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Tuesday, December 15, 2020
What is a Furlough?
By News Release @ 12:57 PM :: 1025 Views :: Education K-12, Labor, COVID-19

Frequently Asked Questions (not applicable to charter schools) as of December 14, 2020 

News Release from Hawaii DoE, December 14, 2020

GENERAL INFORMATION 

Q 1. What is a furlough?   

A 1. A furlough is the placement of an employee temporarily and involuntarily in a non-pay and non-duty status by the Employer because of lack of work or funds, or other non-disciplinary reasons.  Furloughs result in a reduction in workdays, which in turn results in a reduction in one’s salary.  Furlough days are to be considered similarly to any other unscheduled workday (i.e. Saturday and Sunday).    

Q 2. Will a furlough change my employee status? 

A 2. A furlough does not involve a change to one’s salary range, pay grade or employment status.   

Q 3. How many furlough days will employees need to take? 

A 3. For the remainder of the school year 2020-2021, 10-month and 12-month employees will be furloughed on January 4, 2021 and February 12, 2021 and are projected to be furloughed for four additional days for 10 month employees and eight additional days for 12-month employees. 

Q 4. How many furlough days will the superintendent, deputy superintendent, assistant superintendents, and complex area superintendents take?   

A 4. For the remainder of school year 2020-2021, the Superintendent will align with Governor Ige’s cabinet and reduce her pay equivalent to the State Executive Branch furlough days. The Deputy Superintendent, Assistant Superintendents and Complex Area Superintendents will decrease their pay equivalent to the furlough days.

Q 5. How will furlough days affect DOE substitutes and casual workers?  

A 5. All substitutes and casual workers will not report to work on designated furlough days. Example(s): substitute Teacher, Cafeteria Helper and casual hourly workers: Part-time Teachers (PTTs), Para-Professional Tutors (PPTs), Meal Count Assistants, Student Helpers, Classroom Cleaners, Adult Supervisors, etc.

Q 6. Can I substitute vacation or sick days for furlough days? 

A 6. No.  Employees may not substitute any paid leave or compensatory time off for a designated furlough day.  Furlough days may not be taken in partial-day increments.  Employees should withdraw their requests for vacation/personal leave on furlough days.  

Q 7. How will furloughs affect sick and vacation accruals? 

A 7. Sick and vacation accruals will not be affected. Employees will continue to accrue sick and vacation at their normal rate. 

Q 8. When will employees begin to see an adjustment in their paychecks? 

A 8. For those employees hired before July 1, 1998 and 10-month employees, furlough adjustments to pay will be reflected in the January 20, 2021 paycheck.

For those employees hired after July 1, 1998, furlough adjustments to pay will be reflected in the February 5, 2021 paycheck.

Q 9. When will the superintendent’s leadership team begin to see an adjustment in their paychecks? 

A 9. For those leaders hired before July 1, 1998 and 10-month employees, furlough adjustments to pay will be reflected in the January 20, 2021 paycheck.

For those leaders hired after July 1, 1998, furlough adjustments to pay will be reflected in the February 5, 2021 paycheck. 

EMPLOYEE BENEFITS 

Q 1. What happens to my health benefits if I am furloughed? 

A 1. Your eligibility for health benefits through the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund (EUTF) will continue, as long as your premium payments are made on time. 

If you do not have sufficient monthly earnings to pay for your insurance premiums, the EUTF will send you a Notice of Premium Shortage with instructions on how to reinstate your health benefits.  For additional information, please contact EUTF at 586-7390 (Oahu) or 1-800-295-0089 (Neighbor Islands); or visit website: eutf.hawaii.gov.

Q 2. May I change health plans in order to reduce my monthly deductions?

A 2. Employees may make changes to their health plans only during the annual Open Enrollment Period.

Q 3. May I make changes to my retirement and benefit plan deductions if I’m furloughed in order to reduce my monthly deductions? (e.g., ERS - NO, deferred compensation - YES, TSA - YES, PCP - NO.)

A 3. It depends.  For more information contact the Employee Benefits Unit at 441-8311 or by email at Employee.Benefits@k12.hi.us.

Q 4. What happens to my Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) service credits if I am furloughed?   

A 4. The furloughs will not affect your ERS service credits as long as you work at least 15 or more calendar days (14 days in February) per month, which is equivalent to a full month of service credit for that month.    

For additional information, please visit the ERS website at: ERS (ehawaii.gov) or contact ERS at 586-1735. Neighbor Islands may call toll free to Oahu for assistance.

Hawaii:  974-4000 ext. 61735

Kauai:  274-3141 ext. 61735

Maui:   984-2400 ext. 61735

Molokai/Lanai: 1-800-468-4644 ext. 61735 

Q 5. Will furloughs affect my “high three” (three highest average salaried years) for Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) benefits? 

A 5. Yes.  Furloughs will result in a pay reduction, thus your annual average salary will be reduced.  However, the Employees’ Retirement System will take your three highest average salaried years for computing retirement benefits. 

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION 

Q 1. Will the furlough affect my workers’ compensation?

A 1. No, not your eligibility for benefits.  However, wage loss payments will be adjusted accordingly due to furlough.  You would not be paid for the furlough days as they are non-work days.  Payroll will adjust the wage loss supplemental pay by the furlough adjustment if an employee elects to use leaves while on WC status. 

For more information, please contact the Workers’ Compensation Unit at 441-8484 or by email at workers.compensation@k12.hi.us

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE 

Q 1.   Are employees eligible to collect unemployment insurance for the furlough days? 

A 1.   An employee must be either totally unemployed or working less than their normal hours and  earning less than what their weekly benefit amount would be on a continuous basis.  For answers, contact:   

Dept. of Labor & Industrial Relations 830 Punchbowl St. Honolulu, HI 96813 http://hawaii.gov/labor 

Email: dlir.director@hawaii.gov 

Business Hours: Mon. - Fri., 7:45 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (except holidays)  

DIFFERENTIALS 

Q 1. How will the furlough affect the National Board Certification differential teachers may be currently receiving?   

A 1. Fixed-dollar amount differentials (such as National Board Certification, department chair, grade-level chair differentials, etc.) will remain the same, without reduction, so the gross differential pay will remain unchanged.  Pay reductions due to furloughs will be applied to the teacher's base pay. 

EMPLOYEE SUPPORT 

Q 1. Are there supports available for employees to help them cope with the emotional and financial stress of the furloughs? 

A 1. The Hawaii State Department of Education has contracted Employee Assistance of the Pacific (EAP), to provide all employees with confidential assistance regarding personal challenges affecting job performance related to family or marital problems, alcohol or substance abuse, and other emotional or behavioral problems.  Additionally, EAP is able to provide emergency crisis and critical incident stress debriefing.

EAP will provide up to a maximum of three hours of professional services for individual and group counseling by appointment.  To make an appointment, employees or supervisors may call EAP directly at (808) 597-8222 or toll-free at (877) 597-8222 or visit their website for more information at eapacific.com.

HALF-TIME TEACHERS 

Q 1. How do the furlough days work for a half-time teacher (specifically, if a teacher does not work on the scheduled furlough day)?

A 1. The teacher and the principal will need to work together to reduce weekly hours by 3.5 hours.  Weekly hours will be no more than 14 hours per week or 28 hours over 2 weeks.  Individual work schedules are to be worked out with the principal.  

LESS THAN FULL-TIME CSSP EMPLOYEES

Q 1. How do the furlough days work for other half-time or three-quarter time employees?

A 1. Employees whose full-time equivalency (FTE) is less than 1.0 FTE (0.75, 0.625, 0.5) are subject to furloughs and their pay will be adjusted accordingly.

JOB SHARE 

Q 1. How are teachers on job share impacted? 

A 1.   Schedules will have to be adjusted, and worked out with the principal at the school level. 

Q 2. Can I volunteer to work while on furlough (or any other day) for the DOE?

A 2. No. Employees on furlough are not permitted to work at their regular job.  Also, furloughed employees may not volunteer to work at their regular job or any other job with the DOE. 

LEAVES

Q 1.   If an employee needs to take sick, professional, or personal leave on a furlough day what do they do?   

A 1. No action is necessary.  If the leave falls on a furlough day, no paperwork needs to be completed.  

Q 2.   Will furlough days affect employees who are on leave without pay? 

A 2. Yes. The pay for employees on leave without pay will be reduced by the furlough. 

Q 3. Will HSTA employees on sabbatical leave be affected by the furlough? 

A 3. Yes. The pay for HSTA employees on sabbatical leave will be reduced by the furlough. 

For more information related to leaves, please email Leave Management Unit at: leave_management_unit@k12.hi.us.

PAYROLL – PAPER PAYCHECKS

Q 1. A few employees still receive a paper paycheck rather than utilizing direct deposit.  Will their paychecks arrive in a timely manner at schools and offices?  

A 1.   Employees are highly encouraged to sign up for direct deposit through Hawaii Information Portal Employee Self-Service (HIP ESS) to ensure timely receipt of pay.  There may be a delay for paper paychecks to arrive at schools/offices as courier services may also be reduced.   Enrollment in HIP ESS direct deposit may be found at http://hawaiipublicschools.org/HawaiiPay. 

SALARY/PAYROLL DEDUCTIONS 

Q 1. Would a furlough affect my salary? 

A 1. Your salary range/base pay will remain the same.  However, you would not be paid for the furlough days as they are non-work days. Reduced work days will result in a lower gross salary adjusted to reflect the furlough.   

Q 2. Would furloughs impact automatic payment deductions? 

A 2. It could. If you pay bills or loans through automatic pay deduction from your financial account each month, you should review your pay deductions against your adjusted income (due to furlough adjustments to pay) to ensure that sufficient funds are available to cover any deductions. 

For more information, please submit a ServiceNow Ticket at 564-6000.

PARKING

Q 1. What will happen to my State parking if I do not have enough in my paycheck to cover for parking deductions? 

A 1. Your parking assignment will continue as long as you can make the payment on a timely basis.  DAGS Automotive Management Division/Parking Control Branch will accept out of pocket payments.  Arrangements can be made by calling (808) 586-0344.  Parking fee will not be prorated for days not in use due to furlough.  

CAMPUS VISITS & REMOTE WORK

Q 1. On a furlough day, can a teacher visit her/his classroom to set it up? 

A 1. We recognize historically teachers have visited their classrooms on non-work days to get an early start on lessons and to fix up their rooms.  By being on campus during a furlough day, teachers may attract students to school—this type of situation not only raises safety concerns but also other liability issues. No employees are allowed on campus. Schools as well as district and state offices are closed on furlough days.

Q 2. On a furlough day, can HGEA employees visit their offices or workplace?

A 2. Schools as well as district and state offices are closed on furlough days. Employees should not report to their workplace and observe the furlough day. 

Q 3. While on furlough, can I perform duties elsewhere (e.g. telework) for the DOE during my regular work hours?

A 3. No.  On a furlough day, employees on furlough are not permitted to work at their regular job or any other job with the DOE.  “Work” includes checking email, voicemail and using any electronic devices to check status of open items and responding to the same. 

NOTE:  The aforementioned is intended to briefly address important issues that may be of concern to you in the event of a furlough. This is not a legal document or contract, and may be subject to change. 

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