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Q. What is happening?
A. In order to ensure the Church’s financial health and continue its vital religious and social ministries well into the future, a number of difficult actions are being implemented by the Pastoral Center of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Parishes, Schools and certain other entities to manage the Church’s growing and unprecedented financial challenges.
Q. Why is the Church of Long Island acting now?
A. As you may know, the demands for our Church’s ministries have never been higher, yet the expenses for those ministries and services provided to its parishioners and the greater Long Island community exceed donations. In order to ensure the financial health of the Catholic Church on Long Island and enable it to continue its vital religious and social ministries well into the future, it is implementing a number of difficult actions to manage the current situation.
Q. What measures is the Church taking to ensure its future viability?
A. The Church is analyzing and evaluating internal organizational operations and structures as it looks to create operating surpluses necessary to invest in ministries and to ensure that every parishioner’s donation is maximized for the pastoral priorities of the Church and for the good of our communities.
All of these necessary, but difficult, steps will protect its financial viability for 2010 and beyond.
Q. Can you describe further the immediate steps the Church is implementing, and the significance of each?
- The Church of Long Island anticipates that payroll and related costs will require significant reduction early in 2010. As a result, a Voluntary Separation Program (VSP) is being implemented to meet these challenges and foster greater operating efficiencies.
- Along with the Voluntary Separation Program, an employee performance evaluation and management program (the Performance Management Program) is being implemented in order to retain and hire the most talented available employees best positioned to achieve the Church’s mission now and into the future and to foster greater operating efficiencies.
- In addition, a shared services arrangement is being developed under which many services presently performed at the Parish and entity levels will be transferred by the Parish and entity corporations by contract to the Diocesan Shared Services Center. This shared service arrangement will be expected to perform operating functions in a far more efficient and cost-effective manner.
Q. When will employees hear more about the changes and how they will be impacted?
A. Over the next few months, employees will hear more on the new operating model, and the difficult, yet necessary actions, that will be taken to sustain necessary financial resources to meet pastoral needs.
Please remember these steps are not ends in themselves, but rather are a means to thrive as a Church. And, please know that these decisions were arrived at after much analysis and discussion. The Church is cognizant and respectful of the personal hardships and difficulties such decisions will cause. Therefore, everyone involved will be given a complete explanation of the situation and those impacted will be treated with respect and empathy.
Q. What are the benefits of the new operating model?
A. Through this new model, all entities within the Church are committed to ensuring that everyparishioner’s donation is maximized for the pastoral priorities of the Church and for the good of its communities in the most operationally efficient manner possible.
Q. Can you further define the Voluntary Separation Program (VSP)?
A. Yes. The Voluntary Separation Program is a voluntary severance program available to all employees whose age and length of service combined equal or exceed 65 (as of September 1, 2010). Those eligible to participate in the Voluntary Separation Program are being provided detailed information about it. If you believe you are eligible and do not receive a packet by February 5, 2010, please contact the VSP Hot Line at 516-678-5800 x 593. The particular terms and condition of eligibility and participation are governed by the formal program description document.
Q. What happens if I qualify for the Voluntary Separation Program and elect to take advantage of the program?
A. If your age and length of service combined equal or exceed 65 (as of September 1, 2010) you are eligible to participate in the Voluntary Separation Program and receive a salary-based payment following termination (based on the individual’s regularly scheduled hours):
- 6 months salary for those with less than 10 years service
- 7 months salary for those with 10 -15 years of service
- 8 months salary for those with 15 - 20 years of service; and
- 9 months for those with more than 20 years of service.
Q. Are additional layoffs expected? If so, who will be impacted and when?
A. While no layoffs are planned, no organization can guarantee future employment. Financial imperatives, employee performance and other factors may impact the any decision to evaluate the need for layoffs in the future.
Q. How will salary continuation be paid for those who take advantage of the Voluntary Separation Program?
A. Through periodic payments via the payroll system. Salary continuation will be paid in accordance with regular payroll practice over the number of weeks of salary continuation due under the Voluntary Separation Program. The entity by which you have been employed will pay your salary and health benefits under the VSP.
Q. Will I have medical coverage and other welfare benefits during the salary continuation period?
A. Yes. You will have six months continued medical coverage or an amount equal to the amount theemployer would pay for medical coverage for the employee and family (if applicable) designated for qualified medical expenses in a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA).
Q. May I obtain unemployment during the salary continuation period, and, if I do, am I still eligible for salary continuation payments and/or benefits during this period?
A. Eligibility for unemployment is a determination that is made by the NYS Department of Labor. Generally, an employee’s voluntary separation pursuant to a program of this type disqualifies the individual from eligibility for unemployment benefits. However, employees separating pursuant to the VSP may apply for benefits and await the Department of Labor’s determination. If you should, for some reason, obtain unemployment benefits, you would continue to receive your salary continuation.
Q. Do we have the option of receiving our salary continuation payments as a lump sum under the Voluntary Separation Program?
A. No. The Voluntary Separation Program provides for salary continuation payments instead of a lump sum payment.
Q. What resources are available to employees who may have questions about their current benefits?
A. Contact the VSP Hot Line at 516-678-5800 x 593.
Q. Can you further define the Performance Management Program?
A. The Performance Management Program is a structured employee performance evaluation and management program to retain and hire the most talented available employees best positioned to achieve mission-related goals now and into the future. While details of the Performance Management Program generally will be distributed in the future, among its key features are the following:
- aligning staff to responsibilities
- establishing job titles, and qualifications and salary ranges for each title
- testing of skills and verification of the qualifications of existing employees
- setting performance expectations and standards for each employee
- establishing a merit-based salary-increase structure
Q. Can you further define the Shared Services model?
A. Many services presently performed at the Parish and entity levels will be transferred by the Parish and entity corporations by contract to the Diocesan Shared Services Center. The Shared Services Center will process the high volume transactional processes on behalf of Parishes, Schools and other operating entities. Using technology, this shared service arrangement will be expected to perform operating functions in a far more efficient and cost-effective manner. When this transfer takes place, affected positions in the Pastoral Center, and at the Parish and entity levels, may be eliminated.