Does Voluntary Separation Target Older Workers?August 10th, 2010 by Chris Henry
According to Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson, the program isn’t targeted only at employees close to retirement. But both the Kitsap County undersheriff and county clerk on Monday told the board of commissioners they would prefer to see workers close to retirement take advantage of the offer.
Maybe “targeted” is the wrong word, since both programs are strictly voluntary. Both, however, clearly offer employees who have been in their positions the longest the greatest incentive to leave.
Under Poulsbo’s agreement adopted by the council, employees who take the voluntary separation would receive varying payouts based on how long they worked for the city.
Employees who have been with the city for up to five years would receive two months’ pay, those with five to 10 years of service would receive 2 1/2 months of pay and those with more than 10 years’ service would receive three months’ pay.
Under a draft proposal, Kitsap County employees who have worked fewer than 10 years would receive 10 percent of their annual rate of pay up to $10,000; 10 through 15 years, 15 percent with a maximum of $12,000; 15 to 20 years, 20 percent with a maximum of $15,000; and 20 years or more, 25 percent with a maximum of $20,000.
I asked the county’s HR director Bert Furuta how such a program would be expected to affect morale. “OK,” he said. “As long as it’s fully voluntary.”
The county has already made layoffs in addition to leaving positions unfilled. Poulsbo has not yet had to make deep budget cuts, so I’m wondering if the voluntary separation agreement isn’t making folks around city hall just a tad nervous.
I’d appreciate hearing from anyone whose employer has offered a voluntary separation. How was it for those who accepted the agreement? How was it for those left behind?
And for those of you who haven’t had to chance to consider a voluntary separation offer, what would it take to get you out of your position?
Thank you. Chris Henry, reporter