Furlough FAQs

With approval from the Winthrop Board of Trustees and the Department of State Human Resources, Winthrop has made the difficult decision to implement a mandatory furlough program due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The mandatory furlough program will be in effect September 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021, for an estimated cost savings of $3M to the 2020-2021 budget.

The number of furlough days based on an employee’s appointment for permanent and grant-funded employees are as follows:

Salary Scale 12 Months 10.5 Months 10 Months 9 Months
$26,200 and below 2 2 2 2
$26,201 - $49,999 13 11 10 10
$50,000 and up 20 18 16 15

Pay for exempt, salaried temporary employees in non-instructional positions will be reduced by 3.5% over the length of their appointment. Non-exempt, hourly temporary employees will be required to reduce their number of work hours by 3.5% over the length of their appointment. Supervisors will be responsible for monitoring the employees’ work hours during this time.

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 a state FTE, as well as employees in temporary positions are included in the mandatory furlough.

    Certain categories of employees are exempt from the furlough including:

    • Employees in federal or other externally funded positions if the terms of the funding prohibit employees from participating in a mandatory furlough, or if applying the mandatory furlough to such positions will cause the university to otherwise violate or depart from the terms of the funding;
    • Employees in positions that specifically require South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy certification as a law enforcement officer;
    • Employees with an H-1B visa status;
    • Adjunct instructional faculty hired on a course-by-course basis; and
    • Student employees, including graduate assistants/associates.

    In the event of natural disaster, pandemic or declared state of emergency, additional exclusions or exceptions may be granted by the University President, if deemed necessary to preserve employee health and/or safety or the operational welfare of the University.

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, decisions have been necessary that have resulted in significant revenue losses.

    • Delaying the beginning of in-person classes until September 8, 2020, for students not to return to campus between the Thanksgiving break and the end of the fall semester, and providing 300+ housing waivers to students who have chosen not to live on campus will result in a revenue loss of approximately 35% associated with housing, dining, and student fee revenues.
    • Estimated 3.5% reduction in tuition revenue associated with enrollment.
    • Total projected $6.3 million reduction in operating revenue for FY 2020-2021.
    • The university implemented a hiring freeze in FY 2019-2020, which is continuing in the current fiscal year. Hiring is taking place in certain circumstances; however, requests for an exception to the hiring freeze are being carefully considered by the President in each case.
    • A budget freeze was implemented in March 2020 and through June 30, 2020 which required approval from the VP for Business Affairs for the payment of any operating budget expenses.
    • Travel has been, and will continue to be, restricted to essential travel only.
    • FY 2020-2021 operating budgets have been carefully reviewed and, generally, the university’s overall operating expenses have been reduced by approximately 10%.

    Yes. The faculty members on sabbatical are subject to the mandatory furlough.

    Yes. The number of furlough days will depend on the new hire’s date of employment and may be prorated if the start date is after September 1.

    Information regarding temporary employment during the furlough

    • For non-exempt (hourly) employees, absolutely not. When non-exempt employees are taking furlough days, it is important that they do no work in any capacity, whether paid or voluntary. While on furlough, non-exempt employees are not to perform regular work duties and should not be responding to work e-mails, accessing systems, or otherwise performing work for the university.
    • Exempt employees are not expected, and should not be asked, to perform work in any capacity during days designated as furlough days.

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 Human Resources (hrhelp@winthrop.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 default method for reduction in pay will allocate the total annual reduction evenly over each pay period for the balance of the fiscal year in no less than one-day increments.

    Employees may opt to take all of their furlough days in consecutive work days AND have their pay reduced at the time the consecutive work day furlough is taken. In order to request the lump sum furlough reduction in pay, employees must complete the Lump Sum Furlough Pay Reduction Request form no later than September 8, 2020. This option will not be available after September 8, 2020.

    Annual Salary and Number of Months can be found on Wingspan, on the Employee Detail tab, in the Jobs Summary section, select the current assignment to see the Job Detail screen below.

    Job Detail

    Dual employment and other work performed outside of the employee’s base pay, including earned overtime, will not be impacted by the furlough.

    • The reduction in pay for furloughs will only impact your 9, 10, or 10.5 month paychecks. Therefore, your pay will not be reduced during the summer.
    • If an employee's pay is being reduced in equal amounts over the pay periods during the academic year, the deferral will continue as usual.
    • If an employee has chosen the lump sum furlough deduction and the full deferral amount is not available to deduct, the total to be paid out during the summer would be reduced.

    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. However, while Winthrop does NOT determine eligibility for unemployment compensation, the likelihood of eligibility would be greater when an employee chooses to take all of their furlough days in consecutive work days and have their pay reduced accordingly.

    The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW) 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.

    Employees may access SCDEW's website 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.

    All furlough days must be taken during the 2020-2021 fiscal year and while the employee is in a pay status. For example, nine-month employees must take their furlough days between September 1, 2020 and May 15, 2021.

    Employees must schedule furlough days in consultation with their supervisor/department.

    • Exempt (salaried) staff, administrators, and academic employees (whose primary responsibility is NOT teaching) must take their furlough days in five consecutive full day increments within the same work week (Sunday through Saturday) with any remaining balance of less than five furlough days to be taken during one additional work week. The FLSA exemption is negated during any week in which the non-teaching employee works and takes a mandatory furlough day. Therefore, the five consecutive full day increment is required.
    • Exempt Instructional Faculty (whose primary responsibility is teaching) may take their furlough days either in consecutive increments or intermittently. The Provost’s Office will provide suggested opportunities for faculty furlough days that align with the academic schedule.
    • Non-exempt (hourly) staff employees may take their furlough days either in consecutive increments or intermittently.
    • For 9-month employees, we are providing the following dates for consideration, but the final decision will be determined by the particular employee in consultation with their Department Chair:
      • December 17, 18, and 21-23. Final grade deadline is currently noon on the 17th, so if faculty choose to use that date, they will have to plan accordingly.
      • January 4 – 8
      • March 15 – 19 (Spring Break)
      • May 10 – 14. For faculty who need this time to prepare annual reports that are due in May, an alternate option is to spread any remaining days throughout the year, in consultation with their department chair.
    Yes. For example, exempt employees may take November 23 and 24 as furlough days during the Thanksgiving holiday week and use the other three furlough days at a different time.
    Both non-exempt and exempt employees should enter 8 hours under “Mandatory Furlough Usage” on the timesheet and leave report (employees who work 30 hours/week should enter 6 hours). Unless the employee has requested to take all furlough days in consecutive work days and a lump sum furlough reduction, pay will be deducted over the fiscal year and will not be docked based on when the days were taken as listed on the timesheet or leave report. Wingspan will be the recordkeeping system for ensuring the total furlough days have been taken by the end of the fiscal year.

 The Office of Human Resources can be reached via e-mail at hrhelp@winthrop.edu for questions regarding this topic.