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Stephen F. Austin State University

Furlough Information

Background

In January 2010, SFA was ordered to make a $4,018,395 reduction to current biennial state appropriations. A flexible hiring freeze was implemented to respond to the initial appropriation reduction and address future reductions.

In order to realize vacant position savings, all open positions have been scrutinized by the appropriate vice president, and only those positions essential to fulfilling the university's mission have been submitted to the president for final approval. Cash savings have been realized from budgeted fiscal year 2010-11 position vacancies.

On Dec. 6, 2010, the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the house sent a joint letter to the heads of state agencies directing them to reduce state appropriations by an additional 2.5 percent for fiscal year 2010-11.

The Board of Regents voted Jan. 25, 2011 to address the state appropriation reduction of $1,025,003 in the following manner:

  1. Close the university and furlough eligible employees for four days - April 21-22, May 27 and July 1, 2011. This measure is expected to result in a savings of total salary expenses of approximately $600,000.
  2. Reduce the remaining $425,003 on a pro-rated divisional basis.
  3. Information regarding the furlough process follows:
    • Staff members classified as "exempt" will be required to expend accrued vacation time for the required furlough days or take leave without pay. "Non-exempt" staff members may choose to expend accrued vacation and/or compensatory time or take leave without pay. SFA personnel considered essential to the operation of the university will be required to work during the furlough days but must expend four days of appropriate leave time prior to August 31, 2011.
    • SFA faculty members will not be affected this budget cycle because their current contracts do not allow for furloughs. Administrators indicated that future faculty contracts will include such a provision.
    • Current year vacant position savings have generated cash savings. The required furlough days will reduce accrued vacation and/or compensatory liabilities, thereby reducing total accrued salary expenditures.

President's letter to campus

To: All Faculty and Staff

From: Baker Pattillo, President

Date: January 25, 2011

Subject: State Appropriation Reduction

Prior to the Christmas holidays I informed you that the state leadership had notified us that our current state funding appropriation would be reduced by 2.5% immediately. This reduction equals $1,025,003 and impacts this year's current operations. This cut is in addition to the 5% reduction already made during the development of the 2010-11 budget. Together, these reductions equal $5,043,398.

As you can imagine, making this new reduction in the middle of a fiscal year is challenging. Today, the SFA Board of Regents approved a plan to address this challenge.

The Board of Regents has authorized me to close the university and furlough leave-eligible employees on April 21, April 22, May 27, and July 1. This action will result in salary expenditure savings of approximately $600,000. Only staff members are furloughed under this program as the nature of faculty contracts does not currently permit faculty furloughs.

Furloughed employees classified by the university as "exempt" will be allowed to expend vacation time for furlough days, while furloughed employees classified as "non-exempt" will be allowed to expend vacation and/or compensatory time. Furloughed employees without appropriate leave time accrued, or those who choose not to use leave time, will be placed on leave without pay status for these days. Personnel essential to the operation of the university required to work during the furlough days must expend four days of appropriate leave time prior to August 31, 2011.

More detailed information about this process will be posted on the Human Resources website in the near future.

The remaining reduction of $425,003 will be addressed by the vice presidents on a divisional basis.

What I said in my message in December is still true today. I remain dedicated to limiting the effect these changes will have on the delivery of the academic mission of the University, and on the faculty and staff. However, there will be many difficult decisions made over the next several weeks and months, not only as we deal with the immediate reduction, but also as we prepare for the reductions that will be necessary in the development of our budget for the next fiscal year.

I remain confident that we will work through these issues and emerge from these challenges more focused than ever.

Baker Pattillo, President
Stephen F. Austin State University
P.O. Box 6078, SFA Station
Nacogdoches, Texas 75962-6078
936-468-2201

Frequently Asked Questions (revised Feb. 21, 2011)

What is a furlough?

A furlough is normally a temporary leave of absence without pay or associated work duties for a designated period of time in order to meet an urgent or immediate budgetary need for cost reductions, or as part of a cost savings measure. SFA has decided to implement, for fiscal year 2011, a mandatory furlough but permit staff to use accrued vacation and/or comp time as designated by the program guidelines. Staff may also choose to take leave without pay for the mandatory days.

Who is required to participate in this mandatory furlough?

All SFA benefits-eligible, staff employees paid by state and locally allocated funds are required to participate.

Who is excluded from participation in this mandatory furlough?

How do I know if I am an exempt or a non-exempt employee?

Exemption status is determined by Human Resources according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). You can determine if your position is exempt or non-exempt by checking the Human Resources website at: http://www2.sfasu.edu/personnel/Compensation/ActiveTitlesWeb10_10.pdf.

How many days do I have to take off as furlough days?

There are four (4) days designated as mandatory furlough days in the current program. Those days are April 21 and 22, May 27, and July 1, 2011.

Can I voluntarily choose leave without pay for the mandatory furlough days instead of turning in vacation time?

Yes, employees can voluntarily choose leave without pay instead of using accrued vacation and/or comp time (if allowed). They must notify their supervisor that they wish to do this at least two weeks before the scheduled mandatory furlough days. Supervisors will be instructed about how to record this time.

Can I work extra hours in the pay period to make up for the unpaid furlough hours?

No, there is no cost savings to the university if extra hours are worked.

How will the furlough program affect benefits-eligible employees who work part-time?

Furlough time will be prorated based upon FTE just as vacation time is prorated. If an employee is 50% FTE, they earn 4 hours of vacation, and they would be required to use 4 hours of vacation or choose leave without pay for each mandatory day of furlough.

How will the furlough program affect employees on various pay options (9 month employees, etc.)?

Those staff employees who are scheduled to work 9 months and also earn vacation time, will be required to take the furlough days that fall within their regularly scheduled work time.

I plan to travel to an academic conference or for required training while I'm furloughed. Can I still be reimbursed for my travel and expenses?

Business travel should not be scheduled during the mandatory furlough days. If travel for a staff employee is already scheduled to occur during any of the furlough days and the travel dates cannot be changed (e.g., attending a conference, etc.), the supervisor of the staff employee shall choose another day during the same month to make up the furlough day.

Can I deduct the furlough hours from my 2011 federal tax return?

No, the furlough does not qualify as a tax deduction.

May I apply paid annual leave, paid sick leave or compensatory time towards the furlough?

For fiscal year 2011, exempt employees will be allowed to use accrued vacation to apply to the furlough days. Non-exempt employees will be allowed to use accrued vacation or comp time to apply to the furlough days. If an employee is sick on a furlough day, they must bring documentation to Human Resources to be allowed to use sick leave. Additionally, they will be required to use a day of vacation or comp time (if applicable) to make up the furlough day.

Can I choose to report to work on furlough time?

No, furlough time is non-work time. Employees may not work on a furlough day. An exempt employee on leave without pay cannot perform any work on a scheduled furlough day. This includes checking and responding to email, whether on a computer or mobile device, returning phone calls, etc. If an exempt employee on leave without pay works on their furlough day disciplinary action will be taken and it must be rescheduled.

How will my benefits be affected?

Furlough leave without pay will not affect your eligibility for state benefits such as health and dental insurance.
Teachers Retirement System and Optional Retirement Plan contributions will not be reduced unless the leave is without pay.
Unpaid furlough time will not impact the accumulation of paid annual leave, paid sick leave, and retirement service credits.

How should staff submit their request for furlough days?

Staff should submit their request for time off in the same manner that they currently use. Exempt staff will submit a request form to their supervisor. Exempt employees on leave without pay must record their time worked during the week containing furlough days and may not accumulate more than forty (40) hours worked during the furlough week. Non-exempt employees will submit their request for time through TimeClock Plus. If an employee is requesting leave without pay, supervisors will be instructed regarding this process at a later date.

May I donate part of my pay to support other employees in need?

No. Each eligible employee will be required to take the time identified.

How will the furlough program affect new employees who have not completed the 6-month probationary period and are not yet allowed to use vacation?

Exempt employees who have not completed their probationary period will not be able to turn in vacation time for the mandatory furlough days. Non-exempt employees will not be able to use vacation, but if they have accrued comp time in the TimeClock Plus system, they will be able to use that time for the mandatory furlough days. Managers should not allow non-exempt employees to work extra to pad their accrual balance of comp time as this would be counter-productive for this cost-savings measure. If an employee has no accrued time available, the mandatory furlough days will be without pay.

If an employee uses approved Family Medical Leave or Sick Leave Pool in FY2011, what is the impact on the employee's required furlough?

Furlough days must be taken in addition to any FML taken. For further details, supervisors and employees will need to contact Human Resources to discuss the particular issues for each employee.

If I am on leave without pay, am I subject to the furlough?

Yes, but not while you are on leave. You will be required to take furlough days when you return from leave.

Will the mandatory furlough interrupt delivery of education to our students?

No, as the furlough days have been scheduled to coincide with days when students are not required to be in classes.

May I file a grievance regarding the mandatory furlough?

The university's furlough program was approved by the Board of Regents and is not subject to the university's grievance processes for staff or faculty.

Am I eligible for unemployment during my days off?

No, SFA employees are not eligible for unemployment compensation during their days off.

How will the furlough affect garnishments being deducted from my paycheck?

It depends on the requirements of the garnishments.

How will the mandatory furlough affect child support payments taken out of my paycheck?

The University forwards a set amount in accordance with court orders, so this dollar amount will not be reduced.

What will happen if I fail to take my required furlough days by the end of FY2011?

All employees are required to complete their mandatory furlough days by August 31, 2011. Failure to do so will result in disciplinary action.

How does furlough time affect overtime compensation?

When a non-exempt employee physically works more than 40 hours in a work week, he or she is eligible for overtime compensation. Furlough time is not worked time.

What if an employee is required to report to work due to an emergency on his/her scheduled furlough day?

If an employee, exempt or non-exempt is required to come to the office to work, an alternate furlough day will be rescheduled by the supervisor.

If an employee will be in a leave without pay status on any of the furlough days, will they still be paid for the holidays?

Yes, even if the employee elects to be in a leave without pay status, they will still be paid for the holidays.

Some employees have been told through the employee discipline process that if they are in a without pay status again, they will have to request a leave of absence from the President. Will that apply with the furloughs?

No, the furloughs are a different type of leave and employees will not be required in these instances to request a leave of absence from the President.

Can faculty donate money or time to a staff employee who will be in a leave without pay status during the furlough?

No, faculty cannot donate their time to a staff employee who will be in a leave without pay status during the furlough. If a faculty member would like to financially help a friend during this time, they may make an individual donation to the person outside of any university processes.

Can faculty agree to participate in the furlough process and turn in either personal (sick) leave or agree to be on leave without pay?

Yes, faculty can sign a form stating that they want to participate and the form will be attached to their contract. Faculty may contact the Provost office for the form.

How will the furlough affect student workers?

Student assistants and work-study students may be affected by the furlough in that the offices where they are employed will be closed and therefore, the students will not be working. This will reduce the number of hours and therefore their pay for that period of pay.

What formula will you use in determining the salary reduction amount for days without pay during the furlough?

An employee's hourly rate of pay will be determined and their pay will be reduced by 8 hours for each day of the furlough where they elect to be or must be in a without pay status.

Can an employee use a mix of vacation days and without pay days for the four (4) required furlough days? For example, can an employee use vacation leave on April 21 and leave without pay on April 22?

Yes. Employees can use a mix of days. Each day can be treated separately when making a decision about whether or not to use vacation or leave without pay.

As the person responsible for originating EPAFs for our department, will I be responsible for completing an EPAF for every employee that will be in an unpaid status on the furlough days?

No, we will not be using the EPAF process to record leave without pay. We will be communicating with departments before the first furlough day to describe the process you will use to record this time.

**Please note that the university reserves the right to amend, add or delete any questions provided, as it relates to these frequently asked questions.**