Proposed Curtailment Program 2020-21

bridge over the UC Davis Arboretum waterway, with ducks swimming in foreground.

President Drake begins feedback process on a proposed curtailment program

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.

Send written feedback on the proposed curtailment program to by Nov. 9

Proposed 2020-21 Curtailment Program

Below is 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 Years. This year, UC Office of the President is contemplating an expanded minimum curtailment period in order to address our financial challenges, while minimizing impacts to employees.

As we evaluate options to address UCs 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.
Please send any written feedback regarding the proposed program to on or before November 9.

October 14 Update to All UC Davis Supervisors and Managers

From Employee and Labor Relations

Human Resources is receiving questions about President Drake’s October 12 letter discussing the economic challenges created by COVID-19, and programs being considered to address those challenges.

We understand that any discussion of curtailments or furloughs is concerning, especially when the discussion does not provide complete certainty on the programs being considered. President Drake’s letter is meant to provide transparency on the University’s process and core principles, while the University works to develop programs to address the economic impacts of COVID-19.

Additional information will be forthcoming to clarify next steps and available programs, and we appreciate your patience as we work through this together.

October 13 Message to All UC Davis Employees

From President Drake's message posted to UCNet on Monday, Oct. 12

Dear Colleagues,

I have appreciated your remarkable efforts over the past seven months to manage what has been an unprecedented period in the University of California’s history: a global pandemic led us to shift to primarily remote learning and campus operations, and our medical centers have been at the forefront of California’s pandemic response. Through it all, the UC community has shown courage, compassion, and a fervent commitment to public service.

COVID-19 also resulted in significant economic challenges for our state and nation, which have inevitably affected our institution. I write today to tell you about another measure we are contemplating to address our budget shortfall while preserving as many jobs as possible and protecting our lowest-paid employees. No final decisions have been made, but I want our decision-making process to be as informed as possible.

As you may know, every campus and the UC Office of the President observe a certain number of curtailment days per year around the winter holidays. In consultation with UC Chancellors, Academic Senate leaders, the Board of Regents, and other UC stakeholders, we are currently considering a new systemwide program to achieve additional operational and salary savings. This program would expand the existing curtailment periods or add new curtailment periods as needed to achieve a minimum of five curtailment days at every UC location in fiscal year 2020-21.

Again, no final decisions have been made. At this juncture, we are simply considering our options and seeking feedback from UC constituents to help shape our approach. As we undertake these discussions, we will be guided by several core principles: 

  • Measured cuts: we will only move forward with a curtailment expansion after implementing other prudent financial savings measures (you may recall former UC President Janet Napolitano implemented restrictions last spring and summer on hiring, business travel, and other spending);
  • Protect as many jobs as possible: by taking measured steps early, we hope to preserve jobs, healthcare benefits, and pensions, and stave off the need for furloughs and temporary or permanent layoffs;
  • Progressive approach: we will aim to ensure that our most vulnerable employees are the least impacted. Any cost-savings plan would be progressive and will have a larger impact on those with higher earnings;
  • Minimal disruption: any plan we adopt will allow campuses to achieve material savings while providing flexibility to maintain essential campus and medical center services, such as UCPath and the UC Retirement Administration Service Center (RASC).

We know this is a challenging time for everyone, and that this news is difficult to receive. However, we must work collectively to ensure long-term financial stability for the University, its faculty and staff, and the people it serves. 

Thank you for all you do to keep the University of California moving forward and to maintain our standards of excellence and service as we all confront unprecedented personal and professional challenges. We may face additional hardships in the future, but I know that the UC community is adaptable, resilient, and creative. And I know that we will get through this together.


Michael V. Drake, MD
President, University of California