Furlough Frequently Asked Questions for HR Professionals
The following FAQs should help unit administrators and supervisors work through the furlough process for support staff.
Last Modified: May 29, 2020
The purpose of negotiating furloughs was to provide units that are experiencing significant budget challenges due to the COVID-19 crisis a way to achieve short-term financial savings while protecting employees from loss of employer-paid health, life and dental benefits during the pandemic and allowing for a faster and more targeted recall of staff to their jobs when campus operations return to a more normal state.
Furloughs can only be implemented for employees in the following labor associations:
- Administrative Professional Association (APA) - View the agreement here.
- Administrative Professional Supervisor Association (APSA) - View the agreement here.
- Clerical-Technical Union (CTU) – View the agreement here (link).
- Local 1585 – View the agreement here (link).
- Local 274 – View the agreement here (link).
For non-union support staff, contact the Solutions Center Support Staff Layoff Team at AVPHR.TMAmail@campusad.msu.edu.
APA and CTU employees who received layoff notices between Apr. 30, 2020 and when their respective furlough agreements went into effect will have their layoffs rescinded and will be placed on furlough.
At this time, layoffs may still be initiated for support staff employees in positions represented by SSTU, Local 324 and POAM.
The materials requested assist MSU HR in analyzing furlough lists from units to ensure the selection of employees to be furloughed within a unit is in compliance with the agreement. Units will be asked to provide their unit org chart, a list of names, job titles, classifications and work locations of people the unit wants to furlough, and some other materials that allow the team to analyze the request to ensure it meets seniority provisions of agreement. If you would like to view a copy of the furlough checklist before initiating your request, it may assist you in preparing for the furlough process.
Please keep in mind that one of the goals of implementing furloughs is to help units achieve necessary short-term savings while avoiding leaving employees without benefits during a pandemic for up to the next six months. If a unit needs to transition furloughs to layoffs, it may make sense to initiate that change in accordance with contractually required notice periods for layoffs to ensure employees continue to have benefits. Contact the Support Staff Hiring/Layoff Team if you feel you need to initiate layoffs and an HR Analyst will discuss options with you at that time.
It may be helpful to read the FAQs that have been prepared specifically for employees about furloughs.
If employees request to be furloughed, units should honor those requests if operationally possible. Units do have the authority to decline these requests for operational reasons but must then describe the reasons for the denial in writing to both the employee and the union. Employees being furloughed because they volunteered to do so should be identified as volunteers on furlough lists submitted to HR so their seniority dates aren’t included in the analysis of employees the unit is choosing to furlough. Proof of the intent to volunteer must also be submitted. This can be a written request or an email from the employee stating they wish to volunteer.
HR will make every effort to process furlough requests within five business days from receiving a unit’s checklist materials, but the length of processing time is somewhat dependent on the volume of requests received in any given week and whether or not the unit has followed the seniority guidelines for selection outlined in the agreement. We will make every effort to process furloughs as quickly as possible, but we do recommend submitting your request and checklist materials at least a week in advance of the date you would like the seven-day notice to begin.
They will receive an email from HR to their MSU Net ID email address. Their supervisor and/or a central unit HR administrator will be copied in order to facilitate communication between your unit and the employee. If requested, a unit HR administrator may also be copied. In addition, the union will be copied on the email as well. We recognize that the COVID-19 situation makes in-person conversations difficult, but we do recommend a unit HR administrator or supervisor follow up with the employee via phone or email to discuss the furlough with the employee. The email sent to the employee will also provide contact information for a team at MSU HR that can assist employees in understanding the terms of their furlough.
Employee e-mail addresses will remain active but you should not use email to assign or allow the employee to do work while on furlough. During furlough email should only be used to provide information relevant to the employee’s furlough. EBS employee self-service access will remain active to allow the employee to complete functions like updating their address and personal information and participating in open enrollment. Any work related EBS access or building accesses will remain in place unless the unit takes steps to revoke or turn that access off.
General questions about the agreement can be emailed to the Support Staff Hiring/Layoff Team at AVPHR.TMAmail@campusad.msu.edu. Staff in the Solutions Center best able to answer unit questions about furlough processes include Kristie Sova, Peggy Gallandt, Queen McMiller, Samantha Lake and Alice Smith. General questions staff may have about furloughs are best directed to the Solutions Center at 517-353-4434 or SolutionsCenter@hr.msu.edu.
Health, dental and basic life insurance will be continued for the length of the furlough. Any premiums that are were deducted prior to the furlough will need to be paid and an invoice will be sent. You can view a more detailed breakdown on benefits on the employee resource webpage.