Employment & Furloughs

This FAQ includes information about employment, summer furloughs and more.

Updated: July 14

Q: Will MICA employees still be paid after the fiscal year ends on May 31?

The College created a plan in three stages to address pay.

Stage I, which the college has labeled mid-March to May 31, was covered by the current fiscal year, which ends on May 31. The college knew it could carry the employment, and pay and benefits of the MICA community through the fiscal year. All non-student employees were paid in full during this window.

Stage II began with the new fiscal year on June 1 and goes through early- to mid-August.The College is moving forward with as caring and as thoughtful a furlough program as possible. This set of furloughs affect those who have no or substantially reduced work to do because they either cannot work remotely or their jobs are not possible or needed due to campus closure. 

Additionally, on May 22, the MICA Board of Trustees reviewed and approved the COVID-1 budget and COVID-2 contingency plan. The College implemented the following COVID-1 measures effective Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21.Compensation-related:

  • Salary freeze for all staff and full-time faculty; there will not be a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) increase to salaries, staff equity increases or faculty step increases.

  • The scheduled 1.5% adjustment to the full-time faculty scale and potential increases to staff salaries based on the results of Segal Consulting’s third-party compensation study will be deferred.

  • MICA’s match to employee 403(b) plan contributions is suspended.

  • The President’s salary will be reduced by 15%, and the Vice Presidents’ and Vice Provosts’ salaries will be reduced by 10%.

In Stage III, which if needed will be announced in early- to mid-August, MICA might need to implement budget saving measures that go beyond the above mentioned compensation-related changes.  

  • On July 6: The campus community was informed of a more concrete Fall 2020 reopening plan, as shaped by the R5 work groups. Please visit the Reopening website for full details.

  • Early- to mid-August: If there is a need to augment COVID-1 level budget measures with COVID-2 level reductions, the new measures will likely begin mid-August. If salary reductions are unavoidable, MICA is committed to creating a progressive plan that provides higher percentage reductions to those who earn more and smaller percentage reductions to those who earn less.

Q: How did MICA decide what employees would be furloughed during June and July?

Managers assessed each position with these questions:

  1. Does the employee in the role have the ability to work remotely?
  2. Is there an adequate amount of work for the employee in the position to work remotely?

 

Each position was categorized using one of 3 selection criteria:

  1. Is the position fully capable of completing the majority of responsibilities remotely and considered critical for the months of June and July?
  2. If the position responsibilities can be partially fulfilled but not entirely remotely, or if the level of work has declined to some extent but not completely, can the employee’s hours be reduced or modified? 
    • Some employees may be put on reduced hours and they will be eligible to apply for unemployment benefits for the difference in hours regularly worked with fully paid benefits. 

  3.  Is the employee able to work, based on the previous criteria for any period from June 1 – July 31?
    • If the employee is unable to perform their job duties remotely or their job responsibilities have substantially declined due to the suspension of certain on-campus activities they will be placed on an unpaid furlough with benefits.
    • The employees placed on furlough are eligible for full health benefits paid by MICA if they are currently on MICA’s Health plan, as well as unemployment benefits. You do not need to complete open enrollment to continue to receive your health benefits while on furlough, but still should complete open enrollment to make any changes to current benefit elections, dependents or beneficiaries, and/or to re-enroll in flexible medical or dependent care spending accounts which is required if you want to continue to participate in those plans.

Q: If I’ve been furloughed, what happens next? 

Starting June 1, employees who are not able to perform their job duties remotely or whose job responsibilities have substantially declined due to the suspension of certain on-campus activities will be placed on unpaid furlough or modified hours.

If an employee is currently enrolled in MICA’s medical benefits, they will retain the same coverage they currently have and MICA will pay the full employee share of premiums in addition to the employer share it normally covers through July 31, 2020.

Furloughed employees will be informed by their direct supervisors and Human Resources beginning the week of April 27, 2020. Managers are being trained this week on the process and resources will be made available to employees.

All employees on full or partial furlough should apply for unemployment benefits through the state of Maryland.

Human Resources will provide comprehensive resources to assist furloughed employees in the process ensuring they have a thorough understanding how to accessMaryland Unemployment InsuranceFederal CARES Act, and the Employee Assistance Program.

Q: Will furloughed employees still accrue leave, or be able to take paid leave while furloughed?

Employees on a Full furlough are not qualified to use their available leave (vacation, sick, personal) during this time nor will it be paid out. Additionally, these employees will not accrue vacation or sick leave during the furlough period.

Employees on a partial furlough or schedule modification may use their available leave (vacation, sick, personal) during this time only to cover absences during their scheduled weeks or hours to work. Leave may not be used to supplement identified furlough weeks. These employees will accrue vacation and sick leave during this time based on their reduced hours.

The receipt of vacation or holiday pay will be deducted from unemployment benefits on the last day of work if the employee has been notified of a return to work date by MICA at the time of the furlough which the employee has. Therefore, employees will not be paid nor will you have the ability to use your paid time off during the furlough.

In the case of accrued leave, it is based on hours worked and, therefore, employees will not accrue paid time off during the furlough period.

Q: What happens to retirement benefits for furloughed or partially furloughed employees? 

Employees on a partial furlough can either have their currently elected retirement contributions continue to be deducted based on their reduced compensation, or they can change their election to reduce or eliminate their contribution while on furlough.

Additionally, the federal CARES act allows employees to cash out their retirement or take out a loan or hardship withdrawal while furloughed. If employees are interested in either of these options, please contact TIAA directly.

Q: Will MICA laptops be allowed to be used if furloughed or will they need to be returned?

Ordinarily, MICA laptops can be used during furlough, but this can be looked at on a case-by-case basis. That said, individuals on furlough should not be completing work.

Q: How long do you have to have worked at MICA full time to qualify for unemployment? 

Unemployment benefits will be determined by the unemployment commission once the claim has been submitted. The commission looks both at your employment at MICA, as well as past employment elsewhere.

Q: How might FSA payments be affected by going on furlough?

Deductions will go into arrears. Employees will be responsible for payment when they return to a full schedule and the system will take one extra deduction per pay until the arrears are paid in full. If you have additional questions, please reach out to Lisa Diggs in the HR office.

Q: The State of Maryland in recent weeks has reported a significant wait time for the processing of new Unemployment Claims. What financial resources are available to furloughed employees in that intermediary time?

The state has hired over 100 new people to help support this to reduce the wait time to get claims filled. Once the claim has been made it is sent to MICA, and we will have a team of four people working to process them as quickly as possible. We think that will help minimize the time. Additionally, please feel free to use the EAP, which offers financial services as well.

Q: How are the Cares Act unemployment funds affected by partial furlough? Do we still receive it? If so, do you still get the full $600 or is it prorated based on reduced hours?

MICA encourages those who are on partial furlough to apply for unemployment. There is not clear guidance from the federal government if the $600 is prorated if employees are partially furloughed, but the state unemployment office should be able to provide an answer to that question.

Q: Will part-time contract workers (who cannot perform their tasks remotely) receive pay for the time they were already scheduled to work, but now cannot due to campus suddenly closing? 

Unfortunately no, contract workers are not eligible for the job matching program.

Q: Given the significant amount of additional work involved in transferring to on-line teaching, what provisions are being considered for adjunct faculty who are often the most vulnerable financially?

We have issued, and plan to continue issuing, per course honoraria to part-time faculty who work with Educational Planning and Development to redesign their courses in line with the demands of online or hybrid course designs. We have also sought to preserve per course compensation levels for part-time faculty during this period in recognition of the effort required to transition to these new forms of teaching and learning.

Q: What is the plan to cover classes for faculty who fall sick?

We have policy in both the Faculty Handbook and the SEIU Agreement (for part-time faculty) for covering classes and for sick leave when faculty are ill and we are following these policies in addressing cases of faculty illness as they arise.

Q: What will MICA do to preserve part-time faculty employment in the coming academic year? Will MICA commit to preferentially rehiring AY20 part time faculty members for AY21?

Our approach is twofold: First, we are working to build the fullest possible roster of offerings for the Fall 2020 and for the 2021 Academic Year and to engage part-time faculty over the summer in the development of courses. We are also working with the part-time faculty through the joint Labor-Management Collaboration Committee to assess and mitigate impacts of any reductions in courses available for part-time faculty and to provide additional support and connection to the College during this period.