- How is a furlough different than a layoff?
A furlough is a university-required leave of absence from work for a limited period of time. A layoff is a separation due to a reduction in force (e.g., a lack of funds, lack of work, or a reorganization).
- Who is covered by HR-710?
HR-710 Payroll Reduction Measures applies to:
- Benefit-eligible administrative, service and support employees
- Variable-hour administrative, service and support employees
- Student employees other than those receiving work-study funds
It does not apply to federal work-study students, benefit-eligible faculty/academic employees, or non-benefit eligible faculty/academic employees. These employees may be covered by other policies.
- What notice will be provided?
An employee will receive notice about the payroll reduction measure before the pay period in which the measure takes effect.
Employees may also receive information regarding the duration of the payroll reduction measure, the number of days of leave, benefits, and additional resources.
- What rules apply to how long an employee may be furloughed?
Per HR-710 Short-Term Furlough:
Short-term furloughs will be for one full workweek and are unpaid.
Per HR-710 Long-Term Furlough:
Long-term furloughs shall be implemented in increments of full workweeks and will not be less than two consecutive workweeks. The period of any single long-term furlough may not exceed 12 workweeks.
Per HR-710 – Both Short-Term and Long-Term Furlough:
- Employees may be placed on furlough and returned from furlough on more than one occasion;
- Units may rotate their employees through periods of furloughs;
- For exempt employees, a furlough must be full workweeks (as the term workweek is described in HR-202).
- May employees take other university jobs while under payroll reduction measures?
Consistent with HR-202 (III-Dual Appointments):
- An exempt employee experiencing a payroll reduction measure may, with supervisory approval, work a non-exempt concurrent appointment with the limits set forth to ensure adherence to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Per HR-202, “an exempt employee may not work in a concurrent non-exempt appointment which totals more than two-thirds (2/3) the FTE of the exempt appointment”.
- A non-exempt employee experiencing a payroll reduction measure may obtain another non-exempt non-benefit eligible appointment.
- A non-exempt employee experiencing a payroll reduction measure may obtain an exempt non-benefit eligible academic appointment.
- May an employee volunteer to do their job without pay?
No. Employees may not volunteer or be permitted to do their job without pay.
- Would an employee who has experienced a payroll reduction measure be subject to additional reductions in the future?
Yes. An additional reduction may be considered within the parameters of university policy.
- Can an employee be on-call/standby during a furlough or Temporary FTE Reduction?
No. Employees cannot be on-call or standby (HR-212) while on furlough or on days an employee is not scheduled to work due to an FTE reduction.
- Can an employee complete their six-month probationary period while on furlough?
No. Employees who are on a furlough leave of absence during their probationary period will have the probationary period extended by the length of the leave of absence. See CRR 320.060.
- Can an employee scheduled to take Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) or FFCRA leave be affected by the payroll reduction measures?
Yes, if the position would have otherwise been selected for any of the payroll reduction measures; however, the FMLA leave or FFCRA leave cannot be used as a selection reason.
- If I am furloughed and on FMLA, will the time off be counted against my weeks of eligible FMLA leave?
No. Time off associated with a furlough period will not count against an employee’s 12-week FMLA leave entitlement. When an employee is on furlough, there is no expectation of the employee to work.
- Will employees have access to myHR during a period of payroll reduction measures?
Yes. Employees will continue to have access to myHR.
- May I donate part of my pay to support other employees in need?
No. While generous, doing so could impact the cost savings projections considered in the design of any payroll reduction measures identified at this time.
Pay and Benefits-related questions
- What types of paid time can I use if I am affected by a payroll reduction measure?
Dependent on the reduction, the following leaves may be used.
- Temporary Pay Rate Reduction: any accrued leave per university policy.
- Termporary FTE Reduction: any accrued leave per university policy, but may not top off an employee’s FTE level.
- Short-term furlough: no accrued leave may be used; short-term furloughs are unpaid.
- Long-term furlough: any accrued vacation must be used before going into an unpaid status; no additional accrued leaves may be used.
- Seasonal Leave of Absence: any accrued vacation can be used.
- Excused Absence without Pay: non-exempt employees may choose to use accrued vacation and personal days.
- Will furloughed employees be paid for missed work if vacation is unavailable?
No. Employees on short-term furloughs will not receive pay while on furlough. Employees on long-term furlough will be required to use accrued vacation. After vacation has been exhausted, the remainder of the leave of absence will be unpaid. Employees on either type of furlough will not receive retroactive pay for the period of furlough.
- Would any payroll reduction measures that keep employees in paid status include Shift Differential pay?
If applicable, shift differential will apply if the employee is normally scheduled to work an eligible shift and is in paid status.
- What effect does a payroll reduction measure have on the accrual of vacation, sick and personal leave?
- Temporary Pay Rate Reduction: no impact on accruals.
- Termporary FTE Reduction: reduced accruals are based on FTE.
- Short-term furlough: no accruals occur during the week of short-term furlough.
- Long-term furlough: no accruals occur during the long-term furlough, whether furlough is paid or unpaid.
- Seasonal Leave of Absence: no accruals occur during a seasonal leave of absence.
- Do employees receive holiday pay during a furlough period?
Employees do not receive holiday pay while on unpaid furlough. They do receive holiday if on a paid furlough (e.g., while receiving vacation pay during a long-term furlough).
- What happens to voluntary deductions such as the Universities recreation center, athletic tickets, concert series, or other voluntary deductions other than parking?
Voluntary deductions will continue as long as employees are in paid status. To stop these deductions, employees will need to contact each agency or department which is deducting these funds (e.g., recreation center).
- What happens to parking deductions while on payroll reduction measures?
For campuses where parking fees are automatically deducted, employees should contact their campus Parking and Transportation department.
- Are any of the payroll reduction measures considered a break-in-service?
No. These are not considered a break-in-service for purposes of service credit or vacation accruals.
- Are furloughed employees eligible for unemployment compensation?
Furloughed employees may become eligible for unemployment compensation, but state unemployment compensation requirements differ. Employees may apply for an eligibility determination to the Department of Labor’s Division of Employment Security.
The Department of Labor’s website provides links to individual State offices at www.servicelocator.org/OWSLinks.
- Will the university continue to pay the employer/university portion of the benefit premiums if an employee is on a payroll reduction measure?
Yes. The university will continue to pay the employer portion of the benefit premiums while an employee is in a paid or unpaid status.
EAP and Additional Employee Resources
- Can employees access the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services while on a payroll reduction measure?
Yes. EAP services can help provide confidential, professional service to all employees and their families. EAP provides a variety of services to help employees influenced by a range of personal concerns or stressors.
EAP services are available for individuals and their families during this time. Visit the EAP website for contact information.
- What other resources are available to me during this period?
Additional resources can be found on the UM Leadership and Organizational Development website.
Educational Assistance and Tuition Reduction
- Will employees who are experiencing a payroll reduction measure be eligible to participate in HR 303: Educational Assistance and Tuition Reduction?
Yes. Employees are eligible to enroll in and/or complete the course in which they were enrolled.
- Will spouses and dependents of employees who are experiencing a payroll reduction measure be eligible to participate in HR 303: Educational Assistance and Tuition Reduction?
Yes. Spouses and dependents who are receiving tuition reduction are eligible to enroll in and/or complete the course in which they were enrolled.
Benefits and Retirement
- Will benefit coverage (e.g., medical, dental, life insurance) continue during a furlough?
Yes. Benefit-eligible employees will be able to continue their insurance benefits while on furlough. How the premiums are collected will depend on if they have enough earnings to cover the employee portion of the premiums.
Generally speaking, if an employee is unpaid for a month or less, the next paycheck will adjust accordingly for the missed premiums. If the employee is unpaid for more than a month, a billing statement will be sent from the University for the month(s) of coverage owed.
- May employees suspend benefit coverage while on a temporary pay reduction?
- May employees suspend benefit coverage while on a seasonal leave of absence or long-term furlough?
Employees may choose to suspend medical, dental, vision, long-term disability (LTD) and life insurance plans while on a seasonal leave of absence and then re-enroll in those plans within 31 days after they return to work. Employees must notify UM System Human Resources within 31 days of beginning the seasonal leave that they are suspending their insurance coverage.
Coverage will be reinstated effective the first day of the month after the employee returns from seasonal leave unless the employee returns to work on the first day of the month, in which case their coverage will be reinstated effective that day.
If employees choose to suspend LTD, Group Life, Spouse Life and/or Dependent Life insurance coverages, employees will need to provide evidence of insurability and be approved by the insurance company to re-enroll.
- What happens to an employee’s Flexible Spending Account (FSA) coverage if furloughed?
Payroll deductions will continue while the employee is in paid status. The employee remains enrolled in the FSA, but eligible health care claims incurred during any non-pay status will not be reimbursed until the employee returns to pay status.
Eligible dependent care expenses incurred during a non-pay status may be reimbursed up to the balance which is in the employee’s dependent care account, as long as the expense incurred during the non-pay status allows the employee to work, look for work, or attend school full-time.
- Are employees required to pay the retirement employee contribution toward the RDD retirement plan while furloughed?
An employee will not be required to make employee contributions to the UM Retirement, Disability and Death Benefit (Defined Benefits) Plan during a period of COVID-19 Payroll Reduction Measure for Administrative, Service and Support Employees for which no salary is paid.
However, the employee’s usual contribution will be required for any period in which the employee is being paid through use of accrued vacation leave.
- Is a furlough creditable toward vesting?
Periods of furlough are not creditable toward vesting under the UM Retirement, Disability and Death Benefit (Defined Benefit) Plan.
Furlough periods are creditable toward vesting under the Defined Contribution Plan as service credit is determined from hire to termination of employment.
- If an employee uses vacation time during a long-term furlough, is the vacation payment considered retirement creditable?
Yes. Vacation used during a furlough leave of absence is considered a creditable salary for retirement calculations.
- Does a furlough count toward years of service for retirement?
Per retirement contract year (9/1 – 8/31), furloughs count toward creditable service up to 30 calendar days, whether the employee is paid or unpaid during their furlough. If a furlough extends beyond 30 calendar days in the contract year, the days over and above will not be creditable.
In other words, once an employee vests without the furlough period of leave, the first 30 days of furlough in each academic year (September 1 – August 31) would count as service credit.
- Can I take a loan from my retirement investments while I am furloughed?
The University encourages all employees to visit with a Fidelity representative, where experts can help with financial planning questions, assist with investment decisions, or consolidate multiple retirement accounts. Additionally, those directly impacted by COVID-19 may have additional options due to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Live webinars, financial wellness webpage resources, and one-on-one consultations are free and available to all employees.
- Can I retire while I am furloughed?
Yes, employees meeting retirement eligibility may elect to retire while on furlough.
An election to retire in lieu must be made in writing and submitted to the campus Human Resources office. Employees may contact the HR Service Center to discuss the cost of benefit coverage as an employee on leave versus, if eligible, the cost of benefit coverage as a retiree.