Human Resources: Policy Updates

COVID-19 POLICY AND PROGRAM UPDATES

COVID-19 Interim Reduction in Force/Hours Policy

This interim policy addresses reductions in force and reductions in hours for eligible employees to mitigate the severe fiscal challenges faced by the University as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While in effect, this interim policy shall supersede any conflicting or inconsistent provisions of existing University policies, and shall supersede the following policies in their entirety:

  • Non-Exempt Staff Reduction in Force
  • Non-Exempt Employee Termination/Notification
  • Exempt Employee Termination of Employment/Notification

FAQs for the Institutional Reduction in Hours Program

If an institutional reduction in hours program is implemented after a unit has implemented their own program, the institutional program would apply only if the unit reduction is less than the institutional reduction. The institutional reduction would be applied in lieu of (not in addition to) the voluntary reduction. For example, if a unit reduces by 10%, and the institution does a reduction of 5%, the end result would be 10%, not 15% reduction.

The University will issue the 9 days as follows: November 23, 24, 25, which will result in most employees having a full week off for the Thanksgiving holiday. December 21, 22, 23, which will result in most employees having two full weeks off at the end of the calendar year. Employees will be given the remaining 3 days to use at their convenience over the rest of the fiscal year. Supervisor approval will be required for each day. These days are not considered to be holidays. 

 Employees who are required to work on the days outlined by UD will need to work with their supervisor on identifying other days that they can take off.

Any employee who resigns is eligible to be considered for future employment opportunities.

Employees can adjust their 403b deductions through TIAA and can reach out to University Development to adjust their UDGIFT deductions.

Employees in the program shall maintain health benefits and parking assignments, subject to their normal employee contributions, as well as their University identification cards and e-mail accounts. Employees may not conduct University business or operate any University-owned vehicle outside of their reduced hours.

Using vacation time to offset the reduction in hours (furlough days) defeats the cost-cutting intent. It is not possible to trade individual vacation days to offset the reduction.

At this time we don’t anticipate the program to go into the next fiscal year.

The University is applying the reduction in hours (furlough days) broadly across campus, regardless of source of funds, in order to maintain a consistent approach of paying staff. 

Employees can file a claim online to determine if they will be eligible for any unemployment benefits.

The program is for UD employees, not students.

The University is working directly with bargaining units on how the program will impact their employees. 

Postdoctoral Fellows and employees on an H-1B visa are unable to participate.

Employee FAQs for the Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program

Staff and administration who meet age and service criteria may retire and receive an additional five months of salary. The deadline to apply for this program is October 5. You are eligible to participate in the program if you are a benefit eligible employee in a staff or administration position with the University who meets the age criteria for retirement and you have 20 years of service with the University on or before the Retirement Date.

Staff and administration who are eligible for the voluntary retirement incentive program will receive notification via email from Human Resources. If you think you are eligible and didn’t receive a notification, please email hrhelp@udel.edu.

You will be eligible for retiree health insurance under the University or through the Delaware State Pension Plan. While a termination triggers a COBRA event, since you are eligible for retiree benefits, you will enroll in retiree benefits and not in COBRA. 

College/division leadership, in conjunction with Human Resources, will make the final decision regarding which employees are eligible for the retirement incentive program. The intent of the program is to reduce the financial impact from COVID-19 so there is no guarantee that you will be able to backfill the role. You would need to go through the exception request process if you feel you need to backfill the position.

Employees will be eligible to receive a payment for any earned but unused vacation time up to the maximum amount allowed under all University policies after the notice period.

Retirees are eligible to return to work at UD on a part time basis. Retirees of pension plans administered by the Delaware Public Employees’ Retirement System (DPERS) are limited in their ability to return to work for an organization while continuing to receive a monthly pension. Review the plan information to determine your eligibility.

At this time, we do not foresee offering the program in 2021.

You have until 11:59 pm on November 12, 2020 to notify Human Resources in writing of your intent to withdraw from the program. As of November 13, 2020, your retirement is irrevocable. 

No, as a UD eligible retiree, you will keep all of the benefits and perks afforded to UD retirees.

Supervisor FAQs for the Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program

Staff and administration who meet age and service criteria may retire and receive an additional five months of salary. The deadline to apply for this program is October 5th. You are eligible to participate in the Program if you are a benefit eligible employee in a staff or administration position with the University who meets the age criteria for retirement and you have 20 years of service with the University on or before the Retirement Date.

Staff and administration who are eligible for the voluntary retirement incentive program will receive notification via email from Human Resources. If someone on your team feels that they are eligible, and didn’t receive a notification, please email hrhelp@udel.edu.

College/division leadership, in conjunction with Human Resources, will make the final decision regarding which employees are eligible for the retirement incentive program. The intent of the program is to reduce the financial impact from COVID-19 so there is no guarantee that you will be able to backfill the role. You would need to go through the exception request process if you feel you need to backfill the position.

Employees will be eligible to receive a payment for any earned but unused vacation time up to the maximum amount allowed under all University policies after the notice period

Retirees are eligible to return to work at UD on a part time basis. Retirees of pension plans administered by the Delaware Public Employees’ Retirement System (DPERS) are limited in their ability to return to work for an organization while continuing to receive a monthly pension. Employees should review the plan information to determine their eligibility.

If a situation arises that warrants the need to retain an employee beyond the program effective date, it will be reviewed by the Interim VP of HR to determine if there can be flexibility with the retirement date to mitigate risk to UD, and still allow the employee to take advantage of the program.

At this time, we do not foresee offering the program in 2021.

FAQs for Voluntary Reduction in Hours

Benefits-eligible employees who are working 100% time are eligible to participate in the program.

Employees who are interested in the program should discuss their intent with their supervisor. If the reduction can be operationally supported, the supervisor will submit the voluntary reduction in hours form to be approved by college/division leadership and the AVP, Strategic Operations in Human Resources.

If an institutional reduction in hours program is implemented after an employee is approved for the voluntary reduction in hours program, the institutional program would apply only if the voluntary reduction is less than the institutional reduction. The institutional reduction would be applied in lieu of (not in addition to) the voluntary reduction. The employee would need to work with their supervisor to make any necessary adjustments to related time off.  For example, if an employee voluntarily reduces, or the department reduces his/her schedule by 10%, and the institution does an employee hours reduction of 5%, the end result would be 10%, not 15% reduction.

Employees interested in participating in the program will work with their supervisor to determine a schedule that can support operational needs.

If hours are reduced to less than 75% time, it will impact the University’s benefits contribution, and the employee contribution will be higher. A benefits-eligible position cannot be reduced to less than 50% time and retain the position’s benefits-eligibility status.

Pandemic Pay

The University of Delaware’s COVID-19 Pandemic Pay Protocol outlines temporary pay policies the University has implemented during these extraordinary times. President Assanis, in consultation with campus leadership, has authorized measures including release with pay in appropriate situations to provide for adequate staffing and retention of employees, and to sustain or restore University operations. This includes allowing salaries of employees who cannot work to continue to be charged to existing funding sources, to the extent these funding sources permits such charging.
Information on how some payments should be processed during the COVID-19 Pandemic Pay Protocol is outlined on the payroll website. The protocols have been updated effective June 1, 2020 and include the following:

  • Payments to misc. wage employees and hourly students not working has stopped and is now limited to working employees paid through soft funding.
  • For COVID related leave, employees do not have to submit a leave request form but should notify their supervisor or HR Manager.

Sponsor-Funded Employees

Employing units and Principal Investigators are encouraged to work with the Research Office to determine how sponsored employees will be paid in advance of any University State of Emergency.

Vacation Accrual

Vacation Leave Accrual Limits Suspended through December 31, 2021

Effective July 1, 2020, the vacation accrual limits outlined in the Vacation Accrual and Use Policy have been temporarily suspended through December 31, 2021. Eligible employees will be permitted to carry over vacation leave in excess of the limits outlined in the policy. Any excess vacation leave will not be forfeited until January 1, 2022.

Hiring Freeze

The University of Delaware has enacted a hiring freeze on all current and future searches, academic and non-academic, effective immediately and until further notice as indicated in the notification from Human Resources on April 14, 2020. Exceptions may be appropriate in limited strategic areas, and in support of our principles to support specific critical needs, including safety and academic continuity. Few exceptions will be approved; the hiring freeze is meant to protect the University during uncertain fiscal times by prioritizing support of existing faculty and staff while minimizing new recurring commitments in an effort to reduce/eliminate the need for layoffs and/or furloughs. Note: Soft-funded positions, where full funding derives from external sources and the positions’ continuity are contingent upon availability of external funds are exempt from this process.

Talent share

The Talent Share Program provides a solution to campus staffing gaps by matching up available employees impacted by a reduction in workload due to COVID-19, with other colleges or departments who have staffing needs. It also provides employees an opportunity to develop skills and experience through exposure to other areas of campus. Supervisors and/or HR Managers will provide the Talent Acquisition Team with details of staffing needs, as well as share employees who have capacity to be part of the program. This is a time when employees can showcase their unmatched ability to come together and help support one another. We encourage employees of diverse experience to participate.

As of July 30, over 150 UD employees have SHARED TALENT; across campus. Learn more.