Voluntary Furlough FAQ & Resources

  • As this pandemic has unfolded, we now have a better picture of our short-term and long-term budget realities. We need to be honest with our community that Parkway and all school districts are not immune to the economic impact of COVID-19. As you know, we have already reduced our budget for 2020-21. This includes a 10 percent reduction to all department and school budgets, restrictions on travel, conferences and more. At the same time, we have seen increased costs to provide digital learning for our students including technology, devices, Wi-Fi hotspots and digital curriculum resources. The supplies needed to ensure the safe return of our students and staff are costly including personal protective equipment, masks, cleaning and disinfecting supplies, hand sanitizer, signage and plexiglass.

    Historically, we know when there is an economic downturn, Parkway is significantly impacted. The long term effects will be felt in our largest source of revenue - our local property taxes. The immediate impact may be less new construction and growth leading to reductions in commercial property tax. However, the longer-term impact will be in the possible closing of businesses with empty storefronts and the potential decreased need for business office space. This impact is yet to be determined, but cannot be ignored as a possible outcome. We must plan ahead and make fiscally responsible decisions for our students, staff, taxpayers and community. Our first priority is to ensure high-quality learning experiences are guaranteed for current and future Parkway students.

    Only specific positions are eligible to request a voluntary furlough. You will be notified if your position qualifies to request furlough. Employees that would be eligible to request the voluntary furlough include, but are not limited to, bus drivers, food service, custodians, secretaries and operations staff who cannot complete their full job responsibilities because students are not attending school in-person and they cannot perform job duties remotely.

    Voluntary Furlough Frequently Asked Questions

    What is a voluntary furlough?

    A furlough is a temporary leave of absence for employees due to the special needs of a company or employer, which may be due to the economic conditions of a specific employer or in society as a whole. These voluntary furloughs may be short or long term.  Rather than permanently separating employees from an employer, this personnel action places employees in temporary non‐duty and non‐pay status. A voluntary furlough is when employees have the option to take a temporary leave of absence.

    When would the voluntary furlough begin and what is the length of the voluntary furlough?

    The voluntary furlough will begin on August 30, 2020.  You will be recalled the week starting October 18, 2020. If we are able to return to school in-person by October 18, 2020 the furlough will not be extended and staff will return to their positions and responsibilities. If we need to continue in a virtual learning environment this fall or winter, we may need to take further action to extend or alter the furlough. In the event the district decides to return to in-person instruction prior to October 18, 2020 you will be recalled from furlough.

    How does the district decide who will be offered voluntary furlough and why?

    The district will consider the needs of the students, school and district when making these decisions. Parkway will exercise equity and transparency when making determinations regarding employment.

    Can I take another job while on a voluntary furlough?

    Yes, furloughed employees can look for other employment. If you do secure other employment, you must report those gross earnings on your weekly unemployment claim. 

    Am I allowed to do any work for the district while on a voluntary furlough?

    No, furloughed employees are not permitted to perform unpaid work or to work during unauthorized periods for the district.

    If I don’t choose the voluntary furlough option by the deadline, can I change my mind and choose it at a later date?

    No.

    If I choose the voluntary furlough, can I decide to come back early, prior to the current October 17, 2020 end date?

    No, unless the district requests an early end to the voluntary furlough period.

    Am I eligible for unemployment benefits while on a voluntary furlough?

    Yes, furloughed employees are eligible for unemployment benefits.

    How do I move forward with a voluntary Furlough?

    • Sign and return the Voluntary Furlough Offer form and the Voluntary Acceptance Form.
    • Parkway School District will provide the Division of Employment Security information to file your new claim effective the Sunday after the last day you worked, August 30, 2020. This eliminates the need for you to call or go online to file your initial unemployment claim. You will still need to file your weekly request for payment every Sunday. The quickest way to receive payment is by direct deposit. 

    Weekly requests for payment can be filed by: 

    How long will it take for a claims payment to be made?  What is the fastest way to get paid?

    Department of Labor Answer: Typically, you would be requesting payments for 2-3 weeks during the protest period before receiving any payments and then we back pay you for those weeks if you are eligible. The quickest way to receive payment is by direct deposit. Typically, after we process a payment to you (as viewed online), you will see the payment in your account within a day or two depending on how long your bank holds funds.

    Please note: Parkway does not have a connection with the unemployment office. An employee that goes on a voluntary furlough with unemployment benefits will need to deal with the unemployment office directly. Parkway will not be able to answer any questions regarding the status of your unemployment claim.  Please call the unemployment office at 314-340-4950 with questions.

    Will I retain my health and retirement benefits?

    Health Benefits: For those currently eligible, your employer paid benefits will continue without interruption during this voluntary furlough. This includes health, dental, vision, LTD and life insurance paid for by the district for you as an employee. You would still be responsible for paying any DEPENDENT PREMIUMS if you have any family members covered, as well as the premium portion normally billed for yourself if you are on the premium plan. If you want to change health plans to a lower cost option, that can be done within 30 calendar days of your last check (October 11,2020) by contacting the benefit department at 314-415-8058 or tmorris@parkwayschools.net. Life and LTD will be provided for up to 90 days by the district.  If the life and LTD provider extends the 90 day limit, the district will re-evaluate life and LTD coverage at that time.

    Retirement Benefits: service time will not be counted during furlough and Parkway will not make any financial contributions. However, employees with medical, dental and/or vision coverage will have to pay PSRS/PEERS contributions on the employee benefits they receive, which will cost $51.12 a month. 

    What will happen to my accrued time (vacation, sick, comp, and/or personal time) if I go on a voluntary furlough? Your accrued time will freeze and not change. You will not accrue any additional time, nor will you be paid out any time. When you return to your position after the voluntary furlough ends, you will start accruing per usual. Deadlines for using vacation carry-over time, comp time and personal days will remain the same and will not be extended.

    If an employee who decides to go on a voluntary furlough had previously scheduled vacation, personal or sick leave, what happens to the scheduled leave?  

    Upon voluntary furlough, all scheduled leave is canceled (vacation leave, sick leave, personal and/or other).  Absences during the voluntary furlough may not be charged to leave.

    As a furloughed employee, can my child continue to attend school in Parkway?

    Yes.

    Will I be allowed to keep my district technology?

    No. Please ensure you have updated your personal information, including personal email, utilizing the Employee Self Service (ESS) system. Here is a link for instructions on how to utilize ESS.

    Will my district email be turned off?

    You will not be able to utilize your Parkway Gmail account while on furlough.

    Will I be able to access my building while I am on furlough?

    No, your proximity card will be deactivated while on furlough.

    Resources

    Are there any resources available to help me deal with the impact of a furlough?

    Yes, our goal is to support you throughout this process.

    • Parkway has an excellent Employee Assistance Program (EAP) with an extensive array of counseling and coaching services to help you in a variety of ways. This is available to ALL Parkway employees and family members, regardless of if you are eligible for benefits or not. This program is anonymous and your information will be kept confidential by our EAP provider.

    To book an appointment or get other information about our EAP, go to https://www.paseap.com.  To register use organization code 0526 or call 800-356-0845 or download the wayForward app and use employer code Parkway SD

    • https://www.211.org  Essential assistance needs for your local area.  This includes food assistance, and utilities assistance. 
    • Student Loans: Set interest rates to zero and suspended payments through September 30,2020. Visit https://www.ed.gov/ to learn more
    • Mortgages: Foreclosures may be suspended, late fees waived, and delayed payments for your mortgage.
      • Including loans held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and those backed by FHA, VSA, and USDA programs.

    Rent/Mortgage Assistance

    Utility Assistance

    Low-Cost Mental Health Resources: 

    •     Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255
    •     Provident Behavioral Health: 314-647-4357
    •     Behavioral Health Response: 314-469-6644

    St. Louis Area Emergency Resources:

    https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/health/communicable-disease/covid-19/economic-recovery/emergency-resource-guide.cfm

    St. Louis Area Food Pantries:

    https://www.foodpantries.org/ci/mo-st_louis