Some ins and outs about furloughs

Inside NAU is beginning a series of “Questions of the Week” to help employees understand NAU’s budget situation. To read other comments or questions, visit the budget update web site.

QUESTION: What are employee furloughs? Is NAU going to begin furloughs soon? How is that going to work?

ANSWER: Furloughs grant university employees days off in exchange for a temporary reduction in their pay. It has been estimated that NAU can save about up to $500,000 per furlough day.

On Tuesday, the Arizona Board of Regents granted the universities authority to begin issuing furloughs as the individual presidents see fit. NAU is seriously considering furloughs for FY10, and may need to institute them for FY09.

There are some hurdles before instituting furloughs. Among them:

  • determining policy changes/exceptions at the ABOR level to alleviate impact to certain employee benefits
  • changing systems and processes. For example, NAU does not currently have a mechanism to report unpaid time off without affecting sick and vacation accruals.
  • determining the “rules” to ensure NAU is complying with applicable employment laws
  • writing guidelines/policy that provide for a consistent approach to employee impact
  • minimizing the impact to operations and maintaining our commitment to student instruction
  • determining a possible minimum salary requirement before a furlough would begin
  • determining the impact on grant-funded employees
  • analyzing the number of days appropriate for an individual’s furlough