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April 29, 2020

UMass Medical School planning 100 furloughs, implementing austerity measures

Photo | Grant Welker UMass Medical School in Worcester

UMass Medical School in Worcester is expected to furlough as many as 100 employees for possibly up to six months, leadership announced in a memo on Wednesday.

The affected staff members will be notified of their furloughs by the end of the week, and the furloughs themselves are set to begin on Monday, according to Sarah Willey, the school's senior external communications producer. The furloughs will not exceed six months and medical insurance benefits for furloughed employees will be maintained for the duration of their furlough, according to the memo.

The school has about 6,000 employees and faculty members, according to a survey it sent to WBJ's Research Department in 2019.

The school is taking strict austerity measures intended to limit spending in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a separate internal memo sent to staff on April 21.

The measures include instituting a hiring freeze and requiring employees to use accrued vacation time for hours they are unable to work. According to the memo, salaried employees who earn $100,000 a year or more will also be required to use at least eight hours of vacation time per week between May 3 and June 2020, totaling 56 hours a person.

Those who do not have eight hours of vacation, personal or compensatory time will have to use additional vacation time immediately after it is accrued, according to the memo.

At the same time, the school will freeze all discretionary spending, including on things like conferences, furniture, consultants and food.

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