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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:

  1. Mandatory furloughs - required for all faculty and staff during FY21 tiered by salary; and 
  2. Voluntary furloughs - an optional program to take up to 5 additional furlough days between now and the end of FY21


Questions from Faculty and Staff

Mandatory Furloughs

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 SalaryFull-Time 12-Month Appointment
Furlough Days (26 Pay Periods)
11-Month Appointment
Furlough Days (24 Pay Periods)
10-Month Appointment
Furlough Days (22 Pay Periods)
9-Month Appointment
Furlough Days
(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
Under $40,000 0 0 0 0


  • 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.


Classified Staff

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 Sabbaticals

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. 


New Hires

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. 


Voluntary Furloughs

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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?

How will furlough be recorded?

Do I need to take the furlough in a full-day increment?

Do I need to take the furlough days consecutively?

Why can’t employees choose to take more than five (5) voluntary furlough days?

Will furlough leave impact sick and annual leave accrual?

Will retirement contributions be affected?

How do I take a furlough?

Where should I take concerns about the financial impacts I feel?

What are the repercussions of not participating in the volunteer furlough?

Can an employee perform any work during a furlough?

What is the financial goal of saving through University furloughs?

Who is exempt from the furlough?

Are grant funded positions exempt from the mandatory furlough plan?

Are additional furloughs planned for the future?

How are health benefits handled during a furlough?

How does a furlough day impact a holiday?

May I use vacation, sick leave, compensatory time, or other accrued leave to receive pay on a furlough day?

How can I be furloughed if I have an employment contract?

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?

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?

I’ve already taken unpaid leave this year for other reasons. Can my prior unpaid leave be used as a furlough day?

Will an essential or critical employee need to take furlough days?

May I take a mandatory furlough on behalf of another employee or coworker?

Why will mandatory furlough days be prorated for partial year employees, such as 9-month faculty?

Is my tuition reduction benefit impacted by furlough days?

Am I eligible for unemployment benefits while on furlough?

If I select voluntary furlough days, am I eligible for unemployment?