Furlough Frequently Asked Questions
The following FAQs should help answer questions you have about the MSU furlough process and what it means for impacted employees.
Last Modified: May 29, 2020
A furlough is a period of time where you will not perform work for MSU and will not receive pay, but will continue to receive the University contribution toward your health, dental and basic employer-paid life benefits. Furloughs will last no less than 30 days and no more than six months and can extend no longer than June 30, 2021.
Yes. Typically, your policy coverage can continue if you switch payment from payroll to a different form of payment (e.g. credit card, direct deposit, check, etc.). How this is handled differs by provider, however, so please reach out to the MSU Benefits Plus Customer Care team to learn about your coverage continuity options by calling 888-758-7575 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
You also will automatically start being billed for your portion of health care and/or dental premiums that were deducted from your paycheck prior to furlough. (Example: if you were not enrolled in the lowest cost plan and selected a more expensive plan, you will be billed for the difference between the lowest cost plan and the higher cost plan you selected.)
Furlough stops pay. This substantial change in income is a work event which does allow you to make a change to your benefits. You have 30 days from the effective date of your furlough to change your health, dental, voluntary and employee-paid life insurance. Please note if you change your employee-paid life insurance, you may be required to go through evidence of insurability to re-enroll or change to your previous levels.
At this time, populations represented by APA, APSA, CTU, Local 274 and Local 1585 and non-union support staff positions can volunteer for furlough.
Start by talking to your supervisor or manager. Please note that MSU HR cannot process voluntary furloughs requested directly by employees – those requests need to come to HR from the unit HR administrator.
Yes, units can turn down requests for an employee to take a furlough if that employee going on furlough would create unreasonable operational difficulties for the unit. If a request for an APA, APSA, CTU, Local 274 or Local 1585 represented employee is denied, the unit must provide a written response to the employee and their union describing the reasons for the denial.
No, the employing unit makes decisions about the time frame of furloughs and makes decisions about when to call employees back (within seniority guidelines described in the agreements.) You can suggest dates you want, but units can approve or not.
In a layoff, the employer contribution to benefits ends the first of the month after the effective date of layoff – though employees can continue benefits by self-paying the full premiums. And pay continues during a contractually defined notice period until the effective date of the layoff. In a furlough, pay stops after a seven-day notice period, but the employer contribution toward health and dental continues through the end of the furlough. Employer paid life insurance continues for 180 days from the last day paid.
Though the intent is to return as many people as possible to the jobs they left at the end of furlough, in some cases, some people may be laid off instead of being returned to work after furlough. When this happens, all contractual layoff rights will apply, including contractual seniority rules for selection, full notice periods and pay during the notice period.
You would be notified that your furlough is ending and your notice period of an impending layoff will begin. You may be asked to return to work for the duration of the notice period or you may be paid at your regular rate for the duration of the notice period without coming back to work on-site. Once the lay-off notice period ends, layoff status begins. Pay stops, university contribution to benefits ends the first of the next month and all contractual rights pertaining to layoff apply.
You will receive an email to your MSU Net ID email address. Your supervisor and/or central unit HR administrator will be copied in order to facilitate communication between you and your unit. If applicable, your union and departmental HR administrator from your unit will also be copied. A delivery receipt on the email will automatically be recorded at HR but we also request employees to confirm your receipt of the email by replying that you have received it. The date your furlough is scheduled to begin will be included in the e-mail notice but will not be less than seven calendar days from the date the email was sent.
You will receive an email to your MSU Net ID email address from MSU HR. A print copy of the e-mail notice will also be mailed to your last address on record. Your supervisor or another individual from your unit may also attempt to reach you. You have seven days from the date of your return notice was emailed to return to work.
Additional time may be approved on a case-by-case basis by your supervisor or unit HR administrator if you have a serious health condition that prevents you from returning, are caring for a family member with a serious health condition or have another compelling reason to delay your return that is approved by your department. Failure to accept a return to work at your former primary work location within seven days will be deemed a resignation if advance approval of a delay is not approved in writing by your unit.
If allowed by the applicable letter of agreement, employees may come in for a week of work during the course of a furlough. If this applies, you will be paid in a lump sum payment for project pay. Your department requests this pay for you using a special pay form. You may only be called in and paid in this manner once during the duration of the furlough.
No. If this one week return is allowed by the applicalbe letter of agreement, you continue to be in furlough status, however, the pay you receive could impact unemployment benefits for that week. Consult with the Michigan Unemployment Office if you are concerned.
You may qualify for unemployment compensation during a furlough. You can find information on how to apply for unemployment at: michigan.gov/uia. It is important to note that it is the State of Michigan, not MSU, that will determine if you qualify for unemployment. MSU will not contest non-fraudulent requests. Information you may need to apply includes the Michigan State Employer Account Number: (0800416-000) and the Michigan State Federal Employer Identification Number (38-6005984). Please see the Fact Sheet provided by the State of Michigan for additional personal information that may be needed.
It depends on what your question is. If you have questions about benefits, your furlough status or other questions about how furloughs work, contact the MSU HR Solutions Center at email@example.com or 517-353-4434. If your question is about your specific work assignment, working for up to a week during furlough or your department’s operations or plans for returns, the best person to start with would be your supervisor. If you cannot reach your supervisor, then another manager or the unit HR administrator in your unit would be the next good choice. MSU HR will not be able to assist with questions that are specific to your unit’s operations or plans.