A furlough is a temporary unpaid forced leave during which an employee does not report for work and does not earn a wage. Employee retain their positions during the furlough as well as benefits (benefit coverage is dependent on employee type and length of furlough). A furlough shall constitute a “leave of absence” as defined in Wis. Stat. sec. 40.02(40). A furlough is not a layoff, non-renewal, or termination.

Refer to UW System Administrative Policy 1200-Intermim 04 Furlough for additional information.

Intermittent Furlough

A furlough assigned in full day increments that must not exceed one day every two weeks, coinciding with a biweekly pay period.

Consecutive Day Furlough

A furlough assigned in full day increments for a continuous period of time with a defined start and end date.

How Benefits are Affected During a Furlough

Below is information on how each benefit plan is affected by an intermittent and consecutive day furlough.

Contact your human resources office before your furlough so they can explain your options to help you maintain your benefits.

Intermittent Furlough – Your coverage will continue and your regular premium will be deducted from your paycheck for any pay period that you have pay.

Consecutive Day Furlough – You are eligible for the employer contribution towards your health insurance for the first three months of your furlough. See the Premium Payment section below for additional information.

Example: You go on a consecutive day furlough beginning on June 20th. Health insurance premium has already been deducted for July coverage. The UW System will pay the employer contribution for coverage in August, September and October.

Note: If you allow your family coverage to lapse while on furlough and you pass away, your surviving family members will not have access to your sick leave credits to pay health insurance premiums.

If you are receiving the Opt-Out Incentive, payments will continue for up to three months while you are on furlough.

Intermittent Furlough – Your coverage will continue and your regular premium will be deducted from your paycheck for any pay period that you have pay.

Consecutive Day Furlough – Your coverage will continue if you continue to pay the premium.

Intermittent Furlough – Your coverage will continue and your regular premium will be deducted from your paycheck for any pay period that you have pay.

Consecutive Day Furlough – Your coverage will continue if you continue to pay the premium.

Intermittent Furlough – Your coverage will continue and your regular premium will be deducted from your paycheck for any pay period that you have pay.

Consecutive Day Furlough – Your coverage will continue if you continue to pay the premium. If you fail to pay premium by the due date your coverage will lapse.  Eligible employees have thirty (30) days after returning from consecutive day furlough to re-enroll in coverage.

Note: If your Basic coverage is allowed to lapse, all other coverage levels (Supplemental, Additional and Dependent) will lapse. If you continue your Basic coverage while on consecutive day furlough, you may choose to continue and/or lapse your Supplemental, Additional and/or Dependent coverage(s). If you (or your dependent) pass away more than 31 days after coverage lapsed, a death benefit is not payable.

Intermittent Furlough – Your coverage will continue and your regular premium will be deducted from your paycheck for any pay period that you have pay.

Consecutive Day Furlough – Your coverage will continue if you continue to pay the premium. If you fail to pay premium by the due date your coverage will lapse. Eligible employees have thirty (30) days after returning from consecutive day furlough to re-enroll in coverage.

Note: If your Employee coverage is allowed to lapse, all other coverage levels (Spouse/Domestic Partner and/or Child(ren)) will lapse. If you continue your Employee coverage while on consecutive day furlough, you may choose to continue and/or lapse your Spouse/Domestic Partner and/or Child(ren) coverage(s). If you (or your dependent) pass away more than 31 days after coverage lapsed, a death benefit is not payable.

Intermittent Furlough – Your coverage will continue and your regular premium will be deducted from your paycheck for any pay period that you have pay.

Consecutive Day Furlough – Your coverage will continue if you continue to pay the premium.

For both an intermittent and consecutive day furlough, if you have paid the annual premium for the plan year, coverage continues until December 31st.

If you are not actively on payroll when the annual deduction occurs, you will receive a bill for the annual $24 premium.  You have 60 days from December 31st to pay your premium.  If premium is not paid by the due date, your coverage will end as of the prior December 31st with no option of conversion.

Intermittent Furlough – Your coverage will continue and your regular premium will be deducted from your paycheck for any pay period that you have pay.

Consecutive Day Furlough – Your coverage will continue if you continue to pay the premium.

Intermittent Furlough – Your coverage will continue and your regular premium will be deducted from your paycheck for any pay period that you have pay.

Consecutive Day Furlough – Your coverage will continue if you continue to pay the premium.

Intermittent Furlough – Your coverage will continue and your regular premium will be deducted from your paycheck for any pay period that you have pay.

Consecutive Day Furlough – Income Continuation Insurance (ICI) premiums are paid for the current month of coverage. For example, the premium deduction from June earnings is for June coverage.

If you are not receiving ICI benefits while on furlough, your coverage will continue if you continue to pay the premium. You are eligible for the employer contribution towards your income continuation insurance for the first three months of your furlough.

If you are approved for ICI benefits while on furlough, your ICI premium is waived (you pay no premium).

ICI Premium Calculation

Annually ICI premiums are reviewed and adjusted the following February. Premiums for faculty, academic staff and limited appointees are determined by the employee’s prior year’s eligible WRS earnings and elimination period elected. University staff premiums are determined by the employee’s prior year’s eligible WRS earnings and their Premium Category. The Premium Category is based on the total accumulated unused sick leave balance at the end of the year or the amount of additional sick leave accumulated in the prior year (Premium Category 3).

If you were placed on an intermittent furlough during 2020, you may experience a change to your ICI premium because of reduced earnings and a change in sick leave balance (for university staff only). Additionally, if you become disabled in 2021, the ICI benefit will be based on your 2020 WRS eligible earnings.

If you were placed on a consecutive day furlough during 2020, this is considered an unpaid leave of absence. WRS eligible earnings and sick leave balances (for university staff only) will be based on the amounts in effect prior to the consecutive day furlough (unpaid leave of absence) and will continue to be used until you have a full calendar year of eligible earnings. As a result, your ICI premium will not change. Additionally, if you become disabled in 2021, the ICI benefit will be based on that same WRS eligible earnings.

Intermittent Furlough – Pre-tax contributions will continue to be deducted from your paycheck for any pay period that you have pay. You may continue to incur and submit qualifying eligible expenses for reimbursement from your FSA.

Consecutive Day Furlough – Pre-tax contributions made via payroll will end on your last paycheck prior to your furlough.

  • Within 30 days of the start of your furlough, you may decrease your annual election by completing an Election Change Request Form. You can decrease your annual election to an amount equal to or greater than what you have already contributed for the current plan year.
  • Return to Work: When you return to work, your annual election amount will be recalculated for the remaining payrolls in the calendar year and your pre-tax payroll contributions will resume. Within 30 days of your return to work, you may enroll in the FSA or increase your annual election by completing an Election Change Request Form.
  • Incurring Eligible Expenses:
    • Health Care FSA: You may continue to incur eligible expenses to submit for reimbursement while you are on furlough if you meet your annual election amount with your pre-tax contributions prior to and after your furlough. If you do not meet your annual election amount with your pre-tax contributions prior to and after your furlough, expenses incurred during your furlough are not eligible for reimbursement.
    • Dependent Day Care: Regardless of whether you meet your annual election amount with your pre-tax contributions prior to and after your furlough, you may continue to incur eligible expenses until December 31st.

You may continue to request HSA distributions for qualified medical, dental and/or vision expenses if sufficient funds are available in your account.

Intermittent Furlough – Pre-tax contributions will be deducted from your paycheck for any pay period you have pay. The employer contributions to your HSA will continue (if eligible).

Consecutive Day Furlough – Pre-tax contributions made via payroll will end on your last paycheck before your consecutive day furlough. Your employee contributions will resume when you return to work. Employer contributions to your HSA will continue while you are on furlough (if eligible), for up to three months, if you continue your High Deductible Health Plan (i.e. do not let coverage lapse).

If you have intermittent furlough day(s), contributions will be deducted from your paycheck for any pay period that you have eligible pay.

If you are on a consecutive day furlough, contributions end on your last paycheck and resume when you return to work.

WRS creditable Service: You do not earn WRS creditable service while on any type of furlough. A legislative change would be required to the WRS to allow this. Depending on the number of days in furlough and the employee class you are in you may receive a partial year of creditable service. A partial year is a percentage of the year that is equivalent to the hours spent in paid status (i.e. actual hours worked, vacation, sick leave or other paid leave status) divided by the number of hours required to qualify for a creditable year of service:

  • For faculty, academic staff, or limited appointees 1,320 hours are needed from 7/1 – 6/30 to receive a full year of creditable service.
  • For university staff employees, 1,904 hours are needed from 1/1 – 12/31 to receive a full year of creditable service.
  • Note: An individual can only earn 1.0 year of creditable service in a 12-month period, no matter how many hours an employee is in paid status.

Note that for employees who first became eligible for the WRS after July 1, 2011, five years of creditable service are needed to be vested in the WRS.

WRS retirement benefit: Your WRS retirement benefit is calculated using two methods; the formula method and the money purchase method. At retirement the benefit is calculated under both methods and you receive the higher amount. Under the formula benefit method, your WRS retirement benefit is based on your three highest calendar (for university staff) or fiscal (for faculty, academic staff, limited appointees) years’ eligible earnings. The years do not need to be consecutive or the last years reported. Under the money purchase method, your WRS retirement benefit is based on your total employee and employer contributions made to the plan. 

While on a furlough, if your eligible earnings are reduced, it may not be one of your three highest calendar or fiscal years’ earnings used under the formula method. Under the money purchase benefit method, if your eligible earnings are reduced, your employee and employer contributions will be less. Legislative action is required to change how WRS eligible earnings are determined while on a furlough.

For additional information on calculating your WRS retirement benefit review the ETF Calculating Your Retirement Benefits (ET-4107) brochure.

To increase or decrease your dollar or percentage amount, log into MyUW Portal or complete a Salary Reduction Agreement (SRA) and submit it to your institution human resources office.

To stop your contribution or change your recordkeeper(s), complete a Salary Reduction Agreement (SRA) and submit it to your human resources office.

Intermittent Furlough – Contributions will be deducted from your paycheck for any pay period that you have eligible pay unless you make a change to your payroll deferral amount.

Consecutive Day Furlough – Contributions end on your last paycheck and resume when you return to work unless you make a change to the amount you are deferring.

To change your contribution amount contact WDC directly at wdcquestions@empower-retirement.com or 877-457-9327.

Intermittent Furlough – Contributions will be deducted from your paycheck for any pay period that you have eligible pay unless you make a change to your payroll deferral amount.

Consecutive Day Furlough – Contributions end on your last paycheck and resume when you return to work unless you make a change to the amount you are deferring.

While on either an intermittent furlough or a consecutive day furlough, you will continue to earn vacation, personal holiday, and sick leave.

You may not use vacation, personal holiday, floating legal holiday or sick leave in lieu of furlough day(s).

For intermittent furloughs, you will receive legal holiday pay, provided that the legal holiday does not coincide with your identified furlough day. Notwithstanding UW System Administrative Policy 1211 (formerly BN 2) Personal and Legal Holiday Administration, you will receive holiday pay if you take one intermittent furlough day prior to and one intermittent furlough day following a legal holiday.

For consecutive day furloughs, you will not receive legal holiday pay for any fixed day legal holidays that occur during the furlough where you do not otherwise meet UW System Administrative Policy 1211 (formerly BN 2) Personal and Legal Holiday Administration eligibility requirements to earn the fixed holiday. You will accrue designated floating legal holidays (July 4, 2020 is a designated floating holiday so employees will accrue time for this holiday).

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) benefits are available to employees on furlough. Review the EAP web page for information on contacting the EAP provider.

Premium Payment

For consecutive day furloughs, benefits may be continued as long as premiums are paid.

  • For State Group Health Insurance, you have the option of having payroll deduction from your last paycheck (if time permits), being direct billed or using accrued sick leave.
  • For Dental Insurance, Vision Insurance, State Group Life Insurance, Individual & Family Life Insurance, UW Employees, Inc. Life Insurance, Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance, Accident Insurance and Income Continuation Insurance, you have the option of having deductions from your last paycheck (if time permits) or being direct billed.

Direct billing includes paying via check, money order or credit card. If you choose direct billing, you will receive a monthly invoice. Invoices are sent around the 20th of each month and payment is due on the 10th of the month. For example, for July coverage, you will be billed on May 20th. Payment is due by June 10th. If payment is not received by the 10th of the month your coverage may be canceled.

If you are placed on a consecutive day furlough complete the Furlough Insurance Selections Form before you go on furlough so you know what will happen to your benefits during your furlough. Your Furlough Insurance Selections Form can be completed one of two ways:

  • Online: 1) Log into the MyUW Portal, 2) Find the ‘Benefit information’ tile and click ‘Launch full app’, 3) On the ‘Summary’ tab scroll to the bottom and click ‘View Benefits Summary’ 4) In the left hand navigation click on ‘Furlough Insurance Selections’, 5) To start filling out the form click ‘Add a New Value’ button or to see a form previously submitted click ‘Search’.
  • Fillable PDF/Paper: 1) Open the Furlough Insurance Selections Form pdf 2) Complete the form and submit it following the directions on the form. The form is a fillable document that can be completed and submitted via email or printed off and mailed.

Because being placed on a consecutive day furlough is a qualifying life event for insurance plans you may lapse coverage and re-enroll within 30 days of returning to pay status. Coverage is effective the first day of the month on or after the date the application is received. If coverage was canceled (an application submitted to cancel coverage) you are not eligible to enroll upon return to work; coverage must lapse, not be terminated voluntarily. Contact your institution benefits administrator about lapsing your coverage and re-enrolling upon returning to work.

Most premiums are taken one month in advance of the coverage month. If you let your coverage lapse by not paying the premium, coverage will typically end at the end of the month following the start of your furlough. For example, if your furlough starts on May 15 and you had deductions taken from your last paycheck, most of your benefits will be paid through the end of the June.

Using Sick Leave To Pay For Premiums While on Furlough

During a consecutive day furlough State Group Health Insurance coverage may be maintained using your accrued sick leave (only available to employees who are eligible to earn sick leave, see UW System Administrative Policy 1212 (formerly BN 3) Sick Leave, section 4.A. for information on eligibility to earn sick leave).

Available sick leave is determined by multiplying your accrued sick leave balance by your current hourly rate of pay of you primary job. If you elect to use sick leave to maintain your State Group Health Insurance coverage you will receive a summary of sick leave hours used and remaining balance after your furlough is complete. Use of sick leave to pay for State Group Health Insurance premiums will result in a tax liability and withholding to the employee.

University Staff employees – If you elect to use your sick leave to pay your State Group Health Insurance premium while on a consecutive day furlough and you are enrolled in Income Continuation Insurance, your Income Continuation Insurance premium category could be affected during the next annual evaluation period.

Faculty, Academic Staff, Limited Appointees and University Staff employees – If you elect to use your sick leave to pay your State Group Health Insurance premium while on a consecutive day furlough, your Income Continuation Insurance elimination period could be affected if you file a claim for benefits.

Ending Employment During a Furlough

If you end employment while on a furlough, refer to the appropriate Employment Changes area for information about continuing your coverage.

Resources

Beneficiary Designations

Remember to review and update your beneficiary designations when you have a life event to make sure that your benefits are paid according to your wishes. Benefit plans that have beneficiary designations include life insurance plans, retirement plans and the health savings account.

For more information review the Beneficiary Information web page.

Every effort has been made to ensure this information is current and correct. Information on this page does not guarantee enrollment, benefits and/or the ability to make changes to your benefits.

Updated: 09/18/2021