UO Voluntary Summer Work Share Program

Latest News & Updates:

The latest issue of UO Work Share News was emailed on September 15, 2020. Future editions will be distributed as needed based on developing issues or when HR has new information to share.

Please check the web resources often for the latest information and before reaching out to the project team. HR is regularly making updates and changes as the Work Share situation evolves and new information becomes available. Many of your questions will be answered in these resources:

If you are unable to find an answer in the web resources to your question, please email your question or concern to the Work Share project team at workshare@uoregon.edu. It is important to include a scanned copy or a photo of an OED letter or notice related to your question. Having a look at the document will help us more efficiently address your question. Please note that we are experiencing a high volume of emails currently and that we will respond to your inquiry as quickly as we can.

Lost Wages Assistance Program (LWA)

On August 8, 2020, the President made available up to $44 billion from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to provide financial assistance to people who have lost wages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This temporary emergency program gives an additional $300 per week to claimants who certify they were out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic and received at least $1 of unemployment benefits. This is retroactively effective from July 26, 2020 through September 5, 2020, representing up to 6 weeks of payments. LWA will be paid in the same manner as their weekly benefits but as a separate payment (similar to how the $600 CARES Act payments were paid out.) The OED’s goal is to issue these payments before the end of September.
LWA is available to employees who were eligible for benefits (for any week) between July 26 and September 5 under Work Share. UO HR has certified on behalf of all of our Work Share participants already; no action is required by you in order to request or receive these benefits. If you received an email from the Oregon Employment Department about the LWA program and you participated in the Work Share program, you can ignore that email, as UO HR has already certified on your behalf.

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UO Work Share News, claims, OED notices, use of leave, and more

The UO Voluntary Summer Work Share Program is based on an Oregon Employment Department program that presents a unique opportunity for eligible employees, upon approval, to take at least one day off per week over the summer (June 14 – August 15) and receive unemployment insurance payments in addition to their UO pay check. With the additional $600/week in unemployment benefits available until July 25, we estimate that employees who reduce their FTE by 0.2 and make less than $131,000 per year may make more than their current pay over the two month period due to the combination of UO income and unemployment payments. Savings from the program will help offset revenue and expense impacts related to COVID-19 for the University.

The program details are complex. It is important for employees and supervisors to consider the information outlined in the following sections.

Overview     ::     Process     ::     Important Considerations

Program Overview

  • Employee elected, unit approved – Employees, in consultation with their supervisor and unit leadership, volunteer to participate based on their interest and needs. Units authorize participation based on their operational needs.

  • Eligibility requirements – UO program eligibility is based on employment department requirements and institutional needs:
    • Regular schedule must be between 30-40 hours/week.
    • Officers of administration, classified employees, 12-month faculty (including research faculty), regularly scheduled temporary employees.
    • Continuously employed at UO for at least six months.
    • Must qualify for Oregon unemployment insurance benefits (this generally excludes, for example, undergraduate and graduate employees whose employment is based on their student status).
    • Unit approval.
    • Union approval, for represented employees.

Some exclusions apply:

  • Employees who do not have FTE over the two-month program period (9-month employees, employees on leave without pay during the program period, etc.)
  • 9-month faculty who only have course-based, summer FTE over the program period.
  • Tenured faculty on summer salary through grants.
  • Temporary employees who work through a temporary employment agency.
  • Employees on Workers' Compensation.
  • International employees in J-1, H-1B, TN, E-3 and O-1 statuses.
  • Reduced schedule, reduced FTE– Employee’s work schedule is reduced by at least 20% (0.2 FTE) but no more than 40% (0.4 FTE) with pay reduced accordingly. For example, an employee currently working at 1.0 FTE would reduce to 0.8 FTE, and could then only work 32 hours every week. Employees should recoup pay through unemployment insurance. Work duties and expectations are modified to accommodate the reduced schedule.
  • Employee should receive unemployment payments – UO files unemployment claim on behalf of the employee. Oregon Employment Department processes claim, determines payment amount, and issues payment. Until July 25, employees would be eligible for the $600/week additional unemployment benefit provided by the federal CARES Act. For more information on how you can estimate what your Work Share payments will be please visit the frequently asked questions.
  • Summer-based program – program period runs over the summer from June 14 to August 15. Employees will not be able to participate in the Work Share program voluntarily beyond August 15th.
  • Benefits remain the same – health insurance and leave accruals will continue without change.

These are the major highlights of the program. Please review the expectations and considerations section to understand key details of the program.

Program Process

Initiation and administration of the process is a coordinated effort between unit leadership, Human Resources, supervisors, and employees. There are three key stages:

Unit preparation

  • Evaluate needs of the unit or department to assess feasibility of employee participation.
  • Identify projects and work assignments that can be delayed or adjusted to allow for reduced work hours.
  • Set criteria for approval process and document decisions based on supervisory guidance provided by HR.

Employee election

  • Employee consults with supervisor prior to election.
  • Submit online election request form.
    (May 27-June 3)
  • Employee requests provided to units.
    Units review requests according to criteria and operational needs.
  • Units notify HR of approval decision by June 5.

Program Activation

  • HR evaluates eligibility and notifies employee of UO approval decision and next steps.
  • Employee completes required forms and weekly certification information.
  • HR files claim paperwork and submits weekly certification on behalf of employees.
  • Employment Department determines approval of claim and eligibility of employees to participate.
  • Supervisor and employee set work schedule and define reduced duties over program period.
  • Employees and supervisors ensure that employees work a reduced schedule according to their FTE reduction.
  • Employee and supervisor agree to program terms.
  • Reduced work and schedule begins on June 14.

Expectations and Considerations

About the program:

In order to participate in the state program, the university must submit a formal application to the Oregon Employment Department and obtain agreement from employee unions for represented employees to participate.

About reduced schedules and modified duties:

  • Time off equivalent to the FTE/hours reduction may be taken as full days or combination of half days. For 1.0 FTE employees who are taking a 20% FTE reduction, this would be an equivalent of one day off per week. The specific schedule will be developed at the unit-level based on the needs of the department’s operations and the employee. 
  • Employees may request the use and approval of accrued leave from their supervisor while on the Work Share program. Currently, the Oregon Employment Department deems employees who take leave to be ineligible to receive unemployment benefits (including the $600 federal payment) for that week. However, UO is currently working with the Oregon Employment Department to obtain the flexibility for employees to take leave without impacting their unemployment benefits eligibility. While this has not been finalized, UO has received indication that the Employment Department is willing to work with us on this issue and we are optimistic that we will be granted this additional flexibility. As more information becomes available, we will update this FAQ and communicate directly with Work Share participants.
  • The program is intended to run over the summer from June 14 to August 15. Employees will not be able to participate in the Work Share program voluntarily beyond August 15th.
  • Employee hours and performance expectations will reflect the reduced work availability and modified duties as agreed upon by the employee and the supervisor. Whether an employee participates in the program or not, their decision will have no impact on their employment at the university.
    Supervisors, please refer to the unit guidance webpage for more information.
  • Employees, including exempt/salaried employees, may not work more than their agreed upon reduced FTE, or work hours, each week or their eligibility for unemployment benefits may be impacted. For example, an employee currently working at 1.0 FTE would reduce to 0.8 FTE, and could then only work 32 hours every week. Any hours worked over the reduced FTE amount per week must immediately be reported to Human Resources. Sick and vacation leave taken during the program should also be reported to HR and the university will work with the employee to ensure this does not impact Work Share eligibility.
  • Units and supervisors are encouraged to be flexible and make concerted efforts to work with interested employees and identify opportunities to utilize the program to the extent operations allow.

About unemployment through Work Share:

  • The university (Human Resources) manages and files the unemployment claim on behalf of employees approved for the program. Employees must complete required forms and weekly certification.
  • The Employment Department reviews the claim, determines allowable benefits, and manages the distribution of payments:
    • Claims are reviewed according to standard processes, unemployment rules, and current timelines.
    • The Employment Department determines payment amounts and pays employees directly.
    • The university cannot guarantee the amount of individual unemployment payments and is unable to intervene on an employee’s behalf regarding their individual claim.  However, based on the institution’s understanding of the unemployment benefits available, it appears that many employees may actually see their total compensation increase while on the Work Share program due to the extra $600 per week federal benefit that is available until July 25.
  • Employees receive the unemployment benefits payments directly from the state. Due to unemployment claims volume and the processing of the university’s Work Share application, there will be a lag between the time the employee begins working a reduced schedule at reduced pay and receiving their first unemployment benefits payment from the State of Oregon. It could be 6 weeks or more until the employee receives an unemployment payment. The university is offering a Work Share Payroll Advance for employees while they wait for their unemployment benefits to begin.
  • Employees are responsible for providing additional information to units and/or Human Resources as needed to participate in the program.

About future action:

  • Employees will be returned to their full FTE at the end of the program period.
  • Units may still need to take non-voluntary actions due to budget issues, such as mandatory Work Share/FTE reduction programs, separate from this employee-elected summer Work Share program.
  • This program does not preclude institutional need for future actions to achieve longer-term savings, such as pay reduction programs or other FTE or job reduction situations.

Additional Resources