State agencies may contribute to some employees’ Virginia529 accounts
RICHMOND—Governor Ralph S. Northam today announced a second compensation tool to assist state agencies in recruiting and retaining top talent for the Commonwealth. The new sign-on and retention bonus tool effective Jan. 1, 2019, will enable agencies to make contributions to employees’ Virginia529 accounts as an incentive to attract and retain those in critical or high-turnover positions.
The Department of Human Resource Management and Virginia529 collaborated to develop a streamlined administrative process to facilitate the use of this new compensation tool, which will be available in addition to a student loan repayment bonus approved in June for similar positions. In addition, the Commonwealth has promoted the public service student loan forgiveness program, in which employment at a state agency may qualify any employee to receive student loan forgiveness.
“It is essential for the Commonwealth to identify more options for attracting and retaining employees in positions that are critical or difficult to fill. It is my hope that this new compensation tool will encourage other Virginia employers to consider similar incentives,” Governor Northam said. “At the same time, we must take steps to address the impact of the escalating cost of higher education on our workforce.”
The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia projects the total charges for undergraduate students at Virginia’s state-supported four-year institutions will be $24,003 for the 2018-2019 academic year, an increase of 4.4% over last year’s costs.
“Our Commonwealth is fortunate to offer a premier 529 College Savings Plan program for investment in our children’s future that can be used to assist us in offering this one-time bonus,” said Keyanna Conner, Secretary of Administration. “A thriving state workforce not only benefits Virginia’s state employees and their families, but also the citizens of the Commonwealth that they serve.”
Agencies must fund such bonuses from their current budgets and will require that employees remain employed for up to one year in exchange for the 529 plan contributions. Investing in employees having unique skills engenders greater engagement and longer tenures, and results in savings in future recruitment and turnover costs.
In the first year of his administration, Governor Northam has taken significant steps to invest in the state government workforce, including eight weeks of paid parental leave, a shared savings incentive program to help state employees shop for better-value medical care, and the two sign-on and retention bonuses to help fill difficult and critical positions.