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Furlough FAQs

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For information regarding frequently asked questions click the link below.

Furlough FAQs

 

For Questions regarding your Voluntary Benefits, please contact: 

Auto / Home Insurance:

  • MetLife                       1-800-GET-MET8 (438-6388)
  • Liberty Mutual            1-800-524-9400

 

Group Legal:

  • Hyatt Legal                 1-800-GET-MET8 (438-6388)

 

Short Term Disability:

  • The Standard              1-800-759-8702

 

Note: Failure to make payments with a benefit provider could trigger a lapse in coverage.  The State of Utah will not pay these benefits for an employee during a furlough.

23. Will there be an impact on an employee’s retirement?

The following information applies to employees in both the regular retirement system as well as the Public Safety retirement system.

Service Credit:  Furloughs that result in an employee being in a furlough status for more than 10 consecutive working days in a row will have an impact on service credit. Service credit will be reduced, resulting in the employee working longer to meet eligibility requirements. Any furlough time less than 10 consecutive working days in a row will not affect service credit.

Employer Contributions:  As discussed above in 1, salary-driven benefits are paid at the same percentage, but only on actual wages.  For example:

a.   Tier 1 Defined Benefit (DB) Retirement System: The 20.46% contribution that the state pays for retirement pension benefits for employees in the Non-Contributory system is based on a percent of salary, and therefore would be calculated on actual wages earned. Therefore, in a furlough situation the state’s actual contribution in dollars to URS would be less than normal, but the contribution rate itself is not affected. If an employee works an 80 hour pay period and is furloughed for 10 hours, the 20.46% contribution rate would be based on wages for 70 hours, not 80.

b.   Tier 2 Defined Benefit (DB) Hybrid and Tier 2 Defined Contribution (DC) Plan: The 18.34 % contribution that the state pays for retirement pension benefits for employees in the Tier 2 system based on a percent of salary, and therefore would be calculated on actual wages earned. Therefore, in a furlough situation the state’s actual contribution in dollars to URS would be less than normal, but the contribution rate itself is not affected. If an employee works an 80 hour pay period and is furloughed for 10 hours, the 18.34% contribution rate would be based on wages for 70 hours, not 80.

c.   The 1.5% contribution that the state pays into the 401(k) would also be based on a percent of salary, and therefore would be calculated on actual wages earned. This will reduce the actual dollar amount paid by the state, but the contribution rate itself is not affected.

d.   Other salary-driven benefits include: Long-Term Disability, Social Security/Medicare, Workers’ Compensation, and Unemployment.

Defined Benefit Formula:  Employees in the Tier 1 plan who retire from a defined benefit plan have a formula that determines their benefit amount. For employees in the Non-Contributory plan this formula is “years of service” x 2% x Final Average Salary (FAS = average of highest 3 years). While service credit with URS will not be affected if an employee is furloughed for less than 10 consecutive working days, the monthly amount the employee receives at retirement could be reduced. For example: the final average salary is the average of the HIGHEST 3 years. If an employee normally works 80 hours in a pay period and is furloughed for 10 hours, the annual salary for this employee is 10 hours less than it would have been. If the furlough occurs in a year that is, or would have been, one of the employee’s highest 3 years, this will be reflected in the benefit.

24.  Will part-time employees keep their benefits?

Part time employees who normally work 20 hours/week will keep their benefits. The impacts explained in question 16 also apply to part time employees, but annual, sick and holiday leave would be based on pro-rated amounts.

25. Does a furlough have any impact on Unemployment Insurance?

It depends. An employee’s ability to collect unemployment is specific to the individual employee and is based upon numerous, specific factors and formulas. Because of this, DHRM cannot say that a furlough will or will not affect an employee’s ability to collect unemployment benefits. For specific information regarding your unemployment insurance eligibility, and to submit a claim, please visit the Department of Workforce Services (DWS) website at www.jobs.utah.gov. To contact DWS via telephone, please call the Claims Center at one of the following locations:

  • Salt Lake and South Davis Counties (801) 526-4400
  • Weber and North Davis Counties (801) 612-0877
  • Utah County (801) 375-4067
  • Remainder of State and Out of State 1-888-848-0688

D. Furlough Procedures

26. How should a furlough be documented on timesheets?

The SAP payroll system will process everything involved with a furlough for you, if the furlough code is used. The employee’s furlough time should not be recorded as time worked, as leave, or as regular leave-without-pay. The proper code is YF. This code MUST be used in order for benefits to process correctly.

27. How does a furlough affect FLSA-Exempt employees?

The FLSA has special regulations for public employers on how to pay, deduct pay, and account for leave usage for FLSA exempt employees that differs from the private sector. Furloughs of FLSA exempt employees are allowed under these special provisions. However, only during the workweek in which the furlough occurs, FLSA exempt employees are to be treated as if they were non-exempt. The possibility exists in this circumstance that exempt employees could be eligible for time and one-half for paid overtime or compensatory accrual if employees exceed their normal hours worked on the days in which they are not furloughed in that workweek. 

Note:  The payroll system will NOT calculate overtime in this case correctly. It is not programmed to know that when FLSA exempt employees are in a furlough that they are to be treated as non-exempt for that week. This means that manual entries of overtime will be required by ERIC or your payroll staff.

Note:  DHRM would advise management in all agencies who implement a furlough to manage, during the workweek in which a furlough occurs, the time worked and leave used for all employees, both exempt and non-exempt, so that employees do not exceed 40 total hours and so no excess or comp time accrues, or overtime hours are paid. The accruals of these leave types, and the cost of paid overtime, will lessen the total cost-savings that the furlough is intended to create, and will create additional work for ERIC and your payroll staff to assure that we are in compliance with federal FLSA regulations.

28. How does a furloughed employee know when to come back to work?

When an employee is furloughed, they should ensure that their current contact information is current with their supervisor/management chain of command, and their field agency HR office. When funding becomes permanent and the employee is required to come back to work, his/her supervisor/management chain of command will contact the employee with return to work instructions.

29. Will employees who are furloughed because of the Federal Shutdown be paid for the time that they are off?

The United States Congress will determine whether federal employees will receive pay for the furlough.  At this time it is uncertain how “back pay” if approved by Congress for federal employees will affect State of Utah employees working under federal funding. Each state employee that has been furloughed will need to be evaluated in a case by case basis for back pay funding implications.

30. If I am furloughed, when will I be expected to return to work?

Every employee’s situation will be different. Agencies can expect employees to return to work as soon as possible, taking into account an employee’s specific situation while on furlough. After a furloughed employee has been notified to come back to work, he/she is expected to contact his/her supervisor within 48 hours of being notified.

DHRM Rules R477-7-14. Furlough.

(1) Agency management may furlough employees as a means of saving salary costs in lieu of or in addition to a reduction in force. Furlough plans are subject to the approval of the agency head and the following conditions:

(a) Furlough hours shall be counted for purposes of annual, sick and holiday leave accrual.

(b) Payment of all state paid benefits shall continue at the agency’s expense.

(i)   Benefits that have fixed costs shall be paid at the full rate regardless of how many days an employee is furloughed.

(ii)  Benefits that are paid as a percentage of actual wages shall continue to be paid as percentage of actual wages if the furlough is less than one pay period. Employees who are furloughed for a full pay period shall have no percentage based benefits paid.

(c)  An employee who is furloughed shall continue to pay the employee portion of all benefits. Voluntary benefits shall remain entirely at the employee’s expense.

(d) An employee shall return to the current position.

(e) Furlough is applied equitably; e.g., to all persons in a given class, all program staff, or all staff in an organization.

July 1, 2013

 


[1] Funding is based on the assumption that the federal shutdown is a temporary situation.  If the shutdown creates long term State budget issues, continued long term funding is subject to legislative approval.

[2] Funding is based on the assumption that the federal shutdown is a temporary situation.  If the shutdown creates long term State budget issues, continued long term funding is subject to legislative approval.

 

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