Furlough-related FAQ's

Posted July 9th, 2020 - Updated August 12th, 2020

Where can I find slides of the furlough presentation?

  • Slides of the furlough information session can be accessed here.
  • You must be signed into Saint Mary's network to access the slides

What is a Furlough?

  • Furlough is an unpaid time off from work; duration may not extend  longer than a pay period (2 weeks)

  • Employee on furlough may not perform any work including:

    • Responding to emails, voicemails, and College related phone calls

    • Completing or approving a timesheet

    • Signing into any College systems  for work

    • Participating in work / department meetings

  • Unpaid time off has different FLSA implications for exempt and non-exempt employees

  • Furlough does not disrupt benefits

What does an employee or supervisor need to do if they, or those they manage, are doing a Furlough?

  • VPs and Department Leaders provided HR specific furlough dates - these dates cannot be changed/modified without coordinating with Department Leader and HR

    • Any changes must be confirmed by HR prior to the date of the furlough.

  • Supervisor and Employee must coordinate timesheet submission and approval before employee goes on a furlough (exempt/non-exempt to be discussed)

    • Appropriately report furlough on timesheet - submit timesheet before or after furlough period (i.e. submit timesheet on the Monday after returning from furlough)

  • Supervisor and Employee must coordinate pending deadline oriented work before employee goes on a furlough

How do I know if my furlough requires a shift from exempt to non-exempt status?

Exemption status is determined by Federal and State guidelines based on position duties and salary level.

  • Exempt employees taking furlough in full one or two week periods (Monday through Sunday) will not need to transition to non-exempt. 

  • Only those exempt employees with prior approval from their supervisor and HR may take furlough for less than a full week and will consequently transition to non-exempt status. 

If I am an Exempt Employee, remaining as Exempt status during my furlough time, how do I report Furlough time?

Time Worked 

(remove time from days not worked)

Furlough, and other time types

Report under “Other Time Hours” and select “Furlough” in the drop down menu.

I’ve been told my status is changing from Exempt to Non-Exempt for a month or more, what does this mean?

  • Transitions from exempt to non-exempt are uncommon and must be approved by the employee’s supervisor and HR. 

  • Exempt employees must furlough in full one or two week periods and must take entire Monday through Sunday week(s) off; those converting to non-exempt status may take furlough time in day or hour increments (once non-exempt, the furlough does not need to be taken in a full one or or two week period)

  • Employees will maintain a 40 hour/week schedule, and will be eligible for overtime after 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week. Approval required in advance for overtime.

  • No impact to compensation rate with change.  Hourly rate is calculated by dividing the annual salary by 2080 hours (e.g. $54,080 divided by 2080 hours = $26 per hour).

  • Leave Accruals will remain at Exempt rates - no accrual for unpaid periods.
  • The way in which you fill out your bi-weekly timesheet will change.

  • Employees on a furlough should not work, meaning

    • Should not check voicemail/emails - Set up an “Out of Office” message

    • Should not complete or approve timesheets

    • Should not be contacted for work-related matters

    • Should not participate in any work/department meetings

    • Should not access any College systems

  • Meal Periods - Under California wage and hour law, non-exempt employees must receive a thirty (30) minute lunch or meal break if they work more than five (5) hours in a day. However, an employee may agree to waive that meal break if s/he will not work more than six (6) hours in the day.

  • Rest Breaks  - Ten (10) minutes for each four (4) hours, or substantial fraction thereof, that the employee will work in the day counted as time worked and paid. They must also be in the middle of the employee’s work period, to the extent that this is a practicable.  Not required  for employees who work less than three and a half (3 1/2) hours in a day.

I’m currently a non-exempt employee, what do I need to know about my furlough time?

  • Employee takes specific unpaid days/hours off

  • Can work and furlough specific hours or days within the same week. Example,

    • Hours: work 4.5 hours and furlough 3 hours within the day

    • Days: work 3 days and furlough 2 days in the week

  • Employees on a furlough should not work, meaning

    • Should not check voicemail/emails - Set up an “Out of Office” message

    • Should not complete or approve timesheets

    • Should not be contacted for work-related matters

    • Should not participate in any work/department meetings

    • Should not access any  College systems

As a Non-exempt employee, where do I report Furlough hours on my timesheet?

Report under “Other Time Hours” and select “Furlough” in the drop down menu.

Will my benefits be impacted by my Furlough?

  • There will be no impact on benefits eligibility for furloughed employees.  Employees are still responsible for their portion of insurance premiums.  In case the amount earned during a furlough pay period cannot cover the employee’s normal benefit deductions, the employee will elect one of  two options:

    • Authorize HR to capture the outstanding deduction amount (pre-tax) out of the next paycheck

    • Be invoiced for the outstanding amount and remit funds to the College through SMC Touchnet online portal
  • Employees have the option to adjust their TIAA contribution every pay period if desired via the TIAA portal.

Am I eligible for unemployment insurance?

  • On the first day of the employee’s furlough, they are eligible to file an unemployment claim online via the State of California EDD website

  • Under the CARES Act, the federal government will reimburse 50% of unemployment compensation paid by self-insured 501(c)(3) nonprofits between March 13, 2020 and December 31, 2020.  However, this means that self-insured nonprofits will still have to pay for 50% of claims paid.