Moravian College Furlough FAQ’s
Preparing for an Unknown Future
The effects of COVID-19 on the United States and the world have been dramatic. Businesses across the US have been affected, with record levels of unemployment claims throughout the country. Higher education institutions, like Moravian, have to prepare for an uncertain future. As a tuition-dependent college, we have limited resources, and we are stretching those resources beyond their typical limits. With the financial effects of refunds from room and board, the inability to use the campus during the summer, the increase in technology costs and licenses to move all instruction online this past semester, and the unknown effects all of this may have on student enrollment for the fall semester, the college needs to take extreme action to preserve its financial strength for the future. As a preliminary measure to help sustain college operations, we have made some tough decisions that will directly affect faculty and staff.
Some employees will be asked to take furloughs beginning May 4, 2020, some with a shorter duration than others in order to continue to meet business needs. We believe that most, if not all, furloughed employees will be able to recoup their lost wages in full through the current state unemployment benefits program. Some employees may actually see an increase in their weekly compensation due to the CARES Act dollars made available through the federal government. The college will continue to provide healthcare benefits to furloughed employees who are currently on the college’s health care plans.
An unpaid furlough is when an employer temporarily cuts back or ceases an employee’s employment with the understanding that the employee will be recalled within a certain period of time. In this case, we are hopeful that employees can be recalled beginning August 3, 2020. An unpaid furlough is an involuntary separation between an employer and an employee that occurs through no fault of the employee. The employer is temporarily cutting back or ceasing the employment of the worker for its own reasons.
In this case, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Moravian College has moved to predominantly virtual business practices, and accordingly, many of our business needs have changed. While some jobs can continue virtually and/or remotely, not all can and not all positions are needed at this time.
The hope is that we will return to normalcy in the fall, our current enrollment looks strong. But COVID-19 brings with it a great deal of uncertainty. We were ready and adapted well to moving all of our current classes online. If this continues into the fall, we will need to continue to make tough choices to ensure the future education of our students.
You will be contacted by your VP directly on Tuesday, April 21, 2020, that your position will be placed in unpaid furlough status beginning May 4, 2020, and you will be expected to continue working through Friday, May 1, 2020. A formal letter will be sent to your home confirming the furlough. During this unpaid furlough, you will not be paid by the college and should not be conducting business on the college’s behalf.
The current plan is for all furloughed employees to return on Monday, August 3, 2020. A few employees may start their furlough later and some may return sooner based on business needs. We will keep you apprised of any changes regarding the return date.
Yes, absolutely. You will be eligible for unemployment and should visit the Pennsylvania Unemployment website to apply for unemployment insurance benefits in accordance with the letter you receive from Human Resources. We are providing this information now so you can get into the system as soon as possible. All unemployment claims are made online. Help will be available via Human Resources, Payroll (your source for earnings) and your supervisor if you need it. Update: The PA Office of Unemployment Compensation now instructs claimants to wait to file until after their last day. Applying early will cause delays.
All of your health benefits will continue for you and any dependent coverage you maintain. You will be responsible, however, to make any required health benefit contributions and pay your share of the dental and vision coverage premium if you currently do so. You will be billed at your home for these premiums.
Unfortunately, no, being furloughed by Moravian College is not a qualifying life event, since there is no loss of eligibility for health care benefits. However, you may be eligible to make a change if your spouse/ domestic partner or dependent child has has a qualifying life event. Refer to moravian.edu/hr/QLE for more information.
No. The furlough period will begin on the effective date and can not be postponed. When the furlough ends, any earned sick hours, vacation hours and floating holidays will remain intact.
Absolutely. The vacation and personal time you have accrued can be used upon your return. Accrual will continue when you are away.
Since retirement is based on the payment of your base annual salary, contributions by the college will not be made. Additionally, all college contributions will decrease to 1% beginning July 1, 2020 until further notice. Should the outlook for the fall continue to be positive, a retroactive contribution may be possible.
The College has just contracted with Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) and more information should be available shortly. We expect services to be available by Friday, April 24.
There will not be any changes to the remission benefit because of your furlough. Classes will go on virtually unless of course, the class is canceled due to lack of enrollment. Employees or dependents already enrolled in fall classes should attend those classes as scheduled. The tuition remission policy is still applicable.
Your supervisor or an individual designated by your area VP will be given delegated access for the sole purpose of determining if there is immediate work that needs to be addressed during the time you are away. This individual will be responsible for updating your away message using standard text provided by the College noting only that you are “temporarily out of the office” and providing a contact for assistance during your furlough. You will have access to your email, but should not delete any business-related mail. Any personal use of College email is discouraged during this time.
This is a furlough and we expect you to be back in early August, so you can hold on to College property such as laptops and keys, unless notified otherwise by your supervisor. However, you are responsible for the safety and security of equipment and keys. Any files, records and/or documents must be returned, or access granted to your supervisor to ensure continuity of work during the furlough.
Since time is available prior to the beginning of the furlough, there should be time to collect personal items from your work area. Please work with your supervisor to establish a time when you can safely come to campus prior to the furlough commencing. If something comes up during your furlough where you find you have forgotten something, please contact Campus Police to set up a time that they can allow you into your office or work area.
That is up to you. Understand that should you accept a part-time or full-time position, the hours you may work must be reported to unemployment and could jeopardize your benefit. You also need to report any other employment to Human Resources as it might affect your benefit status and to confirm that no conflict of interest exists with your current position.
We do not anticipate any changes in your pay at this time. Increases in salary have traditionally been based on budget availability, and your performance, so there will be no change in methodology.
The college philosophy has been to evaluate all staff employees every year. This year will be no different albeit in an abbreviated format. The plan will be for supervisors to meet with staff to review previous goals established, review progress, and establish new goals for 2020-21. For furloughed employees, this will happen when they return. As mentioned above, increases in salary have traditionally been based on budget availability, and your performance.