The following letter was emailed to all academic and administrative faculty on the morning of Wednesday, November 18, 2020.
Notice: Mandatory Furlough Notice for Fiscal Year 2021
Dear Faculty Member,
Let me begin by thanking you for your adaptability and perseverance during 2020. In my first month here, I have been impressed by the stories I have heard of our academic and administrative faculty’s resiliency and tireless work to ensure a quality educational experience for our students. We will navigate the current pandemic together and emerge stronger with more innovation and new approaches to education.
Nevada is experiencing emergency budget shortfalls due to statewide disruptions in commerce and revenue as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic. To address this fiscal emergency, the Nevada State Legislature convened the 31st Special Session and passed Assembly Bill (AB) 3, which was signed into law by Governor Sisolak. Pursuant to AB 3, all full and part-time employees of the State, which includes faculty and all employees of the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE), are required to take unpaid furlough leave that amounts to a 4.6 percent reduction in monthly compensation.
On November 13, 2020, the Board of Regents approved and adopted the “Furlough Policy for NSHE Faculty and Employees Due to COVID-19 Budget Shortfall for Fiscal Year 2021,” which was codified as Chapter 4, Section 20 of the NSHE Procedures and Guidelines Manual, and implements the mandates of AB 3.
You are hereby notified pursuant to Chapter 4, Section 20 of the NSHE Procedures and Guidelines Manual and Title 2, Chapter 5, Sections 5.4.4 and 5.4.12 of the NSHE Code, EFFECTIVE DECEMBER 1, 2020, your position will be required to take unpaid furlough leave as specified below from December 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021. Faculty and employees receiving this notice will see a reduction in monthly compensation of 4.6 percent for 6 monthly pay days beginning on January 1, 2021 and concluding on June 1, 2021.
If you are a member of administrative faculty or academic faculty on a 12-month contract (“A” Contract), you will be required to take 6 days (48 hours) of furlough leave. If you are a member of academic faculty on a 9-month contract (“B” Contract), you will be required to take 4 days (32 hours) of furlough leave.
If you are a part-time faculty member or employee not on an A or B Contract position, such as letter of appointment, part-time instructor, or temporary hourly employee, your furlough leave and 4.6 percent compensation reduction will be prorated based on your full time equivalent hours (FTE) or the number of hours you work during an average work week.
For faculty who accrue annual or sick time off, furlough leave shall appear in your Workday account on December 1, 2020, and use is subject to supervisor approval. Furlough leave shall be requested in the manner that other leave is requested. All leave must be used by May 31, 2021, and unused furlough leave has no monetary value. Deductions shall occur from your monthly compensation whether furlough leave is used for that month or not.
You have the right to request reconsideration of this decision if you believe your position has been wrongly included in this notice. Requests for reconsideration shall be limited to the issue of whether there is a reasonable basis to support the decision or a mistake of material fact was relied upon as it relates to the faculty member. No reconsideration will be granted challenging the Board of Regent’s policy decision to authorize or implement furlough leave or due to a personal financial hardship. The process for reconsideration is set forth in Title 2, Chapter 5, Sections 5.4.4 and 5.4.12 of the NSHE Code, and a copy of the procedure is attached for your review.
If you would like to file a request for reconsideration, it must be submitted within 5 calendar days of receipt of this notice, and must be submitted to the following: firstname.lastname@example.org Please contact Tim McFarling, email@example.com, if you have any questions or concerns.
Chapter 4, Section 20 of the NSHE Procedures and Guidelines Manual
1. Amount of Furlough Leave
Pursuant to Assembly Bill (AB) 3 passed by the Nevada State Legislature during the 31st Special Legislative Session, employees of the Nevada System of Higher Education will be required to take the following amount of furlough leave from December 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021, and a corresponding 4.6 percent reduction in monthly compensation from January 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021.
- Academic and administrative faculty on a 12-month contract (Contract A) will be required to take 6 furlough days (48 hours).
- Academic faculty on a 9-month contract (Contract B) will be required to take 4 furlough days (32 hours).
- A full or part-time faculty member or employee who does not fall within the above categories will be required to take an amount of furlough leave based upon the number of hours worked during an average day multiplied by the number 6 and a proportional reduction in compensation as determined by the institution’s human resources department.
- A faculty member or employee hired after December 1, 2020, will be required to complete an amount of furlough leave that is based upon the number of pay dates that remain as of their employment start date. This number shall be calculated by their institution’s human resources department.
2. Use of Furlough Leave
On December 1, 2020, faculty members will receive upfront in Workday the total amount of furlough leave they are required to take. Furlough leave may be taken in full or half-day increments and shall be requested by the faculty member through the normal Workday process. Furlough leave will be subject to supervisor approval. Academic faculty may not take furlough leave during instruction times. It is not required that any set amount of furlough leave be used in a given month; however, the faculty member’s compensation will automatically be reduced every month whether or not furlough leave is used by the faculty member during that month.
All furlough leave must be used by the faculty member by June 30, 2021. Unused furlough leave has no monetary value, and a faculty member will not be entitled to payment or compensation for unused furlough leave if the faculty member separates from employment or leave remains unused at the end of June 30, 2021. If a faculty member’s amount of furlough leave exceeds the number of monthly salary reductions and the faculty member separates from employment, the exceeded amount of furlough leave may be deducted from the faculty member’s annual leave balance.
3. Exempt Positions
Positions that may be exempt from this policy are for identified areas of critical need and are limited to those positions that are necessary to the protection of public health, safety and welfare. Before any position may be exempt, the Board of Regents must make findings on the record at a public meeting of the following:
- The position is necessary to the protection of public health, safety or welfare;
- Public health, safety or welfare will be significantly diminished if mandatory furlough leave is implemented for this position; and
- No alternatives exist to provide for the protection of public health, safety or welfare.
If the position is determined not to be subject to furlough leave pursuant to these criteria, the compensation of the employee must still be reduced by 4.6 percent for the portion of the period beginning on January 1, 2021, and ending on June 30, 2021. The Board of Regents shall report to the Interim Finance Committee on a quarterly basis all positions that have been determined not to be subject to furlough leave pursuant to the above criteria and the reasons for such determinations.
4. Student Academic Positions
This policy does not apply to undergraduate students, graduate students, and fellows employed in temporary positions for the purpose of completing certification, licensure or specific experience requirements. Positions must be temporary in duration and employment ends after completion of the requirement(s).
5. Classified Employee Positions
This policy does not apply to employees who are within the classified system of the State. Furlough policies for classified employees will be established by the Nevada Department of Administration and/or other appropriate State agency.
Human resource departments of each institution shall be responsible for applying and implementing this policy in a fair and consistent manner in accordance with the intent of the Board of Regents and the Nevada State Legislature, and any ambiguity in its interpretation or unforeseen circumstance should be resolved in consultation with the NSHE Chief General Counsel.
This policy shall expire on June 30, 2021.
Title 2, Chapter 5, Sections 5.4.4 and 5.4.12 of the NSHE Code
5.4.4 Employment Contracts and Interpretation
An initial employment contract shall not be binding until executed, either electronically or by any process that demonstrates the acceptance of its terms and conditions by both the appointee and the appointing authority, and approved as may be provided in this NSHE Code. Except as otherwise provided in Code Section 5.4.2, and if the employment contract has not been terminated or expired as provided in the terms of the contract and notice of non-reappointment or termination has not been issued, subsequent employment contracts shall renew, without any action required of the appointing authority or the appointee, on July 1 and end on the following June 30th. The renewed employment contract, if any, shall include any merit increases awarded to the employee, cost of living or other compensation adjustments funded by the Nevada Legislature, as well as any furloughs, unpaid leave or salary reductions imposed by the Nevada Legislature, Office of the Governor, Board of Regents, or any combination thereof. Any other amendments of the terms and conditions in an employment contract shall be accepted by the employee, who shall be deemed to have accepted the amended terms and conditions by any of the following means: (i) an electronic or other process which demonstrates acceptance of the amended and renewed contract; (ii) the cashing of a payroll check during the term of the renewed contract; or (iii) the failure to refund within seven calendar days the entirety of any payroll check electronically deposited into the employee’s account during the term of the renewed contract. All employment contracts are subject to and interpreted in accordance with Nevada law and Board of Regents' Code.
5.4.12 Emergency Furloughs Due to COVID-19 Budget Shortfalls
Notwithstanding any other provision in Title 2 of the NSHE Code or the Board of Regents Handbook, and to comply with emergency directives from the Office of the Governor or the Nevada Legislature to reduce budgetary expenditures and costs during any fiscal quarter, year or biennium due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board of Regents may authorize any NSHE institution and/or System Administration and its units to implement one or more monthly furlough days and/or half days for academic and administrative faculty and to reduce a faculty member’s salary to reflect the furlough day(s) for all or any portion of fiscal year 2021, without the declaration of a financial exigency, the issuance of a notice of non-reappointment, or any other procedural requirement or review as set forth in this Chapter or any other provision of the Code or Handbook.
- A notice of furloughs shall be given under this Section to faculty members, either individually or collectively, and no less than ten (10) calendar days before the notice becomes effective. The time frame for notice pursuant to this Section may be shortened if funding is not reasonably available to continue making payments during this ten (10)- day notice period. Notice may be properly delivered via electronic means to the faculty member’s work email account, hand delivered, and/or mailed through the US Postal Service to the faculty member’s home address. If notice is mailed through the US Postal Service, the ten (10)- day notice period begins to run the day after mailing.
- The notice shall provide the faculty member with a reasonable statement of the basis for the decision to furlough and a description of the manner in which the decision was arrived, including the date it was made and the information relied upon. The notice shall also inform the faculty member of the right to reconsideration of the decision, the procedures governing reconsideration, and the contact information for whom a request for reconsideration should be made.
(b) Process for Reconsideration
- A faculty member may request reconsideration of the decision to impose one or more furlough days on the faculty member within five (5) calendar days of receiving notice of the furlough. Timely requests for reconsideration shall be limited to the issue of whether there is a reasonable basis to support the decision or a mistake of material fact was relied upon as it relates to the individual faculty member. There shall be no reconsideration of the Board’s policy decision to authorize or implement furlough day(s) pursuant to this Section or due to a personal financial hardship. A request for reconsideration will not stay implementation of a decision to implement one or more furlough day(s) for a faculty member, and the faculty member must comply with the furlough decision while the request is pending.
- In the event decisions are made to impose furloughs under this Section, the President of each NSHE institution, as applicable, shall establish one or more reconsideration committees to review an individual faculty member’s request for reconsideration. The President shall determine the number of persons to serve on each committee and their terms of service, designate one person of each committee to serve as the chair, and choose one half of the remaining membership of each committee. The Faculty Senate of the institution shall determine the remaining one half of the committee membership.
- A request for reconsideration of a decision to furlough an individual faculty member must be timely submitted to the President, together with the reasons, arguments, and documentation supporting the request for reconsideration. The President shall send a request for reconsideration, together with a copy of the notice of furlough, to the review committee. The institution may respond to the request for reconsideration through an administrator designated by the President. A response must be submitted to the review committee and the faculty member no later than three (3) calendar days before the reconsideration hearing.
- The review committee shall hold a hearing on the request for reconsideration within fifteen (15) calendar days of its receipt of the request or, given the number of requests that may be received, as soon thereafter as reasonably feasible. The hearing shall be informal and nonadversarial in nature. The committee shall have the discretion to consolidate multiple hearings. The hearing shall be recorded by audio and a copy of the audio recording must be provided to the faculty member upon request.
- A faculty member requesting reconsideration may have an advisor present at the hearing. Evidence presented at the hearing must possess reasonably probative and material value and be relevant to the employment decision. The faculty member requesting reconsideration has the burden of showing that the decision to implement a furlough on the faculty member cannot be sustained.
- The institution shall have an opportunity at the hearing through its representatives to respond to the contentions of the faculty member requesting reconsideration or to otherwise correct any erroneous or misleading information presented to the review committee.
- The review committee shall forward its written recommendation to the President on the issue(s) presented by the request for reconsideration within ten (10) calendar days after the conclusion of the hearing. The President shall make a final decision within five (5) calendar days after receipt of the recommendation. The President’s decision shall be final and shall be sent to the faculty member requesting reconsideration.
- The reconsideration provided to faculty members by this Section for the imposition of one or more furlough day(s) shall be the exclusive process of review. It is not applicable to the issuance of notices of nonreappointment of employment or termination set forth in other provisions of the Code or Handbook. All notices or other documents served pursuant to this Section may be done so via email, hand delivered, and/or by US Postal Service mail.