Get it delivered right to your inbox!
The furloughs caused by the 2013 “sequestration” budget limits followed the failure of political leaders to agree on other ways to meet deficit targets set in an earlier budget agreement. The response varied widely among agencies because of their budget situations–including sources of funding apart from regular appropriations in some cases. Some didn’t impose any furloughs, and others did, mostly ranging between one and seven days. In general, those days were scattered over several months, although some gave affected employees the option to set their own schedules, within limits. Further, certain positions, mainly involved in security, safety and health, were walled off and those employees were kept at work on paid status; however, there were weeks or months of uncertainty until that was sorted out over who would be furloughed and who wouldn’t. Even when employees knew they were to be furloughed there was extended uncertainty over when and how long; also, some agencies revised their plans several times even after starting furloughs. One outcome of it all was a surge of appeals filed before the MSPB, which ruled that management has wide discretion over furloughs and sided with employees only in a few cases involving agencies not following their own policies. The last furloughs due to a partial government shutdown–one is threatened as soon as late April–also happened in 2013, when a budget was not in place for the October 1 start of the new fiscal year. Again, the response varied by the agency’s funding and certain positions were exempt–but in that case, employees kept on the job were working unpaid. While all employees were later paid for the shutdown period regardless of whether they had stayed on the job, those furloughed due to the sequester permanently lost salary for those days. In each, some 800,000 employees were furloughed, although not necessarily the same ones.