Election Day Attendance
Election Day for the next general election is Tuesday, November 5, 2019. The polls open at 6:00 a.m. and close at 7:00 p.m. Voters are required to show a photo ID at the polls. As employees exercise their right to vote, there are a few rules to keep in mind:
Election Day can present staffing challenges resulting from employees wanting to arrive late or to leave early. It’s important to ensure that employees have a reasonable opportunity to vote, to maintain sufficient staffing coverage throughout the day, and to employ an approach that is equitably applied to all staff.
- Encourage employees to vote before work, after work, or during their lunch breaks, and to coordinate their schedules with supervisors and co-workers.
- Advise employees that late arrivals and requests for early departures or extended lunch breaks will require the use of personal leave. Annual, family/personal, overtime, or compensatory leave may be used for this purpose. Community Service Leave cannot to be used to vote.
- Consider adjusting the schedules of non-exempt employees as an alternative to using leave.
Election Day Volunteers
Employees are encouraged to volunteer to be Officers of Election. Those who serve as Officers of Election shall be allowed to use up to 8 hours of Civil and Work-Related Leave on Election Day. As with all leave, supervisory approval is required.
Employees who serve as Officers of Election shall be allowed to use Civil and Work-Related Leave to attend the required Officer of Election certification training only when the employee's locality does not offer the training during non-work hours. Training schedules are available from local registrars and are typically posted on the localities’ websites. Contact Reagan Neese, Leave Specialist, if you plan to serve in this capacity.
If an employee uses Civil and Work-Related Leave to work as an Officer of Election and receives payment for duties and/or training, (s)he must submit the payment to the Commonwealth. Contact Payroll Services to arrange the return of payment.
- If the employee wishes to retain the payment, (s)he must use annual, family/personal, personal day, overtime, or compensatory leave.
- Employees who are reimbursed for expenses only (travel, parking, etc.) are permitted to keep such payments.
- Neither Civil and Work-Related Leave nor Community Service Leave may be used by employees who wish to volunteer on Election Day in another capacity (e.g., poll workers not certified as Officers of Election, political workers, etc.) These activities are considered political activities, not community services as defined in the Virginia Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) Policy 4.05-Civil and Work-Related Leave.
Virginia Department of Elections: http://elections.virginia.gov/
Our goal with the Benefits Broadcast is to feature a specific benefit each month. This month’s featured benefit is…
Open Enrollment for Voluntary Long-Term Care
September 16 – October 11
Most medical plans don't cover long-term care services such as nursing home care or at-home care to assist with bathing, eating or other activities of daily living. Anyone at any age may need these services, the cost of which can quickly deplete savings or retirement income. The Commonwealth of Virginia (COV) Voluntary Group Long-Term Care Insurance Program can help with these costs.
VRS has contracted with Genworth Life Insurance Company as the insurer for the program. Eligible state employees can enroll in the employee-paid Commonwealth of Virginia (COV) Group Voluntary Long-Term Care Insurance Program, beginning September 16. Employees age 65 and under who apply by October 11 will have fewer medical underwriting requirements.
Employees over age 18 are eligible to apply for coverage in the COV Voluntary Long-Term Care Insurance Program if they are a:
- State employee or faculty member who works at least 20 hours a week. The employee does not have to be a VRS member.
- Deferred VRS member under age 75 who is vested (you have at least five years of service credit).
- Retiree under age 75 receiving a VRS-administered benefit.
- Retiree of a Virginia public college or university under age 75.
Family members may also apply for coverage if they are between the ages of 18 and 75 and undergo full medical underwriting. Eligible family members include:
- A spouse
- Adult children
- Parents, parents-in-law and step parents
- Grandparents, grandparents-in-law, step grandparents and step grandparents-in-law
Program features include:
- Reduced medical underwriting (proof of good health) for employees under age 65 who apply within 60 days of employment. Full medical underwriting will be required after 60 days or if the employee is over age 65.
- Full medical underwriting is required for any family members, deferred VRS members or retirees who apply.
- At group rates, premiums may be more affordable. Employees pay premiums directly to Genworth.
- Employees who leave or retire from their position may continue coverage under Genworth.
- Employees can choose one of three benefit increase options that will increase coverage over time to help protect against the rising cost of care.
- VRS members eligible for the VSDP Long-Term Care Plan or have other long-term care insurance may be able to coordinate with the voluntary program to obtain even more coverage.
For more information, call Genworth Life toll-free at 800-870-0877 or visit Genworth’s website (available beginning September 16).
Flexible Spending Account Deadline
If you were enrolled in a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) during last plan year (July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019), you have until September 30 to file claims for covered services during that plan year. If there are any remaining funds in your account after September 30, these funds will be lost.
Health Benefits Premium Holiday
As announced in previous communications from Governor Northam, there will be a premium holiday for the month of October for those enrolled in the State Health Benefits Program.
There will be no health insurance premium deduction from your October 16 and October 31 paycheck. Since no premium will be due, premium rewards will not apply to the premium holiday period.
Contact the Benefits Team at email@example.com or 540-568-3593 with any questions concerning the premium holiday.
Virginia Retirement System Hybrid Retirement Plan Quickly Approaching!
On January 1, 2020, the VRS Hybrid Retirement Plan’s auto-escalation feature will boost retirement savings for hybrid plan members. Automatic contribution increases and matching employer contributions make growing your retirement savings even easier!
Who is affected?
Hybrid members reported to the Virginia Retirement System prior to September 10 and hired on or before September 3, 2019, who are not currently making the maximum voluntary contribution of 4 percent, will see their voluntary contribution amount increase by 0.5 percent of compensation on January 1, 2020.
How much will my contributions increase?
Your voluntary contributions will increase by 0.5 percent, even if you are not currently makes any voluntary contributions to the Hybrid plan. That amount will increase by 0.5 percent every three years until you reach the maximum 4 percent voluntary contribution. You may contribute more to reach the maximum sooner.
Or, you can boost your contributions with SmartStep. You can take action anytime to maximize your voluntary contributions with SmartStep. SmartStep is a hybrid plan feature which allows you to set up annual increases to your voluntary contribution in an amount and month you choose. If you use SmartStep, your voluntary contributions will increase through auto-escalation and again during your designated SmartStep increase month unless:
- You choose January for your increase month prior to September 16, 2019 or
- You make a SmartStep election or change between October 1 – December 16, 2019
Why is it beneficial?
Auto-escalation offers you a convenient way to save more for your retirement:
- The more you save in voluntary contributions — the more you receive in matching employer contributions. When you contribute 4 percent, your employer contributes 2.5 percent!
- It’s easy – no action required! You only need to take action if you choose to opt out.
- Incremental increases help you make sure that you’re saving more as you get closer to retirement age, when you’ll start withdrawing from your savings.
Members can opt out of auto-escalation from October 1 through December 16, 2019. To opt out, log into Account Access at www.varetire.org/hybrid or call Investor Services at 1-VRS-DC-PLAN1 (1-877-327-5261) and select option 1.
Protect Yourself—Get a Flu Shot!
Although flu shots are no guarantee against getting the flu, you can protect yourself by getting a FREE flu shot at your local drug store. Just show your COVA Care, COVA HealthAware, or COVA HDHP insurance card to the participating pharmacist to get flu shots at no cost for you and covered family members. Come out to the Employee Wellness Fair on October 1 to get your flu shot for free (be sure to bring your insurance card).
Social Security Newsletter
Check out articles in the September 2019 issue of the Social Security Column for important reminders and information from the Social Security Administration.