FAQs on the Hiring Freeze

FAQs ON THE HIRING FREEZE

For use until further notice

1. The university has instituted a hiring freeze.  What does that mean for (a) faculty and (b) staff hires? 

(a) Faculty:

  • Tenure Track Faculty:  Requests for exception should be made by the Deans directly to the Provost.
  • Non-Tenure Track Faculty: Requests for exception should be sent to Assistant Provost for Administration and Finance Amy Stout (astout@umass.edu) using the COVID-19 exception request form.

(b) Staff: The University has put a hold on all staff appointments, with a few limited exceptions.  Units cannot start a new search or continue with a search that is currently underway without additional approvals as outlined below.

2. Does the freeze apply to temporary “03” hourly appointments?Yes.  All staff hiring must be justified and approved as described below.

3. Does the freeze apply to undergraduate student and graduate student hourly appointments?

No. As long as at least one of the safety-related conditions in question 5 below is met, undergraduate and graduate student hourly appointments are exempt from the hiring freeze.  These appointments are not only permissible but encouraged, because they will help our students with much-needed financial support.

4. Does the freeze apply to GEO Graduate student appointments?

No.  As long as at least one of the safety-related conditions in question 5 below is met, GEO assistantship appointments are exempt from the hiring freeze.  These appointments are not only permissible but encouraged, because they will help our students with much-needed financial support.

5. How do these measures affect research staff positions (post-docs, research fellows, and senior research fellows)?

Research staff and postdoctoral researcher positions on grants, RTF, and faculty startup are not subject to the freeze if at least one (1) of the following safety-related conditions is met:

a. the employee can fulfill substantially all of the duties remotely, or

b. there is an approved Laboratory Research Continuity Plan to enable the employee’s safe presence on campus or in the field, or

c. the Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement has made a determination that circumstances have changed sufficiently to permit their presence on campus or in the field without such a plan.

The determination that at least one of these conditions is satisfied is made through the exception process described below in 6.  

6. Is additional justification needed to support requests to start or continue a search at this time?

Yes. For academic units, the search/hire for staff, Non-Tenure Track (NTTs), post-docs, research fellows and senior research fellows must be approved by the Provost using the COVID-19 exception process including a justification memo from the dean prior to beginning a requisition in PageUp.  Provost approval should be uploaded to PageUp. For questions and more information about the exception process, please contact Assistant Provost for Administration and Finance Amy Stout, astout@umass.edu.

For administrative and support units, the search/hire must be approved by the appropriate Vice Chancellor with an approval email or memo attached to the requisition in PageUp.

7. Does a hiring authority need to rescind offers that have already been made? 

Offers made prior to the April 7th freeze will be honored.  However, offers made after April 8th without appropriate approvals must be discussed with the Provost or appropriate Vice Chancellor to determine whether the offer can be honored. 

8. What happens when a faculty or staff search has not yet gotten to the point of making an offer? 

A search that is underway and has not resulted in an offer can only continue upon approval after providing necessary justification as noted in question 5 above.

9. Can I make a hire if I push out the start date to later in the spring/summer?

Any staff or faculty hiring is subject to the terms of the freeze, regardless of start date.  

10. Do these new requirements apply to internal hires?

Yes.  All hires, whether internal or external are impacted.

11. What if the position is funded on grants, RTF, or faculty startup?  

Yes, these are allowed subject to the guidance in question 12, in cases where if the funding is entirely from existing grants, contracts, RTF funds, or faculty startup and there are sufficient funds to cover the duration of the initial appointment. At least one of the safety-related conditions in question 5 above must be met

12. Am I allowed to spend any of my grant money on other things, like supplies or equipment?

Grant and contract funds should continue to be spent according to the terms and conditions of the award agreement unless the source has issued different guidance. Federal funding sources have umbrella guidance from the Office of Management and Budget giving them new flexibilities during the COVID-19 emergency and agencies have issued specific guidance, some of which is still developing. See www.umass.edu/research/covid-19-resources-guidance, especially the COGR reference for more detailed and updated information from various agencies. Non-federal sponsors have policies that vary by source, but specific guidance is not available in most cases.

Some sources may require notification, renegotiation of the scope of work, or schedule for the project.  For more information, see the COVID-19 Research Activities FAQ at www.umass.edu/research/covid-19-research-activities-faq, especially “Salary Charges.”

For more advice, PIs should consult with their department or school/college business office who can obtain assistance or referrals from the Office of Post Award Management (www.umass.edu/research/awards).

13. How will newly hired staff be on boarded if there is no one on campus? 

The Office of Human Resources is available twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m..) to onboard new employees.  Please contact Kelly Pleasant (kpleasant@admin.umass.edu) in advance to arrange an onboarding session. 

14. Can a unit, department, or laboratory just replace staff who retire or leave the university?

No.  All searches, regardless of whether it is for a new position or replacing an existing position must be justified and approved as described above.