Furloughs

Furlough Details and Process

A furlough is a temporary separation from the Institute, and employees typically return to work. Employees are not paid by the Institute, but do retain health benefits from the Institute for which they are currently enrolled with no change in monthly premium. Employees are eligible to receive NYS Unemployment Benefits for up to 39 weeks and CARES Act Benefits until July 31,2020.

A layoff is a permanent separation from the Institute, and employees typically will not return to work. Employees are eligible for COBRA in order to continue health benefits however, will no longer receive a subsidy from Rensselaer. Employees are eligible to receive NYS Unemployment Benefits for up to 39 weeks and CARES Act Benefits until July 31, 2020.

We anticipate the furlough will last from May 1, 2020 until July 31, 2020. However, we will continue to regularly assess external guidance and our internal circumstances. Rensselaer will reinstate furloughed staff based on business needs and job function.

Many organizations in the United States, and throughout the world, continue to struggle with financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Rensselaer is no exception. As a result, the Institute made the difficult decision to furlough a portion of our workforce whose duties and responsibilities cannot be performed remotely, or whose normal workload has diminished significantly due to the impact of COVID-19.

The following criteria were used to determine individuals who would be furloughed:

  • Duties and responsibilities of the position cannot be performed remotely
  • Duties and responsibilities of the position have been significantly diminished due to the closure of the campus due to COVID-19, as well as the subsequent elimination or reduction of internal and external events, activities, and communications.

This decision is not in any way a reflection of the skills, knowledge, ability, or overall job performance of furloughed employees.

Rensselaer has suspended hiring, annual merit increases, promotions, and faculty sabbatical leaves, and implemented cost saving strategies such as eliminating travel budgets. 

No. However, if you find alternate employment during the period you are on furlough and do not intend to return to work at the Institute, please notify the Division of Human Resources immediately of your voluntary resignation.  Continuation of benefits will be handled in accordance with established Rensselaer policies and all applicable laws. 

No.  Furloughed employees may not perform any Rensselaer work while on furlough. System access will be suspended during the time employees are furloughed.

Your immediate supervisor will inform you of any change to your employment status and the procedures for returning to work at the appropriate time.

There are no plans for additional furloughs at this time, as we have reopened the campus. However, these are unprecedented times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we will continue to follow the guidance of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and monitor the overall health and safety of the Institute’s community.

Filing Unemployment Claims

The Division of Human Resources has provided the NYS Department of Labor, Office of Unemployment, verification of each furloughed employee’s employment information. However, furloughed employees must initiate their claim during the week of May 4th.

The NYS Department of Labor, Office of Unemployment, has launched an updated, streamlined online application that allows New Yorkers to apply for Unemployment Insurance Benefits. You do not have to complete a separate application to be eligible for the Federal CARE Act benefit of $600 per week.  You can apply for New York State Unemployment Insurance online at labor.ny.gov or by calling (888) 209-8124.

New York state calculates benefits based on 50% of weekly wage up to maximum benefit of $504 per week. In addition, employees who are eligible for Unemployment Insurance Benefits are also eligible for an additional payment of $600 per week under the Federal CARES Act, through July 31, 2020.

No. All furloughed employees may be eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits during the course of the furlough, for up to 39 weeks. 

Benefits During Furlough

Your health, dental, vision, life insurance coverage, and flexible spending account will continue while on furlough.

If an employee separates from service while on furlough, benefits continuation will be handled in accordance with applicable laws and the provisions of the Rensselaer benefits plans. Should you have additional questions regarding your Rensselaer benefits during the furlough, please contact Louis Padula, Director of Benefits, Retirement and HR Information Systems, at (518) 276-6164 or by e-mail at padull@rpi.edu

Your portion of benefit premiums will accrue during the period of furlough, and will be repaid through payroll deduction upon your return to paid status.

Your tuition benefits for you, your spouse, and/or your dependent children will continue during the furlough.

Yes. Confidential counselors and services can be accessed at capitaleap.org or by calling either (518) 465-3813 or (800) 777-6531. The access code for Rensselaer is 105293.

No.  While furloughed, you cannot make the 1% contribution and Rensselaer cannot make the employer’s contribution. 

Furloughed employees will no longer accrue PTO.  However, they will retain their accrued Paid Time Off (PTO) leave, and Reserved Time Off (RTO) balances up to the maximum annual carryover.

No.  However, be sure to enter all approved worktime prior to the start of your furlough.

No.  Furloughed employees are not eligible to utilize accrued Paid Time Off.

Communications and Equipment During Furlough

No. However, your immediate supervisor will inform you of changes to your employment status. You should periodically check the Rensselaer website’s home page for updated information about how Rensselaer is responding to COVID-19.

Not necessarily.  You may be requested to return some or all equipment based on the business needs of your department. 

Contact your immediate supervisor to coordinate your return to campus.

Furlough Communications

Date: April 21, 2020

Many organizations in the United States, and throughout the worldcontinue to struggle with financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Rensselaer is no exception. As a result, the Institute has made the difficult decision to furlough a portion of our workforce whose duties and responsibilities cannot be performed remotely, or where the normal workload has diminished significantly due to the impact of COVID-19. The furloughed employees were notified earlier today.

The furlough is effective May 1, 2020, and we anticipate it will last until July 31, 2020; however, we will continue to regularly assess the external guidance and our internal circumstances. Rensselaer will reinstate furloughed staff based on federal and state guidelines, as well as the business needs of the Institute.

Our furloughed employees will continue to receive the health and welfare benefits for which they are currently enrolled. Additionally, furloughed employees are eligible to apply for up to 39 weeks of NYS Unemployment Insurance benefits, and benefits assistance under the Federal CARES Act through July 31, 2020. The CARES Act provides furloughed employees who are eligible for unemployment insurance with an additional benefit of $600 weekly. The CARES Act is designed to assist employers and employees with situations like ours, in which employees cannot perform most or all of their job-related duties due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. The Division of Human Resources has provided the NYS Department of Unemployment verification of employment for furloughed employees. However, furloughed employees must initiate their individual claims.  

Furloughed employees should contact Mr. Louis Padula, Director of Benefits, Retirement, and HR Information Systems, at (518) 276-6164 or by email should they have any questions regarding the continuation of Rensselaer health benefits during the furlough, or navigating the New York State Unemployment Insurance application process. 

The Capital Employee Assistance Program (EAP) continues to be a valuable resource for all employees and their families. As our community continues to cope with anxiety precipitated by the global COVID-19 crisis, and faculty and staff face personal and professional challenges, Capital EAP continues to operate 24/7 and provides access to confidential counselors and support services. Confidential counselors and services can be accessed at https://capitaleap.org or by calling either (518) 465-3813 or (800) 777-6531. The access code for Rensselaer is 105293.

We appreciate your understanding of this difficult decision, and regret that the COVID-19 pandemic crisis has required us to take this action. This decision is not a reflection of the skills, knowledge, ability, or overall job performance of furloughed employees.

Please continue to stay safe during these challenging times, as we look forward to better times.

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