October 1, 2020
Executive VP for Finance & Administration Barbara Chernow
Tags Faculty and Staff

To Brown Faculty and Staff: Brown Staff Voluntary WorkShare Program


Brown Staff Voluntary WorkShare Program

Over the past several months, Brown has worked to sustain employment for regular faculty and staff as part of a commitment to keep our community intact as much as possible during the global public health crisis. We have shifted operations, expanded opportunities for faculty and staff to work remotely whenever possible, and helped facilitate temporary work assignments to match offices with extra staff capacity with those that have needs. As part of these efforts, we are announcing a new program for eligible staff who would welcome additional flexibility in their work schedules to meet the ongoing demands of both home and work through the end of this semester.

The Staff Voluntary WorkShare Program (SVWP) will allow staff to apply to participate in a voluntary, partially paid furlough for one or two days per week over a duration of seven weeks beginning on November 1, 2020, and ending on December 19, 2020. This program creates cost savings through the reduction of total salary expenditures and payroll costs to the University while also giving eligible staff the opportunity to be partially compensated for taking time out of their work week for personal time to address life priorities. This opportunity comes from a unique WorkShare program offered by the State of Rhode Island that provides supplemental pay for reduced hours worked.

Brown is offering this program to staff who are working remotely or designated as “limited,” and who meet the criteria outlined in the paragraphs below. Eligible staff who elect to participate in this program will retain their active full-time employment status and continue to access their Brown enrolled benefits. Participation will be approved by a staff member’s manager in consultation with the department head, and consistent furlough days (the same one or two days every week) will be set by the staff member’s department based on operational needs and business continuity for the University. Staff cannot work on the approved furlough days.


This program will be available to Brown staff members who meet all of the following criteria:
-- Active non-union staff member of grade 13 or below, or authorized union staff;
-- Hold a regular position (not seasonal, temporary, grant-funded, contract or fixed-term), with a full time equivalent of 100%;
-- Have an essential designation of “remote” or “essential-limited” (see the University Human Resources FAQ for more information about designations, https://www.brown.edu/about/administration/human-resources/healthy-brown-workforce/frequently-asked-questions);
-- Is eligible for Rhode Island unemployment benefits; and
-- Actively being paid (e.g., the employee is not currently on unpaid leave).

Staff approved to participate in the Staff Voluntary WorkShare Program will apply for unemployment insurance via the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training to supplement their Brown-funded pay during the furlough period. Brown will reinstate participating employees to their regular schedules after the seven-week period that ends December 19, 2020. An employee’s elected benefits will continue during participation in the voluntary WorkShare program, and employee contributions toward the staff member’s benefit enrollment will continue at their current contribution rate, which is based on an employee’s full-time equivalent salary. Retirement contributions will continue to be based on actual pay received as a Brown employee (this does not include the state unemployment insurance).

Staff who meet the eligibility criteria above will receive a communication informing them directly of their opportunity to participate in this program, as well as instructions for participation. Requests from eligible staff to participate must then be submitted by October 14, 2020.

The University reserves the right to decline any employee's application based on Brown’s staffing and business needs. Approved reduction in schedules will begin on November 1, 2020.

The RI Department of Labor guidelines require a minimum level of participation for Brown to facilitate the program, so it is important that staff who are eligible and interested in participating submit their requests by the deadline to ensure implementation of the program.

For more information about the SVWP, visit: https://www.brown.edu/about/administration/human-resources/staff-voluntary-WorkShare-program.

We are pleased to offer this program, and hope that eligible staff welcome the opportunity for work flexibility that it may allow.

Barbara Chernow
Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration