At least two organizations already have issued formal furlough notices to employees.
If the across-the-board cut in federal spending known as sequestration goes into effect at the end of the week, it could take weeks for the process of formally notifying employees of impending furloughs to unfold at many agencies. That would mean, in many cases, that individual employees would not be subject to furloughs until some time in April.
But some agencies already have met their legal obligation to inform employees of furloughs, and could begin them in March, according to the Office of Management and Budget.
The Justice Department and the National Labor Relations Board already have issued formal furlough notices to individual employees, OMB said in a statement provided to Government Executive. In general, such notices must be sent out 30 days in advance of a furlough. But the 30-day notice requirement does not apply to all federal employees, OMB noted.
Many agencies, including the Defense Department, have communicated generally to their employees that should sequestration go into effect, they will be forced to furlough some or all of their workers. One, the Federal Aviation Administration, has notified its 47,000 employees that nearly all of them will be subjected to furloughs of approximately one day per pay period in the event of a sequester. These informal notices do not trigger the 30-day warning period.
Once formal furlough notices are sent, many agencies will have to begin the process of bargaining with labor unions representing employees over their specific terms. At some agencies, preliminary discussions with unions already are under way.
For updated details on agencies’ plans, see Government Executive’s Furlough Watch.