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Furloughs at Fermilab

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Latest Furlough Questions & Answers

Answers to questions (posted on January 28, 2008)

Have a question about the furlough?
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General

Do I have to take my floating holiday before September 30, 2008?

No, you may request your floating holiday for 2008 any time between January 2, 2008 and December 31, 2008.

I am wondering what is the reason that we would not be allowed to use additional vacation time instead of having to take time off without pay?

For the long-term health of the laboratory, the director has determined that the FY08 savings must be permanent. Vacation reduction is not a permanent savings to the laboratory but rather is a lien on future years because employees build their vacation balances back up, costing more in out- years.

Is there or will there be a furlough donation program that would allow additional hours to be donated to the lab or to special needs as requested by individuals, similar to what is presently available for vacation donation?

While we appreciate your generosity, we do not want to place any more burden on employees for furlough even if it is voluntary. We do still have the vacation donation program in place. If you are interested in placing your name on the “on-call” list for vacation donation requests, please e-mail hsidman@fnal.gov. Thank you.

Can you tell us if we will be eligible for unemployment benefits while on furlough?

The decision on unemployment benefit eligibility rests with Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). Our general understanding is that both weekly and monthly paid employees may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Each case will be evaluated individually. Determination of eligibility is made after filing for unemployment through a certification process. Exempt (monthly) employees will be eligible for unemployment benefits, and nonexempt (weekly) employees may increase their probability of benefit eligibility by scheduling furlough hours within one pay period. Unemployment weeks are cumulative within one calendar year, and there is a one-week waiting period for benefits. Thus, you would need to file for unemployment on the first occurrence of furlough in order to "qualify" during the second week of furlough. We encourage you to call your local office or view the website for more information: http://www.ides.state.il.us/individual/certify/.

Will Fermilab contest my unemployment claim for furlough time?

No, Fermilab will not contest unemployment benefit claims related to the furlough.

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Furlough Period

I see that the work week from Monday, May 26, 2008 through Sunday, June 1, 2008 isn't listed under the work weeks ineligible for furlough for monthly employees. But this work week spans two furlough periods, which I had been told was the reason the other weeks listed weren't eligible for monthly employees to choose for furlough. Is this 5/26-6/1 week eligible for monthly employee furlough?

The last week in May is included as an eligible week for exempt employees because the standard work week of Monday –Friday is in one furlough period. If the laboratory is able to stop the furlough at that time due to increased funding, employees will finish their furlough week beginning May 26 th, and June 1 st will be declared as the last day of furlough.

How is a payroll day counted?

12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.

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Scheduling Furlough Days

For weekly employees, if we take a furlough day between March 24 th and March 31 st, is that day applied to February-March or April-May??

For the weekly employees who take furlough March 24 – 31, those days will be applied to the February-March furlough period.

What do you mean by “there is one exception” for the vacation usage requirement?

For the vacation usage requirement, the exception refers to those employees who have a small amount of vacation accrued as of January 2008 (e.g. 2 days).  In the case of an employee who accrues 1.5 days per month, that employee would be allowed to keep 4.5 days of vacation at the end of September even though he/she only had 2 days accrued in January.  Essentially, this exception is set up to make sure employees are not completely depleted of their vacation balances in September 2008.

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Employment during Furlough

Is the Fermilab Library considered a public area that I can use while I am on furlough?

Yes, you may use the Library (WH3W) while on furlough.

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Pay and Deductions from Pay

What will my net pay be after the furlough?

Unfortunately, the payroll staff is not equipped to provide detailed statements for all employees to provide individual “net pay” calculations. Generally speaking, most employees will receive net pay of 60 percent to 65 percent of the gross furlough wages. You may increase your net pay by increasing the number of tax exemptions and/or reducing your 403(b) contributions.

How will the furlough time (or rather loss of pay) be reflected in the payroll documentation and later in the W-2 form? Will that be reflected as a simple reduction of gross pay, or before tax deduction, or after tax deduction? Each of the three scenarios has different tax, social security, etc consequences.

The gross wages will be reduced.  If you have deductions that are based on a percentage of gross income, they too will change. The amount of taxes withheld will also change since they are based on gross wages.

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Part-Time and Phased Retiree Employees

As a part-time employee, I will not be in active pay status for 11 days in a month. What will happen to my benefits eligibility, vacation accrual, etc.?

To clarify “pay status” for determining benefit eligibility, you need to be considered active in the payroll system (i.e. not on an unpaid leave of absence, long-term disability, etc.). Your furlough days should not affect your benefits eligibility.

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last modified 01/28/2008   email Fermilab at Work
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