Late Breaking News
DoD Set to Furlough Civilian Employees
WASHINGTON—Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has announced that civilian employees will be subject to furloughs beginning in July.
The furloughs are a result of sequestration, which imposes cuts to DoD’s budget.
“I have made this decision very reluctantly, because I know that the furloughs will disrupt lives and impact DoD operations. I recognize the significant hardship this places on you and your families,” Hagel said in a statement regarding the civilian furloughs.
While DoD officials had earlier this year predicted that most civilians might experience furloughs of up to 22 days as a result of sequestration, Hagel said that furloughs would be reduced to 11 days of unpaid days.
A memo from Hagel outlined categories of civilian employees who would be exempt from the furloughs. Included in the exemptions were a number of medical employees from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Fort Belvoir.
“The exceptions for the medical category are approved with the understanding these exceptions preserve the minimum level of personnel needed to maintain quality of care in 24/7 emergency rooms and other critical care areas such as behavioral health, wounded warrior “support, and disability evaluation,” the memo stated.
Furloughing these employees would result in unacceptable care being provided, and the Department would incur increased costs for premium pay or TRICARE.”
Hagel said that the department would begin the furlough period on July 8 at the rate of one furlough day per week for most personnel.
“We plan to continue these furloughs through the end of the current fiscal year. If our budgetary situation permits us to end furloughs early, I would strongly prefer to do so. That is a decision I will make later in the year,” he said in his statement.
Reacting to the DoD furloughs was National president of the American Federation of Government Employees J. David Cox Sr., who said in a statement that DoD’s decision “is a slap in the face to its civilian workforce, most of whom live paycheck-to-paycheck.”
“DoD’s workforce is not only the government’s largest, it also includes the largest number of hourly and low-paid federal workers,” he said in a written statement. “Many earn less than $12 per hour. Furloughs of 11 days will amount to a pay cut of 20% for the remainder of the year, and combined with three years of frozen pay levels, these cuts will send many into dire straits.”
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