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Furlough Information and Instructions for Employees


While the University addresses operational and financial impacts of the COVID-19 health care crisis, protecting our employees’ access to health, dental and life insurance is critically important during this time. The University recently reached agreements with several MSU labor associations regarding employee furloughs. We were able to reach agreements that balance the priority of our employees’ health with the need to achieve immediate savings. The agreements also ensure units will have the flexibility to quickly and efficiently recall employees when MSU is ready to begin transitioning back to a less restricted model of operations.


We are writing to provide more information about these agreements and information about how the furlough process will work.


The University has reached agreements with the following unions:

Agreement Highlights

Some important parts from all of the agreements include:

  • The University will continue health insurance, employer-paid life insurance, and dental benefits for those furloughed employees in benefits-eligible positions, subject to employee enrollment and eligibility. You can view the full impact on benefits while on furlough here.

  • Furlough must last more than 30 days and less than six months and cannot extend beyond Dec. 31, 2020.

  • Employees being furloughed have the right to a seven-calendar-day notice before a furlough begins.

  • Employees may volunteer for furloughs with unit approval or be selected by a unit to be placed on furlough.

  • Units must follow seniority rules in selecting employees for furlough. Except for CTU, furloughs will be determined within a unit, primary work location, and an employment classification.

  • Probationary employees within the unit, primary work location, and affected classification must be furloughed before non-probationary employees (providing the non-probationary employees can perform the work.).

  • Employees with shorter service within a unit and primary work location and classification will be furloughed before employees with longer service.

  • An unpaid furlough cannot be used to rotate or toggle employees between an unpaid furlough and active status, whether on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

  • Except for 1585, an employee on an unpaid furlough may perform one (1) week of work during a furlough due to pressing operational needs. The employee shall be paid for one week of work and may not work in excess of their employment percentage in that week.

  • Seniority rules also apply to the order in which employees may be returned to work when furloughs conclude.

  • Units that are unable to return all employees to their jobs will have the ability to transition furloughs to layoffs. If that occurs, all regular contractual layoff rights and seniority selection processes will apply.

Some relevant agreement-specific provisions include:

  • Related to seniority, the CTU agreement proceeds by “department” as defined in the CTU collective bargaining agreement, work location, and classification.

  • The furlough agreement with Local 1585 requires that temporary and probationary employees must be furloughed before permanent employees within a unit, primary work location, and an employment classification;

  • The furlough agreement with the APSA requires probationary employees must be furloughed before permanent employees within a unit, primary work location, and an employment classification, provided the non-probationary employees can perform the available work.

  • The furlough agreement with APSA specifies that employees within a unit, primary work location, and an employment classification with unsatisfactory records will be furloughed before employees with satisfactory records. (Defined as two consecutive unsatisfactory evaluations signed/presented by Apr. 1, 2020).

  • Related to the one week of work during the furlough, the APA and APSA agreements allow for units to require an employee to work for a week with appropriate notice. In the CTU agreement, arrangements must be mutually agreeable; advance notice is not required, and employees can decline the request.

Process Information

MSU HR will not select employees for furlough; unit leadership will make these determinations and initiate the furlough process. Impacted employees will receive an email from MSU HR with a furlough notice and further instructions; the employee’s supervisor or a designated unit representative and union will be copied on the notice.


If you are interested in volunteering for furlough, please contact your supervisor or manager.


Unemployment Compensation

Furloughed employees can apply for unemployment compensation. The State of Michigan, not the University, determines whether an employee qualifies. Find more information on how to apply for unemployment at http://www.michigan.gov/uia. Please note: MSU HR and/or individual units do not apply for unemployment on behalf of employees; it is up to each individual to apply for unemployment.


Additional Information

Visit the MSU HR website for further information on furloughs, including impact on benefits, and frequently asked questions.

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