EKU will furlough some employees, move to 4-day workweek

Published: Apr. 27, 2020 at 10:37 AM EDT
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Like many educational institutions and private businesses, EKU is experiencing several unavoidable operational disruptions on many levels due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Critical steps to address the virus to this point include:

• Extending Spring Break to prepare course work for remote instruction

• Moving to a 100% remote instruction model

• Closing the EKU campus to the general public

• Restricting on-campus housing to only those students with a demonstrated and expressed need

• Encouraging work from home for employees who can complete their duties remotely

• Practicing social distancing and hygiene measures on campus

• Increasing the level of cleaning and sanitation practices

• Forming COVID-19 workgroups to address specific area concerns and raise awareness

Beginning on Monday, May 11, 2020, and continuing through Friday, August 7, 2020, EKU will observe a revised summer work schedule.

The University will operate on a four-day workweek. By modifying our work schedule, we hope to realize cost savings and energy savings. However, we also see an opportunity to practice sanitation and social distancing measures that will help keep us healthy and well. More information about the revised summer schedule is available on the Human Resources website.

These measures have been implemented to ensure the safety of our students, faculty, and staff with a focus on maintaining campus efficiencies. We are doing our best to mitigate the spread of the virus. However, the operational disruption of COVID-19 carries a financial impact that affects our entire campus community. Housing and dining credits together with reduced revenue from multiple areas, including a decline in enrollment this year, have a significant impact on the University’s short-term financial position. To balance the FY 2020 budget we are facing unexpected expenses totaling more than $7 million.

Because of the COVID-19 impact to date and to continue focusing on the core University mission, further measures must be implemented to offset unexpected expenses and revenue decreases. We will fully utilize federal CARES stimulus dollars earmarked for institutional expenses and position vacancies to offset a portion of the cost to the University. Unfortunately, our limitations of certain services and restricted activities will require furloughs of some employees to help realize a balanced budget for FY 2020.

Approximately 60 positions have been identified for short-term furloughs from May 1 to August 1. Affected jobs have been reviewed by University executive leadership. They have been identified based on budgetary considerations, reduced operations, the campus closure to the general public, and limitations based upon mandates for responsible social distancing. All impacted employees will be eligible for enhanced unemployment benefits, and will have the option to maintain their health insurance and ongoing tuition benefits during the furlough period. Notifications of furlough to affected employees will take place April 27, 2020. Understanding that the immediate impact on our colleagues and peers is difficult, I have directed EKU's Department of Human Resources to prepare a group application for unemployment benefits and assist employees with the transition.

The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have disrupted our spring semester and will continue into the summer. Fortunately, to date, we have not experienced a loss of life in our Eastern family as a result of the pandemic. However, we are experiencing losses in other very impactful ways. We will work under the guidance of our local, state and federal leaders, to reopen our campus as soon as it is determined we can do so safely. We will face many unknown hurdles that may require additional measures. Still, we will meet them boldly and take actions to preserve the student experience and maintain EKU’s position as Kentucky’s University. Our students, faculty, staff, community, and state depend on it. And, they deserve nothing less than our best efforts to position EKU positively as we navigate this crisis. We will take the necessary steps to ensure EKU fulfills its financial obligations and remains true to its mission of providing an outstanding education to Kentuckians and anyone seeking to find their next great opportunity.