Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to provide you with additional information about the cost savings measures announced in Vice President Cate’s June 4, 2020 memo to campus. This includes details related to the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe Order and its impact on teleworking, an early retirement program, vacation benefits, salary reductions, and mandatory furloughs.

In addition to the guidance provided here, answers to a range of frequently asked questions we have received about the Fiscal Year 2021 budget are now on the Division of Finance website.

Extension of the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe Order and Teleworking

Governor Scott recently extended the Stay Home, Stay Safe order through July 15, 2020, and we have received questions about how that will impact staff. Most staff members were able to successfully transition to telework when the order was put in place this spring. Those staff members who are able to effectively telework should continue to do so, subject to operational needs. Based on the university’s business needs as we prepare for the likelihood of in-person operations in the fall, there may also be an evolving number of staff whose presence on campus is “essential.” Supervisors will contact all staff members individually to discuss their return to campus. Contact your Labor and Employee Relations professional (PDF) for more guidance.

Staff who cannot effectively telework have a number of options available to them, including:

  • Use of accumulated leave balances.
  • Request for unpaid leave.
  • If eligible, use of Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) or Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL). 

Please note that prior use of Family Medical Leave (FMLA) will not be deducted from an employee’s available Public Health Emergency Leave. In other words, even though PHEL is a form of FMLA, employees who have used FMLA during the last 12 months will still have the full 12 weeks of PHEL available to them should they need it. For further information about any of these options, please see the FAQ section on the Human Resource Services website, or contact your Labor and Employee Relations professional (PDF).

Early Retirement Program

We have developed a Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Program for employees who have reached the age of 60 and have at least 15 years of UVM service, or those of any age who have 30 or more years of UVM service as of September 15, 2020. The advantage of this is that individuals can now retire up to five years sooner than the regular plan allows and still retain their full Post-Retirement Medical Benefits (PRMB). More retirement resources are available on the Human Resource Services web site.

Vacation Accrual Payouts

Effective July 1, 2021, the university will cease the practice of paying for employees’ accrued vacation time when they terminate employment. Over the next year, employees are encouraged to use their vacation time to reduce any accrued balances. Please note, this change does not affect accrual rates, or employees’ ability to carry over their vacation balances from year to year. Please see the Staff Handbook to review current procedures.

Salary Reductions

We appreciate that these are very challenging times, and that the recently announced salary reduction has caused stress for many employees and their families. These measures were developed to balance the university’s need for a sustainable budget and our common interest in protecting jobs.

We also recognize that employees want to know how the salary reduction will impact them on an individual basis. Human Resource Services is working with schools, colleges and business units to provide salary information specific to employees whose salaries will be affected. Further details have been shared with campus Human Resource Representatives this week.

Mandatory Furloughs

There will be no university-wide mandatory furloughs, and we are hopeful that mandatory furloughs will be avoided in most areas. However, individual schools, colleges and business units may have unique financial or personnel situations that warrant consideration of mandatory furloughs in lieu of a more dramatic measure like layoffs. In such cases, mandatory furloughs may only be implemented in two situations:

  • As a result of COVID-19, the school, college or business unit has no work for individual employees to do on a short-term basis but expects that they will return to full employment in the near future.
  • As a result of COVID-19, the school, college or business unit is experiencing a significant temporary budget shortfall and requires immediate one-time savings to help alleviate the shortfall.

In all cases, implementation of furlough days must be approved by a dean or vice president. As much as possible, employees should be afforded flexibility over when they choose to take their furlough days. Schools, colleges and business units may contact their Labor and Employee Relations professional (PDF) for guidance on this process.

 

We hope this provides you with a better sense of some of the strategies being implemented to protect the future of our university. We do understand that some of the actions being taken will adversely impact staff and faculty, but we are committed to maintaining fiscal stability so that we can continue to provide an excellent education for our students. If you have specific questions about any of these measures, please contact hrsinfo@uvm.edu.

 

PUBLISHED

06-22-2020
Jes Kraus, Chief Human Resources Officer