Nationwide 800,000 Federal Employees and Thousands of Contractors Could be Furloughed
Government shutdown 2011: Will I get paid? What will be open? What can I expect?
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has created a document to address some of the questions that I know must be on your mind. The document can be accessed at www.opm.gov/furlough2011//www.opm.gov/furlough2011/
Frequently Asked Questions for Shutdown Furloughs
Table of Contents
- Excepted Employees
- Working during Furlough
- Performance Awards and Within-Grade Increases
- Leave and Other Time Off
- Employee Assistance
- Service Credit for Various Purposes
- Federal Employees on Military Duty
- Payments upon Separation from Federal Service
- Continuation of Pay
- Injury While on Furlough
- Labor Management Relations Implications
The Obama administration is warning federal workers that they cannot work for free during any shutdown nor can they take paid leave.
In instructions updated and issued Tuesday evening, the Office of Personnel Management issued updated guidance on how a shutdown of even one day would impact each worker’s bottom line.
You can read the full guidance here, but The Federal Eye read it and summarizes below:
Question: What is a furlough?
Answer: According to OPM’s official guidance, “A furlough is the placing of an employee in a temporary nonduty, nonpay status because of lack of work or funds, or other nondisciplinary reasons.”
Q: What is a shutdown furlough and why is one necessary?
A “shutdown furlough” occurs if federal funding runs out. It’s necessary for agencies that no longer have the funds necessary to keep working.
Q: Who’s an “essential” worker? (NOTE: OPM labels employees who work during a shutdown as “excepted employees”):
It’s people working or may continue to do so by law. “Essential/Excepted” employees include people: (1) performing emergency work involving the safety of human life or the protection of property, (2) performing minimal activities as necessary to execute an orderly suspension of agency operations related to non-excepted activities, or (3) performing certain other types of excepted work.
Top agency lawyers and managers are determining who’s considered “essential” and “non-essential.”
Other workers may be “excepted” from the shutdown furlough if their agency or program is covered by appropriations not impacted by the current budget impasse. (Best examples of that are the Federal Highway Administration, which is funded by the federal highway trust fund. The Veterans Health Administration is also handled on a two-year budget cycle.)
Q: How will employees be notified whether they have been designated to be handling “excepted” or “non-excepted” functions?
Answer: Each Agency will communicate with its employees whether they’re “essential” or “non-essential.”
Q: Are all employees who qualify as “emergency employees” for the purpose of weather emergencies considered “essential” during a shutdown?
A: Not necessarily. Emergency employees for weather purposes aren’t automatically deemed “essential” during shutdowns — each agency must determine which employees are excepted employees.
Q: May employees volunteer to do their job without pay during a shutdown?
A: No. Unless otherwise authorized by law, an agency may not accept the voluntary services of an employee. (The Anti-Deficiency Act is the law prohibiting voluntary work.)
Q: Can workers take another job during while furloughed?
A: Even if you’re furloughed, you’re still a federal employee and Executive Branch ethics regarding outside employment still apply. Employees should review those regulations before applying elsewhere.
Q: Will I be paid if I work during a shutdown? If so, when?
A: Agencies will sort out who gets paid for time worked during a shutdown and those employees will be paid when Congress passes and the president signs a new appropriation or continuing resolution.
Q: Will furloughed/non-essential employees be paid for not working during a shutdown?
A: Congress will determine whether “non-essential” workers receive pay for the furlough period.
Q: Can non-esential workers take previously-approved paid leave during a shutdown?
A. No. All paid leave during a shutdown furlough period must be canceled because the requirement to furlough supersedes leave rights. Paid leave creates a debt to the government that isn’t authorized by law.
Q: Can essential personnel take previously-approved leave or be granted new requests for paid leave during a shutdown?
A. No. Essential personnel must be either doing their job or furloughed during any absence from work during a shutdown. If an excepted employee refuses to report for work after being ordered to do so, he or she will be considered in an absence without leave (AWOL) and will be subject to any subsequent consequences.
Q: Will an employee continue to be covered under the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) program during a shutdown furlough if the agency is unable to make its premium payments on time?
A. Yes, the employee’s FEHB coverage will continue even if an agency does not make the premium payments on time.
Q: What effect will a furlough have on other benefits that are paid for through payroll deductions?
A. It varies. Best thing to do is visit http://www.opm.gov/oca/leave/HTML/LWOP_eff.asp for more information.
Q: Are employees entitled to unemployment compensation while on furlough?
A. It is possible that furloughed employees may become eligible for unemployment compensation. But state unemployment compensation requirements differ. Some require a one-week waiting period before you apply. You should contact your state government directly and visit the Labor Department’s “Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees” information page.
The Recession’s Not Over Till It’s Over
GDP growth is on the rise (since 1st quarter of 2009). Have lots of free time? Read the government report. The United States Gross Domestic Product is worth 14093 billion dollars or 22.73% of the world economy,
Deflation has stopped, maybe (inflation was negative the last 3 quarters)
Job unemployment decreases have slowed
Tourist arrivals are up (depending on who you ask). Of the major markets, Japanese visitor expenditures soared up 41 percent over last year, to $147 million, though the daily spending by these visitors dipped from $274 per day to $271.
Hawaii housing inventory (months supply) bottomed out and is on the rise. Check out this interesting heat map on Trulia.
The number of single family home and condominium sales bottom out in January 2009 and have risen since then (and so has the median home price).
It’s Not Over:
Total nonfarm payroll employment declined by 125,000 in June, and the unemployment rate edged down to 9.5 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Buried in the jobs report
Among the marginally attached, there were 1.2 million discouraged workers in June, up by 414,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.
GDP growth rate is not strong enough to add jobs. It must be well over 5%; 8% says we are OK for future growth. Basically we need to hit 8 to make up for the lost growth we suffered. More than you wanted to know about GDP.
Tourists aren’t buying much (just rooms)
Housing starts bottomed out (lowest production since the “Dustbowl”
The ratio of debt to the gross domestic product would rise to 102 percent by 2015 from 93 percent this year.
We are at the bottom of our usual 10-year cycle. It bottomed out in 2009 and will most likely peak in 2019 (Yes, prices will double again from today’s prices, as they have in the previous cycles).
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
House Approves Homebuyer Tax Credit Extension
Today the House voted 409-5 to extend the deadline for closing home purchases to Sept. 30. The program initially required borrowers who signed contracts before April 30 to complete paperwork by July 1 to get a tax credit of as much as $8,000.
The House measure accommodates borrowers at risk of being disqualified for the tax credit because lenders and loan servicers aren’t processing mortgages quickly enough. The Senate is considering similar legislation.
NAR (National Association of Realtors,) estimates the number of homebuyers who have qualified for the tax credit and met the contract deadline of April 30, but who would not be able to close their transaction by the June 30 deadline, could go as high as 180,000. REALTORS® have reported as many as one-third of qualified applicants have been notified by lenders that their mortgages will not close before June 30 due to the sheer volume of applications in the pipeline.
The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 4.67 percent from 4.75 percent, with points decreasing to 0.96 from 1.07 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value (LTV) ratio loans. This is the lowest 30-year contract rate recorded in the survey since the week ending April 24, 2009. The effective rate also decreased from last week.
Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund Insolvent
Yahoo Finance has reported that the EUTF is losing more than $1 million a month and may not be able to afford to pay doctors for medical bills within a few months unless something is done within the three weeks left in this year’s legislative session, Lingle warned. The EUTF covers 161,000 employees, retirees and dependents.
Lingle made the request Tuesday in a letter to legislative leaders urging them to take action because the trustees of the Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund haven’t voted to raise health insurance premiums by 26 percent after they levied a 24 percent increase last year. In her Weekly Radio Address she stated “The Trust fund is insolvent, its governance is unsustainable and necessary cost-cutting measures are either not being enacted or are in danger of being repealed by the Legislature.”
The employee trustees on the board would prefer the government pay to keep the EUTF afloat rather than raise premiums again, even though the state is facing a projected $1.3 billion deficit through June 2011.
The Hawaii Employees’ Retirement System pension fund is also in trouble. Hawaii was listed recently in “15 Public Pension Chiefs Whose Funds Are Zooming Towards Collapse.” Keep in mind, the private sector deems defined-benefit pension plans to be “critical” if the funded portion of the plan is less than 65 percent. In 2006, Hawaii was rated at 65% funded.
2008 Actuarial Funding Ratio: 67.5%
2008 Actuarial Value of Liabilities: $15.7 Billion
2008 Actuarial Value of Assets: $10.6 Billion
2008 Unfunded Actuarial Accrued Liabilities: $5.1 Billion
Head of Fund: Chair of the Board of Trustees Jackie Ferguson – Miyamoto
If state lawmakers fail to enact fundamental reforms in the area of public employee pensions, the long-term financial health of the states could be compromised – and taxpayers will certainly be left on the hook.
Much of the current data regarding liabilities in public employee pensions was taken before the recent economic downturn, and the study’s authors warn the problem is much worse today since stock market losses have not been fully realized in many official government pension statistics. Other estimates with recent data place the unfunded pension liabilities at $1 trillion nationally.
A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) suggests that the funding status in public pension funds is worse than reported (Novy-Marx and Rauh, 2009). These pension systems are likely to experience signifi cant funding shortfalls in future years, even if the economy recovers and financial markets stabilize. These funding shortfalls will impose a heavy burden on future generations.
The most important finding in the NBER study is the prospect of future underfunding in state pension plans based on more realistic discount rates. Using a 15-year amortization period, the NBER study estimates conservatively that there is a 50 percent chance of underfunding greater than $750 billion; a 25 percent chance of underfunding greater than $1.75 trillion; and a 10 percent chance that underfunding will exceed $2.48 trillion.
Hawaii Public School Furlough Dates and Schedules 2010-2011
Tuesday, May 25, 2010 UPDATE – Governor Linda Lingle, BOE Chairperson Garrett Toguchi, and Interim Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi announced ALL seventeen “Furlough Fridays” scheduled for the 2010-2011 school year will be eliminated from the public school calendar, returning nearly 171,000 children back to the classroom.
******** JULY 2010 – to see the new 2010 – 2011 Calendar, click HERE *******
State furloughs are difficult and will require us to work together as a community to provide alternative learning opportunities and experiences for our students. To see the new 2010 school calendar with a list of furlough days, click here.
May 26, 2010 – Last day for students **
May 27, 2010 – Last day for teachers
FURLOUGH SCHEDULE 2010
Teachers on a 10-month class cycle are scheduled for 17 furlough days on Fridays:
Oct. 23, 30
Nov. 6, 20
Dec. 4, 11,18
Jan. 15, 29
Feb. 5, 12
March 5, 12
April 23, 30
May 7, 14
Note: Furloughs are not scheduled for holidays or other paid nonwork days, or for professional development days during which students do not attend class.
FURLOUGH SCHEDULE 2011
School year 2010-2011 furlough dates are scheduled on (as of March 8, 2010):
- Students and 10-month teachers (17 days):
Aug. 27; Sept. 17, 24; Oct. 29; Nov. 19; Dec. 10, 17; Jan. 14, 28; Feb. 4, 11; Mar. 4, 11; Apr. 15, 29; and May 6, 13.
- 12-month teachers (21 days):
July 16, 23; Aug. 27; Sept. 17, 24; Oct. 29; Nov. 19; Dec. 10, 17; Jan. 14, 28; Feb. 4, 11; Mar. 4, 11; Apr. 15, 29; May 6, 13; and June 17, 24.
- 10-month HGEA (included and excluded) employees (17 days):
Aug. 27; Sept. 17, 24; Oct. 29; Nov. 19; Dec. 10, 17; Jan. 14, 28; Feb. 4, 11; Mar. 4, 11; Apr. 15, 29; and May 6, 13.
- 12-month HGEA (included and excluded) employees (24 days):
July 16, 23; Aug. 27; Sept. 17, 24; Oct. 29; Nov. 19, 26; Dec. 10, 17, 23, 30; Jan. 14, 28; Feb. 4, 11; Mar. 4, 11; Apr. 15, 29; May 6, 13; and June 17, 24.
- Superintendent’s Leadership Team (21 days):
Aug. 27; Sept. 17, 24; Oct. 29; Nov. 19, 26; Dec. 10, 17, 23, 30; Jan. 14, 28; Feb. 4, 11; Mar. 4, 11, 18; Apr. 15, 29; and May 6, 13.
- May 26, 2010 – Last day for students **
May 27, 2011 – Last day for teachers
2010-2011 HAWAII PUBLIC SCHOOL HOLIDAYS
Independence Day (observed)……………………….July 5, 2010
Statehood Day………………………………………….August 20, 2010
Labor Day……………………………………………..September 6, 2010
Election Day………………………………………….November 2, 2010
Veterans’ Day ……………………………………..November 11, 2010
Thanksgiving Day ……………………………..November 25, 2010
Christmas Day (observed) …………………December 24, 2010
New Year’s Day (observed)……………….December 31, 2010
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day ……………January 17, 2011
Presidents’ Day……………………………………..February 21, 2011
Kuhio Day (observed) ……………………………….March 25, 2011
Good Friday…………………………………………………April 22, 2011
Memorial Day ……………………………………………….May 30, 2011
King Kamehameha I Day(observed) ………….June 10, 2011
* Jan. 3: Teacher work day between student semesters
** Commencement Exercises: No sooner than May 20, 2011
*** For all teachers – Intersessions: Oct. 4-8; Recesses: Dec. 20 – 31 and Mar. 14-18