Information on Voluntary Separations & Furloughs

Fort Lewis College continues to balance the needs of our students and employees, as well as the financial realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many options are being explored to address the shortfall. In anticipation of the budget deficit, all faculty and staff are being offered the option of a temporary voluntary furlough, temporary voluntary pay reduction, and, for qualifying faculty and staff, a voluntary separation incentive.

These options are entirely voluntary and should not be construed as a requirement. All faculty and staff are encouraged to consider their own financial circumstances when making the decision whether to apply for any of the voluntary options.

Please review the application forms and FAQs below. Email Human Resources with any additional questions.

FAQs

Voluntary Furlough

Q: What is a voluntary furlough?
A: A voluntary furlough is unpaid leave that is volunteered to be taken for a specific amount of time, and may possibly result in a permanent reduction. A voluntary furlough is currently being offered to assist in addressing FLC’s budget deficit. Benefits will continue as long as the faculty or staff member continues to pay their employee’s share of premium costs each pay period.

Q: Is a voluntary furlough full-time or can it be part-time also?
A: Yes, a voluntary furlough can be taken without break on a full-time status, or on a part-time status. For example, a faculty or staff could voluntarily take a full 2 weeks of unpaid leave or take leave every other Friday. In your application, you will detail the specific time that you would like to take. The furlough will be approved, or possibly denied, depending on the needs of your department and supervisor. The voluntary furlough cannot exceed 72 work days in a fiscal year.

Q: If I am on a voluntary furlough what happens to my leave and benefits?
A: Employees are not paid for the portion of reduced time while on voluntary furlough. Employees continue to earn sick leave and annual leave while on voluntary furlough. FLC continues to pay the employer contribution of benefits as long as the employee pays the employee contribution in a timely manner. Service dates are not adjusted but the reduction in pay may affect the highest average salary calculation for PERA benefits.

Q: What happens if I have a qualifying Family Medical Leave event while on voluntary furlough?
A: A faculty or staff who is on a voluntary furlough and experiences a qualifying event under the FMLA is removed from voluntary furlough and placed on FML and sick and/or annual leave is applied.

Q: Can I volunteer for a voluntary furlough and then take paid leave to make up the loss in pay?
A: No. This would eliminate the desired cost savings.

Q: I am salary exempt status, can my pay be reduced through a voluntary furlough?
A: Salary exempt employees’ pay is reduced pro rata in the workweek in which a furlough occurs. No work is to be done while taking furloughed time for a salary exempt employee.

Q: Am I eligible for Family First Coronavirus Response Act for additional paid sick leave while on voluntary furlough?
A: An employee who is on voluntary furlough and experiences a qualifying event under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act is removed from voluntary furlough and provided the emergency paid sick leave.

Q: If I am on voluntary furlough am I eligible for unemployment benefits?
A: Possibly. Unemployment benefits traditionally have been available to employees who have lost work by no fault of their own, are actively seeking new work and earned $2,500 or more (including tips) in the last 18 months. However, any worker who has lost hours or income as a result of the coronavirus crisis may be eligible for unemployment payments.

If you are working fewer than 32 hours a week and earning less than the weekly amount that unemployment benefits pay (approximately 55 percent of your average wage over a 12-month time period), you may receive unemployment benefits.

You could be eligible for regular unemployment benefits up to 26 weeks. You might also be eligible for the CARES Act additional $600/week on top of your regular unemployment benefits through July 25, 2020 and up to 13 additional weeks of expanded unemployment benefits. You would need to file a claim online and request payment every two weeks and CDLE will make the eligibility determination.

Q: How much does unemployment pay in Colorado?
A: The average weekly benefit is generally between $400 - $541 depending on your income and lost work time.

Applicants can enter their income information from last year and see how much they might receive on the state’s estimator website coworkforce.com/uibEstimator.

Q: Do I have to look for work while I am collecting unemployment in Colorado?
A: Governor Jared Polis issued an executive order last month waiving work search requirements for unemployment recipients during the coronavirus crisis. People still must register for job opportunities on the state’s job board site connectingcolorado.com, or with their county’s workforce center, if that center is still accepting walk-in visits. A map of workforce center locations is available through the Connecting Colorado site. The Governor’s order also waived the standard one-week waiting period for benefits.

Q: How long can you receive unemployment in Colorado?
A: The state pays benefits for up to 26 weeks at a time, but the pandemic unemployment program will allow for an extension of up to 13 more weeks. The extended 13 weeks of pandemic benefits are available through December 26, 2020.

Voluntary Separation Incentive - Classified

Just what is the Voluntary Separation Incentive Plan for Classified Employees?
The Voluntary Separation Incentive Plan is a program that offers financial incentives to eligible classified staff who voluntarily decide to leave their position from Fort Lewis College. Participation in the program is voluntary and subject to approval of the President.

Why is the Voluntary Separation Incentive Plan being offered?
In preparing for upcoming budget years, Fort Lewis administration decided it could be mutually beneficial to offer eligible employees an opportunity to apply for participation in a voluntary separation incentive plan (VSIP) in order to help achieve budget reductions, avoid possible layoffs, and reward long term employees or employees considering retirement. The State Personnel Director’s Administrative Procedure 3-51 allows such plans.

Who is eligible to participate in the VSIP?
Classified staff members with five or more years of continuous service at Fort Lewis College as of the date the plan was approved and authorized are eligible for this voluntary plan. The length of service is calculated according to state guidelines and any break in service of 90 days or more stops consideration of “continuous service”. The total continuous time is rounded down to full years. Employees who have previously announced their retirement or resignation are not eligible.

Will every eligible employee by approved to participate?
No. The decision to approve or deny an application from an eligible employee will take into account the financial benefit gained, the impact on the College and its programs and services, and the decision will be made with the best interests of the College in mind. Final approval of any separation incentive application will be at the discretion of the College President.

What are the Plan requirements?
Employees who agree to accept the terms and conditions of the VSIP will voluntarily resign and surrender their rights to retention and reemployment rights. Waiving those rights does not affect the employee’s eligibility for reinstatement. If the President approves the application, the employee will then execute a Voluntary Separation Incentive Agreement. The agreement specifies that the employee is waiving certain legal rights and employees are encouraged to seek legal counsel before signing the agreement.

How does an eligible employee apply?
Eligible employees may apply for participation in the VSIP by submitting their application to their immediate supervisor no later than 5:00 pm on June 30, 2020. The application must include the employee’s proposed separation date.

What are the incentives to participate in the Program?
Eligible employees who accept the VSIP offer will receive a separation payment based on a percentage of their current base salary. The actual amount is dependent on the employee’s continuous years of service at Fort Lewis College (see the actual VSIP for details). Employees will receive payment in one lump sum after their last day of employment. Federal and state taxes will be deducted from the payment. Payments under the agreement are offered as an inducement to separate from state service and are not considered earned wages for retirement purposes, and will not generate contributions to any retirement plan, nor will the payments affect the highest average salary calculation for PERA benefits.

If I am approved to participate in the VSIP, can I return to work at Fort Lewis College later?
Participating employees are eligible for reinstatement; however you don’t have a “right” to any particular job or to maintain your current salary. You may apply for openings in the future at FLC or any state agency. You must go through the selection process and if you are selected for the vacant position, you may return to the classified system. Employees retain certification to previously certified classes, if they are rehired. Because of PERA restrictions which protect a retiree, if you retire under PERA you will not be able to work at Fort Lewis College or any state agency during the entire calendar month following the date of retirement. Additionally, temporary work is limited to 110 days per year by PERA and temporary classified work is limited by the State Personnel Rules to no more than 9 months in a 12-month period.

What if I can’t decide by June 30? Will this incentive be offered again?
This VSIP is offered now as a result of the state’s current economic condition and resultant budget reductions to higher education. There is no guarantee that the incentive program will be offered again.

Keep in mind that these questions and answers are general in nature and are meant to give an employee an overall impression of some of the concerns that might arise when considering the voluntary separation incentive. They are not all encompassing, nor do they address everyone’s specific situation.

The College does not offer financial, tax or legal counseling or advice. Please consult with a professional financial or tax advisor and an attorney to make the most informed decision.

If you still have questions, or need clarification on any of the above answers, please contact the Office of Human Resources by email humres@fortlewis.edu or phone (ext. 7428).

Voluntary Separation Incentive - Exempt

Just what is the Voluntary Separation Incentive Plan for Exempt employee?
The Voluntary Separation Incentive Plan is a program that offers financial incentives to eligible exempt employees who voluntarily decide to leave their position from Fort Lewis College. Participation in the program is voluntary and subject to approval of the President.

Why is the Voluntary Separation Incentive Plan being offered?
In preparing for upcoming budget years, Fort Lewis administration decided it could be mutually beneficial to offer eligible employees an opportunity to apply for participation in a voluntary separation incentive plan (VSIP) in order to help achieve budget reductions and reward long term employees or employees considering retirement.

Who is eligible to participate in the VSIP?
Exempt employees with five or more years of continuous service at Fort Lewis College as of the date the plan was approved and authorized are eligible for this voluntary plan. The length of service at Fort Lewis College includes credit for partial years and/or temporary years at the beginning of the employee’s service and credit for this fiscal year to date; the total is rounded down to full years. Employees who have previously announced their retirement or resignation are not eligible.

Will every eligible employee be approved to participate?
No. The decision to approve or deny an application from an eligible employee will take into account the financial benefit gained, the impact on the College on its programs and services, and the decision will be made with the best interests of the College in mind. Final approval of any separation incentive application will be at the discretion of the College President.

What are the Plan requirements?
Employees who agree to accept the terms and conditions of the VSIP will voluntarily surrender their employment status and relinquish all rights to continued employment at the College on the agreed upon date of employment separation. If the President approves the application, the employee will then execute a Voluntary Separation Incentive Agreement. The agreement specifies that the employee is waiving certain legal rights and employees are encouraged to seek legal counsel before signing the agreement.

How does an employee apply?
Eligible employees may apply for participation in the VSIP by submitting their application to their Vice President no later than 5:00 pm on June 30, 2020. The application must include the employee’s proposed separation date.

What are the incentives to participate in the Program?
Eligible employees with more than 5 years, but less than 10 years of service who accept the VSIP offer will receive a separation payment equal to 1.5 months of their base salary. Eligible employees with more than 10 years of service who accept the VSIP offer will receive a separation payment equal to three-months of their base salary. Employees will receive payment in one lump sum after their last day of employment. Federal and state taxes will be deducted from the payment. Payments under the agreement are offered as an inducement to separate from state service and are not considered earned wages for retirement purposes, and will not generate contributions to any retirement plan, nor will the payments affect the highest average salary calculation for PERA benefits.

If I am approved to participate in the VSIP, can I return to work at Fort Lewis College later?
Participating employees may have the opportunity to return to campus as temporary employee under temporary salary structures and temporary employment terms. Because of PERA restrictions which protect the retiree, participating PERA employees who retire will not be able to work at Fort Lewis College during the entire calendar month following the date of retirement. Return to a temporary appointment at Fort Lewis College will be at the discretion of the Provost and President.

What if I can’t decide by June 30? Will this incentive be offered again?
This VSIP is offered now as a result of the state’s current economic condition and resultant budget reductions to higher education. There is no guarantee that the incentive program will be offered again.

Keep in mind that these questions and answers are general in nature and are meant to give an employee an overall impression of some of the concerns that might arise when considering voluntary separation incentive. They are not all encompassing, nor do they address everyone’s specific situation.

The College does not offer financial, tax or legal counseling or advice. Please consult with a professional financial or tax advisor and an attorney to make the most informed decision.

If you still have questions, or need clarification on any of the above answers, please contact the Office of Human Resources by email humres@fortlewis.edu or phone (ext. 7428).

Voluntary Separation Incentive - Tenured Faculty

Just what is the Voluntary Separation Incentive Plan for Tenured Faculty?
The Voluntary Separation Incentive Plan is a program that offers financial incentives to eligible tenured faculty who voluntarily decide to leave their position from Fort Lewis College. Participation in the program is voluntary and subject to approval of the President.

Why is the Voluntary Separation Incentive Plan being offered?
In preparing for upcoming budget years, Fort Lewis administration decided it could be mutually beneficial to offer eligible employees an opportunity to apply for participation in a voluntary separation incentive plan (VSIP) in order to help achieve budget reductions and reward long term employees or employees considering retirement.

Who is eligible to participate in the VSIP?
Tenured faculty members with six or more years of continuous service at Fort Lewis College as of the date the plan was approved and authorized are eligible for this voluntary plan. The length of service at Fort Lewis College includes credit for partial years and/or temporary years at the beginning of the faculty member’s service and credit for this fiscal year to date; the total is rounded down to full years. Faculty who have previously announced their retirement or resignation are not eligible.

Will every eligible faculty member by approved to participate?
No. The decision to approve or deny an application from an eligible employee will take into account the financial benefit gained, the impact on the College and its programs and services, and the decision will be made with the best interests of the College in mind. Final approval of any separation incentive application will be at the discretion of the College President.

What are the Plan requirements?
Faculty who agree to accept the terms and conditions of the VSIP will voluntarily surrender their tenure status and relinquish all rights to continued employment on the agreed upon date of employment separation. If the President approves the application, the faculty member will then execute a Voluntary Separation Incentive Agreement. The agreement specifies that the faculty member is waiving certain legal rights and employees are encouraged to seek legal counsel before signing the agreement.

How does a faculty member apply?
Eligible faculty may apply for participation in the VSIP by submitting their application to their Dean no later than 5:00 pm on June 30, 2020. The application must include the faculty member’s proposed separation date.

What are the incentives to participate in the Program?
Eligible faculty members with more than 6 or more years, but less than 10 years of service who accept the VSIP offer will receive a separation payment equal to 25% of their annual base salary. Eligible faculty members with more than 10 years, but less than 15 years of service who accept the VSIP offer will receive a separation payment equal to one-half of their annual base pay. Eligible Faculty with more than 15 years of service who accept the VSIP offer will receive a separation payment equal to their annual
base pay. Faculty will receive payment in one lump sum after their last day of employment. Federal and state taxes will be deducted from the payment. Payments under the agreement are offered as an inducement to separate from state service and are not considered earned wages for retirement purposes, and will not generate contributions to any retirement plan, nor will the payments affect the highest average salary calculation for PERA benefits.

If I am approved to participate in the VSIP, can I return to work at Fort Lewis College later?
Participating faculty may have the opportunity to return to campus as temporary faculty under temporary salary structures and temporary employment terms. Because of PERA restrictions which protect the retiree, participating PERA faculty who retire will not be able to work at Fort Lewis College during the entire calendar month following the date of retirement. Return to a temporary appointment at Fort Lewis College will be at the discretion of the Provost and President.

What if I can’t decide by June 30? Will this incentive be offered again?
This VSIP is offered now as a result of the state’s current economic condition and resultant budget reductions to higher education. There is no guarantee that the incentive program will be offered again.

Keep in mind that these questions and answers are general in nature and are meant to give an employee an overall impression of some of the concerns that might arise when considering voluntary separation incentive. They are not all encompassing, nor do they address everyone’s specific situation.

The College does not offer financial, tax or legal counseling or advice. Please consult with a professional financial or tax advisor and an attorney to make the most informed decision.

If you still have questions, or need clarification on any of the above answers, please contact the Office of Human Resources by email humres@fortlewis.edu or phone (ext. 7428).