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Furlough FAQs 2020

General Questions

Will I lose my job permanently if I am furloughed?
A furlough is a temporary unpaid leave; it is not a layoff, non-reappointment or a reduction in force. Furloughs will be established based on specific departmental/unit needs to meet budgetary constraints or periods of reduced labor needs.

Who will be subject to a furlough and how long will a furlough last?
Specific KU departments/units will make the determination about furloughing employees in conjunction with Human Resource Management. The number of workdays/weeks an employee will be furloughed will vary based on the position and department/unit needs. Furloughs must be taken in full week increments when possible. The only exception is if an employee is furloughed for a given number of days that do not equal a full work week. For example, if an employee is on a 12-month (fiscal year) position and is furloughed for eight workdays, the employee must take five workdays in one week and three workdays in another week.

Is it OK to perform work related duties during a furlough day, even for a short amount of time?
No, you cannot work (including checking e-mail for work-related items or taking work phone calls) during a designated furlough day. We recommend you place an out-of-office message for e-mail and voicemail to provide information about colleagues who may be able to assist during your absence. For example: “Thank you for contacting me. I am out of the office until INSERT DATE and unable to access e-mail/voicemail until I return. If you need something during this time, please contact XXXX. Otherwise, I will contact you after my return. Thank you.”

Can I work somewhere else while being furloughed?
Technically, yes. Nothing prevents alternate employment, as long as it is not working at another state of Kansas agency. However, furloughed employees are expected to be ready and able to return to work after the furlough period according to the work schedule previously assigned or agreed upon with the supervisor. Also, alternate employment may affect a filed unemployment claim. Unemployment is not an entitlement and eligibility determinations are made by the Kansas Department of Labor.


Unemployment Benefits

Will I receive unemployment benefits if I am furloughed?
You may be eligible for unemployment benefits while you are furloughed. Neither the University nor KU Human Resource Management make unemployment determinations. The Kansas Department of Labor determines unemployment eligibility determinations. Generally, lost wages in the form of a furlough qualify an individual for unemployment benefits.

How do I apply for unemployment benefits and will KU assist me with the process?
KU Human Resource Management will submit the names and necessary unemployment application information to the Kansas Department of Labor in spreadsheet form, as the first step in the unemployment benefits process. Furloughed employees are responsible for 1) creating a profile, which is different than the application, and 2) filing weekly claims to account for missed work the previous week.

All furloughed employees will receive specific step-by-step instructions the week prior to the first week of furlough. Do not create an unemployment account until KU Human Resource Management has submitted application information on your behalf, as this will delay the benefit process.

The link to create an unemployment account and file weekly claims can be found on the KDOL unemployment website.


Are unemployment benefits taxable income?
Yes, unemployment benefits are taxable. Information on tax withholdings can be found on the Kansas Department of Labor website

Where can I find more information about unemployment benefits?
Additional Kansas unemployment resources are available at:


Pay and Leave

Will I lose vacation time or sick time due to furlough days?
No, your vacation and sick leave accruals are not affected. You will continue to accrue vacation and sick time based on your position’s exempt status, standard hours/FTE (full time equivalency) as of the end of the payroll period. Furlough absences do count toward accrual earnings. Maximum vacation accrual and balances still apply and are not adjusted due to furlough. More information about vacation leave accrual rates and balances is on KU's Human Resource Management website.

Can I use vacation time, sick time, or compensatory time to receive pay on my furlough days?
No. A furlough is mandatory leave without pay and furlough days must be unpaid. Because the furlough is a cost savings measure, employees cannot use accrued or earned leave during the furlough. If you previously submitted an absence request for paid time off during your furlough period, that absence request will be voided and not paid. You should not submit vacation, sick or other paid absence requests during the furlough period.

May I take my furlough in partial days?
No. Furloughs are only allowed to be taken as full days. A furloughed employee is not to work at all during the days or period covered by the furlough.

How or where are the furlough days recorded?
Furloughs will be submitted using the Absence Request in HR/Pay Self Service>Time Reporting>Report Time>Absence Request, select “Furlough” for the Absence Type and Absence Name.

Will I receive compensation for an observed holiday while being furloughed?
If the holiday occurs during the time you are furloughed, you will not receive pay for that holiday. The missed holiday will be counted as one of the furlough days. In order to be paid for a holiday, employees are not to have any leave without pay the work day before or after the holiday. In other words, employees must be in full paid status according to their work schedule. The full paid status may be working or taking paid leave equivalent to the employee’s scheduled hours. If the furlough starts or ends before or after the holiday, you are not eligible for the holiday as furlough is a leave without pay status.

If I leave KU employment while furloughed, will I still be paid my accrued vacation time?
Yes. Furlough does not affect vacation or compensatory time payouts at the time of separation from employment and will not affect sick leave payout for those who separate and are retirement eligible. The KU Human Resources Management website has more information about vacation leave payouts.

What if I am on approved Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) during the furlough?
Employees on FMLA are not exempt from furloughs and will be required to report furlough days as instructed. An employee’s FMLA status will have no bearing on whether an employee will be furloughed. Furlough decisions are based on position, responsibilities and departmental budget. Furlough days will not reduce or count towards the amount of approved FMLA leave.

How are Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) or Expanded Family and Medical Leave Act (EFMLA) affected by the furlough program?
The furlough reduces the number of days you are scheduled to work. Neither EPSL or EFMLA exempts an employee from furlough, nor can EPSL or EFMLA be used in lieu of meeting the furlough period requirements. Days identified as furlough are unpaid and must be recorded as an absence in HR/Pay.

What if I am on Shared Leave during the furlough?
Employees on Shared Leave are not exempt from furloughs and will be required to report furlough days as instructed. An employee’s shared leave status will have no bearing on whether an employee will be furloughed. Furlough decisions are based on position, responsibilities and departmental budget. No days associated with the furlough period will be counted against the employee’s six-month maximum of Shared Leave.

How will paid Parental Leave be affected by the furlough?
Employees on Parental Leave will not be exempt from furloughs and will be required to report furlough days as instructed. An employee’s Parental Leave status has no bearing on whether an employee will be furloughed. Furlough decisions are based on position, responsibilities and departmental budget. No days associated with the furlough period will be counted against the employee’s Parental Leave entitlement, but furloughed days will be included in the eligibility period for Parental Leave.

Will eligible University Support Staff (USS) continue to receive their Longevity Bonus while on furlough?
Yes. Longevity Bonuses are not impacted by furloughs.


HR/Pay Reporting

How are exempt (salaried) and non-exempt (hourly) employees affected?
Salaried/Exempt
Salaried employees will be converted to an hourly time reporter during any biweekly pay period in which there are furlough days. Employees must record actual hours worked each day in an HR/Pay Timesheet and submit absence requests for the required/assigned furlough days in full-day increments. Employees will not be return to a salaried designation until there are no furlough days within a biweekly pay period. Employees are not allowed to work outside their designated work scheduled without advanced approval from the supervisor during the hourly time reporter status.

The supervisor is responsible for monitoring that employees do not to work over their scheduled work hours during the pay periods in which furloughs are assigned. If the employee exceeds their work scheduled hours, this will result in additional cost and will reduce the furlough savings.

Employees must submit time reporting and absence requests (i.e., furlough, sick, vacation, etc.) no later than then the end of the work week for supervisor approval. If the employee is not paid correctly due to not reporting time by the deadline, the employee is not eligible for an endowment interest-free loan.

Supervisors will be responsible for approving the timesheet and absence request(s) as usual.

Hourly/Non-Exempt
There are no changes to the process for existing hourly/non-exempt employees reporting work time. Employees will need to submit an absence request for the furlough leave so that time is recorded against the required days. Furloughs may only be taken in full day increments.

Employees must submit time reporting and absence requests (i.e., furlough, sick, vacation, etc.) no later than then the end of the work week for supervisor approval. If the employee is not paid correctly due to not reporting time by the deadline, the employee is not eligible for an endowment interest-free loan. (This is a reminder of the existing processes.)

Supervisors will be responsible for approving the timesheet and absence request(s) as usual.


How do I record my furlough days?
Absence requests will be submitted in HR/Pay [https://hr.ku.edu] for designated furlough days using the same process for submitting any other Absence Request in HR/Pay Self Service>Time Reporting>Report Time>Absence Request, select “Furlough” for the Absence Type and Absence Name.


How Benefits are Affected

How will furlough affect my KU life insurance?
Basic life insurance coverage paid by KU will continue during the furlough period. If you have optional coverage, you may pay directly to The Standard Insurance Company for optional coverage for a maximum of 12 months. Contact benefits@ku.edu for more information.

Can I use Employee Assistance Program (EAP) while on furlough?
Yes, benefits-eligible employees have access to EAP counselors who will provide immediate care, concern, and assistance, 24/7. Call 1-888-275-1205 (option 1). TDD/TT 800-697-0353. More information can be found at Kansas Department of Health and Environment website.

The Guidance Resources Online provides timely, expert information on thousands of topics, including, but not limited to wellness, financial planners as well as self-assessments.


Can I apply for the Rosalie Lanier Gray KU Staff Assistance Fund?
Eligible employees may apply for the Rosalie Lanier Gray KU Staff Assistance Fund. The fund is available to provide emergency financial relief due to natural or personal disasters. Depending on circumstances and documentation provided, the COVID-19 pandemic may be a qualifying event. A furlough alone would not make one eligible for the fund.

State Employee Health Plan
What happens to my State Employee Health Plan (SEHP) coverage during a furlough?
During a furlough, your active health plan coverage continues. You will be responsible for the regular premiums that are normally deducted from your paycheck, and KU will pay the normal employer premiums. For furlough that last less than 30 consecutive days, if there is a pay period in which you do not receive a check or you receive a check that is not large enough to cover the health plan deductions, those premiums will be in arrears and will be deducted from the next check(s) you receive. If you elect to drop coverage during the furlough period, you will have the opportunity to re-enroll in the SEHP when you return to active employment. Your benefits will be active the first of the month following your return to work.

Can I make changes to my SEHP coverage during a furlough?
Yes. A furlough is a qualifying event that enables you to drop insurance coverage for yourself and/or your spouse and dependents. You may make changes to coverage if you have a qualifying life event

Can I make changes to my Health Savings Account (HSA)?
You may change your semi-monthly HSA contribution at any time throughout the year. To change contributions, log into MAP using your KU login and submit an HSA mid-year change request. If you are enrolled in Plan C, you must contribute at least $25 each semi-monthly pay period. Plan N does not have a minimum employee contribution. You can find the plan you are enrolled in by logging into MAP

Can I make changes to my Health Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA)?
Unless you have an IRS qualified mid-year change, you will not be able to change the amount for your FSA health account. A furlough of less than 31 consecutive days is not a qualifying event to change your Health Care FSA. Additional information can be found on the SEHP Flexible Spending Account webpage

Can I make changes to my Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account?
If your child is not attending daycare, you may reduce or cancel your Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account. To stop contributions, log into MAP using your KU login and submit an FSA (Dependent Care) mid-year change request under the Mid-Year Benefit Change tab. Under “Change Reason” choose “Dependent no longer attending day care.” Additional information can be found on the SEHP Flexible Spending Account webpage

Kansas Board of Regents Retirement Plan Participants
What happens to my KBOR 403(b) Mandatory Retirement Plan during a furlough?
Contributions to the KBOR Mandatory plan are paid as a percentage of gross salary; therefore, contributions will be based on the gross amount of each paycheck received. If you are not receiving a paycheck due to furlough, there will be no employee or employer contributions to the KBOR Mandatory Plan.

During a furlough, what happens with my Voluntary Retirement plan contributions, the KBOR 403(b) Voluntary and/or the KPERS 457 plan?
Voluntary Retirement Plan contributions are deducted from your paycheck. If you are not receiving a paycheck due to furlough, there will be no contributions to your KBOR Voluntary 403(b) or KPERS 457 plans.

What if I am in the one-year waiting period before joining the KBOR Mandatory 403(b) Retirement Plan?
While on furlough, you continue to serve the one-year waiting period and will begin contributions on the first paycheck received after the one-year waiting period ends. If the furlough lasts longer than 30 consecutive calendar days and you are in the one-year waiting period, your waiting period will be extended by the length of that furlough.

Can I access my retirement funds while furloughed?
Under the federal CARES Act, Coronavirus-Related Distributions are allowed from the Kansas Board of Regents Mandatory and Voluntary 403(b) Plans. More information is available at the bottom of the KBOR Retirement Plans webpage.

If you participate in the KPERS 457 plan, please contact kpers457@kpers.org about distribution options that are available.


Can I retire during furlough?
Yes, if you are eligible for retirement. For those participating in the KBOR Mandatory 403(b) retirement plan, retirement eligibility is met if you are age 55-59 with at least 10 years of service in a benefits-eligible position at a KBOR institution or with the KBOR office, or age 60 with no service requirement. Please contact KU Benefits for more information at benefits@ku.edu or 785-864-7402. On June 8, KU announced the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program for eligible employees. Applications are due by Friday, July 10, 2020.

KPERS Retirement Plan Participants
What happens to my KPERS retirement plan during a furlough?
KPERS contributions are paid as a percentage of gross salary. Therefore, contributions will be based on the gross amount of each paycheck received. If you are not receiving a paycheck due to furlough, there will be no employee or employer contributions to KPERS.

Will my KPERS Years of Service be impacted by a furlough?
KPERS indicates that that furloughs related to the COVID-19 pandemic will not affect KPERS service credit.

Can I withdraw KPERS funds while furloughed?
No, you may not withdraw funds from your KPERS account during a furlough.

Can I retire under KPERS during a furlough?
Yes, if you are otherwise eligible for KPERS retirement and separate from service. For more information and assistance with your application, please contact the KU Benefits Office at benefits@ku.edu or 785-864-7402. On June 8, KU announced the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program for eligible employees. Applications are due by Friday, July10, 2020.

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