Furlough FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions regarding furloughs during the 2020-21 academic year. Leer en español

June 2020

Q. What is a furlough?

A. A furlough is a temporary period of time where an employee does not report to work and is not paid for the time period that s/he is not working. You will work with your supervisor to identify your furlough time. You will then be reporting your furlough time to the HR office prior to the vacation so that the College maintains a record.

Q. Can I still get paid during my furlough?

A. While you will not receive normal compensation during a furlough, you may use accrued unused vacation time for the time that you are on furlough. One day of vacation is equivalent in pay to one day of furlough.

Q. How will I assign accrued unused vacation time during my furlough so that I can be paid?

A. You will identify vacation time the same way that you do currently (e.g., on your time sheet, online).

Q. What if I don't have enough vacation time accrued? Can I still get paid for this time off?

A. As employees and supervisors may elect for the furlough(s) to occur at any time in the next academic year, there is the opportunity for people to earn vacation time that will cover the amount needed for the furlough. However, if operational needs of the department require that the furlough occur prior to an employee earning sufficient vacation time to maintain pay during the furlough, the employee may request an advance on vacation accrual. These requests are not guaranteed, but will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Q. Do I need to take all of the time at once or can I break up the furlough time?

A. Employees can break up the time for the furlough, based on certain circumstances.

  1. Employees will work with supervisors to determine the appropriate time for the furlough, based on departmental operational needs and the preferences of the employee.
  2. Employees who are paid hourly may have the furlough broken up into up to an hour away at a time. In this way, the furlough could be divided by portions of a day, instead of a complete day or days.
  3. Employees who are exempt (i.e. paid on a salary basis) must take their furlough in increments of a complete work week - five days in a row that comprises a work week of Monday - Friday.
Q. Can I work during my furlough, even though I understand that I won’t be paid for it?

A. No, you may not do any work during your furlough.

Q. Can I work during my furlough since I am taking vacation time and will be paid for it?

A. No, you may not do any work during your furlough.

Q. What if someone calls me or contacts me via email during my furlough? Shouldn’t I reply to their questions?

A. As difficult as it may be, you may not work during your furlough, even for small periods of time. Prior to your furlough, you should make arrangements for any duties which are time sensitive to be completed by another Oxy employee or upon your return. You should also set your email and phone messages to notify others that you will be unavailable during that period of time and refer urgent matters to your supervisor or another individual in your department who will not be furloughed during that time.

Q. How do I record the furlough on my timesheet?

A. You will record the furlough time by contacting Jacie Feigelman in HR. You will record the vacation time on your timesheet.

Q. Must I take vacation time during this furlough? I may not want to use my vacation time in this way.

A. You are under no obligation to use your vacation time during your furlough. However, if you do not use your vacation time during your furlough, your income during the payroll cycle that corresponds with your furlough will be reduced.

Q. Can sick days be applied to furloughs like vacation days?

A. Sick days cannot be applied to furloughs.

Q. What if I am on furlough, and then get sick. Could I use sick time instead of vacation time to be paid during this furlough?

A. Employee are eligible to use paid sick time for qualifying reasons, for replacement of wages normally earned when an employee is scheduled to be working. During a furlough, the employee is not scheduled to be working and, thus, would not be eligible to replace the designated time off with sick leave. 

Q. Can paid holidays like July 4 or Labor Day be applied to furloughs?

A. Paid holidays cannot be applied to furloughs. Furloughs must be taken while the College is open for business.

Q. Will my benefits continue while I am on furlough? How will I pay for them?

A. Yes, your benefits will continue and you will still be responsible for paying the same amount that you normally pay for your benefits. If you elect to be paid during your furlough (using vacation time), then the payments will continue to be taken in the same way as they normally do (via payroll). If your furlough does not stretch for a complete payroll period, your deductions will continue to be taken, when possible.

Q. Will this furlough change my seniority status with the College or with the bargaining unit?

A. No.

Q. For the purposes of calculating how much furlough salaried employees will be required to take, is the total salary based on calendar year or fiscal year?

A. Fiscal year (July 1-June 30).

Q. When we are on furlough, are we eligible for unemployment benefits if we choose not to use our vacation days?

A. You will be eligible to apply for unemployment benefits. (There is no guarantee that you will receive benefits.) Keep in mind that because furloughs will be for a limited time, there would be a limited opportunity to apply. The unemployment program for the state of California is managed by the California Employee Development Department. Information on filing a claim can be found at https://edd.ca.gov/Unemployment/Filing_a_Claim.htm. The College will provide information confirming your last rate of pay, your amount of pay during furlough (if any or none) and the dates of your furlough. Earnings during the furlough period, including vacation pay, will be used to calculate benefit amount. The maximum benefit is $450 per week, with supplemental federal pay of $600 per week through July 30.

Q. Why do salaried employees have to take furloughs in increments of five consecutive days? Why can’t they take it a day or two at a time, like hourly employees?

A. This is not a College policy. Under California and federal wage and hour law, salaried employees typically must receive their weekly base salary if they perform any services within the work week. This is why furloughs for salaried employees should begin at the beginning of a work week and continue through the end of the week. Since hourly employees work by the hour, not the week, they have far more flexibility.

Q. Can salaried employees who must take 10 or 15 days of furlough take them in multiple 5-day increments or do they need to be taken all at once in a single continuous furlough?

A. In consultation with their supervisor, salaried employees can take furloughs in multiple 5-day increments over the next fiscal year (July 1, 2020-June 30, 2021). They do not need to be taken all at once.

Q. If, as a salaried employee, I have to take my furlough in 5-day increments, does that mean I cannot take furlough during a 4-day work week shortened by a College holiday like the Fourth of July?

A. That is correct. If you are furloughed, you would need to be furloughed for an entire 5-day work week.

Q. Can I take my furlough days at any time during the next fiscal year? (July 1, 2020-June 30, 2021)

A. Yes, you can, in consultation with your supervisor. However, please note that you cannot take furlough days during paid holidays or the winter break between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Q. If Monday-Friday is the typical furlough week, what happens if salaried employees have to work weekends based on their job demands?

A. The furlough is for a full week. Work cannot be performed at all for the entire work week. The College’s workweek begins at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday and ends at 12 midnight the following Saturday. Employees who normally work Monday - Friday, may not work on the Sunday prior or the Saturday after their regular week. This is also true if a work schedule is for any other days in the week (e.g., including either a Saturday or Sunday).