Kaleida Health Offering Voluntary Furlough Program

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Kaleida Health Offering Voluntary Furlough Program

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and related financial challenges that it is facing, Kaleida Health is offering a temporary voluntary furlough program for its staff.

It is one of several measures that has been implemented to help protect the long-term health of the organization amid significant financial losses as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

A furlough is a temporary unpaid leave. Furloughed individuals are not being terminated from their employment and will remain Kaleida Health employees.

The primary voluntary furlough program is part of a joint agreement with 1199SEIU and CWA1168, which represent over 8,000 Kaleida Health employees.

It is targeted for the areas across the organization that have been impacted by the coronavirus crisis (elimination of elective surgeries, clinic reductions, etc.). It does not include COVID-19 areas or our long-term care services.

Upper Allegheny Health System will be announcing details for their furlough program as will the VNA of Western New York & CWA1122.

Non-union employees are eligible for the furlough program as well.

Here’s how it will work:

  • The furlough period is for two pay periods, beginning Sunday, April 26, 2020 through Saturday, May 23, 2020.
  • For furloughed employees, health insurance, dental and life insurance coverage will continue. Employee contributions for benefit programs as well as any voluntary benefits (FSA, supplemental life, AD&D, etc.) which are deducted from the employee’s paycheck, will be recouped over the first four pay cycles upon employee’s return.
  • Employees may file for unemployment benefits during the furlough. New York State has waived the usual one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance benefits, so employees may submit their claim right away. If someone qualifies for State unemployment, they would automatically qualify for Federal as well.
  • Election will be done by site, designated units/department, by job title and seniority.
  • Employees who are interested in the program should notify their manager immediately. See acknowledgement form and Memorandum of Understanding attached for more information.
  • Given the uncertainty of the current situation and potential for patient volume or census to increase during this furlough period, employees may be called back with 24-hours notice.

For more information, employees can call their site Human Resources Department, manager or ask their union steward for assistance.

Like other healthcare organizations across Western New York, New York State and the entire country, the pandemic has significantly impacted our bottom line.

While Kaleida Health has suspended elective procedures, closed ambulatory surgery centers, and reduced ambulatory capacity, the organization has spent more than $15 million so far on personal protective equipment (PPE), equipment, supplies, staffing up and preparing for a surge.

This lost revenue and increased spending could equate to upwards of a loss of $30 million a month.

To reduce costs without impacting frontline staff and our clinical teams, we have taken steps to eliminate non-essential spending, delay non-COVID related capital projects (IT, construction, routine repairs/replacements, etc.), downsize and float staff, and delay contracted/temporary staff. As another step in cost reduction measures, last week Kaleida Health announced salary reductions for its 340+ managers.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently began distributing the first $30 billion of emergency funding designated for hospitals in the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.” However, New York State hospitals have gotten far less than hospitals in other states. Kaleida Health received $18 million, which is clearly not enough to cover the mounting losses. 

As we move forward, this cost-cutting and efficiency plan will be fluid. Kaleida Health and the two unions will re-evaluate the furlough program as the coronavirus curve flattens and the State removes the PAUSE order in the coming weeks.


Temporary Voluntary Furlough Program

This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is entered into between Kaleida Health (“Employer”) and the Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO (“CWA”), Service Employees International Union/1199 United Healthcare Workers East (“SEIU”), hereinafter referred to “Unions”.

 The parties are committed to working together to focus all efforts and resources to provide a safe work environment for all employees for the care and treatment of patients during this unprecedented time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of this commitment was the recognition that there existed a National, State, and local states of emergency which directly impact the Employer’s delivery of services.

One of the implications of the declared state of emergency is the significant impact on the Employer’s operations through the reduction and/or suspension of certain procedures and services.

In furtherance of the mutual commitments contained in this MOU, the parties have now agreed to implement a Temporary Voluntary Furlough Program under the following terms and conditions:

  1. The Employer will designate the units and departments of a particular site or location that will be eligible for the temporary furlough program. It is understood that each designation will take into consideration the specific operations of a particular location and the services provided at each such location. Each designation will identify the number of FTE by job title and shift eligible for selection as defined herein.
  • Employees (Full or Part time) assigned to the designated unit or department (home unit) will by job title and seniority be eligible to volunteer to participate in the Temporary Furlough Program. Once the pre-designated number of FTE is achieved through the voluntary election process, no additional employees from the designated unit or department will be eligible.
  • Eligible employees who volunteer and are selected for this program will be on an unpaid furlough commencing on Sunday April 26, 2020 through Saturday May 23, 2020. Employees in the program will be furloughed through two consecutive pay periods and will be returned to work commencing with the pay period on Sunday May 24, 2020, at which time this MOU will expire. Any employee who volunteers for this furlough program will be required to complete an Acknowledgement Form agreeing to the terms of their respective furlough and providing current contact information. (A copy of the required Acknowledgement Form is attached to this MOU)
  • Given the uncertainty of the current situation and the potential for patient volume or census to increase during the furlough period, the Employer expressly reserves the right to call back any furloughed employee with a minimum of a twenty-four (24) hour notice. Upon such notification, the individual employee must return to work and the furlough period for that employee will be deemed terminated. Should the Employer exercise the right of recall during the furlough period for a particular unit or department, the order of call back will be by seniority. If the Employer is not able to make contact with a furloughed employee after one attempt, the Employer will continue down the seniority list until the appropriate number of employees have been recalled. It is the furloughed employee’s obligation to make sure the contact information is accurate.
  • During the furlough period described above, the Employee will continue to be covered on the same cost share basis, under the Medical, Dental and Life Insurance programs that existed prior to entry into the furlough program. The employee mandated contributions for these benefit programs as well as any voluntary benefits (for example; fsa, supplemental life, AD&D, etc.) which are deducted from the employee’s paycheck, will be recouped by the Employer through  payroll deductions over the first four pay cycles upon the employee’s return. Employees participating in the temporary furlough program will have access to Kaleidascope for the limited purpose of monitoring and bidding on internal job postings and to stay informed of any COVID-19 updates provided by the Employer. In addition, these employees will also be eligible to continue participation in the contractual Tuition Assistance Program.
  • Employees on a designated furlough will not accrue paid time off (PTO) or extended sick bank (ESB) but will continue to accrue seniority. For New York State Unemployment purposes, the Employer will confirm that the furlough program was established due to the reduction of and/or lack of available work for the furloughed employees.
  • Consistent with the commitments made in this MOU, the parties agree to have open discussions about the need to continue and/or modify the Temporary Furlough Program based on the status of the state of emergency and issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and the needs of the individual sites and programs.
  • The Temporary Voluntary Furlough Program established by this MOU does not establish any precedent and was developed to address the unique circumstances recognized during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Attached hereto and made a part of this MOU is the listing of the units and departments by location, job title, shift, and the number of FTE eligible for participation in the furlough program.

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