UPDATE: WVU to furlough nearly 900 workers

Published: Apr. 24, 2020 at 9:46 AM EDT
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UPDATE: 5/8/20 1:30 P.M.

West Virginia University announced plans Friday to temporarily furlough 875 employees as part of cost-saving efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials said they expected the furloughs to save the university about $4 million.

A temporary furlough is defined as a temporary reduction in force with an expectation of returning to work.

WVU suspended in-person classes and transitioned most employees to alternative work arrangements in mid-March to protect the health and well-being of students, faculty and staff,

The restrictions to on-campus operations have resulted in the loss of several revenue streams, the school said.

“Throughout the past several weeks, the university has implemented several measures to prioritize funding to satisfy our financial obligations while also considering the ongoing needs of our students, faculty and staff,” said Rob Alsop, vice president for strategic initiatives. “However, after a careful financial review, we made the difficult decision to move forward with a temporary furlough program.”

The furloughs follow a recent announcement that President Gordon Gee and other senior administrators would reduce their salaries or make a comparable charitable contribution to the university in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, the university said that more than $500,000 raised through the WVU Foundation’s #GivingTuesdayNow fundraising event earlier this week will benefit the Gray Student Emergency Fund, which provides emergency financial aid and unrestricted scholarship support to students experiencing a sudden financial hardship.

All employees identified for temporary furlough were notified on Friday morning. The furlough will be effective on May 24, and affected employees will return to work on either June 28 or July 26, depending on operational needs, the university said.

Those who are on furlough will continue to receive employee benefits.

Annual leave, sick leave and CTO balances will be frozen until employees on furlough return to work, and the furlough does not affect leave conversion rights for retiree health-insurance premiums.

West Virginia University is considering furloughing some staff members because of financial losses from the coronavirus pandemic.

WVU Vice President Rob Alsop on Thursday said the college could lose between $30 million and $40 million by the end of the fiscal year because of the virus.

The potential furlough would start on May 28 and could last until June 28 or July 26 depending on summer course enrollment and possible federal relief.

College faculty, staff members scheduled to teach a class during the furlough period, student employees and federal work-study or graduate- student assistants are not being considered for the furlough.

Employees would be notified by May 8 if the college moves ahead with any furloughs.