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Division of Human Resources

FAQ for Voluntary Furloughs

A voluntary furlough is a cost saving measure in which employees voluntarily take unpaid leave but ensure continuity of benefits for a specific period of time.  Qualified employees may request unpaid leave through a voluntary furlough as an alternative to using accrued paid leave.


General Information

A voluntary furlough is a temporary, unpaid leave of absence that is requested by the employee and approved by the employer. The employee remains an employee and continues to receive benefits while taking an unpaid leave of absence.

No.  A furlough is an unpaid leave of absence, but does not constitute a break in service.

All employees in FTE, Research Grant, and Time-Limited positions, as well as employees in exempt temporary staff positions are eligible to request a voluntary furlough.

Personnel with an H1B visa status, hourly employees (non-exempt temporary employees) and student employees are not eligible for voluntary furloughs.

Certain federal and other external funds may be restricted by a voluntary furlough. It is up to the department to research these limitations for anyone requesting a voluntary furlough to determine if federal or other external funds are restricted.

No. When employees are taking furlough days, it is important that they do no work, whether paid or voluntary. While on furlough, employees are not to perform regular work duties and should not be responding to work emails, accessing systems, or otherwise performing work for the university.

No.  There are no salary requirements for participation in the voluntary furlough program.

Voluntary furlough should never put the unit in a hardship due to staff absence.  The department has authority to approve or deny requests as appropriate to ensure office coverage and workload coverage.


Paychecks and Benefits

Yes.  Employees who earn leave will continue to earn leave at their regular rate while on furlough.

During the furlough period, employees are entitled to participate in the same state benefits as otherwise available to them with the exception of receiving their salary. 

For benefits which require employer and employee contributions, the university will be responsible for making both employer and employee contributions if coverage would otherwise be interrupted.

For benefits for which there is only an employee contribution, such as vision or optional life insurance, the employee is responsible for making all premium payments.

An employee’s state hire date, continuous service date, and performance review date will not be adjusted due to the furlough.

Salary reductions will be applied to the paycheck at the time that the voluntary furlough day(s) are taken.

Employees can model their new paycheck through Employee Self Service using the Paycheck Modeler.

Please note that the Paycheck Modeler works only when an employee is within their pay basis.  Nine month employees will be able to utilize the modeler after they return to an active pay basis on August 16.

The reduction in salary also applies to ongoing  salary adjustments outside of base pay, including administrative salary adjustments, special assignment pay, and temporary salary adjustments.

The furlough applies only to the primary job. It does not impact salary payments relating to internal dual employment.  For example, an employee teaching a section of University 101 through dual employment will receive full payment for the University 101 section.

Any other adjustments to an employee’s salary during the furlough period will be calculated based on the employee's true base salary rather than the furlough adjusted salary. 

No, the employee’s furloughed base salary will not show in Job Data in HCM.  When HR Contacts are reviewing that data in HCM, they will continue to see the employee’s normal base salary in the Compensation Rate field. The percentage reduction for the mandatory furlough occurs on the back-end directly on pay lines and earnings codes.

 If a change in pay (increase or decrease) needs to be implemented, the salary to be entered in the Job Change eForm should be the amount of the  increase or decrease as applied to the true base that appears in Job Data.

An employee may be eligible for weekly unemployment compensation if during a particular week the employee earns less than their maximum weekly unemployment benefit amount.

The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce is solely responsible for determining an employee’s eligibility.  All employees have the option to file for unemployment using the MyBenefits portal or calling 1-866-831-1724. 

Employee's may access SCDEW's website for further information about the unemployment filing process and additional links as it relates to COVID-19 unemployment resources.


Furlough Days

An employee may request up to 90 voluntary furlough days in a fiscal year.

No.  Furlough days are unpaid leave and may not be taken on any university holiday.

No.  Employees cannot use sick leave or annual leave to offset a furlough day.

Non-exempt employees may take voluntary furlough days in one day increments.

Exempt employees must take their voluntary furlough days in five day increments during the same work week. Exempt employees may not take voluntary furlough days during any week which includes a university holiday.

All furlough days must be taken during the current fiscal year and while the employee is in a pay status.  For example, 9-month employees must take their furlough days between August 16, 2020 and May 15, 2021.

Employees must schedule furlough days in consultation with their department.


Voluntary furlough days must be reported through the Time and Absence System using the "FURLOUGH-VOL  UNPAID FURLOUGH HOURS, VOLUNTARY“ code.

No. Employees who are subject to the mandatory furlough must take all of their mandatory furlough days before they are eligible to participate in the voluntary furlough.



To request a voluntary furlough, an employee must submit a Voluntary Furlough Agreement request to their supervisor or manager.

Yes.  The decision to approve a request for voluntary furlough is at the discretion of the department.  A department may choose to deny a request for voluntary furlough for any reason, including the need for coverage of job duties and the impact the furlough would have on other employees.

The decision of the department to deny a request is final and cannot be grieved or appealed.

Departments must use their discretion in these cases.  Voluntary furlough is meant to be taken as an alternative to paid leave and should have the effect of providing cost savings to the unit.  If the requesting employee would otherwise be on leave without pay, then a voluntary furlough does not meet the intent of the program.  If the requesting employee would otherwise be working and therefore earning salary payments, the request for voluntary furlough would meet the program goals.

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