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Furloughs at Fermilab

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Latest Furlough Questions & Answers

Answers to questions (posted on January 30, 2008)

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Are Cooperative Education Students subject to furlough?

Yes, the co-op students are subject to the furlough like all other Fermilab employees.

The unemployment benefits are unclear. For an exempt person, one must make a submission on the first week and wait for the second week for benefits. Since the second week is at least a month in the future we must resubmit and wait for the second week again? You are also required to call in every two weeks and verify that you have been out of work for that entire 2 week period. That isn't going to happen with the rolling furloughs. It seems to me that we will not receive any benefits for unemployment. Can someone look into this and guide all of us?

Unemployment benefits are determined by the Illinois Department Employment Security (IDES). The time off work that counts towards unemployment benefit eligibility is a cumulative calculation at the start of the benefit year, so the second full week of furlough should be eligible for the benefits. You would still be required to participate in the certification process per IDES regulations. Please contact your local IDES office to apply and to receive more details.

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Furlough Period

Can I use the last week of September (22-26) as a furlough week for the Aug-Sept. months? That week falls into the October pay period. It is stated that we must use a week between August 1 and September 30.

Yes, September 22-28 is an eligible furlough week.

I am confused about what is in the furlough materials regarding the requirement for monthly (exempt) employees. The policy states we have to take one week off in a two month period. The Director’s Memo states we have to take a seven-calendar-day furlough within a two month period for a total of 20 (eight-hour) work days off. How much time does a monthly employee need to take?

The total of 20 work days off for an exempt employee is for the entire eight-month furlough period. The furlough time per two-month furlough period is one calendar week (5 standard work days).

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Pay and Deductions from Pay

How will the laboratory compute furlough deductions?

For a full-time monthly employee, the deductions will be calculated based on his or her annual salary divided by 2,080 hours. This is a national payroll standard used regardless of the actual number of scheduled work hours in the year.

For a full-time weekly employee, the laboratory will use the standard hourly wage of the employee. In both cases, we calculate the deduction from your gross pay by multiplying your hourly rate by the number of furlough hours reported in a pay period.

How can I calculate the reduction in my paycheck?

You can estimate the furlough deduction from your net pay by multiplying the furlough deduction from your gross pay by 0.74.On average, federal, state, FICA and Medicare withholdings take approximately 26 percent out of your gross pay, leaving you with approximately 74 percent of every dollar earned. The actual deduction from your paycheck depends on your actual withholdings rate.

Is there anything I can do to mitigate the effects of the furlough on my net pay?

To increase your net pay during the furlough period, you can decrease your tax withholdings by increasing the number of federal and state tax exemptions. The IRS offers a withholding calculator to help determine the proper number of exemptions to claim. To change your exemptions, please use the W-4 forms available in the Payroll Department (WH4E) or change your exemptions online via the Fermilab Employee Self Service. If you make 403(b) supplemental retirement contributions, you also can increase your net pay during the furlough period by decreasing or suspending your 403(b) contributions. To make this change, please fill out this form and submit it to the Benefits Office (WH15W). Once the furlough ends, use the same form to restore your 403(b) contributions. Remember that 403(b) deductions occur before taxes; your net pay increase will be less than the change in your 403(b) contributions.

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Leave of Absence

If I am on an extended leave of absence covered by FMLA, does my furlough time run concurrent with FMLA?

If you have exhausted your paid leave while on FMLA, your furlough time will run concurrent with unpaid FMLA leave. To minimize the hardship of unpaid FMLA leave, we also encourage you to apply for vacation donation. You may view for more information on the program.

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Off Site Assignment

I am interested in taking a furlough week Feb. 17-24. However, I leave for business travel on the 23rd for a conference which starts on the 25th. Can I still take my Furlough that week?

Business travel is considered "work" for Fermilab. The way the dates of your requested furlough and business travel overlap, you would not be able to take furlough the week of Feb. 17.

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Part-Time and Phased Retiree Employees

I am weekly part-time, 16 hours. How many hours per furlough period do I need to take?

You would need to take 12.8 hours of furlough per two-month furlough period. For non-exempt (“weekly”) employees, the formula is the number of hours worked per week divided by 40 hours (16/40=.4) multiplied by 32 furlough hours (.4*32=12.8 furlough hours).

Similarly, for other non-exempt, part time employees, the required hours are as follows:

24 hours per week = 19.2 furlough hours per two-month furlough period

32 hours per week = 25.6 furlough hours per two-month furlough period .

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last modified 01/31/2008   email Fermilab at Work
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