Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How will you determine where to make the budget reductions for 2009-2010?
While we have not been given a specific target for a reduced budget in the next biennium, we are preparing contingency plans for a variety of scenarios that include reductions of from 5% to 14%, but with our focus upon a 10% reduction. Our response will be guided by our strategic priorities, the UNC Tomorrow guidance, and the principles. Our strategic priorities and budgeting principles are located at this site as well. Above all, we will preserve our ability to teach our students. We are also looking at ways to increase revenues and reduce costs and we solicit your thoughts. We are looking at organizational structures and programs to determine whether there are programs and services that could be eliminated, suspended temporarily, or combined with other activities to improve efficiency, in turn to apply "vertical" changes that will preserve our core mission capabilities. Additionally, we are building budget plans based on campus-wide conversations with faculty, staff, students and the Budget Working Group and Budget Oversight Group.
How bad is this going to get?
No one knows yet. There are many variables and unknowns about the economy, the stimulus package and other factors. We are planning contingencies for a variety of scenarios, as previously mentioned, beginning with the next fiscal year starting July 1. It's not possible yet to determine whether the economy will force deeper cuts.
When will you know how big a cut you will have to take?
There are many factors that have an impact on the budget discussion. Our budget is based on the state's budget. We would anticipate learning more in continuing dialogue with General Administration and when the legislature passes the budget.
Didn't the university take budget cuts for this year?
Yes. While the budget cuts for this year were one-time reversions, we anticipate that the cuts for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, will be recurring.
Will there be layoffs?
Unfortunately there is no way to achieve the budget reduction required without considering personnel costs - which make up nearly 80% of our total budget. Our approach to job reductions will be to protect filled positions, except for those that are impacted by programmatic changes. When a position is effected by a programmatic change, we will make every possible effort to retain impacted employees in other capacities. Other positions may not be refilled once the current contract expires. We will work with employees affected by reduction in force (RIF) procedures to provide services, such as help with priority placement into other state vacancies, resume preparation, job search strategies and other outplacement support.
How many people will be laid off?
It's not yet confirmed how many employees will be affected by the programmatic changes - as many as 50 employees will be impacted. That includes people who will subsequently be reassigned to other areas and allowing some current time-limited contracts to expire. We will work with employees affected by reduction in force (RIF) procedures to provide services, such as help with priority placement into other state vacancies, resume preparation, job search strategies and other outplacement support.
When will you know how many people are being laid off?
Each vice chancellor is responsible for making specific budget recommendations. The programmatic changes that will drive personnel changes should be confirmed/approved not later than the end of May.
What does the severance package for SPA employees include?
SPA employees will receive a severance payment that is calculated on their years of service plus age over 39. Depending on how much personal and bonus time they have taken, SPA employees are eligible to receive up to six weeks of unused annual leave and five weeks of bonus leave, plus unused comp time. SPA employees can receive one year of health insurance and those who have worked for the state for at least the previous 24 months receive priority for re-employment.
What does the severance package for EPA employees include?
With one year of service, EPA employees receive 30 days notice, 60 days in years two and three and 90 days for more than four years of service. EPA employees are eligible to receive up to six weeks of unused annual leave and five weeks of bonus leave.
Will there be mandatory furloughs?
Furloughs - leave without pay - are not currently authorized by the state legislature, but may be considered. A one-day furlough of WSSU employees yields a one-time savings of about $220,000.
Why not use enough furlough days to get to our budget reduction amount?
Furloughs represent a one-time reduction, but we need to generate permanent budget reductions. A recurring furlough process amounts to a permanent salary reduction for all employees. That is not being considered.
Will the faculty teaching load increase?
Departments will determine whether faculty will need to teach additional sections to prevent course sections from elimination. Obviously, our flexibility and use of adjunct faculty will be constrained by the budget reduction.
Will student services be affected?
Core services for students will be preserved.
What effect will a bad budget have on graduation rates and students' abilities to complete their degrees in four years?
We will do everything possible to protect teaching and classroom activities by providing the class sections and instructors needed for students to make normal progress toward graduation. It is possible that budget cuts will hamper this effort.
What is meant by "reduction" and "reversion"?
Reduction refers to a permanent cut in the operating budget, while reversion refers to a one-time budget cut.
What is the difference between a recurring and a non-recurring budget cut?
One way to look at those terms is permanent and one-time. When the North Carolina General Assembly appropriates funds to WSSU, those funds are usually recurring; that is, they become part of the university's base funding. A non-recurring appropriation would provide funds for only one fiscal year. Similarly, a non-recurring budget cut is a one-time cut for one fiscal year. A recurring cut repeats every year. UNC President Bowles has asked the General Assembly to make any budget reduction for the UNC system a non-recurring reduction.
How big is WSSU's budget? Where does the money come from?
For the current fiscal year - July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009 - WSSU's budget is about $91 million. The largest share of that are state appropriations, about $71 million. Every percent of reduction is about $700,000. Other sources of income include tuition and fees; grants, gifts, and sales and auxiliary services.
Where does the money go?
Personnel costs (salaries and benefits) are by far the largest portion of expenses, almost 80%. Other large categories are supplies and materials, services, utilities and scholarships.
FAQs About Reduction in Force - FOR EMPLOYEES
What are the reasons for a reduction in force (RIF)?
A reduction in staffing levels may be necessary due to a lack of work to be performed, a shortage of funding, or other organizational changes such as the elimination of certain programs or services.
How did my department determine which positions to RIF?
Positions were targeted based on the functional needs of the department. Management thoroughly evaluated the need for specific programs, services and positions. Once they determined the critical functions of your department, employees were then evaluated based on their knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the needed tasks at the highest level of service. Technical skills and productivity were also considerations.
If there were several employees performing the same function, how did my department decide which employee to separate?
Retention of employees was based on job knowledge, technical skills, abilities, productivity, performance level, and length of service.
Was Affirmative Action considered in the RIF decision?
All plans for reduction in force must be reviewed to determine their impact on university goals and to avoid adverse impact. Human Resources provided this analysis.
Who approved my department's plan to RIF employees?
The Associate Vice Chancellor of Human Resources received a written plan prior to notifying you. Human Resources conducted a thorough evaluation of this plan.
How much notice do I get before my RIF date?
Employees are given at least 30-day written notice of separation.
When will I receive my last paycheck?
You will receive the final regular paycheck via direct deposit one month following the separation date. Severance payments will be processed via direct deposit also. If your bank account changes, it is your responsibility to complete a Direct Deposit Enrollment and Change Form and return the form to Human Resources.
What is my responsibility in locating other employment?
A Career State Employee may claim priority for re-employment in the state system by completing a State of North Carolina employment application (PD107) application online. Human Resources will work with the employee to get this done.
What type of assistance does Human Resources provide?
Benefits continuation assistance is the primary Human Resources activity. HR provides minimal help with application completion, resume development, interview skills and job searching. The majority of help will be provided by the outplacement firm.
How long do I have priority for reemployment?
Separating employees have priority to positions at the same level or a lower level position from which they were separated for 12 months.
What happens to my leave balances when I am separated?
Vacation leave up to 240 hours is paid out in a lump sum. Sick leave is not paid out. If you are reinstated within five years, your sick leave balance is reinstated.
What happens to my compensatory time?
If you are a non-exempt employee (you receive time and one-half for hours worked over 40 in one week), your compensatory balance will be paid in your final paycheck. If you are exempt from overtime, your compensatory time will be forfeited.
Am I eligible for a severance package?
Employees being separated may be eligible for severance based on their employment status (permanent, trainee with more than six months of service, or a trainee who was permanent before entering the trainee position). Human Resources determines eligibility and provides severance calculations.
How is severance calculated?
Severance pay is calculated based on years of service and age. The age of a separating employee can have a significant impact on the amount of the severance pay.
Can I work as a temporary while receiving severance payments?
Separated employees may work on campus as temporary employees with no impact on their severance pay.
What happens if I accept a position outside of state government?
Separated employees may accept employment outside of state government and still draw their severance pay.
Can I lose my rights to reemployment and severance pay?
If you decline an interview or position at the same level or a higher level within 35 miles of your separating department, you are no longer eligible for severance pay or reemployment assistance.
What happens if I am eligible for retirement?
A position can be targeted if the individual in the position is eligible for retirement. You may be RIFed, draw severance pay, and then retire.
Can I appeal the decision to reduce my position through RIF?
An employee separated through a reduction in force may appeal that separation if it is alleged the separation is in retaliation for the employee's opposition to alleged discrimination based upon the employee's age, sex, race, color, national origin, religion, creed, political affiliation or handicapping condition. Such an appeal may be made either through the University SPA Mediation and Grievance Procedure within 15 calendar days or may be filed directly with the Office of Administrative Hearings within 30 calendar days after receipt of notice of separation.
What if the person who is targeted for reduction in force is on leave such as (Family Medical Leave), workers compensation, disability, or leave without pay?
The fact that an employee is on leave is not a consideration when determining which positions to terminate. Employees on leave are separated on the effective date of the reduction in force just as if they were at work.
Flexible Furlough FAQs - for HR DirectorsAdministrative:
How much money is to be deducted?
.5% of the employee's annualized base salary. Example: An employee's annual salary is $40,000 and is paid monthly. The amount of the annualized .5% is $200. The amount deducted from May and June is $100 each month. For an employee paid bi-weekly, there would be a $50 deduction for four bi-weekly paychecks. Per payroll deadlines for the first bi-weekly May payroll, the .5% may have to be spread among three payrolls instead of four.
What date is used for the annualized salary?
May 1, 2009, is used for annualizing the salary unless a subsequent change occurs in May or June.
Who will communicate the salary reduction of new hires that begin in May?
The agency should communicate, either HR or the manager.
Are cabinet secretaries receiving an exemption from the Flexible Furlough program?
How does the Flexible Furlough deduction work with regard to garnishments?
The Flexible Furlough deduction is taken prior to any garnishment.
Suppose the employee's check is not of a sufficient amount to take the deduction due to the employee being in an overpayment situation?
As much of the deduction as possible is taken.
How does the Flexible Furlough program work with regard to interns, Workforce Investment Act (WIA) employees, intermittent employees, students, graduate assistants, and work study?
Individuals in these situations are not impacted by the Flexible Furlough program.
Can individuals' salaries be reduced below the Federal minimum wage?
How are employees impacted that are on a 9 or 10 month schedule?
Employees in this situation who receive a paycheck in May, but not June, will have the full .5% of their annual salary taken out in May. Employees who receive a paycheck in May and June will have any remaining balance of the .5% taken in the June paycheck.
Some employees, such as adjunct faculty, have contracts that end May 15, but receive their last paycheck in April. How is the .5% deduction to occur?
As these employees are not receiving pay in May or June, there is no opportunity to have their pay deducted.
How would the pay deduction work for an employee funded 75% state and 25% federal?
The employee's pay would be reduced by the full .5% annualized amount, and the 75% state portion would be used to reduce the general fund deficit.
Does the Flexible Furlough time off have to be taken in minimum increments?
The same increments should be used that the agency uses for leave.
If an employee's work hours change in May or June, is the amount reduced still based on the May 1 salary?
The employee's May 1, 2009 salary is used for annualizing the salary unless a subsequent change occurs in May or June. The amount of time off granted is based upon the work schedule on May 1.
How will employees account for the time off in the BEACON system?
BEACON is configuring absence type 9710 to be used for recording this time off.
How are new hires during this period treated in terms of administering the Flexible Furlough?
An employee hired in May or June is totally subject to the rules regarding the Flexible Furlough. Employees who begin employment in May or June would have their pay reduced by .5% of their annualized base salary in their paychecks in May and/or June, regardless of what day in the month that they start. Any balance of the .5% deduction not taken in May would be taken in the June paycheck.
A full-time employee hired in May or June will also receive the 10 hours of time off.
How does the Flexible Furlough program affect the paychecks of employees who leave during the months of May or June?
If an employee leaves during May, the full .5% deduction is taken in the May check. If an employee leaves during June, the remainder of the full .5% deduction is taken in the June check. This is regardless of end date within the month. For example, if a person's last work day is May 15, the total .5% of their annualized base salary will be reduced in their pay check for May.
What happens if an employee is on LWOP during May and June?
Employees in LWOP status for the months of May and June will not have any deduction made, nor will they earn any Flexible Furlough time off. Employees who are in LWOP status for portions of either May or June will have the May portion of the .5% deduction taken from their May check and the remainder taken from their June check to the extent possible.
How does the Flexible Furlough program work with regard to temporary and hourly employees?
Annualized salary for temporary and hourly employees is defined as the total amount of base compensation paid during July 1, 2008-June 30, 2009. The .5% deduction in pay is based on the amount paid to the employee during FY 08-09. For the deduction in the May paycheck, .5% is deducted from the annualized salary (based on the payments from July 2008 to date). For June, the payment will be reduced by .5% of any pay not included in the May deduction calculation.
Example: Temporary employee makes $5,000 July 1-April 30, so 0.5% = $25, which would be deducted in May. Employee then makes another $500 in May. So for June, it's another 0.5% = $2.50, so the total annualized deduction is $27.50 for FY 2008-09.
Are contracts completed by April 30, 2009 impacted? How about contracts ending after April 30?
Contracts completed by April 30 are not impacted unless the employee receives pay within May or June. For contracts ending after April 30, individuals paid hourly via a contract should be treated similarly to temporaries. Annualized salary for contractual employees is defined as the total amount of base compensation paid during July 1, 2008-June 30,2009 (the same definition applies to temporary and hourly employees). The .5% deduction in pay is based on the amount paid to the employee during FY 08-09. For the deduction in the May paycheck, .5% is deducted from the annualized salary (based on the payments from July 2008 to date). For June, the payment will be reduced by .5% of any pay not included in the May deduction calculation. Unless the contract specifically prohibits the contractor's salary being part of such a reduction, the agency should make 0.5% deductions to annualized salary in May and June. The flexible furlough applies to contractual employees receiving W-2s; contractors receiving 1099s are not impacted by this directive.
How does this program affect employees on H1B visas?
For employees on H1B visas who were hired at the prevailing wage rate, no deduction will be taken from their pay check. For employees on H1B visas who were hired above the prevailing wage rate, the .5% deduction will be made from their May and June paychecks.
Is severance pay subject to the .5% deduction if received in May and June?
No, deductions will not be made from severance pay.Longevity:
Is longevity impacted?
How is retirement impacted? If employee is "held harmless," who will pay the retirement system? How will an employee be "held harmless" if participating in the ORP retirement system as some university employees do?
The Governor's intent is that employees be "held harmless" from the retirement calculation perspective and has encouraged the General Assembly to pass legislation to accomplish this. In the interim, payroll systems should report to the Retirement System the adjusted actual pay an employee receives for each pay period and deduct the normal percentage for the employee's actual pay.
Will an employee's law enforcement supplement be impacted?
Does the program apply to employees on Workers Compensation?
In light of this pay deduction, are employees eligible for Unemployment Insurance?
How does the program apply to employees on Short-term Disability?
The salary deduction does not apply to employees on Short-term Disability while receiving the 60% benefit. If there is time during the pay period that the employee is not receiving the 60% benefit, then the full amount of the .5% deduction is taken for that period.Leave:
If an employee leaves state service in May or June, how are the leave payouts calculated?
The normal leave payouts (annual and bonus) are calculated as though the May and June Flexible Furlough deduction had not occurred. The normal hourly rate of pay prior to implementation of the Flexible Furlough program should be used.
How are employment verifications requests responded to during May and June?
Use unreduced annual salary for this purpose; however, if current pay (in May or June) is specifically requested, explanation will need to be provided.
Do employees have to take the Flexible Furlough time off prior to taking other leave?
No, but employees should be encouraged to take the Flexible Furlough time off before using other leave as the opportunity to take this time off ends December 31, 2009.
For more information, contact Human Resources at 750-2830 or post a question to Dr. Randy Mills, Chair of the Budget Working Group, at firstname.lastname@example.org.