Charging of “Idle Time” on Federal Grants

To:          All Federally Sponsored Researchers and Grant Administration Staff
From:     Jennifer A. Ponting, Executive Director, Sponsored Programs, URA
Subject: Charging of “Idle Time” on Federal Grants
Date:      June 24, 2020

In March the University of Chicago issued Temporary Policy on Pay and Leave Time Related to COVID-19, which extended an additional six weeks of paid time off related to COVID-19 through the end of June. This University policy, combined with administrative relief provided by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for the use of Federal research funds, enabled the University to continue to charge salaries to federal research grants for employees covered by the policy, even if the employees were unable to work (i.e., charging of “idle time”). 

As of the end of the fiscal year, this University policy will no longer be in effect. Accordingly, as of June 30, salary charges for University employees who are unable to work due to COVID-19-related circumstances must be moved from any federal awards to a non-sponsored funding source. If an employee is working remotely and contributing to the project, salary can continue to be charged to the award and no changes are required. If you or your local unit have HR-related questions regarding the employment status of individuals who can no longer be charged to a federal award, please contact your local HR partner.

As a reminder, it is critical that the PI and local unit document and retain records of both any project delays caused by COVID-19 and any time charged to federal awards for employees who were not contributing to the sponsored project as required by the University policy and OMB guidance described above. This documentation will be important for your research program and the University in case of audit and to effectively support any requests for project extensions or funding supplements necessary to accomplish research goals.

We realize that this change may require you to act quickly, and we thank you for your understanding. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns regarding the impact of the end of this University policy on sponsored awards.

Jennifer A. Ponting, JD
Executive Director, Sponsored Programs
p: 773.834.5092