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Furloughs at Fermilab

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Latest Furlough Questions & Answers

Answers to questions (posted on February 4, 2008)

Have a question about the furlough?
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General

Is there a site-wide freeze on overtime with the exception of emergencies?

No, there is not a site-wide freeze on overtime. The decision for incurring overtime remains in the hands of Division and Section Heads, to be managed in the context of their overall budget constraints.

As I understand it the lab is self-insured. If this is correct and all employees receive their unemployment insurance benefits for their furloughs, has the lab taken this payout into account? Will more money need to be saved somehow? Thanks for all you have been doing to help us.

Yes, the laboratory is self-insured for unemployment benefits. We have planned for increased fringe benefit costs this year and this has been taken into account in our FY08 budget planning under the Omnibus spending bill.

Doesn't the lab's unemployment insurance rate go up for each approved claim? If so, doesn't this also cause an expense and therefore reduce the savings from a 1-month furlough by a percentage overall?

The laboratory is self-insured for unemployment costs. The state bills the laboratory for each unemployment claim paid and the cost is borne by the Laboratory dollar for dollar. For more information on unemployment compensation and how it affects employees and the laboratory, please read the information provided by Chief Financial Officer Cindy Conger.

The Q&A of January 31 says that a property pass remains valid while we are on furlough, but I heard through my supervisor that we have been asked not to take Fermilab-owned property if we travel while on furlough. I am planning a two-week trip out of the country, one week of vacation plus one week of furlough, and I was planning on using the laptop during the vacation week (not the furlough week) to check company email and respond to urgent requests. Will that be allowed?

In the situation you describe there is no labwide prohibition. But, remember not to use the laptop during your furlough week. As you note from the previous answer, the property pass remains valid. It would be a good idea for those simply taking a week of furlough not to take a laptop home.

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Scheduling Furlough Days

I have been previously scheduled to travel during February on FNAL business, departing on a Sunday and returning the following Sunday. I clearly can't take furlough during the week I am away, but (with supervisor's approval) may I take furlough in February: a) the week before I depart? b) the week after I return?

The Laboratory's work week begins on Monday and ends on Sunday. Therefore you would not be able to take furlough the week before your trip, because your departure on that Sunday would constitute work for the Laboratory in that week. You would be able to take furlough the week after your trip, because your return on Sunday would be before the start of the furlough week.

Will it be known by the end of March if Fermilab gets additional funding? If so, and if the answer is no, (that is, furloughs must continue through September): could parents of school-aged children reschedule their April-May furlough week to the June-July period to cut down on child-care expenses during the summer? In other words, will you consider amending the established furlough scheduling rules to accommodate the workforce in this way?

We are not considering amending the furlough policy as long as there is any possibility that a change in circumstances could shorten the furlough; we will retain the current policy's "off-ramps." The vacation usage requirement is not constrained by the two-month furlough periods; with supervisor approval employees can use vacation to take additional time off in the summer.

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Pay and Deductions from Pay

I am a weekly employee and I have decided to take 1/2 days of furlough on Fridays, which I believe will minimize the effect on my weekly pay check. If I make no changes to my deposit amounts currently being made, where will I see the lesser amount show up: in my checking or savings account?

It will depend on the order that you have requested your deposits to be made. As a general statement, the reduced deposit will be on the last account shown on your pay stub.

For monthly employees, does the furlough time have to be in a one-week block of time or can it be taken a few days at a time? Am I correct that it is not possible to spread the required furlough time out over two months to lessen the impact on income?

Monthly employees must take furlough in one-week increments.

If you report your leave time using the electronic Fermilab Time & Labor system, your payroll deduction will take place in the following pay period: If you take your furlough week prior to the third Sunday in the month, it will be deducted from that month's paycheck. If you take your furlough week after the third Sunday in the month, it will be deducted from the subsequent month's paycheck.

If you still use a paper leave sheet, the furlough deduction will be split over two paychecks if the leave sheet cutoff date of the 21st of the month falls into the week in which you take furlough. For example, a monthly employee reporting on a paper leave sheet and taking the week of May 19th would have 3 furlough days deducted on the May paycheck and 2 days deducted on the June paycheck. Likewise, taking the week of April 21st would result in a 1-day deduction from April's paycheck and 4 days in May.

Please note: If you schedule one furlough week close to the end of one two-month period and another furlough week in the first few weeks of the next two-month period, two weeks of furlough will be deducted from your next paycheck. For instance, if an exempt employee were to take the weeks of March 24 and April 14, two weeks pay would be deducted from the April pay check. To avoid this effect, please take into account the cutoffs for the pay periods as outlined above when scheduling your furlough.

Can you tell me how part-time and phased-retirement weekly employees report .2 and .6 of an hour on a time sheet?

Part-time Weekly employees may report partial hours in decimal points such as .2 or .6 of an hour on the timesheet.

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Benefits

I understand how the lab calculates its 10 percent contribution to TIAA-CREF by using the base wage for 2,080 hrs (260 days). For this year, should we expect a reduction equal to the 16 furlough days that a weekly (non-exempt) employee has to take? Does this equal a reduction of 6.15 percent (260/16*100)? If this is correct, is the calculation in terms of dollars the same? Please advise.

The reduction in TIAA-CREF contributions will be 10 percent of your furlough reduction in your gross pay. The calculation is best done in hours: 16 days are 128 hours. For a full-time weekly employee the reduction of gross pay over the entire planned furlough period will be (weekly salary / 40 * 128). The resulting reduction in the lab's TIAA-CREF contributions over the 8-month furlough period would be 10 percent of this number.

Will employees be given written notification as to what their maximum vacation balance can be as of September 30?

Your maximum vacation balance allowed on September 30, 2008, will appear as an informational message on your pay stub beginning with the February 15th stub for non-exempt employees and the February 2008 stub for exempt employees. This will continue through the end of the September.

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last modified 02/04/2008   email Fermilab at Work
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