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Division of Human Resources

FAQ for Mandatory Furloughs

Due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of South Carolina has made the difficult decision to implement a mandatory furlough program for faculty and staff on the Columbia campus and in Palmetto College who are paid a base salary of $118,000 and above.

The mandatory furlough will be effective during the 2020-2021 fiscal year, beginning July 1, 2020.

The number of furlough days are as follows:

Category Number of Furlough Days
Tier 1, base salary of $200,000 and above 20
Tier 2, base salary of $118,000<$200,000 10
9-month faculty, base salary of $118,000 and above 10

 

 

General Information

A furlough is a temporary, unpaid leave of absence that is involuntary and required by the employer. The employee remains an employee while taking an unpaid leave of absence. Some reasons an employer may choose furlough include a reduction in on-site operations resulting in less work to be done, or a disruption in funding.

No. A furlough is an unpaid leave of absence, but does not constitute a break in service.

All employees in FTE, Research Grant, and Time-Limited positions, as well as employees in exempt temporary staff positions, who have a base salary of $118,000 and above are included in a mandatory furlough.

Certain categories of personnel are exempt from the furlough including: law enforcement; employees with an H1B visa status; employees of Student Health Services; clinical personnel in the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing and the School of Pharmacy; employees in the School of Medicine Greenville; faculty on approved sabbatical; and employees in the cabinet who voluntarily agreed to a 10% reduction in pay.

Employees who are hired during the 2020-2021 fiscal year will not be required to take the mandatory furlough.

A list has been sent to the College/Division level HR team. They should disseminate as necessary to the departments.

No. When employees are taking furlough days, it is important that they do no work, whether paid or voluntary. While on furlough, employees are not to perform regular work duties and should not be responding to work emails, accessing systems, or otherwise performing work for the university.

 

Paychecks and Benefits

Yes. Employees who earn leave will continue to earn leave at their regular rate while on furlough.

During the furlough period, employees are entitled to participate in the same state benefits as otherwise available to them with the exception of receiving their salary. Regular premiums will be deducted from each paycheck.

Retirement benefits will not be negatively impacted by the furlough.

The university is required to pay both the member and employer contributions for employees during the furlough. Because the university is sending furlough supplements to PEBA for missed furlough wages, the account is made whole and there will not be an interruption in benefits nor adjustments to the calculation of benefits. In essence, there will be no negative impact to the retirement benefits. Employees should monitor their accounts during the furlough and report any discrepancies to the Benefits Office (BENEFITS@mailbox.sc.edu) and PEBA (803.737.6800).

An employee’s state hire date, continuous service date, and performance review date will not be adjusted due to the furlough.

To mitigate the financial impact of the furlough on employees, the reduction in pay will be allocated over the balance of the fiscal year regardless of the pay period (s) within which the furlough occurs.

Employees can model their new paycheck through Employee Self Service using the Paycheck Modeler.

Please note that the Paycheck Modeler works only when an employee is within their pay basis. Nine month employees will be able to utilize the modeler after they return to an active pay basis on August 16.

The reduction in salary also applies to ongoing salary adjustments outside of base pay, including administrative salary adjustments, special assignment pay, and temporary salary adjustments.

Promotional increases will be calculated based on pre-furlough salary levels. However, the increases are not exempt from the furlough and the reduction in salary will apply to that portion of the employee's pay.

For example if an employee currently earns a base salary of $125,000 and receives a promotional increase of 5% their new base salary will be $131,250 and the furlough adjustments will be applied to the full $131,250.

During the furlough period the required reductions are taken through payroll actions and not through a change to the actual base salary of the employee. For example, Human Resource contacts who are accessing employee records will see the true base salary and will be able to make changes on that basis. Similarly, employees who access their job profile through Employee Self Service will see their real base salary.

The furlough applies only to the primary job. It does not impact salary payments relating to internal dual employment. For example, an employee teaching a section of University 101 through dual employment will receive full payment for the University 101 section.

An employee may be eligible for weekly unemployment compensation if during a particular week the employee earns less than their maximum weekly unemployment benefit amount. Since the university is allocating the reduction in pay for the mandatory furlough over the balance of the fiscal year, and not in the pay period(s) within which the furlough occurs, this will likely affect an employee’s ability to qualify for benefits.

The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce is solely responsible for determining an employee’s eligibility. All employees have the option to file for unemployment using the MyBenefits portal or calling 1-866-831-1724.

Employee's may access SCDEW's website https://dew.sc.gov/individuals for further information about the unemployment filing process and additional links as it relates to COVID-19 unemployment resources.

 

Furlough Days

No. Furlough days are unpaid leave and may not be taken on any university holiday.

No. Employees cannot use sick leave or annual leave to offset a furlough day.

No. Furlough days must be taken in five day increments during the same work week. Employees may not take furlough during any week which includes a university holiday.

All furlough days must be taken during the 2020-2021 fiscal year and while the employee is in a pay status. For example, 9-month employees must take their furlough days between August 16, 2020 and May 15, 2021.

One half of an employee's furlough days must be taken prior to December 20, 2020.

Employees must schedule furlough days in consultation with their department.

For 9-month faculty, the ideal time to take the furlough will likely be the week of December 14. For faculty who are teaching, all grades must be submitted within 72 hours after a final exam. Late submission of grades impacts student progression and financial aid. This should be considered when planning furlough days. For the spring semester, the week of spring break is encouraged.

Furlough days must be reported through the iTAMS system using the "FURLOUGH M Furlough Mandatory“ code.

Furlough days must be reported through the iTAMS system using the "FURLOUGH M Furlough Mandatory“ code. Mandatory furlough can be planned and should be entered at least a week in advance into iTAMS. iTAMS should be approved as normal.

No. Employees who are subject to the mandatory furlough must take all of their mandatory furlough days before they are eligible to participate in the voluntary furlough.

No. Faculty on approved sabbaticals are exempted from the 2020-2021 mandatory furlough.


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