FURLOUGH POLICY

Policy Title: Furloughs

Type of Policy: Human Resources

Created:  12/14/2020

 

PURPOSE

This policy provides the framework for implementing employee furloughs. While the University strives to maintain stable employment and business continuity, it also recognizes that there are situations that will require necessary actions to mitigate financial and other adverse conditions. Furloughs are designed to be a proportionate response to such conditions and a job preservation tool, where possible, in lieu of layoffs or other separations from employment. The University shall consider other cost‐savings measures to reduce the impact of furloughs on teaching, research, and salaries before implementing this policy.

 

SCOPE

This policy covers Faculty, TEAMS, USPS, and Postdoctoral Associate employees, which includes administrators, subject to any collective bargaining obligations. Graduate assistants are exempt from this policy.

 

POLICY STATEMENT

A furlough is a mandatory unpaid partial or full leave of absence from work. The University shall consider the availability and feasibility of other cost‐saving measures before implementing furloughs. If the University, or a unit of the University, determines it is facing an actual or projected loss of funding or revenue, budget deficit, lack of work, natural disaster or other emergency, disruption to operations or a governmental/third party directive (public health orders, stop‐work orders, etc.), a furlough plan may be implemented at the University, college or department level (University business and service units are included in the term “department”) in accordance with the applicable provisions of this policy, and such plan may impact all or a portion of the employees in that area based on specified criteria or justification, which may include a salary amount below which employees would be exempt or a graduated plan in top‐down increments impacting more highly paid employees first or in greater amounts. A furlough plan may provide for a full furlough with no work hours for a specific period of time or a partial furlough with reduced or intermittent workdays or hours for a specific period of time. Employees will be returned to their positions and assignments upon the end of a furlough unless conditions necessitate layoffs or other separations from employment.

 

PROCEDURES

Colleges and departments seeking to implement a college or department furlough plan shall define the potential employee group for the purpose of assigning furloughs based on organizational structure, work location, type of work performed, funding source, operational needs, third party obligations, work availability, performance, experience, expertise, skills and competencies, state or federal requirements, ability to perform work remotely or other relevant factors related to the basis for the furlough.

 

Colleges and departments shall provide a furlough justification plan outlining the reasons for the furlough, employees affected, furlough schedule and pertinent information to the appropriate Dean and Vice President(s) for approval. The appropriate Vice President will forward to Human Resources for review, approval and implementation. An employee may only be furloughed during those days in which the employee is in pay status.

 

Prior to assignment of furloughs, colleges and departments may seek and accept volunteers for furlough. In lieu of a furlough assignment, and in consultation with UF Human Resources, colleges or departments have the discretion to temporarily reassign employees to other available job duties. Such reassignments may not be permissible for employees who work in positions funded by contracts or grants.

 

Determination of furlough assignments shall be made without discrimination on any basis identified in UF Regulation 1.006 or state or federal law. The provisions of this policy shall not be used to place an employee on a furlough if the sole cause is either misconduct or performance deficiencies.

 

Employees on a furlough are relieved of work duties during the period of furlough, and there is no expectation for work to continue during furloughed time off. Employees on a partial furlough may not work above the effort identified in the furlough assignment and cannot make up the furlough time by working additional hours to be compensated at another time. The University may change furlough conditions, including the time period, the employee’s hours and days of work, and the assigned duties, upon written notice as set forth in this policy. Employees may not volunteer to continue to work in their UF positions during the assigned furlough period. Faculty, however, will maintain access to offices, clinics, and labs, as well as to the other physical resources and electronic resources (including email, virtual libraries and UF databases, and computer networks) of the University, in the same way that 9‐month faculty retain access to those resources during the summer. This includes access to UF administrative resources (submission of proposals, administration of grants, etc.).

 

If an employee is assigned a partial furlough that involves a specific number of furlough days or hours, a supervisor has the discretion to approve an employee‐proposed plan in which furlough days or hours occur or are observed on specific dates that are spread out over a set period of time during the furlough period specified by the University.

 

Employees should ordinarily not be furloughed any more than 640 hours during any rolling twelve (12) month time period, prorated based on the length of the employee’s appointment period. If a condition listed in the Policy Statement above persists for a college or department, the college or department may present justification to the Vice President for UF Human Resources, who may approve two extensions of up to 160 hours each of furlough assignment for an employee, prorated based on length of appointment period.

 

Furloughs do not extend a non‐renewal period. Employees shall not be furloughed if the sole basis is that they are in a non‐renewal period. Employees on leave—including sabbaticals, FMLA and other forms of leave—are not exempt from furlough consideration. Probationary periods for TEAMS employees impacted by a furlough may be adjusted at the discretion of the unit, subject to university regulation and collective bargaining agreements as applicable.

 

Employees may continue engaging in approved outside activities during a furlough and must seek approval of new outside activities.

 

The University may implement a university‐wide furlough plan if the President or designee makes the determination set forth in the Policy Statement. A university‐wide furlough plan shall comply with the provisions in this policy that are not specifically directed to college and department furlough plans.

 

The right to grieve a furlough assignment is limited to the process described in this policy. A furlough assignment is not stayed during a grievance. Employees may not grieve a university‐wide furlough.

 

NOTICE

The University shall provide employees with no less than a 30‐calendar day notice regarding the initiation of a furlough assignment; such notice will include the length of the furlough and whether it will affect employee assignments, such as teaching, research, and service. The University shall provide employees with no less than a 7‐day notice regarding early ending of a furlough assignment. However, the nature of the unforeseen circumstances that can trigger a need for furloughs, their modification, or early ending may not always allow for advance notice. In extraordinary circumstances, the University may provide less notice. The University will provide the impacted employee(s) with a written explanation of the circumstances justifying the shorter notice.

 

A notice initiating a full furlough assignment shall include the anticipated number of hours of the furlough. A notice initiating a partial furlough shall include the anticipated number of hours of the furlough, the applicable assigned hours and days of work, the assigned duties and a statement that the employee may not work more than the assigned hours and days. Furlough notices shall include information regarding how employees may maintain their benefits during the furlough.

 

EMPLOYEE BENEFITS AND CONTRIBUTIONS WHILE ON FURLOUGH

Employees continue to be benefits-eligible during a furlough, and the employer contribution for health insurance will continue based on the employee’s FTE prior to any furlough so that an employee’s cost for health insurance will not increase in the absence of other qualified status changes.  Furloughed employees who remain in partial pay status will continue to accrue leave at the appropriate prorated amount based on the actual hours worked during the furlough period. Employees may not use accrued paid leave to cover time off during a furlough.

 

Consistent with normal practice for an unpaid leave of absence and in keeping with state of Florida requirements, employees shall pay the employee portion of insurance premiums out of pocket if placed on a full furlough or if a reduced‐hours furlough does not generate enough income to pay the employee portion from payroll deduction. Retirement and Social Security contributions by both the employee and the University will be impacted by a furlough, as contributions are based on actual earnings in keeping with state and federal requirements.

 

Employees’ continuous service, including for retirement purposes, length of service and hire anniversary date will not be impacted by a furlough. Employees on furlough may continue to utilize the University’s Employee Assistance Program.

 

AUTHORITY

UF Regulation 1.017 Separations from Employment, Layoff, and Furlough

 

REPORTING QUESTIONS OR VIOLATIONS

The following department, office, or individual is responsible for overseeing implementation of and assuring compliance with this policy. Any individual with questions about the policy may contact the following:

 

UFHR – Employee Relations

903 W. University Avenue

P.O. Box 115000

Gainesville, FL 32611

Phone: (352) 392‐1072

Email: EmployeeRelations@hr.ufl.edu