In Focus: Who Faces Furloughs?

In Focus: Who Faces Furloughs?

Many government offices are entirely empty due to the shutdown.
Many government offices are entirely empty due to the shutdown. 06photo/Shutterstock.com

During a government shutdown, federal agencies decide which employees to furlough and which to keep on the job. Excepted employees include workers “who are performing emergency work involving the safety of human life or the protection of property or performing certain other types of excepted work,” according to furlough guidance from the Office of Personnel Management. In other words, they aren’t furloughed. Employees who are not funded through annual appropriations are exempt from unpaid leave if the government shuts down.

How many employees an agency furloughs during a government shutdown varies, and tends to depend on mission. At some departments, including Veterans Affairs, most of the workforce stays on the job. At the Housing and Urban Development Department, however, the opposite is true: Most employees are furloughed. Continue reading “In Focus: Who Faces Furloughs?”

Many Federal Employees Are Facing Second Set of Furloughs in Six-Month Span

Many Federal Employees Are Facing Second Set of Furloughs in Six-Month Span

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The Defense Department will furlough roughly 400,000 civilian employees on Tuesday — nearly half of the governmentwide furloughs that will take effect in less than 24 hours if the government shuts down.

More than 800,000 federal civilian employees and as many as 1 million workers will go on temporary unpaid leave beginning Oct. 1 if Congress fails to reach an agreement on funding the government by midnight. Agencies posted their contingency plans online Friday and Monday, as the threat of a shutdown became more likely. Employees who are furloughed, or “non-excepted,” will receive official furlough notices on Tuesday if the government closes.

Federal agencies decide which employees to furlough and which to keep on the job during a government shutdown, though they are required to follow the law’s guidance on definitions. Excepted employees include workers “who are performing emergency work involving the safety of human life or the protection of property or performing certain other types of excepted work,” according to furlough guidance from the Office of Personnel Management. In other words, they aren’t furloughed. Employees who are not funded through annual appropriations are “exempt” from unpaid leave if the government shuts down.

How many employees an agency furloughs during a government shutdown varies, and tends to depend on mission. In some departments, like Veterans Affairs, 95 percent of the workforce stays on the job. At the Housing and Urban Development Department, however, 96 percent of the workforce will go on furlough.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday sent Defense personnel a message on the potential shutdown and the department’s preparations. “Your supervisor will provide more information, but I want you to know that furlough decisions are dictated solely by the law, which only permits us to direct civilians to work if they are required to continue supporting military operations or if they are required to protect DoD personnel and property,” Hagel wrote. “The furloughs are in no way a reflection of the importance of your work, the hard effort you put forth every day, or your dedicated service to our department and our nation.”

Still, the terms “essential” and “nonessential” employees, which are part of the vernacular and not the official government language related to shutdowns, have damaged the already suffering morale of the federal workforce. And for thousands of federal employees, this could be the second round of furloughs in less than a year. About 650,000 Defense civilians were forced to take six days of unpaid leave this summer because of sequestration.

The bulk of the workforce at other agencies, including HUD, the Internal Revenue Service and the Environmental Protection Agency, also will be hit with additional furloughs if the government shuts down. Those agencies shut down for a few days over the summer because of sequestration and most of their employees will not work in a government shutdown.

“This is a workforce which has endured three years of a pay freeze; there has been virtually no hiring, so workloads are increasing dramatically; many already have faced unpaid days because of sequestration; and now they face more unpaid furloughs because of a shutdown that does not need to happen,” National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley said. “This brinksmanship has got to stop, both for our country and for the dedicated workers who serve the public as federal employees.”

At least one agency will close completely if the government shuts down on Tuesday: the Merit Systems Protection Board. The processing of appeals and other pleadings will be suspended and hearings postponed. “No staff will be available in any MSPB office to answer inquiries during the entirety of a shutdown,” the agency said in a statement. “MSPB e-Appeal Online system also will not be available.” The board had been working through a flood of appeals from furloughs related to sequestration.

 

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In Focus: How Many Employees Face Furloughs?

In Focus: How Many Employees Face Furloughs?

Federal agencies decide which employees to furlough and which to keep on the job during a government shutdown. Excepted employees include workers “who are performing emergency work involving the safety of human life or the protection of property or performing certain other types of excepted work,” according to furlough guidance from the Office of Personnel Management. In other words, they aren’t furloughed. Employees who are not funded through annual appropriations are “exempt” from unpaid leave if the government shuts down.

How many employees an agency furloughs during a government shutdown varies, and tends to depend on mission. In some departments, like Veterans Affairs, most of the workforce stays on the job. At the Housing and Urban Development Department, however, the opposite is true: most employees are furloughed.

If the government closes on Tuesday because of a lapse in appropriations, roughly 800,000 civilian employees will go on unpaid leave. Here’s a snapshot of a few agencies and their workforce data from 2011, the last time agencies had to prepare contingency plans for a possible shutdown. The list of agencies and corresponding data are not comprehensive.

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Agencies Post Shutdown Plans Online

Agencies Post Shutdown Plans Online

Agencies on Friday began posting their contingency plans online to prepare for a possible government shutdown on Tuesday, Oct. 1. If the government closes, approximately 800,000 federal civilian employees could be furloughed. Those placed on unpaid leave will receive official furlough notices on Oct. 1, if necessary.

We’re compiling a list of agency shutdown guidance as it’s posted. We’ll continue to update this information over the next few days as agencies publish their plans. The Office of Management and Budget also will link to agencies’ guidance on its website. Click here to read the 2011 contingency plans that agencies prepared the last time the government nearly shut down.

Click here to read furlough guidance from the Office of Personnel Management.

The following agencies have posted 2013 contingency plans (click on the agency name to view the plan):

Defense Department

Environmental Protection Agency

Federal Labor Relations Authority

Housing and Urban Development Department

Interior Department

Justice Department

Peace Corps

Smithsonian Institution

Treasury Department

Shutdown could carry pay risk even for employees kept on the job

Shutdown could carry pay risk even for employees kept on the job

By Eric Yoder, Published: September 27 at 6:00 amE-mail the writer

eye-opener-logo6Those federal employees who are learning that they would be kept on the job in a partial government shutdown might be feeling pretty good, at least relative to those being told they would be furloughed.

While employees deemed “excepted” from a shutdown furlough would not be paid at first for their work during that period, the government at least has promised to make them whole once new funding is in place.

But they might want to take steps to assure they are feeling well in addition to feeling good, because if they become too sick to work during a shutdown they would face the same uncertainty over their pay for the time off work as those who are furloughed.

(Wikimedia Commons)

(Wikimedia Commons)

That’s one of the twists emerging as federal agencies delve into the potential impact of carrying out a partial shutdown beginning Tuesday for what would be the first time in nearly 18 years. Continue reading “Shutdown could carry pay risk even for employees kept on the job”