The COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruption to the health care delivery system, which has led to substantial reduction or cessation of patient care in some participating sites of ACGME-accredited programs. These changes have caused some participating sites to furlough some or all of their employees. In some cases, residents, fellows, coordinators, program directors, and faculty members are among the employees who are potentially subject to furlough.
For the purpose of this guidance, the ACGME defines a furlough as an involuntary and temporary separation of individuals from their employer without or at reduced salary and/or benefits as a result of pandemic-related reduction or cessation of patient care at one or more participating sites. As a personnel matter, furloughs could be implemented through suspensions, terminations, leaves of absence, or other actions.
Furloughs of residents/fellows are unacceptable to the ACGME.
When reductions or cessations of patient care are due to extraordinary circumstances necessitating program and/or institutional closure, Sponsoring Institutions and programs must adhere to ACGME policies, procedures, and requirements concerning withdrawal of accreditation, disasters, and institutional/program closures, as applicable.
Under all circumstances, Sponsoring Institutions, in partnership with their programs and participating sites, must ensure educational continuity and the fulfillment of their obligations to residents, fellows, and others in the clinical learning environment. Sponsoring Institutions, including those that have declared Pandemic Emergency Status, must comply with the ACGME Institutional Requirements.
When implementing patient care reductions or cessations in response to COVID-19, Sponsoring Institutions are expected to follow all institutional GME policies and procedures that pertain to resident/fellow appointments, and to honor the conditions of appointment specified in resident/fellow contracts. Conditions of resident/fellow appointment that are required by the ACGME include, but are not limited to, salary, benefits, vacation, leaves of absence, grievance procedures, due process, and the provision of information related to board eligibility.
Furloughs of other employees must not interfere with Sponsoring Institutions’ ability to ensure sufficient resources for GME administration, program directors, faculty members, and coordinators to fulfill responsibilities in the Sponsoring Institution and/or its programs.
Contact the ACGME Office of Complaints to report violations of ACGME Institutional Requirements resulting from furloughs.