Nation & World News

Defense Workers’ Furlough Days May Be Cut

By Bill Chappell on July 31st, 2013

The number of furlough days for civilian workers at the Department of Defense may be cut nearly in half, according to The Associated Press, a result of Pentagon officials finding hundreds of millions of dollars in savings within their current budgets.

Tentative plans could reduce the required 11 furlough days for civilian Defense workers to as few as six days, the AP reports, citing anonymous sources at the Pentagon. If it becomes official, the easing would follow a trend that began this past spring, when employees were told they likely would have to take 14 days of unpaid leave instead of the original estimate of 22 days.

Hundreds of thousands of Defense employees have been taking furlough days for several weeks now, in a process that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has warned may continue into the next year. Last week, Hagel told workers in Charleston, S.C., that future cuts also could force layoffs in the financial year beginning in October.

“According to one defense official, current budget projections suggest that if Pentagon budget chiefs find about $500 million in savings, the number of furlough days will be shaved to eight,” the AP reports. “If they can find $900 million, the furloughs will be cut to six days.”

The news of a possible change comes as the furloughs are “wreaking havoc on productivity and frustrating DoD and industry officials,” the Defense News reports.

Because employees prefer to schedule their furlough days to lengthen their weekend, “things have come to a standstill on Mondays and Fridays,” a Defense contractor who works in the Pentagon tells Defense News. Another source says the mandate that employees not work more than 32 hours a week has turned some workers into “clock watchers.”

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