Amherst College 2021 Voluntary Retirement Option

Overview

Amherst College is offering a voluntary program, called the Amherst College 2021 Voluntary Retirement Option (VRO), to regular, non-faculty employees who are age 62 or older as of their retirement date and have at least 15 years of service with the College by December 31, 2021.

Eligibility

In order to be eligible to participate in the VRO, an employee must meet each of the following requirements:

  • Be a regular full-time or part-time non-faculty employee (casual, grant-funded, lecturer and coach positions are not eligible for the VRO), scheduled to work at the College at least 20 hours per week and at least 39 weeks per year.
  • Be an active employee, or an employee on approved paid or unpaid leave of absence as of March 22, 2021
  • Be at least 62 years of age by December 31, 2021.
  • Have at least 15 years of continuous regular service with the College by December 31, 2021
  • Remain employed by the College through the retirement date.
  • The retirement date will be determined based upon the operational needs of the College and the employee and will follow a phased approach to allow for a smooth transition.
  • Once you meet the eligibility criteria, the retirement effective date will be no earlier than May 1, 2021 and no later than December 31, 2021.

Employees who were not selected to receive a VRO application but believe that they do meet the selection criteria can request a record review by contacting the Office of Human Resources, at hr@amherst.edu. 

 

Application and Agreement Process

There are two stages in the VRO process:

  1. Application
    1. Each eligible employee will receive this VRO Program Description and a VRO Application Form.
    2. If, after reading the materials, an employee is interested in the VRO, they must return (email) the signed VRO Application Form to the Office of Human Resources by 5:00 p.m. on April 12, 2021.
    3. Applications received after 5:00 p.m. on April 12, 2021 will not be accepted.
    4. Submitting an application does not commit an employee to participate in the VRO, nor does it commit the College to accept the application.
    5. Each employee who has submitted a timely application will be informed, in writing, whether the College has accepted their application.

The College reserves the right to limit the number of employees who are accepted under the VRO.  Such decisions will be based on the College’s assessment of the operational needs of the applicable department and of the College.  In those instances, the employee, the senior leader, and the Chief Human Resources Officer will meet to discuss the application and potential alternative options, including establishing a retirement date that is agreeable to both parties, the employee and the College.

  1. Agreement
    1. If the College accepts an employee’s application for the VRO, the employee will receive a personalized letter agreement to review.
    2. An employee will have 45 days after receipt of the letter agreement to consider signing the letter agreement.
    3. After signing and returning the letter agreement within 45 days after receipt, the employee will have seven days to change their mind and revoke the agreement.
    4. If the agreement is not revoked within the seven-day period, the agreement to retire will be binding and irrevocable.

Revoking the application or the agreement, or failure to sign and return the application or agreement within the time limits specified, will automatically cancel the application or the agreement and any rights to the 2021 Voluntary Retirement Program. 

Voluntary Retirement Program Benefits

  1. The payments and benefits provided to eligible employees under the VRO will be as follows:
    1. The incentive payment will total 100% of the employee’s regular annual wages up to $75,000, plus 50% of any regular annual wages above $75,000.
  2. The lump-sum payment will be paid to the employee within 14 calendar days following their retirement date. This payment is subject to applicable taxes and tax withholdings.  The College will not make any contribution to the employee’s retirement plan based on this payment.
  3. Group life insurance coverage will end as of the VRO retirement date. The employee may convert his or her life insurance policy at their own expense.
  4. The continuation or termination of all other benefits will be governed by the terms of the respective plan.

 

VRO Benefits upon Death

In the event an employee passes away prior to the VRO retirement date, no benefits under this program are available; instead the normal Amherst College death benefits will apply, if applicable.  If the employee passes away after the VRO retirement date but before the lump sum payment has been made, the lump sum payment will be paid to the employee’s estate.

 

Other Information

  • Participation in the VRO is completely voluntary. Employees should assume that this is a one-time program.  They should understand that the College has no current plans to offer another voluntary retirement plan in the future.
  • The College reserves the right to change the terms of its benefit programs for active and eligible former employees at any time with or without prior notice. Changes that are made may apply to eligible former employees who receive benefits under the VRO just as they apply to active participants and other retirees in the benefit plans or programs.
  • The VRO may be amended at any time by the College, but no amendment shall deprive any participant of VRO benefits set out in a letter agreement which has been signed by both the employee and the College and which has not been revoked by the employee.
  • The VRO will be administered by the College’s Office of Human Resources which shall have the authority to make rules for its operations, to make decisions as to eligibility and participation, and to interpret both the terms of the VRO and any applicable rules. Decisions of the Office of Human Resources as to the VRO shall be conclusive and binding on all parties.
  • Questions regarding the VRO can be addressed by contacting the Office of Human Resources at hr@amherst.edu.