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Second round of employee furloughs to begin in January

December 10, 2020 By Marilyn Gardner


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On Oct. 26, Chancellor Blank announced a projected budget shortfall of $320 million through June 30, 2021, due to the lost revenues and increased expenses of the ongoing pandemic. Some of this shortfall has already been addressed through cost-saving measures, including a first round of unpaid furloughs for most employees that ran from May 15 through Oct. 31, 2020.

In order to address the continuing financial challenges UW–Madison is facing, Chancellor Blank announced several upcoming cost reductions, including a second round of unpaid furlough for most employees in the first half of 2021.

Most UW–Madison faculty and staff will participate in a second round of Campus-wide, Intermittent Furloughs beginning on Jan. 1 and ending on June 30, 2021 (or May 16, 2021 for nine-month appointments only). The furlough structure in Round Two is identical to Round One, which ran from May 15–Oct. 31, 2020. The furlough obligations are again based on an employee’s annual pay rate as of Jan. 1, 2021 for employees paid monthly and Jan. 3, 2021 for employees paid biweekly. Furlough obligations for each pay range are detailed in the furlough chart.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank and the vice chancellors will again take a 15 percent pay cut during the six-month furlough period, while the deans of the schools and colleges will take voluntary 10 percent pay cuts.

Furlough Procedures to Remain the Same as in 2020

Every employee who will participate in Round Two of Campus-wide, Intermittent Furlough will receive a notification letter in the next few weeks confirming their furlough obligation. Some employees will have their pay reduced in equal amounts over the furlough period (a process known as “smoothing”), while others will have their pay reduced in any pay periods in which furlough time is taken. This differs based on employee classification.

Employees will request their unpaid furlough time using the same scheduling and approval process used when requesting vacation leave. Employees may not use vacation leave, banked leave, sick leave, or personal holiday leave on a furlough day to offset the unpaid leave. Beginning in January 2021, employees will be able to check their furlough balances online.

Additional details about Campus-wide, Intermittent Furlough, including answers to frequently asked questions, are available online at Employees who have questions after reviewing this information can contact the human resources department in their school, college, or division, or contact the Office of Human Resources at 608-265-2257 or

Position-Specific Furlough Based on Operational Needs

Employees whose hours are reduced due to position-specific furlough are not included in the Campus-wide, Intermittent Furlough. A position-specific furlough is a temporary unpaid leave of absence (continuous furlough) due to lack of work or if an employee cannot work remotely.

Operational needs in the employee’s work unit determine whether the reduction is for a part or all of the employee’s normal work schedule, and how long this furlough will last.

Employees who are on position-specific furlough continue to earn vacation, personal holiday, and sick leave in the same amount as they would if not on furlough. An employee may not use vacation leave, banked leave, sick leave, or personal holiday leave while on furlough to offset the unpaid leave.

More information about position-specific furlough can be found in the frequently asked questions available online. Information on unemployment benefits during furlough is also available online.

Impact of Pay Plan Increase

In January, UW–Madison will provide a 2 percent wage increase to employees under the 2019–2021 pay plan. This long-planned pay increase, partially funded by campus, will provide a slight buffer against the impact of furloughs. For UW–Madison’s lowest paid employees, the 2 percent pay increase will offset most of the temporary furlough’s impact.

For employees who are participating in Round Two of Campus-wide, Intermittent Furlough in 2021, the furlough obligation will be based on their annual pay after the pay plan increase. For most employees, their furlough obligation will be identical to Round One of Campus-wide, Intermittent Furlough. Only a limited number of employees should see an increase in their furlough obligation after the pay plan increase. Those employees whose furlough obligation will change will receive a notification from the human resources department in their school, college, or division.