Updated March 15, 2022
The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) have been prepared to provide information regarding furloughs, position eliminations, and benefits.
Q: What is the spring break schedule for furloughed staff? Will we receive the scheduled holiday on March 25?
A: Henderson will be closed on Thursday, March 24 and Friday, March 25. Thursday, March 24 will serve as a furlough day for all furloughed employees. All employees who are not furlioughed will work remotely on March 24. Friday, March 25 is a holiday for all employees.
Q: Is it true that using vacation or sick leave during the furlough will cause us not to be eligible for unemployment benefits for a given week?
A: According to the guidelines provided by the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services, you must be available for work during the time you would be drawing the benefit. This means that you can use vacation time but cannot use sick leave and still remain eligible for unemployment benefits.
Q: When will my paycheck be reduced and by how much due to the furlough?
A: The March 15, 2022 check will be the first payroll to be affected by the furlough. Your current gross pay will be reduced by 20 percent
Q: How long will the furlough last?
A: The furlough is one day a week beginning February 28 and running through at least June 30.
Q: Will I be required to work during my scheduled furlough day?
A: No. Furloughed employees—other than faculty members in instructional positions and coaches whose primary duties involve instructing student athletes in their sport —may not work during times they are scheduled to be off for furlough and may not work more than 32 hours during any week of the furlough. Non-instructional employees who work in excess of 32 hours per week during the furlough will be subject to discipline, and supervisors who allow such deviations without authorization from Human Resources will likewise be subject to discipline.
Q: Will I be required to keep a timesheet during furlough weeks?
A: Yes. Furloughed employees - other than faculty members in instructional positions and coaches whose primary duties involve instructing student athletes in their sport - even employees who are not ordinarily required to complete a timesheet, will be required to submit a weekly timesheet during furlough weeks. The time recorded on the timesheet must accurately reflect the time actually worked. If you are asked to work during time you are scheduled to be off for furlough, to work in excess of 32 hours during a furlough week, or to record time differently than what you actually worked, please report this conduct immediately to Human Resources.
For instructional faculty members and coaches whose primary duties involve instructing student athletes in their sport, although you are not required to submit a timesheet during furlough weeks for payroll purposes, if you are seeking to participate in the Shared Work Program, it will be necessary for you to accurately record your hours worked and submit them weekly.
Q: Why are faculty members in instructional positions and coaches whose primary duties involve instruction of student athletes in their sport not required to keep and submit a timesheet for payroll during furlough weeks?
A: The Fair Labor Standards Act has a different set of rules that applies specifically to physicians, lawyers, outside salespersons, and teachers in bona fide educational institutions. Coaches whose primary duties involve instruction of student athletes in their sport are regarded as teachers for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Q: Will early retirement or position eliminations impact tuition waivers for dependents of faculty and staff?
A: The current early retirement policy includes tuition remission similar to that afforded regular full-time employees. Waivers that have been processed and are in effect now will not be impacted; however, personnel whose positions are eliminated will not be eligible for future tuition waivers.
Q: How will the furlough impact employees who have 10-month contracts but opt to be paid over 12 months? Will the 20 percent reduction be spread across until the financial year ends, or will the reduction be larger than 20 percent over the course of the 12 weeks?
A: Individuals that have a deduction for summer savings would not see a reduction in these dollars because it is treated as a withholding and not deferred compensation. Since the salary is already reduced by the withholding, the 20 percent reduction would only apply to monies received during the contracted period.
For example, if an employee currently has a withholding of $400/pay period, that would result in $8,000 for the summer savings account. The employee would receive $4,000 in June and $4,000 in July. This would be processed through accounts payable and a reduction would not occur. The remaining salary paid beginning with the March 15 payroll would have a 20 percent reduction through May 31. For example, an individual who receives $2,500 gross per pay period currently could expect to see a gross pay in the amount of $2,000 as of March 15.
Q: Will working fewer hours because of the furlough impact accrual of annual leave?
A: Yes. Employees who work less than full-time per year accrue annual leave in the same proportion as time worked. As a result of the furlough, employees will see leave accruals reduced proportionately for the duration of the furlough.
Q: Is it possible to make changes to insurance coverage to accommodate the reduction in salary we will receive from the furlough?
A: No. The furlough of one day a week does not create a qualifying event for health care coverage.
Q: If employees resign, will accrued annual leave be paid upon completion of employment?
A: Yes. Individuals would be paid any annual leave due for payment under Arkansas state guidelines.
Q: Will employees be able to make withdrawals from or borrow money from TIAA or APERS retirement accounts?
A: TIAA is working to amend Henderson’s plan to allow for hardship withdrawal and loans during the furloughs. Additional information will be communicated in early March.
APERS does not allow any type of withdrawals or loans. APERS is a qualified 401(a) defined benefit pension plan under the Internal Revenue Code. This type of plan is not permitted to allow “in-service” distributions.
Q: How will the H.E.A.R.T. Fund at Henderson Foundation be used to assist faculty and staff? What is the process for requesting assistance?
A: Henderson Foundation currently has approximately $45,000 available in the H.E.A.R.T. Fund to assist faculty and staff during furloughs. Henderson Foundation will share information about this process with faculty and staff in the coming weeks.
Q: Who is involved in the furlough and what is the timeline?
A: General revenue-funded positions—staff, faculty, and administration—are included in the furlough. Furloughs will be the equivalent of eight hours a week starting February 28, 2022 and continuing through at least June 30, 2022. Supervisors should work with employees to ensure a schedule that allows for offices to remain open and staffed during normal business hours. Human Resources will communicate registration information for the Shared Work Program in advance of implementation.
Q: Is anyone exempt from the furlough?
A: Yes. Positions that are paid for by grants or private funds are not included in the furlough. Work study students, graduate assistants, and part-time employees are not included in the furlough. Another exemption required by federal law will cover at least one employee, who will be contacted directly by Human Resources, but likely not more. Please contact your supervisor and/or Human Resources to resolve any questions.
Additionally, a small group of management team employees whose duties cannot be reduced to 32 hours per week for the rest of the fiscal year are taking 20 percent temporary pay cuts but will not have their hours reduced by furlough.
Q: How will I know if I am eligible for unemployment benefits?
A: Henderson is partnering with the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services to implement a Shared Work Program but cannot guarantee coverage. This is especially true for the weeks following the conclusion of the spring semester. Human Resources will communicate registration information and assist faculty and staff with reporting requirements. Eligibility is outlined on the Shared Work Program website at https://www.dws.arkansas.gov/employers/shared-work-program.
Q: Will positions be eliminated between now and June 30, 2022?
A: Yes. The urgency of our financial situation requires difficult but necessary decisions regarding positions. A small number of positions (fewer than 15) will be eliminated in the coming weeks. Additional positions will need to be eliminated in the next fiscal year.
Q: How will reductions of faculty positions be handled?
A: The process to eliminate faculty positions under financial exigency is detailed beginning on page 35 of the 2016 Faculty Handbook, which is available at: https://hsu.edu/pages/faculty-staff/faculty-senate/2016-faculty-handbook.
Q: How will reductions of staff positions be handled?
A: Henderson will follow the criteria established by the Arkansas Office of Personnel Management (OPM) through its Statewide Capital Workforce Reduction Policy to determine positions identified for elimination; however, not all components of that process are applicable to institutions of higher education in Arkansas by statute. Henderson will report information to the Arkansas Division of Higher Education. OPM’s Workforce Reduction Policy is available at:
Q: Will another round of early retirement be offered?
A: An incentivized early retirement option like the one offered in 2020 will not be offered in the 2022 calendar year.
Q: Will the current retirement options outlined in the Faculty Handbook continue to be offered?
A: No. Henderson plans to seek approval from the Arkansas State University System Board of Trustees to adopt a revised retirement policy, effective July 1, 2022. Henderson faculty and staff who are eligible for and are interested in receiving retirement benefits detailed on pages 62-63 of the 2016 Faculty Handbook may elect to work with Human Resources to conclude the retirement process by June 30, 2022.
Human Resources is currently working with Arkansas State University to develop an application process which will be available by March 1, 2022.
Q: Are staff eligible for the retirement benefits outlined in the Faculty Handbook?
A: Although staff are not covered by the Faculty Handbook, the retirement benefit detailed in the 2016 Faculty Handbook will be made available to staff in the same timeline. Staff who are interested in this benefit may elect to work with Human Resources to conclude the retirement process by June 30, 2022.
Q: What if I choose to retire July 1, 2022, or later?
A: Henderson plans to seek approval from the Arkansas State University System Board of Trustees to adopt a revised retirement policy, effective July 1, 2022. A separate, more detailed FAQ outlining retirement benefits will be provided for eligible faculty and staff.