The university is creating a policy for short-term layoffs and reductions in hours to meet temporary budget or operational needs, allowing units to take temporary actions, if needed, without eliminating positions.

U-M has a long-standing policy to guide reductions in force when positions are eliminated, but it has lacked a policy for temporary, short-term actions. The policy on Short-Term Layoff (Furlough)/Short-Term Effort Reduction — SPG 201.73 — closes that gap.

The new policy takes effect July 1 and guides university units should they need to enact involuntary unpaid layoffs and reduced work hours, which will be allowed for periods of up to four months. The policy allows for a possible extension up to a maximum of six months, and the return of the employee to their regular position and hours.

Benefits enrollments and university contributions to benefits would continue uninterrupted, and employees may apply for unemployment compensation during the short-term layoff or period of reduced hours.

Rich Holcomb, associate vice president for human resources, said the new policy has some similarities to a voluntary furlough and reduced hours program that more than 3,700 employees are currently participating in, but is not exclusive to the current pandemic.

It is designed to give units an option for a range of temporary situations that could occur — such as an unexpected loss of funding, lack of work, disruption to operations or a governmental directive — where short-term action is required but eliminating positions is not needed or desired.

If a unit decides to implement unpaid short-term layoffs or reduced hours, they may first seek volunteers before moving to the seniority-based process specified in the policy. The process occurs by job classification, beginning with employees with the least seniority in that classification.

The policy applies to regular staff, research scientists, research professors, librarians, curators and archivists. Staff covered by the terms of a collective bargaining agreement should refer to their labor agreement for information on layoffs.

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