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Furlough Program Information

Work Expectations

Furloughed employees are not authorized to perform any work at all for their department during the furlough period including checking and responding to their work email. You may not volunteer to perform unpaid work for the department. Employees placed on a partial furlough are only allowed to perform work during their scheduled work hours.

What do I do if I am partially furloughed?

Your manager will notify you of your scheduled weekly hours for the duration of the furlough period. All work should be contained in the hours scheduled by your manager. Additional work time is not permitted during the furlough period.

What do I do if I am fully furloughed?

Fully furloughed employees are not authorized to perform any work at all for the department during the furlough period. While you retain access to your email and Workday accounts, you should not perform any work while placed on furlough. Managers will notify employees of their return from furlough using the primary telephone number and personal email account listed in Workday.

Fully furloughed employees should utilize the out-of-office email away message for the duration of the furlough period. Consult with your manager to fill in the required information.


Furlough Benefits Information

Your benefits will continue while you are on furlough leave. As a reminder, benefits are funded in two parts: the employer contribution, paid by Smith College, and the employee contribution, which is deducted from your paycheck. The College will pay the employee-share of health insurance premiums for the first two pay periods of reduced hours or furlough to reduce the possibility of any potential disruption as employees begin making the necessary transitions. After the first month, the College will continue with the employer contribution toward the employees’ health care.

If you are on a full furlough and not receiving any pay, you will be billed on a monthly basis for the employee portion of your benefit premiums beginning the month after furlough begins.  A monthly bill will be sent to your home address listed in Workday from the Controller’s Office. If you are on partial furlough or if you are using paid time during a full furlough, employee contributions will continue to be deducted from your paycheck.

Information about specific benefit programs is detailed as follows.

Health, Dental, Vision and Identity Theft Coverage

You may continue your current coverage while on furlough. You will be billed monthly for your portion of the premium(s) for full furlough. Your contributions will continue to be deducted from your paycheck for partial furlough or if using accrued time during a full furlough. The college will continue to pay its portion of the premium(s), if applicable.

Being placed on furlough would allow you to make changes to health, dental and vision insurances (for example, if you are eligible under a spouse’s plan). Changes for being placed on furlough can be made in Workday.

Changes to identity theft insurance can be made at any time.

Instructions can be found on the Workday Help Site.

Flexible Spending Account (FSA)

You remain eligible to submit expenses to an FSA during furlough. You will have access to your full annual election amount for a health care FSA and access to money you have contributed to date for a dependent care FSA.

Your contributions to the health care FSA will not be billed, but will be collected when you return to work. Your contributions will continue to be deducted from your paycheck for partial furlough or if using accrued time during a full furlough.

Being placed on furlough would allow you to make changes to a health care and/or dependent care FSA. Changes related to being placed on furlough can be made in Workday. Instructions can be found on the Workday Help Site.

Health Spending Account (HSA)

You remain eligible to submit expenses to the HSA during furlough. 

Your contributions will stop during a full furlough. However, you may make contributions directly to HealthEquity and claim the tax deduction. 

If you would like to continue making contributions directly to your HSA, contact HR at hrbenefits@smith.edu. Your contributions will continue to be deducted from your paycheck for partial furlough or if using accrued time during a full furlough.

You can change your contribution to an HSA at any time. Changes can be made in Workday. Instructions can be found on the Workday Help Site.   

Life Insurance/Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D)

Your basic life, Accidental Death & Dismemberment, supplemental life, spouse and/or child life insurance will remain in place during furlough. 

You will be billed monthly for any premiums for full furlough. Your contributions will continue to be deducted from your paycheck for partial furlough or if using accrued time during a full furlough. 

You may elect to reduce the amount of supplemental, spouse and/or child life insurance coverage through Workday. You do not need a qualifying event to make any changes to life insurance coverage(s). Keep in mind that reduced coverage(s) cannot be later reinstated to higher levels without being approved by Lincoln Financial through the Evidence of Insurability process.

Long-Term Disability

Your long-term disability insurance will continue while on furlough.

Tuition Assistance Program

You will remain eligible for tuition benefits while on furlough based on current eligibility.

Retirement

You will not receive employer retirement contributions while on a full furlough and you are unable to make voluntary contributions. For those on a partial furlough or using accrued time during a full furlough, you will continue to receive employer retirement contributions on your earnings on the hours that you worked in that pay period while on partial furlough. You are unable to make voluntary contributions if not receiving any pay, but may continue  to make voluntary contributions if you are on partial furlough or if you supplement your pay using accrued time.

You can change your voluntary retirement contributions at any time.  Changes can be made in Workday.  Instructions can be found on the Workday Help Site.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

You and your household members will remain eligible for EAP benefits while on partial or full furlough. To use the benefit, visit the New Directions EAP website or call 800-828-6025 and identify yourself as a Smith employee or household/family member of a Smith employee.

Questions?

Contact the Office of Human Resources at hr@smith.edu, hrbenefits@smith.edu, Lynn Cocco at lcocco@smith.edu, Tina Benoit at tbenoit@smith.edu, or Maddy Cohen at mcohen@smith.edu.


Frequently Asked Questions

How did the college choose who would be furloughed?

People chosen for furlough leave were active employees and not on an authorized leave of absence, who through no fault of their own, do not have enough anticipated work to perform during the furlough time period. Academic-year employees working 9 to 10 month positions are not eligible for furlough during the time periods that they are not scheduled to perform work.

How long will people be furloughed?

It is anticipated that the furlough will last through the summer period. If the college delays the start of the fall semester, or does not hold a fall semester with students on campus, a furlough could be extended, and those employees not currently on furlough could be considered for a furlough leave.

Am I eligible for unemployment benefits? If so, when and how can I apply?

Furloughed employees are eligible to apply for unemployment benefits in the first week that employment stops; no waiting week is required. This is an evolving situation, and we will keep you informed if circumstances change. We will contact you to return to work as soon as operations return to a level that allows for reinstatement. During the furlough, we will communicate with you regarding any changes in status. Please work with your supervisor to add the approved out of the office message on your college office phone and email.

Visit the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) to apply for unemployment. 

A step-by-step walkthrough for the application can be found by visiting the Unemployment Insurance Online Information Guide.

How does furlough leave work for exempt employees?

An exempt employee on a 50% furlough leave can perform work on a bi-weekly basis. Exempt employees are allowed to work their scheduled weekly hours in one week, and they cannot perform work the next week.

Please note that in order to maintain their exempt status as dictated by the Fair Labor Standards Act, these employees must work a full week, then be on leave a full week.

What will happen to my accrued sick, vacation, personal time?

Employees on partial furlough will continue to accrue vacation and sick time at a partial rate of accrual.  Employees on full furlough do not accrue vacation or sick time. Personal time, recess, and annual leave will continue to be loaded into employee banks on July 1, 2020.

Can I use my accrued time while on a furlough leave?

A furloughed employee is eligible to supplement their pay during furlough leave with accrued time up to their normal scheduled weekly hours (no more than 40) using personal, vacation, recess, or annual leave time. Hourly employees will add those additional accrued hours to their weekly timesheets for approval. Salaried employees can submit for paid time-off during the furlough period to supplement their pay. Sick time cannot be used to supplement furlough leave hours. Employees on partial furlough will continue to accrue vacation and sick time at a partial rate of accrual.

What if I was approved for vacation over the summer and I have been furloughed?

A fully furloughed employee with approved vacation during the furlough period, should edit and remove their future dated accrued time, unless they want to supplement their pay with additional vacation time. Vacation or personal time cannot be used in lieu of or to shorten the furlough period.

Will I be eligible for paid holidays?

Employees on full furlough leave are not eligible for paid holidays. Employees on 50% furlough leave are eligible for paid holidays under the terms of their new scheduled weekly hours under their partial furlough leave. Exempt employees on partial furlough leave will be allowed an alternate paid holiday if the holiday falls on a full furlough week.

When do I return to work from furlough?

Employees on furlough are expected to return to work on the date specified by their manager. If the manager is able to end a furlough earlier than anticipated, they will notify the employee of the return to work date as soon as it is known. Notice of early return to work should be made verbally and confirmed by email if possible. If verbal notification is not possible, notice may be provided by email.

How does the CARES Act impact my unemployment benefits?

The CARES Act provides those who are eligible for unemployment insurance with additional benefits through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), including a $600 weekly supplement through July 30, 2020.

The CARES Act is designed to assist employers and employees with situations in which employees cannot perform most or all of their job related duties due to the COVID-19 response.

Are voluntary furloughs available at this time?

No voluntary furloughs are available at this time. The Office of Human Resources currently offers short- and long-term leave of absences for those employees who may need to take time away from employment at Smith. Contact The Office of Human Resources at HR@smith.edu to learn about eligibility and application.

Will I retain my email?

During the furlough period, the employee’s access to Workday and email will be retained. Employees may access Workday at any point for benefits-related information, but may not use their email to perform any work functions.

What happens if I need to go on a FMLA protected leave while I am furloughed?

Employees on furlough are still eligible for protected leave under federal and state law, including FMLA leave, on the same terms and conditions as non-furloughed employees. The employee’s furlough leave will run concurrently with FMLA leave, and an employee’s request for FMLA leave will not be used as a reason to select an employee for furlough.

Leave information can be found in the Employee Handbook.

Leave applications can be found on the Forms page.