The military is starting to notify civilian employees of possible sequestration related furloughs. Below is part of one of the emails sent out this morning. Pay particular attention to the last bullet point:
- Furlough duration: First, enacting civilian unpaid furloughs is a measure of last resort. If it does occur, the most likely option is one day per week for the last 22 weeks of the fiscal year (late April through September) for a total of 22 work days (176 hours). One day per week (eight hours) equals a 20 percent reduction in pay for each individual DOD civilian worker during the furlough period.
- Notification: If furloughs occur, the workforce will be notified by management at least 30 days prior to the initial furlough. OPM will decide which days personnel will be furloughed.
- Exemptions: If sequestration occurs, most civilians will be furloughed with few exceptions: (1) those deployed in a combat zone, (2) those who protect the safety of life or property to the extent needed, (3) non-appropriated fund employees (NAF), (4) those exempt by law who hold a presidential appointment with Senate confirmation, (5) foreign nationals and (6) those exempted as approved by a 2-star flag officer or higher.
- Leave: Furlough time off is treated like regular leave without pay for leave accrual and benefit purposes. When employees are in a non-pay status (like a furlough) their retirement deductions are adjusted in proportion to their basic pay.
- Thrift Savings Plan: Regarding the Thrift Savings Plan, employees who have selected their TSP contribution to be a percentage of their pay will see smaller contributions during the furlough period due to their reduced pay. Employees who have selected a fixed amount for their TSP contribution will see the same amount deducted during the furlough period.
- Financial hardships: We understand furloughs may result in unexpected financial difficulty for civilian personnel and their families, but financial difficulties are not grounds for a supervisor to waive an employee’s furlough. Employees should start planning immediately for reduced paychecks beginning in April.
- Healthcare: The Government’s portion of the healthcare premiums will be paid in full and on time, and benefits will continue for furloughed employees. See the OPM website at www.opm.gov for more information.
- Outside employment: While on furlough, individuals remain employed by the Federal Government; therefore, standards of ethical conduct and rules regarding outside employment are applicable. Before engaging in outside employment, employees should consult their agency ethics official.
There is still an opportunity for Congress to pass a balanced deficit-reduction plan that the President can sign and sequestration is truly averted (not just delayed). Not only is the current situation devastating to our personnel, we know that furloughs will substantially harm our ability to reset and restore the force’s full-spectrum combat capability after over a decade of hard fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A related website has been set up at http://www.afsc.af.mil/sequestration.asp