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Furloughs at Fermilab

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Latest Furlough Questions & Answers

Answers to questions (posted on February 6, 2008)

Have a question about the furlough?
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Q: I wish to come to the lab during the furlough period to attend a TIAA/CREF session. Is that OK?

A: Yes, this is fine as long as you do not go to your work area or perform Fermilab work while you are here.

Q: How can it be right that I am expected to complete the same goals by the same dates despite the furlough? I am adding all the hours of the furlough to the weeks before and after to make up the time. Is this really legal?

A: Goal setting is a normal process through which the Lab designates objectives to be achieved because of operational, programmatic or administrative need. Goals are set for future achievement based on priorities and assuming certain conditions will exist that will allow their completion within an expected timescale. If these conditions change it may be appropriate to review the priorities and timescales for achievement of goals. While there may be some flexibility in the priority of some goals, there may be little or none in the case of others. It is not a "legal" issue as such.

Review of progress towards goal achievement and assessment of the effects of changes in the work environment on their achievability against initially set target dates are normal activities and part of the process. The furlough is a change in our work environment that was not expected at the time many goals were set. In light of this unexpected change in our work environment, it would be reasonable for employees to review individual goals with their manager.

Q: Why is it that Fermilab is hiring contractors to fill in for furloughed employees? Doesn't this defeat the purpose of saving the lab money?

A: It is most important to the Director that all employees share in the pain of the furlough. It was always understood that some furlough absences at the laboratory would have to be backfilled due to inflexible work requirements. Because each organization's salary and wage budget has been reduced by the full effect of the furlough, those organizations that are backfilling with contractors have to cut other M&S expenditures in order to stay within their overall budgets. While this is an additional hardship in those organizations, it does not increase the laboratory's overall costs.

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H1-B Visa Holders

Q: Are employees who are in H-1B visa status eligible for unemployment benefits?

A: Employees in H-1B visa status are not eligible for unemployment insurance for a couple of reasons:

a) As exempt, part-time monthly employees they will receive pay for each week (whether for work time or paid leave) that exceeds the minimum earnings to qualify for unemployment compensation benefit ($369/week).

b) As part time employees, those in H-1B status are not furloughed or laid off for any period of time.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) has confirmed the ineligibility.

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last modified 03/21/2008   email Fermilab at Work
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