Furloughs at Idaho State
As President Satterlee shared in his May 5 email to employees Idaho State University has implemented a mandatory furlough plan for fiscal year 2021, with an option for employees to elect to take additional, voluntary furlough days through June 2021. A furlough is an unpaid leave of absence from work for a specific period of time. It is different from a layoff in that an employee remains employed and maintains their benefits. Unpaid time off from work can be stressful and may be a burden for employees. Because of this, Idaho State wants to provide flexibility in meeting the requirements of the furlough plan while also supporting the needs of our employees.
Idaho State’s furlough plan will consist of two components:
- Mandatory furloughs - required for all faculty and staff during FY21 tiered by salary; and
- Voluntary furloughs - an optional program to take up to 5 additional furlough days between now and the end of FY21
Fiscal Year 2021(June 28, 2020 through June 26, 2021)
Mandatory furloughs are based on estimated annual salary and must be taken during the upcoming fiscal year (see table below). All University employees, faculty and staff alike, who earn $40,000 or more a year, will be required to take a number of unpaid days according to salary tiers. These furlough days have been prorated to the nearest half-day for employees on partial-year appointments:
|Annual Salary||Full-Time 12-Month Appointment|
Furlough Days (26 Pay Periods)
Furlough Days (24 Pay Periods)
Furlough Days (22 Pay Periods)
|9-Month Appointment |
(20 Pay Periods)
|$150,000 or more||13 Days||12 Days||11 Days||10 Day|
|$125,000 - $149,999||10 Days||9 Days||8.5 Days||7.5 Days|
|$100,000 - $124,999||8 Days||7.5 Days||7 Days||6 Days|
|$80,000 - $99,999||6 Days||5.5 Days||5 Days||4.5 Days|
|$60,000 - 79,999||4 Days||3.5 Days||3.5 Days||3 Days|
|$40,000 - 59,999||2 Days||2 Days||1.5 Days||1.5 Days|
- Furlough days have been prorated to the nearest half-day for partial year employees so that those employees aren’t disproportionately impacted by the furlough requirement.
- Furlough days must be taken in full-day or half-day increments.
- Furlough days can be scheduled with supervisors throughout the fiscal year in an attempt to balance personal preference of the employee and business needs of the unit.
- Mandatory furlough days may begin to be taken on June 29, 2020, for 12 month employees and August 10, 2020 for nine (9), ten (10) and eleven (11) month faculty and staff. Half of an employee’s assigned furlough days must be taken by the conclusion of the pay period ending December 26, 2020. The remaining half of furlough days are expected to be taken between December 27, 2020 and June 26, 2021, or the respective end date for nine (9), ten (10) and eleven (11) month faculty and staff.
- For purposes of identifying the appropriate salary tier, the salary level on July 1, (August 10, 2020 for 9, 10, and 11, month faculty and staff), and January 1, 2021, will be used in assigning furlough tiers for each semester. Salary adjustments between those dates will not affect the furlough plan during each respective semester.
Mandatory Furlough Implementation Details
The following process has been developed to help support flexibility for individuals and departments in managing furlough days, while also minimizing disruption and impact to students. Prior to the start of the FY2021 contract year, each faculty and staff member impacted by the furlough will receive an email communication from HR that includes your:
- FY2021 salary,
- required number of furlough days, and
- additional instructions about how furlough days can be recorded.
Because classified staff record hours worked and are eligible for overtime and compensatory time under Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and/or State Division of Human Resources regulations, furlough days will be self-reported in BengalWeb using the time entry code “Mandatory Furlough.” Furlough time will be coordinated with your departments to ensure work coverage, and must be taken in full day or half day increments.
Faculty and Non-Classified Staff
Faculty and non-classified staff who are exempt from overtime provisions of the FLSA will have the option to have the resulting salary reduction from furlough days applied only to the pay periods in which the furlough is taken or they can request to have the resulting salary reduction evenly spread over multiple pay periods per semester. All faculty and non-classified staff will be sent a Furlough Election Form for each semester to ensure that their preferred payroll election is processed for the furlough reduction in salary.
Faculty on sabbatical during FY21 will participate in the mandatory furlough plan as follows:
- Full-year sabbatical - A faculty member who is on a full-year sabbatical will have their sabbatical salary reduced at the salary tier level commensurate to their sabbatical pay. For example, a 9-month faculty member that is receiving $40,000 during AY 2021 for their sabbatical pay will have their pay reduced by an amount that would be equivalent to 1.5 contract days (per the normal furlough schedule).
- Half-year sabbatical - A faculty member who is on a half-year sabbatical will be subject to the mandatory furlough schedule consistent with other faculty members, and will have their salary reduced by an amount that would be equivalent to the furlough days during their period of sabbatical.
Employees hired during FY21 will be subject to the mandatory furlough schedule commensurate to their actual FY21 salary level paid, prorated to the months worked in the fiscal year. For example, an employee that is hired with 9 months remaining in FY21 will be required to take the furlough days for a 9-month appointment, at the appropriate salary tier for the salary they will be scheduled to receive during the remainder of FY21. Hiring departments should coordinate with HR to ensure that offer letters properly outline the mandatory furlough plan during FY21.
Mid-Year Retirements and Separating Employees
Faculty and staff that retire/separate during FY/AY 2021 will be subject to mandatory furlough days for the fall and spring semesters, up until their date of retirement/separation. No additional furlough days will be required from an employee after a retirement or other form of employee separation. Half of the mandatory furlough days must be used by the pay period ending December 26, 2020.
Division of Health Sciences Residents (Medical/Pharmacy/Dental)
Due to accreditation requirements with the Division of Health Sciences, individuals completing their residency programs in the Division of Health Sciences, (Residents in Family Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry) will be exempted from the Furlough Plan.
Effective immediately and through June 30, 2021, Idaho State has implemented a voluntary furlough option with an overall limit of five (5) days for the remainder of FY20 and FY21. Employees who would like to volunteer to take voluntary furlough days should follow the steps below. Voluntary furlough days would be taken in addition to mandatory furlough days.
- Please work directly with your supervisor for pre-approval to take a voluntary unpaid furlough day. This will help ensure sufficient coverage for work units.
- If approved, please record the voluntary, unpaid furlough day in BengalWeb time reporting, using the payroll code, “Voluntary Furlough”.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a furlough?
A furlough is an unpaid leave of absence from work for a specific period of time. It is different from a layoff in that an employee remains employed and maintains benefits.
How will furlough be recorded?
Furlough leave codes are available in BengalWeb Time for both the Mandatory Furlough and Voluntary Furlough. Enter furlough leave under those codes during the regular payroll cycle.
Do I need to take the furlough in a full-day increment?
Furloughs need to be taken in full-day or half-day increments.
Do I need to take the furlough days consecutively?
No. Employees can spread the furlough days taken throughout the fiscal year as desired, and as approved by their supervisor. For the mandatory furlough days, half the days must be taken by December 31, 2020.
Why can’t employees choose to take more than five (5) voluntary furlough days?
Employees are not being permitted to take more than five voluntary furlough days in order to minimize the productivity impact and scheduling challenges for departments that need to also schedule mandatory furloughs, vacation leave, and other leave of absence requests that arise throughout the year.
Can the impact of the days I am furloughed be spread over multiple pay periods?
Yes, you have the ability to select mandatory furlough days during the upcoming fiscal year. Please work with your supervisor when selecting furlough dates to ensure your unit’s basic services will be covered. Employees will be asked to take half of their required days between July 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020, with the remaining mandatory days to be taken between January 1, 2021 and June 30, 2021. 9,10,11 month faculty end date would coincide with their contract end date.
Will furlough leave impact sick and annual leave accrual?
Sick and annual leave accrues based on hours worked. There will be no accrual of sick and annual leave during furlough days.
Will retirement contributions be affected?
Retirement plan contributions to the Public Employees Retirement System of Idaho (PERSI) or the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) administered by either VALIC/AIG and TIAA are based on compensation. No employer or employee contribution will be made for any period of uncompensated time while on furlough.
How do I take a furlough?
Furlough is requested from your supervisor, just like any other time away from work. Supervisors will approve furlough days in a way to best ensure little to no impact on our students and business operations.
Where should I take concerns about the financial impacts I feel?
Talk to your supervisor about any specific concerns you have. Additionally, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a free, confidential service that provides short-term counseling services to help address personal, financial, career, and work-life issues to eligible employees and their families. To access this benefit, simply call the EAP at (877) 427-2327 and identify yourself as an Idaho State University employee.
What are the repercussions of not participating in the volunteer furlough?
No supervisor or fellow employee can take any sort of retaliatory action against a person who chooses not to take voluntary furlough.
Can an employee perform any work during a furlough?
No. Employees cannot perform work while on furlough. Employees need to be relieved of all duties and responsibilities during furlough days.
What is the financial goal of saving through University furloughs?
The University hopes to realize one-time savings from furloughs to help alleviate the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Who is exempt from the furlough?
Employees that make less than $40,000 and residents in the Division of Health Sciences, (residents in medical, dental, pharmacy programs) are exempt from the mandatory furlough plan. Additionally, Graduate Assistants, temporary non-benefit eligible employees and student employees are exempt from furloughs.
Are grant funded positions exempt from the mandatory furlough plan?
No. All ISU benefits-eligible faculty and staff who make $40,000 or more in annual salary are subject to the furlough plan, regardless of funding source.
Are additional furloughs planned for the future?
The University will continue to monitor next year’s financial situation and will make adjustments if needed.
How are health benefits handled during a furlough?
Furloughs of more than five consecutive days could potentially impact the employee’s ability to pay their group health insurance premiums through standard payroll deduction. Review your past pay stubs and consult with Payroll at 208-282-3060 if you have concerns that furlough days could result in you needing to self-pay the employee portion of your standard premium payments.
May I use vacation, sick leave, compensatory time, or other accrued leave to receive pay on a furlough day?
No, unfortunately, that does not result in the necessary cost savings for the University.
How can I be furloughed if I have an employment contract?
Contracts are issued “subject to” the State Board of Education’s policies and procedures. Employees may have their salaries reduced through furlough or work hour adjustments as provided for in Section II.B of Idaho State Board Governing Policies and Procedures.
Can an employee who is scheduled to take Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or an employee who is currently on FMLA be involuntarily furloughed or participate in a voluntary furlough?
Yes, however, no days associated with the furlough will count against the FMLA entitlement.
Can an employee on emergency paid sick leave or amended FMLA, or other forms of paid leave be involuntarily furloughed or participate in a voluntary furlough?
Yes, however, no days associated with the furlough will count against the leave benefit or entitlement.
I’ve already taken unpaid leave this year for other reasons. Can my prior unpaid leave be used as a furlough day?
No, prior use of unpaid leave cannot be changed to furlough leave.
Will an essential or critical employee need to take furlough days?
Yes, all benefits-eligible employees at the specified salary levels will be required to participate in the furlough.
May I take a mandatory furlough on behalf of another employee or coworker?
No, another employee cannot take furlough days on behalf of a coworker in the mandatory furlough plan. However, you may choose to take up to an additional five voluntary furlough days if desired.
Why will mandatory furlough days be prorated for partial year employees, such as 9-month faculty?
Mandatory furlough days will be prorated to the term of the appointment so that partial year employees, such as 9-month faculty, are not disproportionately impacted by being required to take the same number of furlough days during a shorter period of time.
Is my tuition reduction benefit impacted by furlough days?
No, tuition reduction benefits for employees and dependents are not impacted.
Am I eligible for unemployment benefits while on furlough?
Employees who are subject to mandatory days may be eligible to apply for unemployment, depending on other restrictions that may make a person eligible/ineligible for unemployment compensation. Please note, an employee taking voluntary furlough days is not eligible for unemployment compensation.
According to the Idaho Department of Labor, as long as an employee does not work full time in any given week, the employee can apply for benefits during the week for which the employee works less than full time. Make sure to check the State Department of Labor for guidelines on unemployment and how to file a claim.
Employees taking a voluntary furlough are not eligible for unemployment compensation for the week they take the voluntary furlough.
Working a Partial Week
If you work during the time you claim benefits, you may continue to receive some or all your benefits depending on the number of hours you work and how much you earn. The wages you earn during a week for which you claim benefits will affect your payment. Contact the Department of Labor for additional information.
Note: you can check your eligibility and estimate your projected benefit by logging into the Claimant Portal and completing the personal information and work history sections. Access the Idaho DOL Registration Guide for help creating your account.
Other Considerations When Filing for Unemployment
- When filing for unemployment, individuals will be asked if their employer intends to rehire them.
- Answering yes, with the intent to return to work within 16 weeks from reduction or hours, is referred to as “employer attached,” which exempts the individual from pursuing employment opportunities while collecting benefits.
- For other answers and information about unemployment, visit the Idaho Department of Labor Questions and Answers webpage.