Labor Department headquarters

Labor Department headquarters Flickr user

Furloughs Begin Across Executive Branch

Labor, OMB employees among those starting unpaid leave.

Employee furloughs at the Labor Department officially started this week, a union official confirmed.

The number of furlough days for affected employees range across the department’s agencies, with some workers taking unpaid leave for up to two days while others are missing up to eight days of pay. The furloughs officially began April 15, but some employees signed waivers to use their furlough days before that date, said Alex Bastani, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 12.

The Labor Department did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Furloughs are scheduled to begin next week for many other agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of Management and Budget. OMB issued furlough notices on March 7 to 480 employees. Affected employees must take one furlough day per pay beginning April 21 and ending Sept. 7, for a total of 10 days.

The Defense Department has said it will begin furloughs in mid-to late-June; the number of furlough days is now at 14 for most civilian employees but the department has said it might reduce that to seven days. Federal public defenders, who are paid out of the judiciary’s budget, started their furloughs earlier this month.

Labor sent 4,700 furlough notices on March 5 and said unpaid leave would begin April 15, unless employees waived the 30-day notice period to begin their furloughs earlier. The furloughs will continue through Sept. 21. Fiscal 2013 ends on Sept. 30.

A memorandum of understanding between AFGE and Labor states that affected employees will serve no more than half of their furlough days before July 13, and no more than half after that date.

Labor employees at the following agencies currently are scheduled for furloughs:

  • Administrative Law Judge Programs: up to 8 days
  • Business Operations Center: up to 2 days
  • Employment and Training Administration: up to 5 days
  • Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program: up to 5 days
  • Office of Labor Management Standards: up to 5 days
  • Office of the Solicitor: up to 2 days
  • Workers Compensation Program: up to 6 days

Right now there are no furloughs planned for employees at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mine Safety and Health Administration, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, and Wage and Hour Division.

Bastani, however, said the fiscal 2013 continuing resolution could change some employees’ furlough status. “Our largest group of furlough days was in the VETS section of DoL – which was looking at 10 days -- but the continuing resolution by Congress zeroed that out. However, due to that same continuing resolution, we are looking at an additional 1 percent across-the-board reduction in budgets,” Bastani said. “So, we are concerned that additional furlough days may be announced by the end of this month [April].”

Click here to view Furlough Watch, which details other agencies’ plans for unpaid leave.