-time service at UNCSA, and be eligible to receive retirement benefits under TSERS. Participating faculty who are members in ORP must be at least age 59 ½ upon entering the Phased Retirement Program, have at least five years of full-time service at UNCSA, and be eligible to receive retirement benefits under ORP. Faculty who occupy full-time administrative or staff positions are not eligible for the Program until they vacate the administrative or staff position.
May phased retirement participants withdraw from the Program and return to their multi-year contract faculty positions at the institution?
No. The decision to enter the Program is binding; however, refer to Question 14 regarding the "Release Signing" and "Release Revocation" periods.
What is the appropriate time for a UNCSA dean to request emeritus status for a faculty member who participated in the Phased Retirement Plan?
Emeritus status would be requested by the appropriate UNCSA dean at the conclusion of the period of phased retirement.
What is the amount of the salary that participants will receive?
During the first year, participants will receive exactly one-half of the full-time salary they received immediately prior to phased retirement (e.g., based on the Faculty Member’s prior contractual terms). In addition, compensation paid during phased retirement is paid over twelve months irrespective of the pattern of duties under the Faculty Member’s work plan. Participants shall be eligible for salary increments and merit pay based on annual evaluations after the first year of participation and subject to any limitations imposed under TSERS.
By signing the General Release of claims against the University, is a participant forfeiting employee retirement benefits or other employee group benefits?
The General Release that accompanied the UNC Phased Retirement Program materials in the first year of program implementation could be read to forfeit certain employee benefits that the University did not intend to be covered by the Release. Accordingly, the General Release was amended by to read as follows:
“Notwithstanding the foregoing paragraphs, I do not waive or release any claims that may arise after the date I execute this General Release. I do not waive or release my right to seek employee retirement benefits or to seek or continue to receive other employee group benefits to which I am now entitled or for which I will be eligible while a participant in the Program, whether my eligibility for any such employee retirement benefit or employee group benefit has been established by federal or North Carolina law or by contract between me and my employing institution. In addition, I do not waive or release: (a) my vested and accrued rights as a participant in the University or the UNCSA 401(a), 403(b), pension, deferred compensation, incentive and/or any other vested plan or retirement benefit; (b) my right to potential indemnification and/or defense as a current or prior officer or employee of UNCSA under its applicable policies, bylaws or insurance plans or under applicable law; or (c) my right to assert any claims relating to the obligations of the University or UNCSA under the attached Agreement.”
The Program requires that participants agree to a pre-established work plan for the two-year period of phased retirement. May the plan be altered during the period?
Upon entry into the Program, a two-year work plan must be established. The plan may, however, be modified upon approval of the dean and Provost. If a plan is modified, it must be done through execution of a new agreement or as an addendum to the original. With regard to either approach, the document must be signed by all officers who signed the original agreement.
May participants perform additional work for additional pay?
No. The Phased Retirement policy mandates a half-time work plan. Any additional work would be an increase from half-time.
May participants teach during the summer sessions?
Summer school assignments may not be part of the participant’s work plan under the Program. Program policies do not; however, preclude a participant from entering into a separate contract to teach during the summer. A participant may negotiate a contract for employment incident to summer session curricula if that contract does not prescribe any duties that are to be part of the participant’s work plan.
Guidance from UNC System Office indicates that the establishment of summer contracts is perilous and is therefore discouraged. For example, it has been noted that summer employment may cause participants who are taking retirement under TSERS to exceed the annual statutory limit on State employment income received during any year in which a retirement allowance is being paid. Such an event would terminate TSERS retirement payments for the balance of the calendar year in which the limit was exceeded. UNC System Office has advised that participants consult the employment benefits staff to determine the attendant risks of summer employment.
May an eligible faculty member elect to participate in the Program if there has been a hiatus between full-time employment and the planned date of program participation?
Faculty members may not retire and later enter the program. As long as the application materials have been approved within the timelines established by the program policy, the faculty member will not be disqualified from program participation by taking a leave of absence upon completing the fall term during which the program application was submitted and the agreement executed. Leave itself must, of course, have been properly sought and obtained.
What must an eligible faculty member do to apply to enter the Program?
A faculty member is considered to have applied for the Program when a "UNCSA Phased Retirement Application & Re-Employment Agreement/Half-Time Work Plan" (hereinafter referred to as the “Agreement”) has been submitted to the dean and contains: (a) complete information on page one of the Agreement, and (b) the proposed duties that the faculty member will perform under the Agreement. The Agreement must be delivered to the Dean’s Office (for receipt by the dean) prior to the application deadline
The dean will sign the Agreement and forward it to the Office of Faculty Affairs for review and Provost signature.
Upon Provost approval, the Agreement will be delivered to the faculty member for signature. The original document will be retained in the Office of Faculty Affairs. The Office of Faculty Affairs will forward fully signed copies to the faculty member and dean.
What is the deadline for application to enter the Program and what are the relevant dates for program participation?
The application period is September 15 through February 15 of the academic year preceding proposed program participation. By September 1, faculty will be notified of their eligibility to begin participation in the Program the following academic year.
What is the effective date of resignation and the date of reemployment?
The effective date of resignation is July 31. The date of re-employment is August 1. The last regular paycheck will be July 31. The phased retirement salary is effective August 1 and will be paid in equal monthly installments beginning August 31 and ending on July 31 of the last year of the Agreement.
What are the "Release Signing" and "Release Revocation" periods?
The 45-Calendar Day "Release Signing" Period
After the third and final agreement signature (Provost) has been obtained, the faculty member and dean will be notified by Faculty Affairs. The date of receipt of the documents begins a 45-calendar day period in which the General Release must be signed. The date of “receipt” is the date on which UNCSA physically delivers to the faculty member the completed Agreement and Release or the date on the return receipt card signed upon delivery to the faculty member by registered mail. If the General Release has not been signed by the faculty member by the end of this period, the Agreement will be voided. (The original signed General Release should be submitted to Faculty Affairs.) If the General Release has not been executed within the 45-day period, Faculty Affairs will notify the faculty member and dean that the Agreement has been voided.
The 7-Calendar Day "Release Revocation" Period
Under the Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA), a faculty member has the right to revoke the Agreement and the Release anytime within seven calendar days after both documents are fully executed by all parties. If not revoked within this period, the faculty member’s commitment to enter the Program becomes irreversible. A statement of revocation must be in writing and personally delivered to the Office of Faculty Affairs or postmarked by U.S. Mail and mailed to the Office of Faculty Affairs within the seven-day period.
Do I get to keep my UNCSA email address?
Yes. Phased retirees retain an active UNCSA email address.
Who should faculty members call if they have additional questions?
Faculty should consult their deans to discuss the work plan and other departmental issues. Questions related to employee benefits including retirement benefits should be directed to the Benefits Manager in Human Resources (336-770-1451 or firstname.lastname@example.org). Other questions related to the Program should be directed to the Director of Faculty Affairs (336-770-3261 or email@example.com).