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URMC / Coronavirus (COVID-19) / HR Information for Employees / Frequently Asked Questions

 

Frequently Asked Questions

A furlough is a temporary, unpaid layoff from work or a reduction in the days or hours worked, with the expectation of returning the employee to regular employment or work schedule once business operations permit. Furloughs also provide flexibility (partial vs. full) to help reduce impact to individuals and departments. In some instances, they can be applied as an alternate schedule, such as the employee being furloughed for one week per month.

  • Partial: Offers a reduced work schedule, which could range from being furloughed for one week per month, or reducing the days or hours worked in a week as determined by departmental operating needs. During a partial furlough, employees will perform some work during each pay period.
  • Full: Employees are furloughed for an extended period of time, with no work occurring during the furlough time period. An employee who performs no work for at least one full pay period will be considered on full furlough.
  • Since the purpose of a furlough is to reduce costs during the pandemic, unfortunately, vacation and PTO cannot be used by staff on furlough.
Furloughs will begin May 10th.
It’s unclear at this time, but it’s our intention that these are temporary, short-term measures that can help bridge us to a time when we are again functioning at full capacity.
No. Vacation and PTO cannot be taken in place of furlough (see Benefits section for more detail).
Fees for fully furloughed employees have been suspended until they return to work, and, for those partially furloughed, the University will waive one month's worth of parking fees. Find more information about parking here.
Yes, though employees should not be doing any work, including checking emails, while furloughed.
No. One of the benefits of a furlough is that you are still considered an active employee of the University of Rochester.

Unemployment

You may be eligible for unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and should apply in order to determine eligibility. There have been changes to and an expansion of unemployment benefits in New York State based on the CARES Act that may provide furloughed employees with enhanced unemployment benefits.

In order to determine what unemployment benefits you may be eligible for you will need to apply directly to the New York State Department of Labor. We’ve prepared a guide to help you understand what you will need to do and what information you will need to have readily available in order to apply. The University of Rochester has no role in determining benefits eligibility or amount of benefits – that is a NYS determination. There is an online tool offered by the NYS Department of Labor that can help you estimate unemployment benefits.

The address the University of Rochester provides employees for the purposes of unemployment filing is:

University of Rochester, Employee Records
910 Genesee Street, Box 278829, Rochester NY 14627

The phone number to use on the application is (585) 275-8747.

After you complete your application for a new claim for benefits, you will receive a Monetary Determination letter in the mail from NYS informing you if you qualify and, if so, of your weekly benefit rate.

If you are approved for unemployment insurance benefits, it is vital that you update the Department of Labor each week with your work status and demonstrate you still meet the eligibility criteria. If you do not, your benefits will be delayed.

  • This is called "certifying for benefits."
  • You can provide your weekly certification online or by phone.

Benefits

Benefits will continue in accordance with Policy 354 Layoff and Recall. Generally:

  • Full Furlough: Employees on a full furlough will have benefits continue following the guidelines for temporary layoff; please refer to Policy 354 Layoff and Recall for specific details. Employees on full furlough are still responsible for premiums, which will be billed directly to their address on record, for any benefits for which they are eligible and that the
  • Partial Furlough: Employees on a furlough schedule during any pay period in which they work, referred to as a 'partial furlough,'' are considered active for the purpose of University benefits. Please refer to Policy 354 Layoff and Recall for specific details.
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Employees can use their FMLA benefit on days or weeks that they are scheduled to work. They would not use the benefit on days or weeks that they are furloughed.
  • Paid Family Leave (PFL): Employees are eligible for their PFL benefit on the days or weeks in which they are scheduled to work, but are not eligible for the benefit on days or weeks that they are furloughed.
  • Short-term Disability: Those on Partial Furlough approved for Short-Term Disability will receive disability benefits per policy 339 (furlough will not take place during an approved short term disability, however you may be placed on furlough when you return from your short term disability). Those on Full Furlough are not eligible for the benefit on days or weeks that they are furloughed.

Vacation will continue to be earned (full accrual) if an employee works any part of the pay period.

As stated above, vacation and PTO cannot be used in place of the time you are furloughed. But, employees who are taking a partial furlough may be able to use vacation or PTO during the time they are scheduled to work. For example, if you are scheduled to work every other week, you could take vacation or PTO during an “on” week. All vacation and PTO requests must follow the departmental approval process and would be at the manager’s discretion.

Yes, tuition benefits are maintained while an employee is furloughed.

Why Cost Reductions are Necessary

Like other universities, businesses, and academic medical centers around the world, we are experiencing serious financial fallout due to a sudden reduction in revenue as a result of the global pandemic. At the Medical Center, curtailment of elective surgeries and outpatient visits alone is causing us to lose about half of our clinical revenues. As a network, UR Medicine lost approximately $71 million in clinical revenue during the last two weeks of March, and moving forward, monthly revenue losses are expected to exceed $130 million. Cumulatively, the Medical Center is projecting up to a $315 million gap for this fiscal year, with losses that will certainly continue into the start of our next fiscal year.

We have received some assistance from the recently enacted CARES Act. While helpful, it is not sufficient to compensate for our mounting losses. The assistance we have received is not enough to offset even a single week of the current lost revenue for the Medical Center. We’ve also received about $199 million in loans from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that must be paid back starting in August. While we continue to work with our Congressional delegation and professional associations to vigorously advocate for relief funds, the monies we receive will not fix the significant financial gap we are facing.

In addition to health care relief, we are advocating for supplemental research funding, research grant and contract supplements due to COVID-19 related impacts, additional funding for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, and emergency relief to sustain research support personnel and base operating costs for core research facilities and user-funded research services, among many other initiatives.

Our recovery plan has two tracks:

First is the careful restoration of portions of our non-emergent visits/cases at the Medical Center so that we can take care of those patients who will suffer harm if deferred longer. This will generate some additional revenue. We are working on a proposal to the State DOH and Monroe County on how this could be done safely.

The second element of our plan is cost reduction. Even if we begin to recapture more of our normal revenues in the next couple of months, we can’t erase the financial gap that’s been created. Cost reduction activities taken to date include curtailing hiring and overtime, eliminating the annual Wage and Salary increase, delaying the planned wage compression adjustment, and cutting capital spending. After exhausting these and other alternatives for cost savings, it is now apparent that a temporary workforce reduction is necessary at URMC.

Throughout URMC, all departments were asked to put together cost-reduction/furlough plans for their areas, however there is no one-size-fits-all formula. We need to make sure that we are adequately staffed to continue fulfilling our research, education and patient care missions. We fully expect that some areas won’t be able to furlough anyone, while others will be able to because their overall workload has been greatly reduced.