Temporary Staff Furloughs and Temporary Reduction in Hours

Updated 7/8/20

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, U-M is offering two voluntary programs for staff:

  1. a temporary furlough program for staff in non-critical operations
  2. 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 in Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Flint and Michigan Medicine 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 upon unit approval but no later than May 30, 2020. 

Employees may use the form in this folder to request a furlough or reduction in hours or contact their human resources department.  

Temporary Furlough Program: Requirements and Benefits

Furloughs are temporary layoffs/leaves that do not lead to termination. Staff members are still U-M employees while on furlough and they return to their position on a pre-arranged date. Furloughs can be offered by a unit to employees or furloughs can be requested by individual employees. In both cases, participation is voluntary, and the unit must approve it. Units determine whether to approve 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)
  • returns to their position after 60 to 120 calendar days (on the return date approved by the unit)

Temporary Reduction in Hours: Requirements and Benefits

Staff or units may request a temporary reduction in hours (reduced effort). Staff may 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);
  • is eligible to file for unemployment compensation (Fact Sheet: Claiming Underemployment Benefits in Michigan);
  • continues benefits 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)

Unemployment

A claim for state unemployment compensation will not be contested by the university unless the employee was offered and declined redeployment 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.). 

Unemployment Insurance Benefits Resources

Benefits

Upon return from furlough, the accrued employee contribution portions of the dental, life, LTD, legal and vision premiums for the period of absence would be deducted from pay. The employee portion of the health care premium is waived for the period of furlough and will not need to be paid upon return. There will be no university contributions to the retirement savings plan during a period of furlough. More information about benefits including frequently asked questions

Job Security

The unit will hold a position for the employee to return to at the end of the approved period, including any extensions. If business circumstances change to such an extent to indicate a Reduction-in-Force is warranted, the relevant policy/contract language would apply.

Paid Time Off

The employee’s regular available paid time off balances will be maintained. Emergency COVID-PTO banks will no longer be available to those who take a furlough. The federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) paid time off bank will remain available until program expiration on December 31, 2020.

Early Recall

If university operations require early recall from voluntary furlough or reduction in hours, a minimum of one-week notice will be provided.

Academic Appointments

Below are the academic employees eligible and not eligible for the program, should an academic unit wish to offer the voluntary furlough program.  Eligibility does not mean that a unit will offer the program.  Furloughs can be offered by a unit to employees or individual employees can request voluntary furlough.  In both cases, participation is voluntary, and the unit must approve it. Units determine whether to approve requests and areas performing critical operations can opt out of the program.

Eligible for voluntary furlough/reduced appointment: 

  • Research track faculty (including adjunct)

  • Postdoctoral research fellows

  • Librarians

  • Curators

  • Archivists

Not eligible for voluntary furlough/reduced appointment: 

Instructional faculty and graduate student assistants

  • Tenure track faculty

  • Clinical track faculty (including adjunct)

  • LEO Lecturers

  • GSIs, GSSAs and GSRAs

  • Visiting Faculty

Employees with a staff or research faculty appointment and an additional LEO Lecturer appointment can request a furlough or reduced appointment on the staff appointment and still keep teaching in the LEO Lecturer appointment. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I request a furlough or reduction in hours?
A: Use this form and consult with your supervisor or department administrator.
Q: Can I file for unemployment if I take a furlough or reduce my hours?
A: The university will not contest a claim for state unemployment compensation as long as you were not offered and declined redeployment to another position.
Eligibility for and amount of unemployment benefits are determined by the state. In 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.
Q: Can I keep my health insurance and other benefits?
A: Yes. For employees on furlough, the university will also pay the employee contribution for health insurance. 
You can also maintain their other benefits like dental, long-term disability and life insurance, but will be responsible for paying (or repaying) the employee contribution.
Q: Will the university pay the employee contribution for health insurance if I have covered dependents?
A: Yes, if you take a furlough, the university will pay the full employee health insurance contribution regardless of whether dependents are covered or not.
Q: Can I change my benefits if I take a furlough?
A: Yes, you have the option of terminating dental and vision during the furlough period. These benefits will be automatically reinstated when you return.
Q: Will I receive service credit toward retirement? 
A: Yes, in most cases. 
Q: Can an employee take a furlough and then move right into retirement?
A: Yes, but only if you are already eligible to retire.
Q: What happens to my COVID PTO and EPSLA time off benefits if I opt into a temporary furlough?
A: Your regular available paid time off balances will be maintained. COVID-PTO banks will no longer be available to those who take a furlough. The federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) paid time off bank will remain available until program expiration on December 31, 2020.
Q: Can I take a furlough or reduce my hours, then go on EFMLA upon return, if the schools and daycare centers are still closed?
A: Yes, as long as the schools and daycare centers are still closed due to COVID concerns.
  Q: Can employees on furlough or reduced appointment make changes to their dependent care Flexible Spending Accounts?
A: Yes, employees have the option of reducing their dependent care FSA if they reduce their hours or take a furlough. Contact the Shared Services Center for assistance at 734-615-2000.
Q: What happens to Flexible Spending Account payments while an employee is on furlough (and not receiving a paycheck)?
A: For both health care and dependent care FSAs, deductions will be spread across the following paychecks for the year. For example, if an employee had $100 per month deducted and is furloughed for two months, the skipped $200 in payments is divided evenly across the remaining paychecks in the year. 
Q: How will the payment due for dental, vision and other benefits be deducted when an employee returns from furlough?
A: The total amount due will be deducted from the first paycheck upon return to work. Employees who wish to spread payments over multiple paychecks should contact Payroll at 734-615-2000. 
Employees have the option of terminating dental and vision during the furlough period. These benefits will be automatically reinstated upon the return from furlough.
If an individual was to terminate Optional Life and Long Term Disability, medical underwriting may be required and there is no guarantee that they will be approved for the coverage level they previously had.  

Unemployment 

Q: What information do I need to file for unemployment?
A: Employees who live in Michigan will need to provide the following information to the State of Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) if they plan to file for unemployment. To open a claim, visit michigan.gov/uia or call 1-866-500-0017. 
University of Michigan Federal Tax ID Number (FEIN): 38-6006309
Employer Account Number (EAN) for earnings on or after January 1, 2020: 0800500000 - For all campuses, including Michigan Medicine/Medical campus
Employer Account Numbers (EAN) for earnings prior to January 1, 2020: Ann Arbor campus: 0800500001; Dearborn campus: 0800500002; Flint campus: 0800500003; Michigan Medicine/medical campus: 0800500004 (If an employee worked at more than one campus during the base period, use the EAN where the majority of the base period wages were earned.)

After entering the employer EAN and FEIN on the unemployment website, you will most likely see two boxes for the University of Michigan. You must answer all applicable questions for both boxes. More information is available on this page.

If you currently work in Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, or Wisconsin, you may be able to provide the University of Michigan's State of Michigan EAN for your claim with your state agency. The Unemployment Insurance Benefits Resources webpage lists the University of Michigan EAN for several states.   
University of Michigan mailing address: 4073 Wolverine Tower, 3003 S. State St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1281
Visit the state Unemployment Insurance Agency for the most current information, forms and/or updates needed to claim unemployment insurance benefits. View the Michigan Web Account Manager Toolkit for Claimants or Unemployment Insurance Benefits Resources on the University Human Resources website for additional information.
Q: Will the university file an unemployment claim for me?
A: The university plans to submit an initial filing for employees whose furlough or reduced effort appointment is effective May 9 or later. The university will not be able to file for employees who reside outside of Michigan and foreign nationals.
Q: My furlough or reduction in hours took effect May 8 or earlier. Will the university file my unemployment claim?
A: No, you will need to open a claim on your own.
Q: How will I know that my claim has been filed by the university?
A: You will receive an email confirmation from University Human Resources within 2 days of the filing.
Q: What email address will the university use for my claim?
A: Your @umich.edu account.
Q: What happens after the initial filing?
A: Once the claim is processed by the state, you will receive all pertinent information via U.S. mail. Please review each document received carefully as the state may need information from you to continue processing your claim.
Q: Can I opt out of the university filing on my behalf?
A: No. If you do not wish to pursue unemployment benefits, then you can choose not to follow up with the state.
Q: I already paid for my May health benefits and I started a furlough.  Will I get a refund?
A: If you are starting a furlough in May, you will receive a refund for any benefits paid for the month.
Q: When do I need to set up a MiWAM account with the state?
A: After your claim has been submitted, you are encouraged to complete your MiWAM account. 

Once you have set up your account you will need to provide dependent information, select how you would like to receive your benefit payment, and select your tax withholding. You will also need to certify for benefits every two weeks. 

MiWAM Toolkit

Video tutorial