To achieve budget savings and meet the budget reduction target, the County Board of Commissioners and County Administration strongly encourage all employees to use the Special Leave without Pay Program (SLWOP) with a goal of using 20 hours on average for every employee.
Why does Hennepin County have "Special Leave Without Pay"?
The SLWOP program was established as a means for the County to reduce expenses by providing an incentive for employees to voluntarily take time off without pay that they might not otherwise take.
What is the incentive for employees to use the SLWOP program?
Vacation/PTO and sick leave benefits continue to accrue as if the employee were at work during SLWOP use. Stability pay eligibility and seniority also continue to accrue. The County will make one contribution toward health and/or Basic Life insurance premiums that otherwise would not have been made while on leave without pay status, if an employee takes the SLWOP in a block of 160 hours.
Can an employee be required to take time off under the SLWOP program?
No, SLWOP is a voluntary program.
When can an employee take time off under the SLWOP program?
With supervisory approval, SLWOP can be used in situations which result in a net reduction in the County's compensation expense. Most commonly, SLWOP will be used when the employee would otherwise have worked, or used paid vacation, PTO or sick leave. Use of SLWOP is inappropriate when the County would incur additional expense in having the employee's work performed by someone else in his/her absence or when an employee's absence would necessitate his/her working overtime (including comp time) before or after the absence. For example, instead of using vacation, sick leave, or PTO, an employee may use SLWOP for time off, doctor appointments, sick calls, etc. Previous SLWOP Program interpretations are expanded to allow for the use of SLWOP whenever possible.
Can a probationary employee use SLWOP?
While not prohibited, departments are discouraged from approving SLWOP for a new employee, so that the entire probationary period can be used to observe the individual's performance.
Is what an employee plans to do while on SLWOP a factor to be considered by the employee's supervisor in determining whether to approve the employee's request?
Generally no. The criterion for approving SLWOP is to determine if granting the request will comply with the program's compensation expense reduction objective. What an employee plans to do while on SLWOP is not a relevant factor in making this determination.
Can banked hours be saved from year to year?
No. This would constitute a prohibited deferred compensation arrangement. Banked hours can be saved only through the end of the payroll year. Hours remaining at the end of the year are automatically paid to the employee, at his/her current rate of pay, with the last paycheck of the year.
How much SLWOP can be used?
Subject to departmental approval SLWOP can be taken as a continuous block of time or used in increments of less than one hour to a maximum of 160 hours per payroll year.
Does an employee's sick leave, vacation, or PTO balances have to be exhausted before he/she can use SLWOP?
What happens if a holiday occurs during a period of SLWOP?
The employee will receive holiday pay without having to use SLWOP hours that day.
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