BROOKLINE — Town Administrator Mel Kleckner announces that the Town of Brookline has implemented a second round of furloughs for certain employees as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 emergency. This round of furloughs includes 95 employees, bringing the total number of furloughed employees to 196 since the COVID-19 crisis escalated in early March.
The furloughs impact mainly part-time employees across multiple departments whose facilities, services or programs have been curtailed by COVID-19, including some that are funded through participation fees. Part-time staff from the Public Library, the Police Department’s full-time parking enforcement and part-time school crossing guard personnel, as well as Recreation Department program staff were affected by the most recent furloughs.
In most cases, the employees affected by the most recent round of furloughs had not been able to work since early this spring due to the pandemic’s impact on the roles they fulfill. However, the town had continued to pay those employees up until their furloughs became effective this month.
The Recreation Department and Senior Center initially underwent furloughs in March, and those employees have been eligible for unemployment insurance benefits since then.
Furloughs are temporary layoffs. Impacted employees will be guaranteed the opportunity to resume their roles, if and when circumstances allow them to once again fulfill their service to the Town. During the furlough, employees enrolled in the Town’s health insurance will have the option to remain enrolled, with the town continuing to pay its portion of benefit costs.
Furloughed employees are immediately eligible for unemployment compensation, including the federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefits. To the extent possible, employees will be offered opportunities to perform other work to avoid furlough. Some employees have already been temporarily re-assigned to roles supporting either the Emergency Operations Center or the Town Clerk’s Office ahead of the upcoming town election.
“This is a step we had long hoped to avoid, but the duration and seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic have required us to temporarily furlough members of our team,” Town Administrator Kleckner said. “We will constantly be re-evaluating the ways in which we can adapt town services and incorporate the people who have been affected by furloughs. The unfortunate reality, however, is that there are no children walking to school that need help across the street. Libraries, the Senior Center and the Soule Pre-School are all closed, and recreation activities are cancelled, meaning the people who make these programs and services run are unable to fulfill their traditional roles.”