July 24, 2020
These guidelines are subject to change based on changes to the applicable UW System interim policies. Please ensure that you are working from the most current version of this document.
Position Specific Furloughs
UWM’s implementation of Position Specific Furloughs (PSF) is based on UW System’s Interim Furlough Policy (SYS 1200-Interim 04), issued on April 17, 2020. In the UW System policy, PSFs are referred to as “Consecutive Day Furlough Assignment.” UW System has published FAQs on its policy, and UWM’s FAQs may be found here: Frequently Asked Questions on PSF. PSF does not apply to UWM faculty. UWM employees on a H1-B or E-3 visa are not subject to furloughs.
PSF may be implemented at any time as operational needs arise, so long as the UW System interim policy remains in effect. PSF is a temporary method of reducing an employee’s FTE until such time as they may return to their normal FTE. If a division does not anticipate bringing an employee back to their normal FTE, UWM’s layoff process should be followed. A layoff process may be initiated while an employee is on a PSF.
General Information about PSF at UWM
- PSF may occur in full or partial, and as such, employees on a PSF are permitted to work only the number of hours equivalent to their full-time equivalency under the PSF.
- PSFs of greater than 50% may not last longer than 90 days past the month of the employee’s last day in pay status. (e.g. if the employee’s last day in pay status is September 15, the furlough must end on or before December 30.) Units should consult with the HRBP who works with the school/college/division if they have any questions about the length of a PSF.
- The interim policy allows institutions to implement subsequent PSFs for employees for the duration of the interim policy (June 30, 2022). Employees in an unpaid status are only eligible for the employer share of health insurance for a 3-month period. If an employee already received the employer share of health insurance for a 3-month period on a prior PSF, they may not receive another 3 months of coverage if those furlough periods are consecutive.
- Employees may be called back to work before the end of the furlough period, upon seven days’ notice, based on operational needs.
- HRBPs should consult with their respective Deans/Division Heads to submit requests for PSF through the e-workflow process (Streamline) provided by Human Resources, greater than seven days before the initiation of the PSF.
- Deans/Division Heads should develop a process for informally/personally notifying individual employees of the furlough before the formal notice is sent by the appropriate Human Resources Professional.
- The appropriate Human Resources Professional will formally notify all impacted individuals by email and U.S. mail.
- Employees will be provided information/resources regarding benefits, unemployment insurance, etc.
- Employees placed on a subsequent, consecutive PSF who are enrolled in State of Wisconsin health insurance must return from the initial PSF for a minimum of 30 days at 50% FTE before being placed on a subsequent PSF. Failure to accomplish this will cause the employee to become responsible for the full health insurance premium.
- Employees enrolled in health insurance through the State of Wisconsin who are placed on an initial PSF in September will continue to receive the State’s contribution of the monthly premium up to December 31, 2020.
- This time frame is rolling in nature, i.e., employees placed on a PSF in October, if they work at least one day in October, will continue to receive the State’s contribution of the monthly health insurance premium through January 31, 2021. The State’s coverage of the monthly premium includes the month in which the employee last worked plus three additional months.
- The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) has indicated they will only allow an employee who is receiving the State’s contribution toward their health insurance premium to be placed on a PSF less than 50% FTE twice. For example:
- An employee who receives the State’s contribution toward health insurance may have been placed on PSF of less than 50% FTE in May and will be brought back by or before August 31.
- The employee remains at an FTE of at least 50% through October 1.
- On October 2, a subsequent PSF begins at less than 50% FTE and runs through January 30, 2021.
- On January 31, the employee must be returned to active status and remain at minimally 50% FTE on an on-going basis. If the employee is placed on any further PSFs of less than 50%, the employee will be responsible for the full health insurance premium.
- Employees placed on PSF will not realize a decrease to the leave accrual they normally receive.
- Employees will realize a reduction in creditable service and contribution toward the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS).
- Employees may not use other accrued leave (e.g. vacation or sick leave) during the furlough period.
- Where an employee is on grant funding or other soft funding that is continuing, there is not a financial reason to furlough the employee. However, if the employee’s responsibilities have changed and the employee is not able to work, either full or part-time, action should be taken to end or reduce the appointment, either through an FTE reduction or partial furlough.
- In determining employees to participate in PSF, Deans and Division Heads should consider the following questions:
- Is the work critical to complete/support instruction/research? Was the work mission critical when the institution was conducting instruction/research on site but has become less/not mission critical now that instruction/research have been partially moved to alternative delivery?
- Has work been assigned that is project in nature and could be completed at another time?
- Could work be completed with lesser FTE? To the best of your knowledge, are staff working to their full-time equivalency?
- Does the department have student employees or University Staff temporary employees completing mission critical work? If on-going staff are candidates for PSF, generally, these positions should be eliminated and work reassigned to on-going staff.
- Is completion of work assigned to employees remotely being accomplished successfully?
- Deans, Division Heads and supervisors should assess the nature of their employees’ work throughout the pandemic and consider all of the items mentioned above for the possibility of placing an employee on a PSF.