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Furlough Information for HR Professionals

While the University struggles with operational and financial impacts of the COVID-19 health care crisis, protecting our employees’ access to health, dental and life insurance are critically important during this time. The University recently reached agreements with the following labor associations regarding furloughs: 

Agreement Highlights

Some important parts of the agreement include:

  • The duration of furloughs must be more than 30 days and less than six months and cannot extend beyond Dec. 31, 2020.
  • Employees have a right to a seven-calendar-day notice before a furlough begins.
  • Employees may volunteer for furloughs with unit approval or be selected by a unit to be placed on furlough.
  • There are seniority rules that units must follow in selecting employees for furlough. Furloughs will be determined within a unit and within a primary work location and within an employment classification.
  • Probationary employees within the unit, primary work location, and affected classification must be furloughed before non-probationary employees (providing the non-probationary employees can perform the work.).
  • Temporary employees must be furloughed before permanent employees;
  • Employees with shorter service within a unit and primary work location and classification will be furloughed before employees with longer service.
  • An unpaid furlough cannot be used to rotate or toggle employees between an unpaid furlough and active status, whether on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
  • Except for 1585, an employee on an unpaid furlough may perform one (1) week of work during a furlough due to pressing operational needs. The employee shall be paid for one week of work and may not work in excess of their employment percentage in that week.
  • Seniority rules also apply to the order in which employees may be returned to work when furloughs conclude.
  • Units that are unable to return all employees to their jobs will have the ability to transition furloughs to layoffs. If that occurs, all regular contractual layoff rights and processes will apply.

Some relevant agreement-specific provisions include:

  • Related to seniority, the CTU agreement proceeds by “department” as defined in the CTU collective bargaining agreement, work location, and classification.
  • The furlough agreement with Local 1585 requires that temporary and probationary employees must be furloughed before permanent employees within a unit, primary work location, and an employment classification;
  • The furlough agreement with the APSA requires probationary employees must be furloughed before permanent employees within a unit, primary work location, and an employment classification, provided the non-probationary employees can perform the available work.
  • The furlough agreement with APSA specifies that employees within a unit and, within a primary work location and within an employment classification with unsatisfactory records will be furloughed before employees with satisfactory records. (Defined as two consecutive unsatisfactory evaluations signed/presented by Apr. 1, 2020).
  • Related to the one week of work during the furlough, the APA and APSA agreements allow for units to require an employee to work for a week with appropriate notice. In the CTU agreement, arrangements must be mutually agreeable; advance notice is not required, and employees can decline the request.

Process Information

Process steps related to initiating furloughs include:

  1. Email a request to initiate furloughs to the Solutions Center Support Staff Layoff Team at AVPHR.TMAmail@campusad.msu.edu.
  2. You will receive a response email from the team with a checklist outlining what materials you need to provide. You can review the checklist here.
  3. Submit the required materials back to the Support Staff Layoff Team for review and approval.
  4. If the request does not meet the selection criteria outlined in the agreement, an HR analyst will reach out to you to discuss options, and you may need to provide additional information or changes to your furlough selections.
  5. When approved, MSU HR will email a furlough notice to the impacted employee, copying the supervisor and the union.
  6. The Leaves Team will then enter the furlough into EBS, which will stop pay as of the effective date and place the employee in furlough status.

The effective date of the furlough can be no less than seven days from the date notice is given to the employee. We estimate processing time for requests may take up to a week depending on the number of furloughs requested, whether the list submitted adheres to the selection rules defined in the agreement, and the total volume of requests.

Please note that units seeking to furlough employees will need to create documentation that provides selection criteria and justifies any furlough decisions from a budgetary perspective. Such documentation is also required in the event of a layoff. You may be called upon to provide this documentation as part of the University’s application and agreement for receiving the CARES Act funds. Documentation could include creating a spreadsheet to document the selection criteria and the budgetary reasons for the decisions. Retain this documentation at the unit level.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please review the list of FAQs regarding furloughs here.

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