Furlough Policy

This policy provides direction for UW–Madison’s implementation of short-term, involuntary, unpaid furloughs of faculty and staff in response to ongoing exigent circumstances impacting the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Functional Owner

Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources

Executive Sponsor

Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration

Policy Contact

Director, OHR/Workforce Relations

Effective Date: May 1, 2020

Policy Summary

This policy provides direction for UW–Madison’s implementation of short-term, involuntary, unpaid furloughs of faculty and staff in response to ongoing exigent circumstances impacting the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Who This Policy Applies To

This policy applies to all University of Wisconsin–Madison employees, including, but not limited to Faculty, Academic Staff, University Staff, Limited Appointees, Employees-In-Training, and Graduate Assistants (Teaching Assistants, Research Assistants, and Program Assistants), and Post-Doctoral Scholars.

Rationale

In accordance with authority granted to UW–Madison under Wis. Stats. S. 36.115 and Regent Policy Document 20-21, UW–Madison has the ability to implement a variety of staffing and cost savings measures to address temporary workforce reduction needs in a manner which minimizes the need to lay off or non-renew employees and maximizes the university’s ability to continue to perform its critical educational, research and outreach mission.

Policy Detail

  1. The Chancellor has the authority to implement short-term, involuntary, unpaid, employee furlough program(s) on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus after determining that furloughs are warranted based on ongoing exigent circumstances impacting the campus. The Chancellor may implement furloughs in the manner deemed necessary to address the work and/or funding reductions impacting the campus.
    1. A furlough may be implemented, through full or partial leave of absence, by1:
      1. All titles, or a portion thereof, across the entire campus,
      2. All titles, or a portion thereof, within select colleges, schools, or divisions, departments, or operational areas within one or more colleges, schools, or divisions,
      3. Select titles, or a portion thereof, across the entire campus,
      4. Select titles, or a portion thereof, within select colleges, schools, or divisions, departments, or operational areas within one or more colleges, schools, or divisions,
      5. Select positions that service a program or customer area affected by the exigent circumstances
    2. In the event of a position-specific furlough program, the Chancellor may offer employees an opportunity to register for the initial furlough roster. The Chancellor will consider this initial roster when identifying and selecting employees for unpaid furlough based on campus operational needs. Employees placed on an unpaid furlough based off of the initial roster will be treated as employees placed on an involuntary furlough under this policy.
      1. Alternatively, in the event of a furlough program, the Chancellor may offer employees an opportunity to volunteer to be placed on unpaid leave. The Chancellor will consider these requests and determine whether operational needs permit the employee to be placed on furlough. The voluntary nature of this furlough may impact the employees’ eligibility for unemployment compensation.
    3. The Chancellor has the ability to exempt certain positions from furlough based on campus operational needs or instances where furloughs do not result in any cost savings due to the position funding source (e.g., law enforcement, post-doctoral fellow, graduate assistants, externally funded positions).
    4. The minimum furlough period is one-half day (4-hours), and the maximum total period of furlough is twenty-four months.
  2. Furloughs may be implemented, at the Chancellor’s direction, as:
    1. A continuous partial leave of absence or reduction of an employee’s FTE (e.g., reducing a full-time employee to 90% for 3 months),
    2. A continuous leave of absence (e.g., a 100% unpaid leave of absence for 3 months),
    3. An intermittent leave of absence (e.g., one day of unpaid leave each week over the course of a year, or unpaid leave taken at various times throughout the year that adds up to a required furlough allocation), or
    4. Any combination of these options
  3. Employees shall be provided with written notice of a furlough as soon as is practicable, but no less than seven calendar days in advance of (1) the first day of furlough for a continuous furlough; or (2) the first available day of furlough for an intermittent furlough.
  4. Furlough percentages may be increased or decreased, and the furlough period may be extended, shortened, or ended at any time, consistent with the notice periods outlined within this policy, at the Chancellor’s discretion.
  5. Employees on furlough may not engage in any work on behalf of the University while on unpaid furlough. While on furlough, employees may not report to the workplace, send work-related emails, use university property or engage in other activities for the benefit of the University.
  6. Employees must be provided with written notice that the furlough program is ending and that the employee is being returned to active pay status. Written notice of the conclusion of a furlough program should be provided at least seven calendar days in advance of the first day the employee is expected to return to work.
  7. A furlough is not a layoff, non-renewal or termination. The furlough process is not a substitute for layoff, non-renewal, or termination processes as outlined in Wisconsin Administrative code or university policy.
  8. Decisions to place particular employees, or groups of employees, on furlough shall be done in a non-discriminatory manner and in accordance with the Chancellor’s furlough plan to address exigent circumstances impacting the campus (i.e., a reduction of work, reduction of funding). A furlough decision may not be made based on performance, or any characteristic protected by State, Federal or local law.
  9. Employees impacted by furlough may have the ability to appeal the decision through the grievance procedure associated with their particular employment category, or the Office of Compliance (Equal Opportunity Investigator, Title IX Coordinator, or Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator).
  10. The university will provide employees placed on furlough with guidance and resources regarding the eligibility and process for pursuing Unemployment Compensation.
  11. Effects on employee benefits when on unpaid furloughs are/can be found at wisconsin.edu/ohrwd/benefits/life-events/empcha/furloughs.

1 When two or more similarly situated employees are identified in a furlough group which does not require all employees in the group to be furloughed, furloughs should be implemented by furloughing (in succession) temporary employees, probationary employees, and then employees based on years of university service. Exceptions to the furlough order can be requested through written request to OHR in circumstances where a less senior or temporary employee has knowledge, skills and abilities necessary for continued operations or essential campus services.

Definitions

Exigent Circumstances: means any significant campus-wide event or occurrence that creates a need for the University to drastically reduce financial expenditures for personnel including, but not limited to, a decline in the University’s financial resources, substantial decline in enrollment, funding reduction, temporary or permanent closure of campus operations, or unanticipated major expense or capital need.

Furlough: a furlough is the involuntary, temporary placement of any university faculty or staff member on a partial or full unpaid leave of absence because of reduction of work, reduction of funding, or for other non-disciplinary reasons. A furlough shall constitute a “leave of absence” as defined in Wis. Stat. sec. 40.02(40).

Intermittent Furlough: An intermittent furlough provides for an unpaid furlough taken in separate periods of time, rather than being taken as one continuous leave of absence. Intermittent furlough days may be specified by the university, or may be coordinated with the employee’s supervisor, or a combination thereof.

Consecutive Day Furlough: A consecutive day furlough is an unpaid leave of absence for a specified time period taken on successive days.

Position-Specific Furlough: A position-specific furlough is a temporary unpaid leave of absence due to lack of work or if an employee cannot work remotely. Operational needs will determine whether the reduction is for a part or all of the employee’s normal work schedule, and how long this furlough will last.

Operational Area: an area of focus or function in a college, school, division, department or office. An operational area will generally be a subset of a college, school, division, department or office, and need not include the whole unit.

Links to Related Policies

Wis. Stats. s. 36.115

University Staff Grievances Policy

Academic Staff Grievances and Complaints

Faculty Grievances and Complaints

Benefits Policies

Link to Policy

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