Furloughs – Frequently Asked Questions

Who must take mandatory furloughs?

Except for the exempted positions listed in Question #2 below, all classified and exempt staff are being required to schedule one (1) day (i.e., 8 hours per month) of mandatory Furlough LWOP each month from July 2020 through June 2021.  Mandatory Furlough LWOP days may be taken as a series of partial days (e.g., work in the mornings and furlough in the afternoons; furlough two (2) hours a day for one (1) workweek).  If you wish to take more than one mandatory Furlough LWOP day in a month, you may request to do so, but you must take at least one day (i.e., 8 hours) each month until you have taken the required twelve (12) days.

Does the mandatory furlough requirement apply to all staff employees? 

The furlough requirement does not apply to:

  • Staff working less than half time
  • Classified staff paid at Salary Level 30 or below
  • Temporary, hourly employees or student employees
  • Cyclic staff employees during their cyclic-scheduled off months
  • Positions that are funded on grants or by grant indirect cost funds
  • Positions that support 24/7 coverage or where legal minimum staffing levels exist, so that shifts lost to furlough days would have to be made up by other staff. 

Does the voluntary temporary layoff/furlough and temporary reduction in full-time equivalency (FTE) apply to all employees?

No.  The voluntary temporary layoff/furlough and temporary reduction in FTE program is available to permanent status classified staff (not probationary period employees) and represented and non-represented exempt staff.

How many mandatory furlough days do I have to take?

Except for the exempted positions listed in Question #2 above, all represented and non-represented classified and exempt staff are required to schedule one day (i.e., 8 hours) of Furlough LWOP each month during the 2020-21 fiscal year beginning July 1, 2020 and ending June 30, 2021.  For staff working between half-time and full-time, the requirement is pro-rated based on the person’s FTE. 

If you previously scheduled Voluntary LWOP furlough days during this period, those Voluntary LWOP furlough days will count toward the mandatory Furlough LWOP requirement.  For example, if you have already taken five (5) Voluntary LWOP days, you will only need to take an additional seven (7) mandatory Furlough LWOP days (i.e. a total of 12 days).

 May an employee split the required furlough days over more than one pay period?  For example, can an employee take four (4) hours the first half of the month (pay period 1st through 15th) and four (4) hours the second half of the month (pay period 16th through end of the month)?

Yes, an employee may request and their supervisor may approve splitting furloughs into 4-hour increments for full-time staff, or the pro-rated equivalent for part-time staff. A 4-hour reduction in work during a standard 40-hour week meets the 10% criteria for SharedWork Program eligibility.

Can mandatory Furlough LWOP be taken in increments within the month?  For example, can an employee take Furlough LWOP in the afternoons but work mornings?

As long as the furlough hours in a month add up to eight for full time employees, supervisors have the discretion to decide whether to allow employees to break up their Furlough LWOP day into two half-days, or even take a furlough in two-hour increments spread over four days. 

What Leave Type in the Leave System do I use to request voluntary and/or mandatory furlough days?

For voluntary furloughs, employees will use leave type “Voluntary LWOP”.  Do not use the leave types Furlough LWOP, Cyclic LWOP, or regular Leave Without Pay for this purpose.

For mandatory furloughs, employees will use the “Furlough LWOP” leave type for each mandatory furlough period.   Do not use the leave types Voluntary LWOP, Cyclic LWOP, or regular Leave Without Pay for this purpose.     

An employee must request a furlough day(s) in advance, and will enter a leave request in advance of the workweek during which it will be taken.  Supervisors may enter “Voluntary LWOP” or “Furlough LWOP” by proxy for their employees who are unavailable to do so. 

Do overtime-exempt employees become overtime eligible during the workweek that their hours are reduced (during partial week furloughs)?

Yes. During workweeks when overtime-exempt employees’ hours are reduced (partial week furloughs), overtime-exempt employees become overtime-eligible for that workweek and are paid for each hour worked. Overtime-eligible employees are required to track their time through positive time reporting practices.  Please see Question #9 below for how-to instructions about recording work time for a workweek during which Furlough LWOP has been used.

This means that for full time positions, a typically OT exempt employee should be assigned to work no more than 32 hours within the furlough week.  If you work more than 32 hours (but less than 40 hours) during the week, the college must pay you at your normal hourly rate for the additional hours.  If you work more than 40 hours, you are eligible for overtime pay for your time worked beyond 40 hours in a workweek at 1.5 times your normal hourly rate for any time worked past 40 hours. 

In either of these scenarios (working more than 32 or more than 40 hours), the employee is out of compliance with the furlough plan and will not achieve the budget savings the furloughs are meant to produce.  The objective is to save money, so while the college will pay employees for all hours worked, employees are strongly discouraged from working overtime or additional hours beyond 32 hours for full time equivalent positions. 

If employees are furloughing in solid week blocks, it is best to begin the furlough at the beginning of the week and in full week increments to avoid the necessity of treating the overtime-exempt employees as overtime eligible during those workweeks.

Is it a requirement that an exempt employee record their time worked for a workweek during which they use mandatory Furlough LWOP?  How do they record their hours?

Yes, an exempt employee must record their time worked for a workweek during which they used Furlough LWOP, and they will do this by completing a Work Certification on-line through their My Evergreen’s Employee Section “Time Tracking” link (no more paper tracking forms!).

For each workweek when Furlough LWOP has been approved, work time for all exempt and classified staff (including those who are usually exempt from overtime) must be recorded – at Evergreen we use Work Certifications to meet this legal requirement.  Specifically, for workweeks during which a government employee has been on a mandatory furlough (i.e. Furlough LWOP for Evergreen), those specific workweek fall under overtime rules and therefore the college is required to meet recordkeeping provisions to be in compliance with those rules and ensure employees are fairly and accurately paid.

Employee who use Furlough LWOP must review and certify that their Work Certification is correct; supervisors are required to also certify that the employee’s Work Certifications are accurate and they may proxy for employees who are not available to complete Work Certifications.  For more information about Work Certifications (including links to brief instructional videos), view the last couple of paragraphs on the HRS Time Sheets and Work Certifications web page.

Do all employees need to be furloughed at the same time, or can they Furlough LWOP days be spread over different days?

All employees do not need to be furloughed on the same day. Furlough LWOP days may be spread out to accommodate business and operational needs and the interests of affected employees while also mitigating impacts to student service, impacting to workload, and supporting collaborative work between work areas. 

I am an employee who is currently working a 4-day, 10-hour alternate work schedule.  Do I need to revert to a 5-day, 8-hour per day schedule?

The expectation is that full-time employees reduce their monthly schedule by eight (8) hours (prorated for part-time employees).  For employees who have an alternative schedule and want to limit their furlough time to eight (8) hours, the simplest solution is to request a schedule change. There is no requirement that supervisors revert employees to a standard 5-day, 8-hour schedule as long as employees take the 8-hour Furlough LWOP.  

If your supervisor changes your work schedule (you have not requested the schedule change) and you are a represented employee, your supervisor must follow the notice provisions in the applicable collective bargaining agreement and submit an updated Work Schedule Change / Assignment Form to Human Resource Service.  

I recently started working for Evergreen.  As a new employee, am I required to take mandatory Furlough LWOP?

Yes.  Positions that do not meet the exemption criteria in Question #2 are subject to the mandatory Furlough LWOP requirement.

I was recently hired and am serving in a probationary review period.  Am I subject to the mandatory furlough? 

Yes.  Positions that do not meet the exemption criteria in Question #2 are subject to the mandatory Furlough LWOP requirement.

I am in an exempt position as a temporary appointment.  Am I subject to the mandatory furlough? 

Yes.  Positions that do not meet the exemption criteria in Question #2 are subject to the mandatory Furlough LWOP requirement.

Are temporary, hourly employees subject to the mandatory Furlough LWOP or Voluntary LWOP?

No.

My position is revenue generating.  Am I still subject to mandatory Furlough LWOP?

Yes. Positions that do not meet the exemption criteria in Question #2 are subject to the mandatory Furlough LWOP requirement.

Is there a process for mandatory furlough exception requests?

In order for the college to achieve the projected savings and minimize the need for future cuts, any requests for exceptions to mandatory Furlough LWOP will be determined by the Senior Leadership Group (SLG) and applied extremely narrowly.

Will mandatory Furlough LWOP days be pre-determined (certain dates or days of the week) by the college or can an employee and their supervisor choose a certain day each month?

Classified and exempt staff are being required to schedule, with their supervisor’s approval, one (1) day (i.e., 8 hours) of unpaid leave each month starting July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021 (prorated for staff working between half-time and full-time).   Staff and supervisors should balance business, operational needs, and the needs and interests of the employee when seeking mandatory Furlough LWOP options that mitigate impacts to student service, mitigate impacts to workload, and support the ability to do collaborative work between work areas. An employee must have their work hours for the week reduced between 10-50% to be eligible to participate in the SharedWork Program.

May an employee take the furlough days required through June 30, 2021 up front all in a row and be done with it?

Yes.  However, while combining some anticipated furlough days may be feasible from an operational perspective, the SharedWork program provides benefits only to employees that experience a 10%-50% reduction in hours in a particular week. Part of the assumed cost savings of the furlough plan comes from the SharedWork program; allowing employees to combine all their furlough days may reduce the savings that employees get from the furloughs by making them ineligible for the SharedWork Program. 

What is SharedWork and is Evergreen involved in the program?

The SharedWork program, administered by the Employment Security Department (ESD), is a voluntary business sustainability program that provides flexibility to retain employees at reduced hours and helps to support business/operations stability, retain skilled workers, reduce payroll costs, and reduce the number of or mitigate layoffs.

SharedWork helps by paying employees partial unemployment benefits when their work hours are reduced by 10%-50% in a particular workweek due to voluntary or mandatory furloughs.

Evergreen’s applications for the SharedWork program for represented and non-represented staff were approved by the ESD at the beginning of July. Employees who are eligible for the program receive an email from Human Resource Services and are responsible for applying for the program and filing weekly claims with ESD.

Can I receive SharedWork benefits if I take a voluntary furlough?

Yes.  As long as you are eligible to take a voluntary furlough (see Question #3) and meet SharedWork eligibility criteria, you may take additional Voluntary LWOP and still claim SharedWork benefits.  Supervisors are encouraged to approve Voluntary LWOP whenever possible to help achieve targeted cost savings.

May an employee still receive unemployment benefits through the SharedWork program if they take regular LWOP (not related to furloughs)? 

No.   When an employee takes leave without pay unrelated to the furloughs, an employee is considered unavailable to work all scheduled hours for the college. If the employee is unable to work all scheduled hours, they would not qualify for SharedWork. 

If I want to volunteer for more hours of furlough than one day per workweek, will I be eligible for unemployment insurance through the SharedWork program for the whole time or only the one day per week?

Employment Security Department (ESD) determines if an employee is eligible and the SharedWork Program is available to permanent employees who experience a reduction in their normal weekly schedule of 10%-50%.

I was recently hired and have not worked at least 680 hours for the college.  Will I still be eligible to receive the $600 per week additional CARES Act benefit when I furlough?

If an employee has worked for the college for less than 680 hours, but was previously employed elsewhere—even in another state—they may still be eligible for the CARES Act benefit as administered by ESD. The application for unemployment benefits asks the employee about work in other states, previous federal employment and recent military service, any of which could combine with Evergreen wages to achieve the 680 hours.

Since the college is participating in the SharedWork program, will employee unemployment benefits include both their percentage of weekly benefit amount for the furlough and the CARES Act funding of $600, a percentage of the $600, or none of it?

The CARES Act federal funding is available through July 25, 2020. SharedWork benefits for the college and CARES Act funding for employees are both administered by ESD and available through July 25, 2020. The $600 available through the CARES Act is a flat dollar amount and is not adjusted in relation to other unemployment benefits.  ESD is the source of information for you to check if the federal CARES Act funding is updated.

May I file a weekly unemployment claim before the week that I take furlough is over?

No. Employees must wait for the ESD “claim week” to be complete. You will not be able to file your weekly claim until Sunday of the following week.

When should I file my initial application for SharedWork unemployment benefits?

Employees may file their initial application for benefits after Evergreen’s SharedWork plan has been approved for ESD, and the college’s SharedWork plan was approved by ESD on July 1, 2020.

Will I need to wait to receive benefits for the typical “waiting week?”

The governor has extended his proclamation waiving the waiting week for unemployment benefits.

For the work weeks that I do not take a furlough leave day, am I still required to submit an unemployment claim to ESD?

Yes.  Employees should file an unemployment claim with ESD on the weeks that they are not furloughed to ensure that their account with ESD remains open.  If you do not submit a weekly claim, your account will get locked by ESD and you will need to submit a new application to file additional claims.

Will the college be covering the cost of this unemployment payment for their employees? If yes, how is that a cost reduction for the college?

The CARES Act provides funding from the federal government to state unemployment agencies through December 26, 2020. It funds “an amount equal to 100 percent of the amount of [Shared Work] compensation paid under a [Shared Work] program.”

A fraudulent unemployment claim was filed using my identity.  Will that impact my ability to file for SharedWork?

You will not be able to submit your application for SharedWork until your fraud case is resolved.  ESD is working to resolve all outstanding fraud cases and you will receive a message from an esd.wa.gov address when your account is unlocked.  You will be able to file claims for SharedWork unemployment benefits retroactively.  Contact Human Resource Services if you experienced unemployment fraud and have not heard from ESD by July 31, 2020.

Is there a cap on how much I may make and still receive an unemployment benefit?  For example, if I make $2,000 gross per week, can I still claim a benefit?

There is no salary maximum to receive unemployment compensation under the SharedWork program.

Is an employee required to report standby or call-back compensation when filing for SharedWork?

Employees will report gross earnings for the week, based on the reportable hourly rate.  As long as you are participating in the SharedWork program and your hours worked, including any paid time off, are between 10% and 50% of your normal hours, you do not need to recalculate your hourly rate based on time spent in stand-by during the week.  You will continue to use your hourly rate.

An employee should not include their hours spent in stand-by status when reporting their hours worked for the week.

If I work on a holiday during the week of a furlough, does that change the number of hours I should report for in my SharedWork claim for the week?

No. Working on a paid holiday does not affect the number of hours you should report for the week. For example, if you take a furlough on July 2 but have to work on July 3, hours worked on July 3 do not subtract from the hours furloughed. However, time spent working on a holiday is typically paid at the overtime rate.  Earning overtime during the week of a furlough reduces the intended cost savings achieved by the furlough. Supervisors should not schedule employees to work on an observed state holiday if it can be avoided.

How do the furloughs and the SharedWork program impact the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program?

Office Financial Management (OFM) is currently reviewing this question and will provide additional guidance in the near future.  Employees seeking to access the benefit of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program should contact FedLoan and/or the Department of Education for additional information. These employees should also be cautious of volunteering for additional furloughs that cause their hours to drop below 30 hours, which is considered the threshold for full time employment under the PSLF Program.

If I am receiving Paid Family and Medical Leave IPFML) benefits, can I also receive benefits through SharedWork?

Employees filing for SharedWork or other kinds of unemployment benefits cannot receive PFML benefits in the same work week due to limitations in the PFML statute administered by ESD. To avoid an overpayment situation, employees must disclose that they will receive unemployment benefits for the same week when filing their weekly PFML claim. They will be denied any PFML benefits for that week. Depending on the employee’s circumstances, some employees may determine that it is more appropriate to remain on PFML, rather than filing a SharedWork claim. Both of these benefits are claimed and paid week by week. 

Where can I go to find out more about SharedWork?

Classified and exempt staff who were employed by the college as of July 1, 2020 and eligible for the ESD SharedWork program received an email from Human Resource Services about the program and how to apply on July 2, 2020.  If an employee becomes eligible for the program after that date, they will receive an email from Human Resource Services. 

For a list of frequently asked questions about the SharedWork program for furloughed state employees, please visit the Employment Security Department website by clicking here.

How do furloughs apply to employees using their accrued leave or protected leave entitlement?  Is there any impact to employees that use their 80 hours of expanded FFCRA paid sick leave?

Employees using leave will be impacted by furloughs just as those who are working. Previously approved leave scheduled during the time an employee is furloughed should be cancelled. 

Employees who use protected leave (including but not limited to FFCRA paid sick leave or FFCRA expanded FMLA), or those using protections under proclamation 20-46 regarding high-risk individuals, may not be targeted for layoff or reduced hours because of their use of these protections. However, as long as the college applies documentable, neutral criteria to identify employees for furloughs that is not based on the employee’s use of protected leave, people on protected leave may be furloughed just like people not using protected leave.

Am I subject to Furlough LWOP if I am using paid military leave?

Yes. If an employee is using paid military leave, similar to other paid leave types, the leave would be canceled just for the day the furlough occurs. Employees who are in active duty status with the Reserve or National Guard may have additional steps to follow if they choose to apply for SharedWork benefits.

If an employee is currently on active duty with the National Guard or Reserve during furloughs, would they be eligible for unemployment benefits?

Possibly. If they are on active duty for more than 72 hours they must claim their active duty earnings, and when reporting their hours they must report all actual hours worked during their activation. Employees in this situation can also choose to wait and not file a weekly claim during their active duty weeks. They can resume filing claims when they return from active duty.

If an employee is in active duty status for less than 72 hours during the week of the furlough, they do not need to report any earnings from their active duty status. For more information, see RCW 50.04.320(4)(a), and WAC 192-190-090.

If an employee is approaching their 240 hour vacation leave accrual limit, will their deadline be extended because of the furloughs?

There is no provision in the Governor’s proclamations, collective bargaining agreements or college policy to protect vacation leave. The normal exception request process continues to apply.

If the supervisor cancels an employee’s leave due to furloughs and this results in an employee going over the 240 cap, the supervisor will need to make a statement of necessity justifying the extension and submit it to HRS.  If approved, the college shall offer the employee an extension for each month the employee has to defer their leave.

Why are employees being required to take mandatory Furlough LWOP?

With the combined effects of enrollment and the COVID -19 pandemic on Evergreen’s budget, the college must make reductions in spending over the next year, including reducing staff compensation expenses.   In fall quarter, Evergreen will re-evaluate enrollment projections and may reduce the number of mandatory Furlough LWOP days required in the second half of the fiscal year.

Has the college negotiated with the union on furloughs? 

Yes.  The college has reached Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the Washington Federation of State Employees for classified employees and Student Support Services Staff Union (SSSSU) regarding Voluntary LWOP and mandatory Furlough LWOP.  The MOUs are posted on the website and can be viewed by clicking here.