Provide feedback on UC’s proposed systemwide curtailment/salary reduction plan

To: UC Santa Cruz Staff and Faculty

From: Public Affairs

President Michael Drake and the UC Office of the President seek feedback from all campuses on a proposed systemwide combined curtailment and salary reduction plan that would apply to both staff and faculty to help mitigate the financial impacts of COVID-19. You can see the request letter here. We have also received a description of the program, available here, and reproduced below. We are sharing the entirety of the information available now and we will share any additional information when it becomes available. 

The letter is clear that no decision has been made and that this request is for systemwide feedback. This program is NOT related to the campus extension of the winter break closure announced and corrected last week. The additional three curtailment days added to the campus winter break closure does not have a salary reduction component because employees have the option to use vacation and accrued compensatory leave during winter break campus curtailment days. 

The systemwide proposed plan combines curtailment and salary reduction by requiring that employees take some or all of these days unpaid depending on their salary level. The plan describes that those in the lowest earning tier would be protected from the salary reduction component of the curtailment through allowances for using accrued vacation leave. 

There has been some confusion created by the use of the term “curtailment” to describe the President’s plan. You will see it used throughout the documents from the Office of the President, but please note that Office of the President is referring to a combination of a curtailment and salary reduction by prohibiting some employees from using vacation leave during these curtailment days, depending on salary level. That is why we will describe it as a combined curtailment and salary reduction plan to distinguish it from our campus annual winter curtailment. If approved, these proposed curtailment and salary reduction days would require a campus closure and the campus would take the five days at the same time regardless of use of leave. We do not yet have more detail on the salary tiers.

To share your feedback on this plan with the Office of the President, please complete the linked survey by November 2. Your feedback is anonymous and greatly appreciated. A summary of the survey data and comments will be transmitted to OP for the President’s consideration.


Proposed 2020-21 Curtailment Program (Proposed by UC Office of the President)

As is the case for the rest of the nation, the University is being impacted by the global pandemic. In addition to challenges in healthcare, education, and other UC operations, we have faced significant economic challenges.

In order to sustain our core mission and purpose, we must make difficult decisions to maintain financial solvency and position the University for future recovery.

This document outlines a proposal to reduce personnel costs through the curtailment of work hours across the University. Each year the University of California observes a minimum curtailment period during the winter break, generally between the holiday period and New Year’s. This year, we are contemplating an expanded minimum curtailment period in order to address our financial challenges, while minimizing impacts to employees.

As we evaluate options to address UC’s financial situation, we are keeping the following values in mind:

  • We will take a measured approach. We will only move forward with a curtailment expansion after implementing other prudent financial savings measures.

  • We intend to protect as many jobs as possible. By taking measured actions early, we hope to stave off the need for furloughs and temporary or permanent layoffs.

  • Impacts will be progressive based on income level. Higher-compensated employees will carry a relatively larger percentage of the burden through a tiered plan that protects more vulnerable, lower-wage employees.

  • This is a moment for shared action. The plan describes a systemwide application that impacts every campus and location in some way.

  • We will maintain flexibility to minimize disruption. Essential services to campuses, medical centers and core employee customer service functions that must operate year round will continue during curtailments.

The proposed plan that follows is being shared as part of a consultation process with UC stakeholders to ensure we hear a range of perspectives. No decisions have been made. Rather, we are sharing these plans to hear from the UC community, including the Academic Senate, Regents and others as we contemplate a minimum five days of curtailment this year.

Curtailment Plan Details

The proposed curtailment program described below is intended for consideration and discussion. A final decision will come after a 30-day period of consultation with internal UC stakeholders.

Curtailment refers to a period of leave, typically unpaid, instituted in connection with the suspension of certain operations for defined periods of time, including but not limited to periods of time for energy/cost savings; transitional, seasonal, or holiday periods in the academic calendar; or the occurrence of emergency situations that adversely affect normal University operations.

References to “salary” and “pay” below are intended to refer to base pay and similar forms of regular pay and stipends unless otherwise exempted. For academic appointees, this would include the scale-based salary, any off-scale, and the above scale salary. For faculty in the Health Sciences Compensation Plan (HSCP), it may include the X and X ’components, but not the negotiated Y and Z components.

Implementation would be contingent upon making all necessary modifications to UCPath to avoid unexpected payroll disruptions.

Proposed Features

Under the program, all campuses and the Office of the President would be expected to designate a minimum of five curtailment days (excluding holidays) in fiscal year 2020-21.

  • Curtailment periods would be scheduled in a manner so as not to adversely affect instruction or clinical operations and may not necessarily be confined to the holiday period, based on the needs and preferences of our campuses or health centers.

  • The program would be progressive in the amount of paid and unpaid time off used by a given employee during the minimum five days of curtailment, with higher paid employees shouldering more of the cost. Employees would be grouped into salary tiers, with a different combination of paid and unpaid time off applying to each tier.

  • Employees in the lowest income tier would be permitted to use accrued vacation days for at least five days of the curtailment period. (Employees with insufficient vacation accrual balances would be permitted to use vacation credits prior to their actual accrual.) Higher-earning employees would be permitted to use accrued vacation or other leave for a portion of the curtailment period to varying degrees, based on their income level. Employees in the highest income tier would be required to take at least five curtailment days as unpaid time off and could not use accrued vacation or other paid time off.

  • For employees without adequate paid time off, the University would grant a grace period to cover the time until paid time off is accrued.

Campuses would identify essential workers who would be exempt from the program – e.g., medical/clinical staff, or staff deemed essential for the health and safety of students and employees, such as staff needed for COVID deep-cleaning of facilities.

  • Unless otherwise exempted, all staff and fiscal-year academic personnel would participate in the program.

  •  For academic-year faculty, the program would be implemented as an equivalent reduction in salary (based on the salary tiers established under the program) but would not result in additional paid or unpaid time off.

  •  The University would seek changes to the University of California Retirement Plan or other policies, as needed, to avoid negatively impacting employee retirement benefits.


  • It will be challenging for some employees to take full advantage of the curtailment days due to the nature of their work obligations. This is particularly true for those faculty whose obligations related to instruction, research, and public service do not conform to standard conventions of days “at work” or “off work.”

  • Exempt employees will not be allowed to perform any work during the curtailment period in order to comply with provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

  • Depending on the curtailment periods, changes to the academic calendar may be required.