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Faculty Furlough Information

Due to the continuing Coronavirus pandemic and the resulting financial crisis, faculty were asked to take one of three options in an effort to reduce the operating budget. The three options are to take a five-day furlough, to teach an extra class or donate the equivalent of a five-day furlough to the UML Emergency Fund (refer to the MSP MOA). With the approval of the Department Chair and Human Resources, an MSP unit member may request to change their selection and take the furlough or payment to the Emergency Fund no later than Nov. 15, 2020.

Option 1: Furlough 

Each MSP unit member will take a five (5) working day furlough prior to the Spring 2021 semester. The total value of the furlough shall be calculated as 1/38.7th of one’s individual base annual salary for the FY 21 academic year exclusive of any stipends or other compensation earned. A five (5) day furlough for faculty members employed over the academic year equates to a 2.6% decrease in base rate pay compensation.  A five (5) day furlough for unit members employed on a 12-month basis equates to a 1.9% decrease in base rate pay compensation. The furlough shall be taken during a period that does not infringe on the faculty member’s ability to perform teaching duties. Unit members choosing this option shall retain their benefits and may still participate in Winter Session teaching if desired. The furlough may be taken in a week long increment, or on intermittent days and the MSP unit member shall inform his/her Department Chair and College Dean when he/she will be taking the furlough day(s). NOTE: Faculty who elect this option cannot use other university funds to compensate themselves while on furlough.

Option 2: Teach One Additional Course

One Additional Course Teach the equivalent of one additional course (equivalent of a 3-credit course as part of their in-load teaching workload in FY 2021, in consultation with and agreed upon by the department chair and dean to identify an appropriate course, inclusive of GPS (includes FY21 GPS for Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer). Furthermore, for those electing to teach the additional course in the spring, the enrollment in that additional course will not exceed 125% of the enrollment cap the last time the course was offered (pre-pandemic). Faculty with concerns about their identified additional course assignment may consult with the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs.

Option 3: Make a Donation

Make a donation, in amount equivalent to at least five furlough days as defined in sub-paragraph (b) above, to the UML Emergency Fund following the execution of this agreement. No university funds may be used in making the donation. 

Frequently Asked Questions on Faculty Furloughs

How is the five-day furlough calculated?

The furlough is calculated as 1/38.7th of one’s individual base annual salary as of Sept. 1, 2020, exclusive of any stipends or other compensation earned. A five (5) day furlough for faculty members employed over the academic year equates to a 2.6% decrease in base rate pay compensation.  A five (5) day furlough for unit members employed on a 12-month basis, i.e., MSP Librarians equates to a 1.9% decrease in base rate pay compensation.

Do I have to take the five days in the same week or may I spread out the time?

Furlough days may be taken individually, one day at a time, or consecutively, five days over one week. Employees should coordinate with their department chair for the scheduling of their furlough. The furlough shall be taken during a period that does not infringe on the faculty member’s ability to perform teaching duties. The five-day furlough period should be taken no later than Jan. 30, 2021. 
NOTE: You may not qualify for unemployment benefits if you do not take the five days in the same week. 

May I use approved FMLA or Families First leave days during furlough?

No, for the one-week (or five individual days) while you are on furlough, you will be in unpaid status and cannot use paid sick time under FMLA or apply the Families First leave pay.

How do I coordinate and report my time during the furlough?

HR will be coordinating with the college deans to gather information on the option faculty have selected.  For those on furlough, the input of furlough days will be done centrally in HR/Payroll.

May I take furlough during the holidays or winter break?

Yes. As long as it is no later than Jan. 30, 2021.

What happens to my benefits and other payroll deductions during the temporary furlough?

Employee payroll deductions for their employee contributions to health insurance and other benefits will continue, assuming that the employee has worked other days during the bi-weekly pay period in which their furlough is taken.  For example, for those on a one-week furlough, as long as they worked the other week of the pay period, they will still have regular benefit payroll deductions withheld.  
Deductions to the required retirement plan (whether SERS or ORP) will be made as a percentage of earnings and, therefore, employees will expect to see a reduction in those deduction amounts. This also means that any contributions made to the voluntary 403(b) plan or the SMART plan which were set up as a percentage of earnings (as opposed to a flat dollar amount each pay period) will be lower as they will reflect the reduction in earnings for the pay period.

Will this furlough impact my service with the State Employees Retirement System (SERS) if applicable?

No, the State Board allows unpaid furloughs of up to 20 days with no impact on service credit.

Are grant-funded research faculty required to take this furlough?

No. The primary purpose of the furlough is to provide salary savings to the university’s operating budget for FY21. Grant-funded research faculty salaries are paid from grants, not from the university’s operating budget.

Will I receive additional compensation if I opt to teach the extra class as outlined in the MOA?

No. For further details on this program, please consult with the department chair, dean or Vice Provost of Academic Affairs Julie Nash.

If I chose to donate my furlough to the UML Emergency Fund, can that be done through payroll?

No. For further details on this program, please consult with the department chair, dean or Vice Provost of Academic Affairs Julie Nash.

If I chose to donate my furlough to the UML Emergency Fund, is the donation tax deductible?

Consult with your legal or tax advisor before claiming the payment as a charitable donation. UMass Foundation’s tax ID Number is 04-6013152.

Who do I contact if I have questions?

If you have questions about any of this information, please contact Kim Casey, Director of Compensation & Benefits at 978-934-3557 or Hilary Clark, Director of HR Operations and Payroll at 978-934-3534. For questions on unemployment or UMass Lowell benefits, please contact the Benefits Office at benefits@uml.edu or 978-934-4100.