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Furlough FAQs

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Purpose: This information is intended to address questions regarding the impacts of a planned, administrative furlough on employment status, pay, and benefits. Additional questions not answered below, may be addressed to the WHS/HRD Furlough Hotline at (571) 372-7810or (703) 693-3237 for executive and political personnel actions. Also employees may email questions to furloughquestions@whs.mil.

General

1. What is sequestration?

Sequestration is an across-the-board reduction in Federal budgetary resources in all budget accounts that have not been exempted by statute. Under the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, as amended by the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, across-the board reductions are effective as of March 1, 2013, since legislation was not passed to avoid such reductions. Sequestration reduces each agency's budgetary resources in non-exempt accounts for the remainder of the fiscal year, which runs through September 30, 2013.

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2. What is an administrative furlough?

An administrative furlough is a planned event by an agency that is designed to absorb reductions necessitated by downsizing, reduced funding, lack of work or any other budget situation other than a lapse in appropriations. Furloughs resulting from sequestration would generally be considered administrative furloughs.

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3. Which employees may be affected by a planned, administrative furlough?

In a planned, administrative furlough necessitated by sequestration, virtually all government employees will be furloughed. There will be only a very few exceptions, such as those necessary to provide safety of life or property, but only to the minimum extent needed to protect life or property. The mission-criticality of the employee's work is not relevant to whether he or she can be furloughed. Mission-critical employees will be furloughed. If an office is properly manned, furlough should be manageable through proper scheduling – just like leave or an alternate work schedule. Only where staggering absence is not possible – such as for deployed civilians – is an exception truly essential. Thus, if an individual can take leave or participate in a compressed work schedule, they can be furloughed.

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4. How many days in advance will I be notified of a planned, administrative furlough?

As a general matter subject to applicable laws, regulations and collective bargaining agreements, employees will be provided at least 30 days notification of an administrative furlough scheduled for as many as 112 hours (14 days) over the last 7 pay periods of the fiscal year.

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5. How is an employee notified of a furlough?

All furlough notices must be in writing and personally addressed to each affected employee. Managers may notify employees through either personal hand-delivery to the employee or, if not available in person, through email delivery or certified mail.

Personal delivery: When delivering notices in person, management officials shall obtain employee acknowledgement of receipt (and retain a copy for personnel records).

Email delivery: When email is used, managers should enable the "delivery" and "read" receipt features. Additionally, the body of the electronic correspondence should inform the employee to send an email acknowledging receipt of the notice. If a personal acknowledgment is not received within a reasonable amount of time; e.g., two business days, supervisors must immediately follow-up email delivery with a one-on-one meeting to obtain the employee's signed acknowledgement. When in-person follow-up is not possible, or employee acknowledgment has not been received, managers should follow mail procedures outlined below.

First Class and Certified Mail: When an employee is otherwise unavailable for personal delivery; e.g., employee is located in a remote location, or employee is in a leave status, or an employee has not acknowledged receipt of email furlough notification, the manager must mail the notice by certified mail with return receipt to the employee's current mailing address. It is recommended, however, that managers send notices by both first class mail and certified mail with return receipt.

For example, a manager meets the aforementioned requirements by completing the following:

  1. Personalize each notice with employee's name, email address, and current mailing address prior to emailing the notices
  2. Supervisors follow-up with employees individually to ensure receipt and obtain written acknowledgement
  3. For employees who are unavailable for follow-up or who have not responded to email notification, agencies mail the notices to current mailing address

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6. Who should I contact for more information about whether or not I may be furloughed?

You should first contact your supervisor for information about whether or not furlough will impact you. You may also contact the WHS/HRD Furlough Hotline at 571-372-7810, or 703-692-3237 for executive and political personnel actions, or furloughquestions@whs.mil for information about how furlough will impact your pay and benefits. Bargaining unit employees may also contact their union representatives concerning local collective bargaining agreements covering implementation of furlough.

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* 7. What supporting materials are available for my review for purposes of responding orally and/or in writing to the Notice of Proposed Furlough?

The WHS website and the Furlough Reading Rooms include copies of the supporting materials that are available for employees to review. These documents were relied upon by the Department of Defense in its decision to implement a furlough. All employees have a right to review and reference these documents. This is the only material available for your review.

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8. Are Career Senior Executive Service (SES) subject to furlough?

Yes. Furloughs of SES career appointees (other than reemployed annuitants) are covered under 5 U.S.C. 3595a and Subpart H of 5 CFR Part 359. The regulations provide only for a single 30 day advanced written notice. SES career appointees and reemployed annuitants are subject to furlough and may be furloughed for as many as 112 hours (14 days) over the last 7 pay periods of the fiscal year the same as planned for the entire DoD Federal Workforce.

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9. Are Non-Career Senior Executive Service appointees subject to furlough?

Yes. Non-career Senior Executive Service appointees are subject to furlough and may be furloughed for as many as 112 hours (14 days) over the last 7 pay periods of the fiscal year, the same as planned for the entire DoD Federal Workforce. These appointees will be provided the same notice as Career SES members.

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10. Are Presidential appointees subject to furlough?

No. Presidential appointees are individuals appointed by the President with Senate confirmation (PAS employees) or without Senate confirmation (PA employees) only. These appointees are not subject to furlough.

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11. Are Schedule C political appointees subject to furlough?

Yes. Schedule C employees are subject to furlough and may be furloughed for as many as 112 hours (14 days) over the last 7 pay periods of the fiscal year, the same as planned for the entire DoD Federal Workforce.

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12. Are employees on Interagency Personnel Agreements (IPAs) subject to furlough?

IPA Personnel from Non-Federal organizations on appointments/details to the Federal government are subject to furlough as other employees. Any change to current IPA agreements requires a 30 day notice. Non-reimbursable IPAs are not affected.

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13. Are detailed employees returned to a permanent position before being furloughed?

Detailed employees remain officially assigned to their permanent position of record during the detail. During a furlough, management will determine the status of their employees on detail within their organization or outside of their organization.

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14. Will the furlough be documented in my Official Personnel Folder (OPF)?

Yes. Similar to other personnel actions included in your OPF, a Notification of Personnel Action will be generated if you are placed in furlough status. The Action will document the furlough beginning and ending dates and the number of hours/days the furlough is expected to last.

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15. Are furloughed detailees returned to their home agencies following any furlough?

Detailed employees remain officially assigned to their permanent positions during the detail. During a furlough, each agency will determine the status of its employees on detail within the agency or to another agency.

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16. Do all detailees follow the furlough policies and procedures of their home agencies if the detail continues?

Yes, because all detailees remain officially employed by the agencies from which they are detailed. If furlough is required, the home agency will determine if and how the detailed employee is affected. The home agency and the receiving agency should discuss how a detailee will be affected if a furlough is not required in the home agency but is required in the receiving agency.

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17. I have a detailee from another agency working in my unit. Who can I contact to discuss any flexibility the home agency may be willing to exercise regarding scheduling of any required furlough days?

Generally, the point of contact would be the human resources office of the employee's home agency. If the point of contact within that office is unknown, OPM suggests contacting the employee's supervisor at the home agency to determine who to contact about potential flexibility in scheduling required furlough days.

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18. Can management offer early retirements (VERAs) or separation incentives (VSIPs) to furloughed employees? Can VERA/VSIP be offered during sequestration? Can VERA/VSIP be offered in lieu of a furlough?

Both Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) and Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments (VSIP) are programs to incentivize voluntary separations to avoid involuntary personnel actions associated with management's decision to restructure its workforce. Management may continue to offe these options to covered employees during a furlough.

VERA and VSIP result in permanent separations from the agency workforce. (Please note that VSIP recipients may not be reemployed by the Federal Government within 5 years unless they repay the VSIP to the agency that paid it.) Furloughs are associated with temporary issues, such as lack of work or funds, with the intention that employees would return to their jobs after the furlough. Managers would decide which option to take based on current budgetary constraints, e.g., the need to permanently reduce or restructure its workforce or to save funds by furloughing employees.

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19. If an employee transfers to WHS/OSD from another agency not subject to furlough, will that employee be subject to the 112 hours furlough requirement?

In general, employees transferring from an agency not subject to furlough to WHS/OSD will be subject to furlough; the furlough hours will be prorated depending on their entry on duty date.

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Employment Status

20. Will the furlough change my employment status?

No. While on furlough, you remain an employee of the Department and the federal government. You may be furloughed and placed in a non-pay status for as many as 112 hours (14 days) over the last 7 pay periods of the fiscal year.

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21. May I take another job (e.g., a part-time job) while on furlough?

Possibly. While on furlough, you remain an employee of the Department and the federal government. Therefore, executive branch-wide standards of ethical conduct and rules regarding outside employment continue to apply when an individual is furloughed at (5 CFR part 2635). In addition, there are specific statutes which prohibit certain outside activities, and agency-specific supplemental rules that require prior approval of, and sometimes prohibit, outside employment. Therefore, before engaging in outside employment, employees should review these regulations and consult their Standards of Conduct office. WHS/PFPA employees, please contact the Office of General Counsel for WHS and PFPA at 703-693-7374. OSD employees, please contact the Office of General Counsel, Standards of Conduct Office at 703-695-3422.

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22. What does it mean to be in furlough status?

Furlough status means that, because of a furlough, the employee is placed in a nonpay, nonduty status for designated hours within the employee's tour of duty established for leave usage purposes (i.e., the tour of duty for which absences require the charging of leave). Furlough hours are a type of leave of absence without pay. Employees are in furlough status only during designated furlough hours, not for entire calendar days. Furlough status may be designated as the employee's full daily tour of duty or part of that tour of duty. For example, an employee may be furloughed for half of an 8-hour daily tour of duty, or 4 hours. An employee who is in furlough status during a daily tour of duty may be ordered to perform work outside that tour, and such work would be subject to normal compensation requirements.

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23. Does placement in furlough status cause a full-time employee to be converted to part-time or a part-time employee to be converted to a reduced part-time work schedule?

No. Placement in furlough status or any other kind of temporary nonpay, nonduty status does not affect the nature of an employee's official work schedule as full-time or part-time. For a full-time employee who is furloughed during a 40-hour basic workweek, the employee continues to have a full-time 40-hour basic workweek. For a part-time employee who is furloughed, the part-time tour of duty established for leave usage purposes also remains the same.

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24. What is creditable service and why should I care?

Creditable service is the term used by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to refer to your length of qualifying civilian or military service necessary to achieve certain status and benefits as a federal employee. For example, your creditable service is used to determine your length of service for retirement eligibility. It is sometimes referred to in terms of your service computation date. Furlough does not generally impact the service computation date unless combined with consecutive periods of leave without pay of more than six months.

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25. Is a furlough considered a break in service?

No. You are in a non-pay, non-duty status for those days/hours furloughed. However, extended furlough may affect the calculation of creditable service for certain purposes.

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26. What other potential impacts to my creditable service should I be aware of?

  • Career tenure: the first 30 calendar days of non-pay status is creditable service. All additional non-pay days beyond the allotted 30 calendar days delays the completion of your career tenure by that number of days.
  • Completion of probation: an aggregate of 112 hours (14 workdays) in a non-pay status is creditable service.
  • Qualification standards: there is no requirement to have an employee affected by furlough to make up furlough days to meet OPM qualification standards.
  • Time-in-grade requirements: all Federal civilian non-pay status is considered creditable towards the time periods required by 5 CFR 300.604

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27. Will the number of furlough days impact my qualifications for career ladder or regular promotions?

No.  Instances may occur where applicants worked significantly less than their scheduled hours. In such instances, it would be reasonable to evaluate any significant consecutive period of leave (e.g., 35 work days or more in a year) to determine whether it effectively reduces the applicant's qualifications for a position. However since the furlough is scheduled on a discontinuous basis, it will not count against your meeting qualification requirements.

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28. May I volunteer to do my job on a non-pay basis during a furlough?

No. Unless otherwise authorized by law, an agency may not accept the voluntary services of an employee. (See 31 U.S.C. 1342.). Employees who are telework ready, and are on an approved agreement, are restricted from using all government issued equipment (e.g., mobile devices, laptops, etc.) during their assigned furlough days or hours.

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Scheduling Furlough, Leave, Training, and Premium Hours

29. May I choose to take my furlough days all at once or spread them out?

The planned, administrative furlough may be implemented as a discontinuous administrative furlough. This means that furlough days or hours may be spread out over the maximum pay periods to mitigate negative financial and personal impact to employees. For example, employees are furloughed one day (8 hours) per week for 22 weeks instead of 22 consecutive work days. For employees represented by labor unions, the timing of furlough days may be addressed in the collective bargaining agreement.

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30. If I am on a flexible or compressed work schedule under an alternative work schedules (AWS) program, how will my manager schedule my furlough?

In scheduling a furlough for employees on AWS, your supervisor may require alternative work schedules be modified or suspended due to mission needs during the furlough (subject to your organization's policies or negotiated procedures.) The need to maximize mission continuity may lead to suspension of AWS. A discussion with your supervisor about your work schedule and reporting expectations is recommended.

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31. If I am a part-time employee, how will my manager schedule my furlough?

As a part-time employee, your work hours will be pro-rated based on your individual work schedule. For example, if your work schedule is 32 hours a week and full time employees are being furloughed 1 day a week (8 out of 40 hours a week); then you may be furloughed 6 hours per week. In general, during the furlough period full-time and part-time employees will receive a 20% reduction in hours.

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32. What happens if I am scheduled for training during a furlough?

If you are scheduled for training during a furlough, you will still be placed in a furlough status and you may not attend the scheduled training or perform course work on your designated furlough days or hours. Schedule changes will be at management's discretion. Managers may allow employees to take the requested furlough days at another time during the pay period or in a later pay period.

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33. Can I work during my schedule furlough days or hours to earn premium hours (e.g., credit hours, compensatory (comp) hours, or overtime)?

No. You may not work to earn credit, comp, or overtime hours during scheduled furlough hours or days

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34. Why should furlough days be referred to as hours versus days?

Furloughs may be referenced and/or expressed in terms of calendar days or hours. However, because employees are afforded multiple work schedule options (hours of work, number of workdays, tours of duty) and type of appointments (part-time, full time, etc.), it is best for supervisors to schedule furloughs for all employees in terms of hours for simplicity and consistency.

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35. Can I take paid leave or other forms of paid time off (e.g, annual, sick, court, or military leave, leave for bone marrow or organ donor leave, credit hours earned, any compensatory time off earned, or time off awards) instead of being furloughed? Or during my scheduled furlough days or hours?

No. When using paid leave or other forms of paid time off, you are in a pay status. During an administrative furlough, you are in non-pay status and may not substitute paid leave or other forms of paid time off for any hours or days designated as furlough time off.

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36. Can my scheduled and approved annual leave be cancelled or can my supervisor disapprove my annual leave request during the furlough period?

Possibly. Supervisors may require annual leave be modified or suspended due to mission needs during the administrative furlough. A discussion with your supervisor about your work schedule and scheduled annual leave is recommended. For employees represented by labor unions, annual leave may be addressed in the collective bargaining agreement.

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37. How is furlough time documented in the time and attendance system?

Employees must document furlough hours taken each pay period in their time and attendance system or on the appropriate time and attendance form. Supervisors will use their current time and attendance procedures for certifying employee's furlough hours each pay period. The time and attendance code for furlough is "KE."

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38. Can I take LWOP under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) during a time when administrative furloughs are being conducted for other employees?

Yes. An employee may take LWOP under FMLA during a time when administrative furloughs are being conducted for other employees in the same organization, subject to the conditions in 5 U.S.C. 6382. However, if an employee is placed in furlough status during hours that were previously scheduled to be LWOP under FMLA, those furlough hours will no longer be considered to be LWOP under FMLA. Furlough hours will not count toward the employee's 12-week FMLA leave entitlement. An employee may not later substitute paid leave for furlough hours.

Managers are responsible for determining the extent to which employees with scheduled LWOP (including LWOP under FMLA) are placed in furlough status. If employees are placed in furlough status instead of LWOP under FMLA, all applicable procedural requirements must be met, including a furlough notice.

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39. How should supervisors treat an employee who is on approved leave without pay (LWOP) during an administrative furlough period?

Per OPM guidance, managers have discretion in determining whether to furlough employees who are in LWOP status, since both furloughs and LWOP are periods of nonpay status. Employees may already be scheduled for LWOP for a variety of reasons and for various lengths of time on either a continuous or discontinuous basis. An employee's LWOP may or may not fully encompass the period during which administrative furloughs are being conducted for other employees in the same organization. For example, for one employee, a continuous 1-year period of leave without pay to accompany a military spouse overseas may encompass the entire period during which administrative furloughs are being conducted in an employee's organization, while another employee's continuous LWOP may end during that period. Other employees may be scheduled to take LWOP on a regular but discontinuous basis under the FMLA.

Managers are responsible for determining (1) whether employees already scheduled for LWOP during a period when administrative furloughs are being conducted will be subject to furlough and (2) the hours of furlough required of such employees. If management decides to place an employee in furlough status during hours that were originally scheduled to be LWOP, all applicable procedural requirements must be met, including a furlough notice.

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* 40. Can I substitute my planned LWOP for a furlough day?

Yes. The DoD supplemental guidance on LWOP allows employees who take LWOP during the furlough period (July 8, 2013 through September 30, 2013) to receive credit for their time in that status towards scheduled furlough hours.

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41. Can I telework during a furlough?

Yes. At management's discretion, you may continue to telework on regularly scheduled telework days as long as they are not scheduled furlough days. Supervisors may require telework agreements be modified or suspended due to mission needs during the administrative furlough. A discussion with your supervisor about your work schedule and reporting expectations is recommended.

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* 42. Can I participate in the Civilian Fitness Wellness Program (CFWP) during the furlough period?

Yes. Participation in the CFWP during the furlough period may be allowed for eligible employees. Participation in the CFWP is contingent upon supervisory approval and subject to workload and mission requirements. Participation in the CFWP is not an employee entitlement.

Participation in the wellness program is at the discretion of management.

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43. Can employees telework on furlough days?

No, employees are prohibited from doing any government work on their furlough day.

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44. What is the effect of a manager ordering an employee to work during scheduled furlough hours?

If a manager orders an employee to work during scheduled furlough hours (e.g., to respond to an emergency), the assignment of work cancels the employee's furlough status for the duration of the ordered work, and such work would be subject to normal compensation requirements.

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45. May an employee who takes furlough hours off be permitted to substitute annual leave retroactively for furlough hours taken, if the agency finds sufficient funds to cover the hours the employee was in a furlough status?

Generally no. However, if an employee has proactively taken more than the required number of furlough hours under an agency's phased furlough plan prior to the agency cancellation of the furlough, the employee may retroactively cancel excess furlough hours and substitute annual leave for those hours, as determined by the agency. (See B-219211, December 9, 1985.) For example, an agency's furlough plan requires each employee to take 112 furlough hours (14 days) between June and September. The agency requires the employee to take 8 furlough hours off each week in the month of June (for a total of 32 furlough hours (4 days)) and provides the employee with an option of when to take his/her remaining furlough hours off at a time of the employee's choosing, but no later than the end of September. If the employee takes all 112 furlough hours off (14 days) in June and the agency cancels the furlough on July 1 due to improved financial conditions, the employee would have taken 80 furlough hours more than what was needed (112 hours (14 days) - 32 hours (4 days)). Upon the determination to cancel the furlough, the agency must decide how to handle the 80 furlough hours (10 furlough days) off the employee has taken ahead of schedule in accordance with internal agency procedures and any applicable collective bargaining agreement. Any annual leave substituted for furlough hours would be calculated at the same compensation rate the employee would have received had he or she used annual leave at that time.

Note: This matter may be subject to collective bargaining for union-represented employees to the extent an agency has discretion to retroactively substitute annual leave for furlough hours taken.

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46. May an employee who takes furlough hours off be granted excused absence to substitute retroactively for the furlough hours taken, if the agency finds sufficient funds to cover the hours the employee was in a furlough status?

Agencies have the discretionary authority to determine the situations in which an employee may be excused from duty without loss of pay or charge to leave in accordance with internal agency policy and any collective bargaining agreement. However, agencies are not required to provide excused absence unless specifically required by statute or Presidential directive. For example, if an employee has proactively taken more than the required number of furlough hours under an agency's phased furlough plan prior to the agency cancellation of the furlough, the agency is not required to provide excused absence for the excess furlough hours, as determined by the agency. (See B-219211, December 9, 1985.) If the agency decides to cancel certain furlough hours and substitute excused absence, the excused absence should be provided to all similarly situated employees. Any retroactive substitution of excused absence would be calculated at the same compensation rate the employee would have received had he or she used annual leave at that time.

Note: This matter, like others involving the impact and implementation of furloughs, may be subject to collective bargaining for union-represented employees.

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47. How should managers schedule administrative furlough time off for employees on flexible or compressed work schedules under an alternative work schedule (AWS) program?

Because the definition of a workday will vary based on the type of work schedule and/or appointment, it is best for managers to develop procedures that provides equity and consistency, subject to all legal requirements and applicable agency policies or collective bargaining agreements. For ease of administration and equity, managers may schedule furloughs for all employees (both alternative work schedule and regular tours of duty) in terms of hours. For example, in the event that all full-time employees are furloughed for 40 hours, for some employees the actual number of furlough days could be more or less than 5 days, depending on their work schedules.

Many employees who are on flexible work schedules normally have a great deal of flexibility in the starting and stopping times within their basic work schedule. When furloughing employees with a flexible work schedule, managers should identify specific hours during which the employee is in furlough status—e.g., 8:00 am–4:00 pm. Thus, if an employee is called into work (e.g., due to an emergency), it will be clear as to whether the hours of work occur during or outside scheduled furlough hours. Any work ordered during scheduled furlough hours cancels the furlough for those hours, and such work would be subject to normal compensation requirements.

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Pay

48. What impact will this furlough have on my pay?

You may be furloughed and placed in a non-pay status for as many as 112 hours (14 days) over the last 7 pay periods of the fiscal year. If the sequester is not avoided in its entirety this would result in a gross 20% reduction in salary from mid-June through the end of September 2013.

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49. Where will furlough hours be reflected on an employee's LES?

Furlough will appear on its own line in the LEAVE section of the LES. FURLOUGH will appear in the TYPE column and the hours will appear in the USED PAY PD column.

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50. Am I entitled to severance pay?

No. Because furloughed employees are not separated from federal service, they are not entitled to severance pay.

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51. If performance management policies and practices require the payment of performance awards to employees, can the payment be delayed until after the furlough?

Yes. Neither law nor regulation requires agencies to pay performance awards granted under 5 U.S.C. Chapters 43 and 45 and 5 CFR 451.104(a)(3). If performance management policies and practices require the payment of performance awards, agencies may delay payment until after the furlough when funds are available.

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52. Will I receive my next within-grade increase (WGI) that is due soon?

Possibly. An aggregate of 2 workweeks non-pay status in a waiting period is creditable service for advancement to steps 2, 3, and 4 of the General Schedule; four workweeks for advancement to steps 5, 6, and 7; and six workweeks for advancement to steps 8, 9, and 10 (5 CFR 531.406(b)). For prevailing rate employees (WG, WL, and WS schedules), an aggregate of one workweek non-pay status is creditable service for advancement to step 2, three weeks for advancement to step 3, and four weeks for advancement to steps 4 and 5 (5 CFR 532.417(b)). If you have additional non-pay status outside of the non-pay hours accrued during the furlough period, those hours will further impact your WGI eligibility.

General Schedule
Advancing to Step Non-pay Hours Allows
2, 3, 4 80
5, 6, 7 160
8, 9, 10 240

 

Wage Grade
Advancing to Step Non-pay Hours Allows
2 40
3 120
4, 5 160

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53. If I am in an Absent - Uniformed Service during the furlough, will that impact my General Schedule or Federal Wage System within-grade increase (WGI) waiting period?

No. The furlough has no impact on my General Schedule or Federal Wage System WGI waiting period if you are in an Absent-Uniformed Service status (i.e., Nature of Action Code 473, which is used when the employee has restoration rights). An absence for the purpose of engaging in military service is creditable service in the computation of waiting periods for successive WGIs when the employee returns to a pay status through the exercise of a restoration right provided by law, Executive order, or regulation (See 5 CFR 531.406(c)(1)(i) and 5 CFR 532.417(c)(4)).

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54. Can I earn premium pay (e.g., overtime pay, Sunday premium pay, night pay, availability pay) during the furlough period?

Yes. Employees who meet the conditions for overtime pay, Sunday premium pay, night pay, availability pay and other premium payments will be entitled to payment in accordance with applicable rules, subject to any relevant payment limitations. Managers will be responsible for ensuring overtime expenditures do not exceed amounts previously used.

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55. As a separating employee, will the furlough impact my lump-sum payment for unused annual leave?

In the event of a furlough, any payments incurred by the agency for your lump-sum payment may be delayed until funds are available.

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56. If a furlough occurs during the 3 years of service prior to retirement, what effect will time in a furlough status have on my high-3 average pay?

Generally there will be no effect on the high-3 average pay unless the furlough causes the employee to be in a non-pay status for more than 6 months during the calendar year.

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57. Will I continue to receive a reservist differential payment (5 U.S.C. 5538) while on active duty if I am furloughed from my federal civilian employment?

No. The reservist differential payments are intended to make up the difference between your customary civil service compensation and your military pay, and they are made from the funds of the employing agency appropriated for the payment of employees' salaries. Since funds are not available for employees' salaries during a furlough, no funds may be obligated towards any type of payment for reservist differential. However, if subsequent legislation is passed reimbursing employees their civilian pay for the period of the furlough, it will be necessary for the agency to calculate any reservist differential payments that may be owed.

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58. Do administrative furloughs interrupt or reduce civilian Living Quarters Allowances (LQA) or a Post Cost of Living Allowances (COLA)?

An administrative furlough doesn't interrupt Post COLA if the nonpay status period, including periods outside the employee's regular tour of duty (e.g., weekends), does not exceed 14 consecutive calendar days. If an employee is in furlough status that results in a continuous nonpay status period that exceeds 14 consecutive calendar days, then the Post COLA is interrupted for the duration of the furlough status. (Source: Department of State Standardized Regulations (DSSR) 051.2) LQA continues without interruption while the employee is in nonpay status not in excess of 30 consecutive calendar days at any one time. For periods in nonpay status longer than 30 consecutive calendar days, LQA payment shall be suspended as of the day the employee enters such status, and payment is not to be made for any part of such period. (Source: Department of State Standardized Regulations (DSSR) 051.2 and 132.2b(2))

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59. Do administrative furloughs interrupt Danger Pay or Post Hardship Differentials for civilians stationed at overseas locations? Do they impact differential eligibility for TDY employees at such posts?

Yes. Employees do not receive Danger Pay or Post Hardship Differential for any furlough days. (Source: Department of State Standardized Regulations (DSSR) 052.2)

Furlough days do not count toward differential eligibility for TDY employees. (Source: Department of State Standardized Regulations (DSSR) 052.2 and 541)

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60. Will administrative furlough impact my PCS entitlements?

Generally, No. Furlough status would not impact PCS entitlements unless a furlough day is scheduled on the scheduled report for duty day. This would delay the start and end dates for certain PCS allowance time limits, such as, but not limited to, dependent travel, HHG transportation, and real estate transactions. Management should not furlough employees on or around entry on duty dates (EOD). For example, if you are expected to report on Monday, you should not be furloughed for that day in lieu of administrative leave. You should report to work to establish certain PCS allowance entitlements.

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61. Will administrative furlough impact my per diem while in TDY status?

No. Your furlough status does not impact per diem entitlements with the following exceptions:

  • Your furlough day (non-workday) is in conjunction with leave. You are not authorized per diem for a non-workday when leave is taken for the whole workday before and the whole workday following the non-workday. Additionally, you are authorized per diem for not more than two non-workdays if leave is taken for all workdays between the non-workdays.
  • You return to your Permanent Duty Station while in furlough status (thereby ending your entitlement to per diem). An employee who returns home on a furlough day from TDY will not receive per diem that day, but will still be reimbursed for travel. In general, however, travel should occur during duty status days.

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Impact on payroll deductions and benefits

62. How does a furlough affect retirement annuity benefits?

Generally, furloughs will not affect an annuity benefit under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or the Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS).

The amount of a CSRS or FERS annuity paid by OPM is based primarily on the amount of creditable service an employee performs and the employee's high-3 average salary. Both CSRS and FERS allow service credit for up to 6 months of nonpay status in any calendar year. If a furlough period does not cause an employee to be in a nonpay status for more than 6 months in a calendar year, the furlough period will be included as creditable service in determining the employee's total creditable service used in the annuity computation. If the total amount of time an employee spends in a nonpay status in a calendar year exceeds 6 months, the amount of nonpay status in excess of 6 months in the calendar year will not be creditable for retirement purposes.

The high-3 average salary used to compute CSRS and FERS annuities is the largest annual rate resulting from averaging an employee's rates of basic pay in effect over any period of 3 consecutive years of creditable civilian service, with each rate weighted by the length of time it was in effect. If a period of nonpay status (such as a furlough) that is creditable for retirement occurs during the 3-year period used to compute the high-3 average salary, the loss of actual pay during that nonpay status period generally would have no effect on the high-3 computation. The basic pay rate in effect during that nonpay status period would be used in the high-3 average salary calculation. For example, if an employee whose annual rate of basic pay is $85,000 is placed in a furlough status for two weeks and that 2-week period falls in the employee's average salary period, that 2-week furlough period will be credited in the high-3 average salary calculation using the $85,000 annual rate of basic pay that was in effect during the furlough period. In this example, the loss of actual pay (or earnings) during that period is not material in the high-3 average salary calculation.

Basic pay for retirement includes locality pay and certain types of additional pay, such as law enforcement availability pay (LEAP), administratively uncontrollable overtime (AUO) pay, standby duty pay, firefighter pay (annualized salary), and market pay for physicians. These types of additional pay are included in the basic pay used to calculate the high-3 average 3 salary during periods of creditable nonpay status as long as the authorization for the payments remains in effect.

Other additional types of basic pay, however, including night shift differential and environmental differential for wage grade employees, and certain overtime pay for customs officers are included in the average salary computation only when an employee has received that type of pay.

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63. If my pay does not cover all of my deductions during the furlough, how will my deductions be handled?

DFAS will follow the guidance on the order of precedence for applying deductions from your pay when gross pay is insufficient to cover all authorized deductions. Other information may be found at CHCOC

  1. Retirement - deductions for Defined Benefit Plan (including Civil Service Retirement System/Federal Employees Retirement System -- CSRS/FERS -- Basic Benefit, Foreign Service Retirement System/Foreign Service Pension System Basic Benefit, or other similar defined benefit plan) (see note 1)
  2. Social Security (OASDI) tax
  3. Medicare tax
  4. Federal income tax
  5. Basic Health Insurance Premium (including Federal Employees Health Benefits premium -- pre-tax or post-tax -- or premium for similar benefit under another authority)
  6. Basic Life Insurance Premium (including Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance -- FEGLI -- Basic premium or premium for similar benefit under another authority)
  7. State income tax
  8. Local income tax
  9. Collection of debts owed to the U.S. government (e.g., tax debt, salary overpayment, failure to withhold proper amount of deductions, advance of salary or travel expenses, etc.; debts which may or may not be delinquent; debts which may be collected through the Treasury Offset Program, an automated centralized debt collection program for collecting federal debt from Federal payments) (see note 2)
    1. Continuous levy under the Federal Payment Levy Program (tax debt)
    2. Salary offsets (whether involuntary under 5 U.S.C. 5514 or similar authority or required by a voluntarily signed written agreement; if multiple debts are subject to salary offset, the order is based on when each offset commenced - with earliest commencing offset at the top of the order - unless there are special circumstances, as determined by the paying agency)
  10. Court-ordered collection/debt
    1. Child support (may include attorney and other fees as provided for in 5 CFR 581.102(d)) (see note 3) If there are multiple child support orders, the priority of orders is governed by 42 U.S.C. 666(b) and implementing regulations, as required by 42 U.S.C. 659(d) (2).
    2. Alimony (may include attorney and other fees as provided for in 5 CFR 581.102(d)) If there are multiple alimony orders, they are prioritized on a first-come, first-served basis, as required by 42 U.S.C. 659(d) (3).
    3. Bankruptcy (see note 4)
    4. Commercial garnishments
  11. Optional benefits (see note 5)
    1. Health Care/Limited-Expense Health Care Flexible Spending Accounts (pre-tax benefit under FedFlex or equivalent cafeteria plan)
    2. Dental (pre-tax benefit under FedFlex or equivalent cafeteria plan)
    3. Vision (pre-tax benefit under FedFlex or equivalent cafeteria plan)
    4. Health Savings Account (pre-tax benefit under FedFlex or equivalent cafeteria plan)
    5. Optional Life Insurance Premiums (FEGLI optional benefits or similar benefits under other authority)
    6. Long-Term Care Insurance Premiums
    7. Dependent-Care Flexible Spending Accounts (pre-tax benefit under FedFlex or equivalent cafeteria plan)
    8. Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)
      1. Loan payments
      2. Basic contributions
      3. Catch-up contributions
    9. Other optional benefits
  12. Other voluntary deductions/allotments
    1. Military service deposits
    2. Professional associations
    3. Union dues
    4. Charities
    5. Bonds
    6. Personal account allotments (e.g., to savings or checking account
    7. Additional voluntary deductions (on first-come, first-served basis)
  13. IRS Paper Levies

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64. Will I continue to be covered under the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program during an administrative furlough?

Your FEHB coverage will continue if your salary is sufficient to pay the premiums. If your salary becomes insufficient to pay FEHB premiums due to the furlough, the Leave Without Pay Status and Insufficient Pay rules apply. If you choose to remain covered, the enrollee share of the FEHB premium will accumulate and be withheld from pay when your pay becomes sufficient to cover the premiums.

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65. Will I continue to be covered under the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) program during an administrative furlough if the agency is unable to make its premium payments on time?

Yes. Your FEHB coverage will continue even if an agency does not make the premium payments on time. Since you will be in a non-pay status, the enrollee share of the FEHB premium will accumulate and be withheld from pay once you return to pay status.

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66. Will my Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS) be impacted during an administrative furlough?

Your FSAFEDS coverage continues, and allotments you make continue if your salary in each pay period is sufficient to cover the deduction(s). If your salary is insufficient to cover your allotment(s), then incurred eligible health care expenses will not be reimbursed until the allotments are successfully restarted (in which case the remaining allotments would be recalculated over the remaining pay periods to match your annual election amount). Incurred eligible dependent care expenses may be reimbursed up to whatever balance is in your dependent care account, as long as the expenses incurred allow you (or your spouse if married) to work, look for work or attend school full-time. Once dependent care allotments are successfully restarted, remaining allotments would be recalculated over the remaining pay periods to match your annual election amount.

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67. Will I continue to be covered under the Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) during an administrative furlough?

Your FEGLI coverage continues while in a non-pay status due to furlough for up to 12 months, without additional cost to you or to the agency. Neither you nor the agency incurs a debt during this period of furlough. However, if the furlough is for only part of a pay period FEGLI premiums are required. If there is any pay in a pay period, FEGLI premiums for the whole pay period will be deducted from pay. The premiums are not prorated. If your salary becomes insufficient to pay FEGLI premiums due to the furlough, then the Leave Without Pay Status and Insufficient Pay rules apply.

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68. Will I continue to be covered under the Federal Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) during an administrative furlough?

Yes. If BENEFEDS is unable to take the necessary premium deduction from your pay, BENEFEDS will collect a premium up to twice the biweekly amount from the next full pay period to make up for the missed premium deduction. If your pay continues to be insufficient for more than two consecutive pay periods, BENEFEDS will mail a direct bill to you. As an enrollee, you should pay premiums directly billed to you on a timely basis to ensure continuation of coverage.

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69. Will I continue to be covered under the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) during an administrative furlough?

Yes. Eligible claims will continue to be paid. Coverage will terminate if premiums are not paid. If the FLTCIP does not receive a premium deduction for two or fewer pay periods, they will adjust future premium deductions, increasing by no more than $50 per pay period to recover the missed premiums. Three consecutive pay periods of no premium deductions will result in the FLTCIP billing you (the participant) directly. You also have the option to change to direct billing or to payment via electronic funds transfer (EFT). If premiums are not collected or a final bill is not paid within a 30 day grace period, FLTCIP will send a termination letter. You will have 35 days from the date of the letter to pay the premium; otherwise you will be unenrolled retroactively to the last pay period in which premium was paid.

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70. Can I take a TSP loan while I'm furloughed? What is the effect of an administrative furlough on Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) contributions, investments, and loans?

Employees should refer to the Thrift Savings Plan or contact their agency representative for information. Specifically, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, which administers TSP, has posted Effect of Nonpay Status on Your TSP Account, and Sequestration and Your TSP Account, and can be reached at 1-877-968-3778 for additional information.

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71. How will this furlough impact my leave accrual?

During furlough, the accumulation of non-pay status hours can affect the accrual of annual leave and sick leave. For example, when a full-time employee with an 80-hour biweekly tour of duty accumulates a total of 80 hours of non-pay status from the beginning of the leave year (either in one pay period, or over the course of several pay periods), the employee will not earn annual and sick leave in the pay period in which that 80-hour accumulation is reached (See 5 CFR 630.208(a)). In other words, if an employee is furloughed for 112 hours (14 days), he or she will lose 1 pay periods worth of annual leave and sick leave accrual. When a part-time employee is in a non-pay status, he or she will accrue less annual leave and sick leave, since part-time employees earn leave on a pro-rata basis - i.e., based on hours in a pay status (5 CFR 630.303 and 630.406). For purposes of computing accrual rates for annual leave, creditable service for time in a non-pay status is limited to an aggregate of 6 months in a calendar year (5 U.S.C. 6303(a) and 8332(f)).

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72. What impact will this have on my CFC Pledge?

Your allotment to charity will continue if your salary is sufficient to pay the deduction according to the hierarchy in Q 38 and unless you provide other instructions to your payroll office representative. You may lower or cancel a CFC pledge by contacting your payroll office representative or CSR. If you cancel a CFC pledge, you will not be able to restart it until the next campaign season (for the 2014 payroll year).

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73. Will furlough impact Mass Transit Benefits?

The monthly maximum claim an employee in the Mass Transit Program may claim will remain the same. However, employees may only make claims based on the number of days mass transit is used. If furlough reduces the number of days that an employee uses mass transportation under the program, reimbursement will be for days of actual use.

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Holiday Pay during a Furlough

74. If my designated administrative furlough day off is on the last workday before a holiday or the first workday after a holiday (but not on both days), will I be paid for the holiday?

Yes. The general rule is that you are entitled to pay for a holiday so long as you are in a pay status on either the workday preceding a holiday or the workday immediately following a holiday. You are paid for the holiday based on the presumption that, had there not been a holiday, you would have worked (note: A holiday should not be the first or last day of the period covered by a furlough).

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75. If my designated administrative furlough day off is on the last workday before a holiday and the first workday after a holiday, will I be paid for the holiday?

No. If a furlough includes both the last workday before the holiday and the first workday after the holiday, you are not entitled to pay for the holiday because there is no longer a presumption that, had it not been for the holiday, you would have worked on that day. If you are allowed to choose your furlough days off, you will not be paid for the holiday if you choose to take a furlough day off both before and after the holiday.

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76. Will I be paid for a Federal Holiday if it is my furlough day?

General guidance put forth by OPM states that it would not be proper to furlough an employee solely on a holiday. Your supervisor will be responsible for making any additional furlough schedule adjustments for each pay period with a Federal Holiday to ensure you receive flexibilities to change your scheduled furlough days in order to receive Holiday leave. A discussion with your supervisor about your work schedule and Federal Holidays is recommended. Federal Holidays occurring during the expected furlough period include Labor Day, on Monday, September 2, 2013.

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77. Will I work during a period designated as furlough time off to accumulate religious compensatory time off hours for religious observances?

No. You may not work during a period designated as furlough time off, even to accrue religious compensatory time off.

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Employees on Travel Status (TDY)

78. If I am away from my normal duty station on TDY at the time of a furlough, how will this be handled?

Managers within your organization will determine if your services are still needed at the temporary duty station based on mission critical requirements and authorized exemptions. In the case of those employees who are notified by their agency that they are to remain on travel, because the continuation of their travel is in direct support of an exempted agency activity, your travel expenses are properly-incurred obligations of the agency (as part of the agency carrying out an exempted activity), and the agency will reimburse the travel costs. In addition, you will be eligible for any pay entitlements such as per diem and foreign entitlements.

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79. If the organization notifies me while I am on TDY to return to my normal duty station, can I elect to delay the return? If I decide to delay the return, and as a result I incur additional travel costs, who is liable for those additional travel costs?

If you are notified to return home, you should do so as soon as practicable. When you return promptly, the travel expenses that you incur in the return are properly-incurred obligations of the agency (as part of the agency's orderly- activities), and the agency will reimburse these travel costs after appropriations are enacted and are available for that purpose. If, however, you elect not to return promptly and, as a result of this decision, you incur additional travel expenses, those additional travel expenses are not obligations of the agency, and will not be reimbursed (instead, you are personally liable for the additional travel expenses); while you will be personally liable for the additional travel expenses, the agency will continue to incur the obligation for those travel costs that would have been incurred if you had returned promptly, and the agency will reimburse such "prompt return" travel costs for that purpose.

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80. Will employees returning from deployment during the furlough period be required to be furloughed for 112 hours?

In most cases the answer is no. Furlough hours will be prorated upon returning from deployment during the furlough period.

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* 81. Can an employee be engaged in official travel during furlough hours?

No. By statutory definition in 5 U.S.C. 7511(a)(5), a furlough under 5 U.S.C. chapter 75 can apply only when an employee is "without duties." Official travel is a duty within the meaning of the term "duties" in 5 U.S.C. 7511(a)(5). Thus, even if the official travel does not qualify as compensable hours of work, the scheduling of official travel would automatically cancel furlough status during affected hours-just as would the scheduling of work. (See Question A.4. regarding when employees are in furlough status-i.e., only during designated hours within the employee's tour of duty established for leave usage purposes.)

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Security Clearances

82. If I can't meet my financial obligations can it impact my security clearance?

Security clearance determinations are made based on a "whole person concept." Decisions regarding eligibility for access to classified information take into account factors that could cause a conflict of interest and place a person in the position of having to choose between his or her commitment to the United States, including the commitment to protect classified information, and any other compelling loyalty. When a person's life history shows evidence of unreliability or untrustworthiness, questions arise whether the person can be relied on and trusted to exercise the responsibility necessary for working in a secure environment where protecting classified information is paramount. Financial issues are one of many considerations taken into account when trying to determine whether a person is an acceptable security risk. As a category, financial problems are a leading reason a security clearance is revoked or not granted. A single financial misfortune may not in and of itself cause a loss of clearance. Rather, it would be a factor to be considered among many others:

  • Does a person routinely live beyond their means?
  • Are they unable or unwilling to pay their debts?
  • Is there evidence of unexplained affluence?
  • Do they file annual Federal, state, or local income tax returns as required?
  • Is the financial difficulty a result of drug use or alcohol abuse?
  • Do they have a history of gambling or other risky financial behavior?
  • Was the financial misfortune an isolated incident or part of a pattern, or cycle of debt?
  • Has the individual acted responsibly? (i.e. notified and worked with creditors)
  • Has the individual been open and honest with his or her leadership about the issue or have they tried to cover it up?

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83. What should I do to minimize the effects on my security clearance if and when I find myself unable to meet my financial obligations?

You should immediately contact your creditors and explain the situation. You should document each interaction with the creditor to the maximum extent possible. Many creditors are willing to work with their customers in such situations. For example, if the creditor agrees to lower payments for a period of time, you should ask for that agreement in writing or email. This will allow you to provide the adjudicator with the documented evidence that you were acting responsible given the situation. Additionally, you should keep your security office informed if you are experiencing or beginning to experience difficulty meeting your financial obligations.

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84. What kinds of financial hardships should I report to my security officer if they occur?

You should notify your security officer or supervisor in writing if, because of furlough, you: (1) face bankruptcy, (2) are unable to pay Federal, state or other taxes required by law or ordinance, (3) require credit counseling, (4) become delinquent on alimony or child support payments, (5) have a judgment entered against you for failure to meet financial obligations, (6) have liens placed against you, (7) become delinquent on a Federal debt, (8) have possessions or property repossessed, (9) default on loans, (10) have accounts turned over to a collection agency, (11) have credit accounts suspended, charged off, or cancelled for failure to pay as agreed, (12) are evicted for non-payment, (13) have wages garnished in order to satisfy a financial obligation, or (14) become over 120 days delinquent on a debt. Providing notification demonstrates responsibility which can mitigate any security concerns about the debts themselves.

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Employee Assistance

85. What resources are available if I need financial assistance during a furlough period?

DoD employee assistance programs (EAP) include financial consultation referral services. In addition, you may want to contact your financial institution or learn about options through the Thrift Savings Plan.

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86. How can I access Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services during a furlough?

EAP services will be available during the furlough period and can be helpful in providing confidential counseling and coaching with experienced, licensed counselors - including legal and financial stress consultation. The Pentagon Employee Referral Services may be contacted at (703) 692-8917 to utilize EAP services.

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87. Will I be eligible for unemployment compensation while on furlough?

It is possible that you may become eligible for unemployment compensation. Eligibility laws are determined by the state and requirements differ. Some states require a 1-week waiting period before an individual qualifies for payments. In general, the law of the state in which your last official duty station in federal civilian service was located will be the state law that determines eligibility (See the Department of Labor website Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees.) You should submit your questions to the appropriate state (or District of Columbia) office. The America's Service Locator provides links to individual state offices.

For additional information on Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE), see Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees, UCFE fact sheet, and UCFE frequently asked questions.

Virginia Maryland District of Columbia Pennsylvania
Virginia Employment Commission
Federal Benefits Section Room 200
Post Office Box 1358
Richmond, VA 23218-1358
Maryland Division of Unemployment Insurance
(Various Claim Centers)
District of Columbia Department of Employment Services
Office of Unemployment Compensation
Central Claims Division
609 H Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002
Unemployment Compensation (UC)
(Various Claim Centers)
Phone:
804-786-1885
Phone:
800-827-4839
877-293-4125
Phone:
02-724-7000
Phone:
888-313-7284
717-787-3547

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88. Are there other financial impacts that I should be aware of?

 

  • Retirement purposes: An aggregate nonpay status of 6 months in any calendar year is creditable service. Coverage continues at no cost to the employees while in a non-pay status. When employees are in a nonpay status for only a portion of a pay period, their contributions are adjusted in proportion to their basic pay (5 U.S.C. 8332 and 8411). The exception would be an employee who had substantial time in a non-pay status earlier in the year if the furlough causes him or her to have more than six months' time in a non-pay status during the calendar year.
  • Thrift Savings Plan (TSP): Employees should refer to the TSP Fact Sheet - Effect of Nonpay Status on Your TSP AccountThrift Savings Plan website.
  • Military duty or workers' compensation: Non-pay status for employees who are performing military duty or being paid workers' compensation counts as a continuation of Federal employment for all purposes upon the employee's return to duty.

 

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Furlough Roles and Responsibilities

89. Can the deciding official be the same individual as the proposing official?

There is no statutory or regulatory prohibition that prevents a proposing and deciding official from being one and the same. However, in keeping with common practice and to minimize litigation risk, we recommend that organizations designate separate proposing and deciding officials and that this be accomplished at the lowest practicable level.

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90. Can the oral reply official be the same as the proposing official?

We recommend that the proposing official not function as the oral reply official for the above stated reasons. The oral reply official is a management official who can either make or recommend a final decision for the furlough action. Furlough is an adverse action, and a decision should be rendered only after carefully reviewing the facts in the proposed letter and any reply (oral and/or written) from the employee. Having the same individual functioning as the proposing official and oral reply official might give the appearance of a lack of due process.

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91. What are the roles and responsibilities of the proposing official?

As in all adverse actions, the proposing official is responsible for gathering facts, and meeting with his/her employee to issue the proposed furlough notice. The proposing official will explain to the employee the reason why he or she is receiving the proposed notice for furlough. The proposing official should also go over other information included in the proposed notice such as informing the employee of his/her right to be represented by an attorney or other person, the use of official time to prepare a response, identify who is the deciding official, as well as address general questions regarding the proposed furlough notice raised by the employee.

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92. What are the roles and responsibilities of the deciding official?

The deciding official is responsible for reviewing the facts in the proposed notice and carefully considering the employee's oral and/or written reply (if received) before making a final decision to the proposed notice. The deciding official shall make a final decision as to whether the employee should be furloughed. If the deciding official does not receive a written and/or oral reply from the employee(s), he/she can make a final decision, based on the facts presented in the proposed notice, after the reply period ends. The deciding official shall document his/her decision in the final decision notice, and should schedule a meeting with the employee(s) to issue the decision notice to the employee(s). During the meeting, the deciding official should issue the notice to the employee(s) and explain his/her rationale for the final decision. The deciding official should point out the employees' avenues of redress identified in the memo and address general questions raised by the employee(s). Employees should be referred to the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center (CPAC) for questions concerning employee appeal rights.

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93. What should management do when an employee refuses to sign/acknowledge receipt of a proposed or decision furlough memorandum?

An employee's signature on a proposal or decision furlough memorandum does not constitute agreement with its contents; it only indicates receipt of the memorandum. An employee's refusal to sign for/acknowledge receipt of a furlough notification does not void the proposal or decision memorandum. Management officials should annotate on the memorandum, on the line reserved for the employee's signature, "Employee was issued the notice on (date) but refused to sign/acknowledge receipt of management's copy."

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Appeal Procedures

94. What procedural rights apply to employees who are veterans covered under 5 U.S.C. chapter 75 and 5 CFR part 752 for an administrative furlough of 30 calendar days or less?

For a short furlough of a covered veteran employee, the law (5 U.S.C. 7513) gives a covered veteran employee the same procedural rights as other covered employees. Employees should consult with their agency human resources office to determine whether they are covered by 5 U.S.C. 7513 and what procedures may apply to them.

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95. What if an agency initiates an administrative furlough for a probationer, but the individual satisfactorily completes their probationary period before furlough days are taken or completed?

Once a probationer satisfactorily completes the required probationary period and meets the definition of "employee" under 5 U.S.C. 7511, the employee is entitled to the same procedural rights as other covered employees. Before any furlough days are taken after the individual has become an "employee" under 5 U.S.C. 7511, the agency should provide: at least 30 calendar days advance written notice; at least 10 calendar days (days may vary based on union agreements) for the employee to answer orally and in writing; the right of the employee to be represented by an attorney or other representative; a written decision; and the right of the employee to appeal the agency's action to the Merit System Protection Board or through a negotiated union agreement.

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96. What are an agency's regulatory obligations in providing an appellant the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) appeal information in the adverse action furlough decision notice?

As summarized in the April 11, 2013, Federal Register an agency must satisfy the obligation to provide a copy of the MSPB appeal form when issuing a decision notice. Providing this U.S. MSPB e-Appeal Online form electronically will typically satisfy the requirement of ensuring that employees subject to a decision appealable to MSPB will have effective access to the MSPB regulations and appeal form. However, if the employee informs the agency that he or she lacks Internet access, the agency is required to take steps to ensure that the employee has actual access to the MSPB's regulations and the appeal form, including providing the employee with a hard copy of these documents upon the employee's request.

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97. What if an agency plans for and gives notice of an administrative furlough of 22 workdays or less, but then determines that another furlough is necessary for different reasons? Must the agency use 5 CFR part 351 furlough procedures if it determines that an additional furlough is necessary when the additional furlough follows a 22 workday or less furlough?

If an agency's initial assessment resulted in a furlough of 22 workdays or less, OPM recommends that the agency complete that furlough and then issue new furlough notices under either 5 CFR part 752 or 5 CFR part 351, as appropriate depending on the length of the newly required furlough, in the event it determines that additional savings are necessary for different reasons.

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98.. Is furlough considered an "adverse action" similar to a disciplinary action? If so, what are my appeal rights?

No. Furloughs (and other non-disciplinary actions) are covered under the same federal regulation, 5 CFR 752, as disciplinary actions known as "adverse actions." The term is intended to cover both types of actions because each may have a negative impact on the employee's pay or grade. While furloughs are not disciplinary in nature, they still have a negative impact on an employee's pay and warrant the same rights of appeal under 5 CFR as any other type of adverse action.

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99. What procedures and appeal rights are applicable for probationers, employees under temporary appointments in the competitive service, employees who are non-preference eligible employees in the excepted service with less than 2 years of continuous service, Schedule C employees, and others not covered by 5 U.S.C. chapter 75 but also affected by the furlough?

There are no mandatory procedures; however, all administrative procedures required by negotiated agreements or internal personnel policies will be followed, subject to any exceptions to those procedures that would apply in the event of a furlough. Furlough of a Schedule C appointee is not appealable to MSPB.

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100. What procedures and appeal rights are applicable for Career Senior Executive Service (SES) appointees and Non-Career Senior Executive Service appointees affected by the furlough?

Career Senior Executive Service (SES) appointees have appeal rights to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). A career appointee may appeal a furlough of any length. The time limit for the appeal and the MSPB office to which it should be sent will be included in furlough notifications. Furlough of an SES non-career or limited appointee, or a reemployed annuitant holding a career SES appointment, is not appealable to the MSPB.

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Still Need Assistance?

Additional information on furloughs may be found at the Office of Personnel Management website.

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