|Furlough (Mandatory) FAQs|
ImplementationQ: Under what conditions may an agency implement a mandatory furlough program?
A: If the general funds appropriated for a State agency, institution or department are less than the general funds appropriated for that State agency, institution or department in the preceding fiscal year, or in a fiscal year in which an agency that is funded by other funds projects other funds collections to be less than in the prior fiscal year, or whenever the General Assembly or the Budget and Control Board implements a midyear across-the-board budget reduction, an agency may implement a mandatory furlough program.
Q: Who determines whether an agency will implement a mandatory furlough program?
A: The agency head will determine whether to implement a mandatory furlough program.
Q: Who decides when the employee will take the mandatory furlough?
A: The agency may specifically designate the days to be taken for the furlough or the agency could allow the employee to request the days for the furlough. Ultimately, the scheduling of furlough days or portions of days, shall be at the discretion of the agency head.
Q: Can an agency implement a mandatory furlough program based on the salaries or pay band of employees?
A: Yes, new legislation allows mandatory furlough programs implemented by state agencies, excluding those implemented by institutions of higher learning and technical colleges, to be based upon pay bands for classified employees and pay rates for unclassified employees with the agency or designated department respectively. For example, an agency could require a higher number of furlough days for classified employees in pay bands 7 and above and unclassified employees with a pay rate of $70,000 and above within the agency or within a designated department.
Q: How can an agency payroll the reduction in pay caused by a mandatory furlough program?
A: An agency can spread out the reduction in pay across several pay periods or over the balance of the fiscal year regardless of the pay period within which the furlough occurs under the provisions of Section 8-11-192. Regardless of the method chosen by the agency, there are FLSA implications for exempt employees.
Q: Is an employee's exempt FLSA status affected by a furlough?
A: The exempt status of an employee is affected if the employee furloughs and his/her pay is reduced. If the agency spreads out the reduction in pay across several pay periods or over the balance of the fiscal year, the exempt status may be affected during the entire period the pay is reduced.
Eligibility/ParticipationQ: Who will participate in a mandatory furlough?
A: Mandatory furlough programs must be (1) inclusive of all employees in an agency or within a designated department or program regardless of source of funds or place of work, including all classified and unclassified employees in the designated area; or (2) based upon pay band for classified employees and based upon pay rate for unclassified employees within the agency or designated department respectively.
Agency heads, with the exception of constitutional officers, must be included in the mandatory furlough.
Based on the eligibility criteria set by the agency, temporary, time-limited project, and temporary grant employees must be included.
Q: May employees be exempted from participation in a mandatory furlough program?
A: Yes, state agencies, excluding institutions of higher learning and technical colleges, may exempt law enforcement employees and correctional employees if the state agency would incur costs for overtime under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. In addition, employees who provide direct patient or client care and front line employees who deliver direct customer services may be exempted from a mandatory furlough. The agency will have the discretion to define who constitutes a front-line employee.
Q: How many days can an agency head institute a mandatory furlough?
A: An agency head may institute a mandatory furlough for not more than ten working days in the fiscal year of the deficit.
Q: Must a mandatory furlough be taken in full day increments?
A: A mandatory furlough may be taken in full or partial day increments; however, an agency may establish guidelines that determine the smallest increments in which mandatory furlough may be taken by an employee.
Q: Can an employee authorized for work through an H-1B visa participate in a mandatory furlough?
A: The United States Department of Labor Regulations (20 CFR 655.731) do not allow the wages of these employees to be reduced through a mandatory furlough. They can, however, participate in a voluntary furlough.
Q: Can furlough days taken under a voluntary furlough program be counted towards furlough days required through a mandatory furlough program?
A: Yes, in the event that an agency implements both a voluntary furlough program and a mandatory furlough program during the fiscal year, furlough days taken voluntarily shall count toward furlough days required by the mandatory furlough.
For example, if an employee takes three days under an agency's voluntary furlough program and later in the fiscal year the agency requires employees to take five furlough days through a mandatory furlough program, the employee would only be required to take two mandatory furlough days.
Q: Can an employee whose position is paid through federal or other funds be required to participate in a mandatory furlough?
A: HRD encourages agencies to research any restrictions on federal or other funds associated with positions before implementing a furlough. In some instances, federal laws associated with funding for certain programs may prohibit employees from participating in mandatory furlough. In those situations if a position is only partially federally funded, the mandatory furlough may be prorated.
BenefitsQ: How is an employee's benefits affected by a mandatory furlough?
A: During a mandatory furlough, a State employee is entitled to participate in the same state benefits as otherwise available to him except for receiving his salary. As to those benefits which require employer and employee contributions, State agencies, institutions and departments will be responsible for making both employer and employee contributions if coverage would otherwise be interrupted; and as to those benefits which require only employee contributions, the employee remains solely responsible for making those contributions.
Q: Will an agency be required to pay the employee and employer contributions for retirement when an employee participates in a mandatory furlough?
A: Yes. Please see the memo from the South Carolina Retirement System for details.
Q: Can an employee receive unemployment compensation while on mandatory furlough?
A: An employee may be eligible for unemployment benefits with the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce while on a mandatory furlough. Employees should contact the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce for further details or go to the agency's web site for information on unemployment insurance.
Q: Does an employee accrue annual and sick leave while on mandatory furlough?
A: An employee will continue to accrue annual and sick leave while on mandatory furlough.
Q: Is an employee paid for a holiday that falls within a mandatory furlough period?
A: If a holiday falls during the mandatory furlough period, the employee is paid for the holiday.
Q: How does a mandatory furlough affect an employee's performance review date?
A: An employee?s performance review date will not be adjusted during a period of mandatory furlough.
Q: How does a mandatory furlough affect an employee's State service date or continuous service date?
A: A mandatory furlough does not affect an employee's State service date or continuous service date.
Q: Can an employee grieve participation in a mandatory furlough program?
A: Individuals affected by a mandatory furlough do not have grievance or appeal rights under the State Employee Grievance Procedure Act.
ReportingQ: Is an agency required to report any information concerning employees participating in a mandatory furlough program?
A: An agency must report the following information on employees who participate in the mandatory furlough to the Human Resources Division prior to September 1st of the following fiscal year:
* Total number of employees who participated in the mandatory furlough program,
* Total number of mandatory furlough days,
* Estimated cost savings associated with the mandatory furlough program.
Mandatory Furlough Program under Proviso 6.18 of the 2012-2013 Appropriation Act (Commission on Higher Education-Mandatory Furlough) and SC Code of Laws 8-11-193
Q: How many days per fiscal year can an institution of higher learning include in a mandatory furlough program?
A: An institution of higher learning may institute an agency-wide employee furlough program for not more than twenty working days in the fiscal year.
Q: Is an individual technical college allowed to implement a mandatory employee furlough program?
A: State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education through policy and procedure for the Technical College System may institute employee furlough programs of not more than twenty working days in the fiscal year in which the deficit is projected to occur. Once a State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education develops a policy, an individual technical college may implement a mandatory employee program based on the policy.