June 2020

June 3 Meeting Recording and Follow-Up

Thank you to Carol Kissal, senior vice president, Finance and Administration, who joined the Staff Senate on June 3, to discuss planning strategies for fall 2020.  The recorded session is available for review. Below you will find answers to additional questions not addressed during the session. Thank you to René Stewart O’Neal, associate vice president for Strategic Planning & Budgeting, and Lester Arnold, vice president, Human Resources and Payroll, for addressing answers to the following questions:

Q:  If Mason decides to furlough any staff, how much notice would we have? ­
A: Policy Number: 1.65 – Temporary Workforce Reduction (TWFR) obligates Human Resources and Payroll to give a two week notice to employees if any reductions are put in place.  The impact of TWFR on benefits is also addressed within this policy. 

Q:  When would possible furloughs/salary reductions be implemented?­
A:  If any salary adjustments need to be made, they would be implemented in the fall.

Q:  Will household income be addressed before salary adjustments are made?
A:  A clear direction is not in place to examine this, but this is something Human Resources and Payroll is considering. 

Q: If any jobs have to be cut/furloughed for any length, would Mason allow an employee to transfer to a vacant position, pending they are qualified?
A:  Human Resources and Payroll will be releasing information this week regarding an initiative that will help match talent to assignments within the university allowing employees to remain employed, engaged, and compensated while adding value to the university.

Q:  If we do furlough, can we use our leave, and at what rate is our leave paid out? Can we cash out leave in anticipation of the cuts?
A:  Depending on the revenue shortfall,  these benefits may not be available depending on their financial impact on the university.

Q:  How many days is the university considering to furlough employees? 1 day? 4 days?
A:  The university is looking at a 6 month time frame with an example of one day per pay period.  There may need to be an extension or reason to pivot.   

Q:  How does reducing pay impact pension pay for those getting close to retirement?
A:  This would depend on the approach which has not been finalized.  The university is trying to avoid long-term impact. Pausing and/or reducing the matching of retirement would have long-term impact which we want to avoid.  

Q:  When should we (individual units) receive our budgets for FY21?­
A:  Delivery will be after the July Board of Visitors meeting.  Microstrategy will show a budget on July 1, but we anticipate there will be changes. 

Q:  What is the projected percentage cuts based on pay? When will that number be finalized? 
A:  Human Resources and Payroll is not in a position to know at this point in time.  We will know when we have a better understanding of the target. To protect our lowest income workers we are looking at a tiered structure for salary reductions.  

Q:  As a supervisor should we be preparing for a 6ft or 10ft space recommendation?
A:  Consider a 6ft distance. Originally, during the space assessment process of all classrooms, event space, and multi-use space a 10ft guideline was considered, but the direction is moving toward a 6ft distance.

Q:  What are the considerations for HVAC and ventilation, particularly for offices without windows?
A:  According to David Farris, executive director, Environmental Health and Safety, the university is  looking at our building HVAC systems as well as the research on this potential source of exposure. This conversation/assessment is ongoing and we have not determined that any modifications need to be made or identified any problem areas yet.  This may change as we continue our assessment of campus and planning.

Q:  What are the thoughts about maintaining distance in cube farms and open plan office areas?­
A:  Plexiglass barriers are being considered, a suggestion has been made for supervisors to fill “every other” cubicle, and operate on rotating shifts, where employees would alternate who in on-site and who is working from home.  

Q: What will be the mask policy and how will it be enforced? ­
A: Signage, on-site and on our website, will indicate that a mask must be worn to enter a room/building on our campuses.
Masks will be supplied to faculty, staff, and students. If anyone refuses to wear a mask, it will be a violation against the the code of conduct.  Revisions are currently being made to Mason’s code of conduct to support a mask policy.  Before returning to campus, everyone will be required to take safety training. 

Q:  When Mason opens, will there be a mandate for classified staff to return on-site?
A:  The Office of Risk Management and Human Resources and Payroll are working together to establish what it means to be “high risk”.  Considerations are being made based on underlying health conditions, age, someone in your home has a health condition, or someone in your home is a healthcare worker. Human Resources and Payroll is also encouraging supervisors to support employees working from home and remain flexible and understanding about continued telework opportunities.