Inside Iowa State

Inside Archives

Submit news

Send news for Inside to, or call (515) 294-7065. See publication dates, deadlines.

About Inside

Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Jan. 16, 2009

Voluntary options for employees

by Paula Van Brocklin

In response to Gov. Culver's mandate for a 1.5 percent reduction in the university's FY09 budget, Iowa State implemented a voluntary employee participation program to help reduce university expenses. Components of this program include voluntary unpaid time off (furloughs or leave without pay), contributions through the ISU Foundation and suggestions for budget cuts.

Following is a brief Q&A about the program and its impact on employees who choose to participate in it. For more details, go to

How does taking voluntary unpaid time off help the university?

When an employee takes unpaid time off, savings are generated through reduced gross salary and decreased employer contributions for retirement, FICA and Medicare. These savings will be applied directly to the employee's department budget reduction target.

Is voluntary unpaid time off required?


Who can take voluntary unpaid time off?

All faculty and P&S employees may volunteer for unpaid time off (furloughs). All non-organized merit and non-probationary AFSME employees are eligible for voluntary leave without pay (LWOP). Merit employees should refer to merit rules, collective bargaining agreements and the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Supervisors are asked to accommodate employee requests to participate in voluntary programs as best they can within operational requirements of their units.

How soon do I need to make a decision about whether or not to take voluntary unpaid time off?

Employees are asked to make a decision and talk to their supervisors by Feb. 6. This allows departments to adjust their mid-year budgets accordingly.

Can I choose the number of unpaid days I take?

The university requests a one-day minimum and five-day maximum. One workday equals the number of hours you normally report to work. For example, if you normally work a part-time, four-hour day, one day of voluntary unpaid time off also would be four hours. Partial unpaid days are not permitted.

Am I expected to work or perform work while taking voluntary unpaid time off?


Will my benefits be impacted?

There will be no impact to your health, dental or life insurance premiums or coverages. Benefits tied directly to gross salary paid (i.e., retirement, FICA and Medicare contributions) will be impacted. For calculation examples, go online.

How do I volunteer to take unpaid time off?

Notify your supervisor first. Then complete the appropriate form for your classification by Feb. 6. The forms are online. Your department or college will be responsible for processing the request for payroll.

Instead of taking unpaid time off, can I make a contribution to the university and designate the funds be used to help meet the budget reduction?

Yes. You may make a voluntary tax-deductible contribution of any amount through the ISU Foundation. The foundation has established a special fund for this purpose. You may choose to designate your contribution to the general university budget reduction or to your specific college, unit or department.

Can I pay my contribution through payroll deduction?

Yes. However, the contribution must be fully paid by June 30. You also may contribute via cash or credit card payment.

How do I make a contribution?

Go online and print off the ISU Budget Reduction Support Gift Form. Complete and sign the form, attach a check (if applicable) and send it by Feb. 6 to the ISU Foundation, 2505 University Blvd.

Besides participating in voluntary unpaid time off and/or contributing to the foundation, is there anything else I can do to offset the mid-year budget reduction?

Yes. Send cost-saving suggestions to

Who can I contact for more information about voluntary unpaid time off and foundation contributions?

For unpaid time off, contact Contact Mike Wahlin,, with contribution questions.


Voluntary unpaid time off, foundation contributions and suggestions are three ways ISU faculty and staff can help ISU meet its 1.5 percent budget reduction.