Feds Could Recover Some Furlough Days, OPM Says

Ersler Dmitry/Shutterstock.com

Federal employees can convert extra furlough days into additional paid vacation in the event an agency cancels or draws back required unpaid leave, according to new guidance from the Office of Personnel Management.

This situation could arise if a federal worker is given flexibility in when to take his furlough days. If a worker chooses to take all the furlough days up front -- and the need to take furloughs is later canceled or the number of necessary furlough days is reduced -- the worker can use the days he took off as annual leave, OPM said.

While OPM has previously said employees cannot use accrued leave in lieu of taking a furlough, the agency has added the new guidance in the event an employee takes more furlough days than is ultimately required.

“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,” OPM said in the guidance, “the employee may retroactively cancel excess furlough hours and substitute annual leave for those hours.”

OPM went on to say that an agency is not required to provide an employee in this situation with an “excused absence” -- paid time off without docking accrued leave -- but it may do so at its own discretion, so long as the option is provided to all similarly situated employees. The federal government’s human resources office also said agencies may need to negotiate details with federal employee unions.

Additional updates included in the new guidance confirmed that taking furloughs does not affect an employee’s full-time status and said an agency can require an employee to work during a furlough period in the case of an emergency, though the employee must be fully compensated for that time. OPM has previously barred an employee from voluntarily working without pay while furloughed.

The Defense Department has said it will cancel all alternative work schedules during the furlough period, which has caused the American Federation of Government Employees to threaten legal action. OPM said in its revised guidance the impact of furloughs on these schedules should be determined on an agency-by-agency basis.

When issuing a decision on an individual’s challenge of a furlough, all agencies must provide the employee with a form to appeal the decision to the Merit Systems Protection Board, OPM said. 

(Image via Ersler Dmitry/Shutterstock.com)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.