Temporary Furlough and Temporary Reduced Hours: What you need to know

April 30, 2020  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees

As previously announced, Michigan Medicine, in alignment with U-M, will offer two voluntary programs for staff:

  • a temporary furlough program for staff in non-critical operations
  • a temporary reduction in hours

In each case, employees would be able to return to their regular positions and hours at the end of the approved period (including any mutually agreed upon extensions). Staff with regular, non-temporary appointments are eligible.

Temporary furloughs and temporarily reduced hours are voluntary, and requests must be made between April 27, 2020 and May 8, 2020. Approved voluntary furloughs and reduced hours can start as early as May 1 but no later than May 30, 2020.

How to sign up to participate

Those employees interested in signing up for either program must complete the temporary furlough request form and submit it to their manager/supervisor.

Department leadership will review all requests and determine approval/denial based on department need during the duration of the furlough period. Approval letters will be issued to those granted requests, including information about start and end dates and how to apply for unemployment.

Managers and supervisors, or department designee, will initiate the furlough process on behalf of the employee with the Human Resources Solution Center.

Details of the Temporary Furlough Program

Furloughs are temporary layoffs/leaves that do not lead to termination. They can either be offered by the unit to employees or they can be requested by employees. Units determine whether to approve employee requests and areas performing critical operations can opt out of the program.

During the temporary furlough period, the staff member:

  • does no work for the unit and receives no pay;
  • remains a university employee;
  • is eligible to file for unemployment compensation;
  • does receive continued university benefits;
  • does continue to receive the university contribution toward their benefit plans (health, dental, long-term disability, life), and the university also will pay the monthly employee contribution for health insurance; and
  • retains accrued vacation and sick time (additional time will not accrue)

The employee’s regular available paid time off balances will be maintained. COVID-PTO paid time off will no longer be available to those who take a furlough.

Details of Temporary Reduction in Hours

Staff or units may request a temporary reduction in hours (reduced effort). Staff with effort that remains at or above 50 percent retain benefits and university contributions and return to their previous level of effort on a pre-arranged date. 

Staff members must receive unit approval for temporary reduction of hours.

During the temporary period of reduced hours, the staff member:

  • reduces weekly work hours (effort) by 15 to 45 percent (as agreed upon);
  • continues benefits (with appointments remaining at or above 50% effort) at the same premium rates paid before reducing hours;
  • accrues vacation or PTO at reduced effort;
  • receives other paid-time-off benefits prorated to the reduced effort (holidays, funeral days, etc.)
  • returns to their regular effort after 60 to 120 calendar days (on the return date approved by the unit)

Eligibility for state unemployment

Employees participating in these programs may choose to file a claim for state unemployment compensation. The university will not contest the claim as long as the employee did not decline an offer to be redeployed to another position. 

Eligibility for and amount of unemployment benefits are determined by the state of Michigan. The current maximum state weekly benefit is $362 and may include an additional weekly supplement of $600 from the Federal CARES Act through July 25, 2020.

Contributions to benefits

Employees can maintain their university benefits if they participate in a temporary furlough or if they maintain at least a 50 percent appointment in a temporary reduction in hours. 

The employee portion of the health care premium will be waived for the period of furlough and will not need to be paid upon return. 

The employee will, however, be responsible for making up any contributions to dental, life, long-term disability, legal and vision plans. There will be no university contributions to the retirement savings plan during the period of furlough.

For more information about the temporary furlough and temporary reduction in hours programs, please read the Human Resources FAQs. If you have additional questions, please reach out to your HR Business Partners.