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Furloughs at Fermilab

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Furlough Questions & Answers

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  1. What is a furlough?

    A furlough is the placing of an employee in a temporary nonwork, nonpay status because of lack of work or funds, or other nondisciplinary reasons.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  2. What is the difference between a furlough and reduction in force (RIF)?

    These terms describe actions that are intended to achieve cost savings by reducing a company’s payroll costs. Even though the words have been used interchangeably, their true meanings are quite different.

    A furlough is considered to be an alternative to layoff. When an employer furloughs its employees, it requires them to work fewer hours or to take a certain amount of unpaid time off during the year. For example, an employer may furlough its employees two days a month for the remainder of the year. Another method of furlough is to require all employees to take a week or two without pay sometime during the year.

    A reduction in force (RIF, pronounced “rif”) involves an involuntary separation of an employee or groups of employees due to economic pressures, lack of work, organizational changes or other reasons of business necessity that require a reduction in staff.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  3. 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:
    Updated: 01/28/2008  

  4. What if Fermilab receives additional funding during the furlough period? Will I have to complete my furlough hours if I have not already taken them?

    Even if the Laboratory receives the necessary funding to eliminate the furlough, all employees will be required to complete the two-month furlough period to ensure fairness across the Laboratory.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  5. Are employees stationed at CERN or New Mexico part of the furlough as well?

    Yes, all Fermilab employees are subject to the furlough, no matter what their physical location.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  6. Are employees who hold a non-immigrant visa part of the furlough?

    Yes, though dependent on visa status implementation of the furlough requirement will be different: employees holding H-visas will be re-classified as part time, 35 hours per week; the furlough requirement for those holding other visa types will be implemented as for all other employees.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  7. Can a non-FRA employee (someone paid fully by their home institution or purchase order) be subject to the furlough?

    No, only Fermilab employees are subject to the furlough requirements.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  8. My salary is charged to special project funding. Am I subject to the furlough?

    Yes, all Fermilab employees are subject to the furlough regarding of project funding source. If you receive a Fermilab paycheck, you are subject to the furlough.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  9. If there is a continuing resolution in FY09, will there be layoffs?

    Fermilab does not plan to continue furloughs beyond FY08. If the FY09 budget does not improve, there will have to be layoffs.
    Posted: 01/24/2008  

  10. When will Fermilab make a decision about whether layoffs will occur, how many there will be, and who will be laid off?

    Fermilab is currently working on a plan for staff reduction if layoffs are necessary. The laboratory does not expect to issue notices of layoffs before early April.
    Posted: 01/24/2008  

  11. Is there a hiring freeze?

    Yes, but there can be exceptions to fill vital positions.
    Posted: 01/24/2008  

  12. Has there been an official statement from DOE about the effects of the budget cuts?

    Yes. See
    Posted: 01/24/2008  

  13. Is there any budget mechanism in place to keep this kind of funding crunch from happening again?

    No. The budget process is not optimal for science projects, but we are unlikely to be able to change the system anytime soon.
    Posted: 01/24/2008  

  14. As a result of the furlough, some people may find jobs elsewhere. How will we deal with that?

    We will fill vital jobs. We will develop a robust, exciting, achievable program of accelerator based science that will lead to future opportunities for people to work at Fermilab.
    Posted: 01/24/2008  

  15. What happens to a nonexempt employee on assignment at CERN?

    The employee takes the same furlough as other Fermilab employees.
    Posted: 01/24/2008  

  16. Much of my time is charged to an external source. Does that affect my furlough?

    No. You will take the same furlough as other employees.
    Posted: 01/24/2008  

  17. Is furlough notification the same as notification of layoff?

    Posted: 01/24/2008  

  18. Will we continue to hold conferences at Fermilab?

    Yes, but we will use discretion in holding them.
    Posted: 01/24/2008  

  19. Where can employees get help with financial problems?

    For financial counseling or advice, employees can call on the resources of the Employee Assistance Program. Call the EAP 24/7 at 1-800-843-1327 and tell them you're from Fermilab. Or get directly in touch with employee assistance counselor Brian Malinowski at 1-847-625-3532 or
    Posted: 01/24/2008  

  20. How will the furlough affect expectations for the lab's performance?

    We won't be able to start NOvA or move forward on superconducting rf R&D. We will try hard to run the Tevatron very well.
    Posted: 01/24/2008  

  21. Can employees apply for unemployment compensation due to the furlough? Is unemployment compensation likely?

    Yes, they can, and here's here's the link to apply online:
    Posted: 01/24/2008  

  22. If you are RIFed, will you be able to retire?

    Yes. If you are notified that you are to be RIFed, you will be eligible to receive severance. If you are eligible for retirement, you will also be able to retire. That means you will qualify for retiree medical benefits.
    Posted: 01/24/2008  

  23. Was the computer professional title change delayed because of the budget crisis?

    Yes, but this project is back on track now.
    Posted: 01/24/2008  

  24. Where can I find the severance schedule?

    You may view it at
    Posted: 01/24/2008  

  25. 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.
    Posted: 01/28/2008  

  26. 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.
    Posted: 01/28/2008  

  27. 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 Thank you.
    Posted: 01/28/2008  

  28. Will Fermilab contest my unemployment claim for furlough time?

    No, Fermilab will not contest unemployment benefit claims related to the furlough.
    Posted: 01/28/2008  

  29. Concerning the furlough, and calculating the hourly rate for exempt employees, I understand that 2080 working hours/year is the standard number used, based on 260 weekdays per year.  However, for 2008 this is not correct.  Partially due to the leap year, there are 262 weekdays, which would be 2096 working hours per year. If this is corrected, it would lower an exempt employee’s hourly rate... and lessen the amount of pay loss.

    The 2080 hours is a national payroll standard that is used by the majority of companies in the US and is the one Fermilab has used for at least 15 years. This hourly rate is used in vacation and sick time accruals and affects all payroll costs. It is also the rate that will be used in paying out severance and vacation pay upon termination.
    Posted: 01/29/2008  

  30. Do nonexempt (weekly) employees have a minimum furlough duration? For example, can a weekly employee take a 1/2 day furlough or a bunch of 15-minute furloughs?

    A non-exempt employee can take the furlough in one-hour increments.
    Posted: 01/29/2008  

  31. In the answer to a previous question, it was stated "The Laboratory does not expect to issue notices of layoffs before early April." Once a layoff notice is issued to an employee, how long will it be until the individual is terminated from work? In other words, how much notice will be given?

    All the details have not been worked out yet for the layoffs. An individual notice time has not yet been determined.
    Posted: 01/29/2008  

  32. Are Cooperative Education Students subject to furlough?

    Yes, the co-op students are subject to the furlough like all other Fermilab employees.
    Posted: 01/30/2008  

  33. 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.
    Posted: 01/30/2008  

  34. For those Fermilab employees who are custodians of U.S. Government property, is it necessary to make any arrangements to transfer the custodianship of this property to another employee before the beginning of the furlough?

    Likewise, for those Fermilab employees who have a property pass to take U.S. Government property (such as a laptop) off site, does this property pass remain valid during the furlough period?

    A Fermilab Property Pass remains valid until the expiration date of the Property Pass, including any furlough that may occur prior to the expiration date.
    Posted: 01/31/2008  

  35. If it comes to layoffs, will the lab allow someone who has been here for 20+ years the option to retire as opposed to taking the layoff? An employee who is retirement eligible may initiate the retirement process at anytime, even if it occurs after receiving a layoff notice. Please contact the Benefits office at x4362 or x4361 and view for more information.
    Posted: 01/31/2008  

  36. 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.
    Posted: 02/04/2008  

  37. 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.
    Posted: 02/04/2008  

  38. 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.
    Posted: 02/04/2008  

  39. 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.
    Posted: 02/04/2008  

  40. Can I come into the office while on furlough to request and/or pick up my Low Earnings report? Can I get a Low Earnings report the week before my scheduled furlough?

    Payroll will provide a Low Earnings Report after the pay stub has been issued that includes your furlough deduction. It cannot be issued before you take your furlough. If you are on furlough the week you would like to receive your Low Earnings Report, yes, you may visit the Payroll Department with your stub and they will issue the Low Earnings Report.
    Posted: 02/06/2008  

  41. Will the Reduction in Force (RIF) at Fermilab qualify under the WARN Act for a 60 day notice or per our policies of 2 weeks?

    The details of the RIF are still being determined.
    Posted: 02/06/2008  

  42. If you are on furlough the week you would like to receive your Low Earnings Report, you may visit the Payroll Department with your pay stub and they will issue the Low Earnings Report. I am a monthly employee and use the electronic timesheet (FTL). My scheduled furlough week is 25-FEB-08 to 02-MAR-2008. Would I be able to request a Low Earnings Report on 25-FEB-08, before my paystub issued, which will be in MAR-08?

    No, you must have your pay stub reflecting the furlough deduction in order to receive the Low Earnings Report.
    Posted: 02/07/2008  

  43. If a weekly employee is promoted to a monthly job classification and he had already taken one or all of his required four days of furlough, how would the difference between a four-day weekly employee requirement and a five-day monthly employee requirement be resolved?

    The effective date for a promotion from a nonexempt to exempt position would occur on the first day of the next furlough period. For example, an employee who is notified of a promotion in mid-March would receive the promotion on April 1, 2008.
    Posted: 02/07/2008  

  44. My question relates to colloquia. If I am interested in a colloquium topic, and if that colloquium happens to fall on a day which is a furlough day for me, is it possible for me to attend?

    Yes, you may attend colloquia sessions, as members of the public are also welcome to attend.
    Posted: 02/07/2008  

  45. If an employee being laid off is eligible for retirement, and asks to retire instead, would this action still count towards the 200 people being laid off?

    If a person is laid off and he/she meets the retirement eligibility criteria, then that person may retire although he/she will still be considered to be laid off. In the system we classify the person as a RIF retirement. So yes, they would be included in the 200.
    Posted: 02/08/2008  

  46. Given the fact that permanent employees have rolling furloughs and we are facing layoffs, how can the laboratory justify keeping contractors?

    Operating Fermilab requires a mix of skills and capabilities, not all of which our employees possess at the level our operations require. We hire contractors to supply the skills and capabilities that our employees can't provide.
    Posted: 02/12/2008  

  47. I am somewhat puzzled by the claim that we can claim unemployment benefits for the furlough periods. Has anyone succeeded in doing this? Does the lab budget get affected if benefits are paid? Also it seems somewhat unethical considering that there are truly unemployed people in our area.

    The decision to pay unemployment benefits rests solely with the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Employees have a right under the law to collect all unemployment benefits to which they are entitled. The laboratory will not contest unemployment claims filed due to the furlough. The laboratory will only know of successful claims when we receive the billings from IDES, which lag actual benefit payments by one or more calendar quarters.
    Posted: 02/12/2008  

  48. I'm looking for a clarification. The answer to the question "If you are RIFed, will you be able to retire?" on the January 24 Q&A posting makes it sound like a 'retirement qualified' person can be laid off and receive both retiree medical benefits and severance pay. Please confirm what the policy is.

    If an employee chooses to retire during the period that layoffs are occurring that person will not receive severance. If the person is RIFed, the person will receive severance. In addition, if the RIFed person is eligible to retire, then that person can also receive retiree medical.
    Posted: 02/12/2008  

  49. Fermilab Today gave us the URL to access the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) Web site. IDES gives people the option to certify over the Internet the first day of unemployment. I do not own a computer. May I come to Fermilab on the first day of my furlough to use a Fermilab computer to access the IDES Web site to file for unemployment? Then I would leave. Would this be against Fermilab's computing and/or furlough policies?

    Employees are not allowed in their work areas while on furlough so you would not be able to use your Fermilab computer until you returned to work. As an alternative, public libraries in many communities have computers for general use.

    Our understanding from IDES is that the employee needs to apply for benefits in person or online while on furlough. Please note, IDES follows a Sunday-Saturday week, so you may file between Monday and Saturday of your furlough week. If you find that you missed your opportunity to apply, please contact your local IDES office to check on your options to apply for benefits in the future.
    Updated: 04/22/2008  

  50. Is it possible for an individual to request two weeks of furlough in a two month time frame so that another individual does not have to take the required one-week furlough?

    While we appreciate the sentiment, everyone has to take his or her own furlough. If you want to help your coworker, talk to him or her and find out whether you can help in some other ways.
    Posted: 02/18/2008  

  51. Rumor has it that some Fermilab employees don't have to take furlough time because they are already understaffed. If all employees have to take furlough, how can these workers be exempt?

    Only people who are first responders in emergency situations, the Comm Center and the Fire Department, have been exempted for the safety of the laboratory.
    Posted: 02/20/2008  

  52. Will associates selected for layoff all be notified at the same time?

    The current thinking is that people will be notified in a very close timeframe.
    Posted: 02/20/2008  

  53. I have three questions about the Reduction in Force (RIF) process. 1. Other than severance pay, what is the difference between retiring and being RIFed? What retirement benefits would I lose by being RIFed rather than retiring? 2. Can a person who is RIFed receive unemployment compensation? 3. I understand that a spouse retains her medical insurance if I retire. What about eligible children?

    1. If you are RIFed and if you are eligible to retire, then you can also retire. It would be considered a RIF retirement. You could not run out your vacation, but you would be paid out for it. You would be eligible for retiree medical.
    2. Only the State of Illinois makes a determination about who will receive unemployment. But our general understanding is that if you are RIFed and you retire, you may still be eligible. A factor in your eligibility might be when you choose to start receiving payments from your retirement funds. Please consult your local office of the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
    3. You are correct that you can continue to take dependent coverage under retiree medical. This would cover a spouse as well as eligible children.

    Posted: 02/20/2008  

  54. Are the lost wages due to furlough considered a tax write-off for next year’s income tax filing?

    The wages will not be included in the employee's W-2 form at the end of the year. This means you will have less income to pay taxes on. No write-off is necessary.
    Posted: 02/22/2008  

  55. Is the Fermilab furlough week schedule (defined as Monday to Sunday) in agreement with Illinois Department of Employment Security definition of unemployment week? What dates will be stated in "Low Earnings Report” (starting Sunday or Monday)?

    The Laboratory's work week is not the same as the IDES unemployment week. For the Low Earnings Report, salary and wages will be allocated over the days an employee is scheduled to work. If you work a normal Monday - Friday schedule, the earnings for either definition of "week" will be the same. Payroll will determine whether Sunday is a scheduled work day for each employee before preparing the Low Earnings Report and will adjust earnings to report based on the IDES week if there is a difference.
    Posted: 02/22/2008  

  56. Will the furloughs stop on October 1 with the start of the new fiscal year? If so, is this something we can count on?

    While there can be no guarantees for a federally funded laboratory, the director's plan is that the furlough program will stop on October 1, 2008. The laboratory's financial plans put forth to DOE for fiscal year 2009 do not depend on a furlough.
    Posted: 03/13/2008  

  57. During a furlough, may I attend a colleague's retirement party on site? Off site? It is basically a social event, but anecdotes about work are inevitable.

    You may attend a retirement party while you are on furlough as long as you do not do Fermilab work or visit your work area.
    Posted: 03/18/2008  

  58. I wish to come to the lab during the furlough period to attend a TIAA/CREF session. Is that OK?

    Yes, this is fine as long as you do not go to your work area or perform Fermilab work while you are here.
    Posted: 03/21/2008  

  59. 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?

    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.
    Posted: 03/21/2008  

  60. 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?

    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.
    Posted: 03/21/2008  

  61. I know that during a furlough we can read personal e-mail but not work-related e-mail. I would like a clarification about e-mail that is related to Fermilab or physics, but not to our personal work. Examples would be "Fermilab Today" or items from the InterActions news wire. Can I read "Fermilab Today" during a furlough?

    Reading material follows the same guideline as events at the laboratory. If the reading material is available to the public then you can read it while you are on furlough. It is OK to read Fermilab Today since it is available to the public.
    Posted: 04/07/2008  

  62. Conventional wisdom tells us that there will be a continuing resolution until well into the next calendar year, perhaps as long as a year from now. This notion was all but confirmed by DOE Under Secretary of Science Raymond Orbach when he visited Fermilab on April 22. If this happens, will there be a continuation of furloughs after October 1?

    The laboratory has no plans to continue the furloughs past September 30, 2008. As our director has said (see, the upcoming layoffs are necessary to fit into a reduced budget in the future, which includes the anticipation of a long continuing resolution in FY09.
    Posted: 04/28/2008  

  63. Can I take leave without pay if I have vacation time available even if I had a furlough already scheduled?

    No, if you have vacation time available, you must use it before you can request leave without pay.
    Posted: 06/06/2008  

  64. How do I record a requested furlough after May 31st on my timesheet? I heard that if I do not have enough vacation I can take "Leave without Pay".

    Only use the FUR/FUW codes to record actual furlough time. These codes will remain on the timesheets during June and July, but will only be used by the few employees who did not take the appropriate amount of furlough during the two furlough periods. Any "Leave without Pay" that is granted due to furloughs being cancelled after May 31, must be recorded as "Leave without Pay.
    Posted: 06/06/2008  

  65. NEW! Would leave without pay time be allowable for applying for unemployment compensation?

    Taking time off as leave without pay would not qualify you for unemployment compensation if you are out of vacation, had already scheduled your furlough in June or July, and choose to take leave without pay.
    Posted: 06/12/2008  

Back to Top

Furlough Period

  1. How will Fermilab administer the furlough period?

    The eight-month furlough (February 1, 2008 to September 30, 2008) will be divided into four (4) two-calendar-month furlough periods: 

    • February 1, 2008 to March 31, 2008
    • April 1, 2008 to May 31, 2008
    • June 1, 2008 to July 31, 2008
    • August 1, 2008 to September 30, 2008

    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  2. How are months defined for the furlough period?

    The furlough periods are divided into two-calendar month periods.  Please note: the furlough months are not the same as “leave sheet” months that may end on the 21st of the month.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  3. Am I restricted from taking my unpaid furlough on certain dates?

    For monthly employees only, the following work-weeks are not eligible to take furlough due to the end-dates of the two-month furlough periods:

    • March 31, 2008 to April 4, 2008 
    • July 28, 2008 to August 1, 2008
    • September 28, 2008 to October 3, 2008

    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  4. Why is the method for taking furlough different for exempt (monthly) and non-exempt (weekly) employees?

    Per the Fair Labor Standards Act, exempt employees must take their furlough periods in one-week increments in order to ensure their exempt status is not violated.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  5. Do we have a firm date for the regularly scheduled maintenance shutdown of the Tevatron?

    We expect the shutdown to occur in early September, right after Labor Day. We should have a firm date by February 1.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  6. Why is there a difference in the amounts of time required to be taken as furlough between exempt and nonexempt employees?

    The Director made that decision.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  7. 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 26th, and June 1st will be declared as the last day of furlough.
    Posted: 01/28/2008  

  8. How is a payroll day counted?

    12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.
    Posted: 01/28/2008  

  9. Since Friday is February 1, but within the weekly pay period 1/28/08 - 2/3/08, may a nonexempt employee take furlough time on February 1 and/or 2?

    Yes, February 1 st is available as a furlough day for nonexempt employees (as well as February 2 nd and February 3 rd for those who are scheduled to work those days).
    Posted: 01/29/2008  

  10. 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.
    Posted: 01/30/2008  

  11. 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).
    Posted: 01/30/2008  

  12. I appreciate the amount of flexibility there is in the furlough policy and the amount of work that must have gone into researching possibilities. Regarding taking a furlough on Mar. 31 - Apr. 4, you state:

    "This policy is to preserve the two-month ‘chunks’ of the furlough period, to be fair to all employees should additional funding permit furloughs to end."

    If I were allowed to take my furlough at that time, it seems the two month chunk would be preserved and at most I risk taking an extra furlough day on Mar 31 in the unlikely event that the Apr-May furlough is canceled during that 24 hr period on Mar 31. Could the policy for the excluded weeks period please be reconsidered? Or don't I understand your answer and could you explain it completely?

    The furlough periods will remain in two-calendar month increments. If you find that you have a particular need to take time off during a period that you are not eligible to take furlough, this would be an ideal time to use vacation that you will be required to use by September 21, 2008.
    Posted: 01/31/2008  

  13. It will be nearly impossible to have an effective shutdown in September since half the people will be gone, unless everyone is gone in August, and that would make it nearly impossible to keep the machine running. Wouldn't it make more sense to start the shutdown Oct. 1 when the furloughs and forced vacations are complete?

    We appreciate your thoughts and will keep them in mind during our shutdown planning. Our goal is to establish and announce the shutdown date as soon as we can, hopefully within the next month, so that supervisors and staff can prepare.
    Posted: 01/31/2008  

Back to Top

Scheduling Furlough Days

  1. Can I take all of my furlough days together?

    No, weekly employees must take 32 hours of unpaid, furlough during each two-month furlough period.  Weekly employees may request these thirty-two hours anywhere from one- to 32-hour increments.  Monthly employees must take one unpaid, furlough calendar week (Monday through Sunday) per two-month furlough period.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  2. As a monthly/exempt employee, can I take my one-week furlough over two work-weeks (for example, Thursday through Wednesday)?

    No, you must take your one calendar week furlough during a payroll week of Monday through Sunday.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  3. What if several people in my department want to take the same furlough days off?

    It is up to your Supervisor to coordinate the furlough days off for your department using procedures like those for approving multiple vacation requests.  This also includes any “emergency” or last minute requests for time off work.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  4. When do I have to decide which hours or week I will take as furlough?

    Unless operational needs require more advanced notice, an employee must submit the request for furlough hours in writing to the supervisor by the end of the month prior to each two-month furlough period.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  5. What if I forget to take my furlough and my supervisor does not realize it?

    After each two-month furlough period, Fermilab will verify who has taken their furlough hours/week.  Any employees who have not taken the sufficient furlough time will be required to make-up those hours/week in the next two-month furlough period.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  6. Why can I not take a week-long furlough that spans the end of one month and the beginning of the next? My kids will be on spring break, and it would help if I could take care of them while my wife works.

    Furloughs for exempt employees cannot be taken during the weeks of March 31, 2008 to April 4, 2008, July 28, 2008 to August 1, 2008, or September 29, 2008 to October 3, 2008. All other weeks are eligible for furlough scheduling. This policy is to preserve the two-month “chunks” of the furlough period, to be fair to all employees should additional funding permit furloughs to end. Employees could, of course, choose to use vacation days to take time off during the "boundary" weeks when furloughs aren’t allowed.
    Posted: 01/24/2008  

  7. Can you retroactively change furlough to vacation in order to receive overtime pay if you are called in to work outside your regular hours?

    This decision is up to the supervisor and may be influenced by the furlough and vacation schedules of others in the group. If it is the last week in a two-month furlough period (say February-March) and the employee needs the furlough, then the supervisor wouldn’t be able to make the accommodation.
    Posted: 01/24/2008  

  8. Can I string together vacation days and multiple furloughs to take a long time off?

    That's up to your supervisor.
    Posted: 01/24/2008  

  9. 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.
    Posted: 01/28/2008  

  10. 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.
    Posted: 01/28/2008  

  11. 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.
    Posted: 02/04/2008  

  12. 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.
    Posted: 02/04/2008  

  13. Once I've submitted my furlough form, will I be able to change the requested dates?

    It is up to your departmental guidelines for scheduling time off and up to supervisory approval. Supervisors are encouraged to make reasonable efforts to accommodate furlough schedule requests.
    Posted: 02/06/2008  

  14. What law governs the restrictions on the furloughs? That is, where does it say that exempt employees would have to take a Monday through Friday furlough to not jeopardize their exempt status?

    The Fair Labor Standards Act requires exempt employees to be paid on a “salary basis.” Being paid on a “salary basis” means an employee regularly receives a predetermined amount of compensation each pay period on a weekly, or less frequent, basis. The predetermined amount cannot be reduced because of variations in the quality or quantity of the employee’s work. Subject to certain exceptions, an exempt employee must receive the full salary for any week in which the employee performs any work, regardless of the number of days or hours worked. Exempt employees do not need to be paid for any workweek in which they perform no work. If the employer makes deductions from an employee’s predetermined salary, i.e., because of the operating requirements of the business, that employee is not paid on a “salary basis.”
    Posted: 02/06/2008  

  15. Who is the furlough coordinator for my division?

    The furlough coordinators in the divisions, sections and centers at Fermilab are:

    AD - Traci Langford
    APC - Margie Bruce
    BSS - Mari Mendez
    CD – Griselda Lopez
    CMS - Terry Grozis
    Dir - Monica Sasse (Mary Tolian – backup)
    ES&H - Elizabeth Bancroft (Minnie Koch – backup)
    FESS - Odarka Jurkiw (Pat Lesiak – backup)
    FI - Pat Oleck
    FCPA - Sue Schultz
    PPD - Sue Schultz
    TD - LaDaune Trierweiler (Dave Harding – backup)
    WDRS - Christine Johnson (Linda Christiansen – backup)
    Posted: 02/06/2008  

  16. If I take furlough on the week where the following Monday is a paid holiday (say the week before Memorial Day), is that holiday still a paid day off?

    Furlough is considered excused absence so yes, you would get paid for the holiday the following Monday.
    Posted: 02/20/2008  

  17. As a weekly employee, can I take 5 furlough days in one pay period? I realize this will result in a net pay of $0 and place medical, dental, life insurance, and long-term disability into arrears, which will be deducted in the next pay period.

    Weekly employees may take only 4 furlough days in each two-month furlough period. There are, however, two weeks where it will be possible to take 5 furlough days in a row if you have your supervisors approval: March 31 - April 4 (one day in the February-March period and 4 days in the April-May period), and July 28 - August 1 (4 days in the June-July period and 1 day in the August-September period). You are correct that most deductions would be put in arrears and collected in the following pay period.
    Posted: 02/22/2008  

  18. I had requested a furlough week in June (along with 2 adjoining vacation days). Now that furloughs are no longer necessary after May 31, I do not have enough vacation days to cover the furlough week, nor can I change my plans for that week due to various reasons. Can I take "Leave without Pay" for the week I had originally requested as furlough?

    Yes, as long as the furlough had already been scheduled with your supervisor. If not, then it is up to your supervisor to decide whether you can take leave without pay.
    Posted: 05/27/2008  

Back to Top

Employment during Furlough

  1. May I take another part-time position outside of Fermi Research Alliance while I am on furlough?

    Fermilab’s outside employment and consulting policy is still in effect.  If you take another position outside of Fermi Research Alliance, you must complete the Outside Employment and Consulting form ( ).  Workforce Development and Resources will review the form to determine there is no actual or apparent conflict of interest.  Refer to the Standards of Conduct personnel policy for more details:
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  2. May I transfer to CERN or another national laboratory during the furlough period?  Will I be able to continue my benefits/leave accrual?

    Fermilab employees stationed at CERN will be subject to the furlough.  If you choose to apply for a position at another national laboratory, you would be hired as an employee of that laboratory and would no longer be a Fermilab employee.  Your benefits would be those of that laboratory.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  3. May I volunteer to do my job on a “no pay” basis during the furlough?

    No, whether you are monthly or weekly, you may not perform work of any kind during your furlough including checking voicemail, work-related e-mail (see question below re: personal/incidental use of e-mail), or working ahead on a project.  While we appreciate your dedication to the Laboratory, Fermilab is not authorized to accept work by an employee on a voluntary basis, as the Fair Labor Standards Act requires payment of a minimum wage by an employer to its employees who are subject to the Act.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  4. Why can’t I work during my furlough if I choose to?

    The purpose of the furlough is to save money for Fermilab.  Under the law (it’s called the Fair Labor Standards Act), Fermilab must pay an entire week’s salary to a monthly (salaried) employee who works at all during the one-week furlough.  This would wipe out the savings from the furlough.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  5. But, I often work on the weekends or when I’m on vacation (as a monthly employee).  How is the furlough any different?

    As a monthly (salaried) employee, you are paid for the month no matter how many hours you work, including nights and weekend.  Similarly, while you are on vacation, you are being paid.  During the furlough, you are not being paid, so you can’t do work for Fermilab.  Doing so could put the furlough savings at risk.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  6. Can I use my fnal e-mail account for personal/incidental use (such as confirming a flight reservation)? 

    You may use your fnal e-mail account to monitor the email for potential important personal communications and notifications per the Fermilab Computing Policy ( ).
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  7. Can I be called in to work on an emergency basis during my scheduled furlough hours/week?

    For weekly employees, you may be called in to work on an emergency basis during your furlough hours, just as you might be called in during vacation.  You would then need to reschedule those furlough hours.

    For monthly employees, you may not be called into work on an emergency basis during your furlough week due to the FLSA rules regarding exempt status.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  8. If I normally am required to respond to my pager when I am away from work, can I do that during my furlough hours/week?

    For weekly employees, we discourage you from responding to your pager while on your furlough unless that is the method for an emergency call-in.  However, you must count that time responding to the page and subsequent work as hours worked and will need to reschedule those furlough hours.

    For monthly employees, you may not respond to your pager during the furlough week due to the FLSA rules regarding exempt status.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  9. Will my Fermilab I.D. badge still be valid during my furlough hours/week?

    Yes, your Fermilab I.D. badge will still be valid throughout the furlough period.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  10. Can I come to Fermilab during my furlough?

    You may come on-site, but access is limited to public/non-work areas such as the credit union, cafeteria, Chez Leon, daycare, recreation facilities, etc.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  11. While I am on furlough, can I represent the laboratory at meetings or conferences?

    Posted: 01/24/2008  

  12. Can I have a brilliant idea while I am on furlough?

    Yes. Just do not communicate it to your colleagues at Fermilab until your furlough ends.
    Posted: 01/24/2008  

  13. Can I participate in committee work while on furlough?

    No, that is considered work for the Laboratory.
    Posted: 01/24/2008  

  14. 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.
    Posted: 01/28/2008  

  15. About a month ago I submitted the required form to obtain advance approval for doing outside work during furlough periods. I have received no reply. Can we assume automatic approval for doing other work during furlough?

    The outside employment form serves as notification to the laboratory that you are seeking outside employment. WDRS reviews the form to determine there is no actual or apparent conflict of interest. If a potential conflict of interest is identified, the form is sent to Procurement for review. A Procurement representative would then contact you to reconcile any points of conflict of interest. If unable to reconcile, you would be notified that the outside employment at that organization is not allowable by the laboratory.
    Posted: 02/07/2008  

Back to Top

Pay and Deductions from Pay

  1. How will you determine the amount of pay to deduct for the furlough time off?

    The amount of furlough will equal your hourly rate times the number of furlough hours in the pay period.  For example, a weekly employee with an hourly rate of $15.00 who takes two days of furlough in a pay period will receive a pay deduction of $240 ($15 x 16 hours) for that week.

    For monthly employees, the “hourly rate” will equal the annual salary divided by 2080 hours (52 weeks x 40 hours).  For example, the hourly rate for an employee with an annual rate of $46,072 is $22.15.  The employee would receive a pay deduction of $886 ($22.15 x 40 hours) for that month.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  2. How will I document my timesheet (paper or online) to reflect the furlough days?

    You will reflect furlough as FUW on your weekly time sheet and FUR on your monthly leave Sheet.  Employees on FTL will use the code to reflect the time.  You will need to submit your online timecard upon return from furlough.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  3. What if my pay for the week or month is insufficient to permit all deductions to be made from my check?  What is the order of withholding precedence?

    The Payroll department must comply with applicable laws, regulations, or other legal authorities when administering deductions from your paycheck.  Generally, the remaining deductions are taken in the following order:

    Tier 1: Federal and State tax with-holdings

    Tier 2: Pre-tax deductions such as medical, dental, flexible spending account, supplemental retirement account

    Tier 3: After-tax deductions such as life insurance, child support and garnishments, union dues, long-term disability, daycare, long-term care, credit union

    If your pay is not sufficient to cover all deductions, most of the deductions will go into arrears and will be deducted in the next pay period.  However, child support, wage garnishments, supplemental retirement, union dues, and bonds will not be placed into arrears.

    We encourage you to view your current deductions for medical, dental, 403 (b), 403 (c), flexible spending accounts, daycare fees, union dues, or other garnishments to determine that you will have sufficient funds when you request your furlough days off.  We also suggest you view your W-4 especially if you have additional withholding being taken.  This is particularly important for a weekly employee that chooses to take four furlough days in one pay period.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  4. Is it possible that as a monthly employee, I could have more than one furlough weeweek come out of my monthly pay?

    Yes, it is possible depending on the weeks you take your furlough and how they align with the monthly payroll periods (ending usually the 21st of the month for those using paper leave sheets and the third Sunday of the month for those on the online FTL system).

    For example, if you take one week of furlough on March 24, 2008 for your February-March furlough period and another week of furlough on April 14, 2008 for your April-May furlough period, there would be two weeks of furlough during the monthly pay period that is paid in April 2008.

    Pay periods for the Monthly Paid Employees in 2008 include:

    FTL Users:

    • February January 21 through February 17
    • March  February 18 through March 16
    • April  March 17 through April 20
    • May  April 21 through May 18
    • June  May 19 through June 15
    • July  June 16 through July 20
    • August  July 21 through  August 17
    • September August 18 through September 21

    Paper Leave Sheet Users:

    • February January 22 through February 21
    • March  February 22 through March 21
    • April  March 22 through April 21
    • May  April 22 through May 21
    • June  May 22 through June 21
    • July   June 22 through July 21
    • August  July 22 through  August 21
    • September August 22 through September 21

    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  5. Can I receive a pay advance during the furlough period?

    There will be no payroll advances given during this appropriations crisis.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  6. Do my furlough hours count as time worked for calculating overtime pay (weekly employees)?

    No, furloughed time does not count as hours worked in the calculation of overtime.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  7. With the amounts in my paycheck changing, how do I arrange to adjust automatic payments, for example to the bank or credit union for my mortgage payment?

    Talk to your bank or credit union about automatic payments from your bank account, and to the Fermilab Payroll Office, extension 3046, on the fourth floor of Wilson Hall regarding making changes to your direct deposit. You may also make changes to your direct deposit information on Fermilab Employee Self Service.
    Posted: 01/24/2008  

  8. 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.
    Posted: 01/28/2008  

  9. 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.
    Posted: 01/28/2008  

  10. How is a furlough week that spans two pay periods (not calendar months) treated? Example: week of May 19. The monthly pay period ends during that week on Wednesday. Does the first paycheck (May 31) include three days of furlough, and the next check (June 30) include the remaining two days (assuming no more furlough taken in that second pay period)?

    In the example you cite the May 31 paycheck would be reduced by three days times eight hours (your annual salary/2080hours) and the June 30 paycheck would be reduced by two days times eight hours (your annual salary/2080hours).
    Posted: 01/29/2008  

  11. 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.
    Posted: 01/30/2008  

  12. 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.
    Posted: 01/30/2008  

  13. 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.
    Posted: 01/30/2008  

  14. In your FAQ, I think I found a typo. The first question in the

    payroll deduction section says, "... the hourly rate for an employee with an annual rate of $42,072 is $22.15. The employee would receive a pay deduction of $886 ($22.15 x 40 hours) for that month."

    Those numbers don't work out.

    Thank you for pointing out the typo. Yes, the annual rate should read “$46,072” to get the calculation of an “hourly” rate of $22.15 and pay deduction of $886.
    Posted: 01/31/2008  

  15. 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.
    Posted: 02/04/2008  

  16. 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.
    Posted: 02/04/2008  

  17. 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.
    Posted: 02/04/2008  

  18. What code do we use on our timesheets to reflect the furlough time?

    Weekly timesheets: use FUW
    Monthly Leave sheets: use FUR

    The number of hours should be reported like you report vacation or sick hours, entering the number in the "Other Paid Hours" section and entering the code in the "Other Codes" section.
    Posted: 02/06/2008  

  19. On paper Monthly Leave Usage sheets, do you want the "FUR" entry made on the Saturday and Sunday of the furlough week in addition to the five workdays?

    No, you only need to note "FUR" leave on your normal scheduled work days.
    Posted: 02/08/2008  

  20. I read the question and answer for what to put down on your time sheet to indicate furlough time (FUW for weekly timesheets, FUR for monthly leave sheets). Would the same be done for effort reports?

    Each Division's effort reporting system is different. Please check with your division/section furlough coordinator for direction on how to effort-report in your system.
    Posted: 02/12/2008  

  21. How should holders of H1-B visas report time off on their monthly leave usage sheets? Do you want to see anything at all for days not worked? Will the correct amount for the month be calculated on the basis of their being part time employees, so no days should be marked as furlough?

    During the furlough, this group of employees is classified as part-time employees and their pay will be delivered as a proportion of full time (88.4%). H1-B holders who are monthly employees should complete their Monthly Leave Sheets just as they have in the past - they should show paid time off (i.e. vacation and sick leave) and should not reflect any "furlough" time.
    Posted: 02/22/2008  

  22. I took my furlough the week of March 24, 2008. However, I was paid my full salary on my March monthly check. So not to mess up the unemployment benefits, should I write a check and give the extra amount back to FNAL?

    No, you do not owe the laboratory for your March furlough time. Your March pay is correct. Furlough taken after the leave sheet cutoff date of March 21 will be deducted from your April pay. That is the pay stub that should be used when dealing with the Illinois Department of Employment Security for unemployment compensation purposes.

    For employees who report time via Fermi Time and Labor (FTL), furlough taken after the FTL cutoff date, which is the third Sunday of the month, will be deducted from the following month's paycheck.
    Updated: 04/22/2008  

  23. I am a weekly (non-exempt) employee. I took a full week off to cover 1 day of the Feb-Mar furlough and 4 days of the Apr-May furlough requirements. I did not receive a pay stub. Is this normal since I did not receive any income?

    Yes, that is normal. In the case of a full week of furlough, there are no funds to direct deposit so a pay advice is not generated. Instead, the system generates a zero check. Payroll does retain the zero checks. If you would like to receive your zero check please call or visit the Payroll Department during their available office hours.
    Updated: 04/28/2008  

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  1. What happens to my insurance and retirement service credit during the rolling furlough period?

    The intermittent nature of the furlough is designed to avoid any adverse impact to medical benefits, retirement service credit, etc.  If you are in a pay status for at least 11 work days of the month, you are entitled to uninterrupted medical/dental coverage and continued service for retirement calculations, etc.

    The medical/dental benefits of employees who hold H-visa status will remain uninterrupted as for other employees. However, because of the change to part time employment, Long Term Disability Insurance will not be available to them during the furlough period.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  2. What happens to my vacation/sick leave accruals during the rolling furlough period?

    The intermittent nature of the furlough is designed to avoid any adverse impact to vacation, sick leave accruals, etc.  If you are in a pay status for at least 11 work-days of each month during a three-month period, you are entitled to your accrual of vacation and sick leave.

    Employees holding H-visa status will continue to accrue vacation and sick leave according to the rule outlined for all employees, but accrual will be at a level proportional to their part time status – 87.5% of full time equivalent accrual.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  3. What is the definition of “active pay status” for determining benefits coverage? 

    Any hours paid such as regular pay, overtime pay, sick time, and vacation time are considered “active pay status.”  Furlough, unpaid FMLA, leave without pay, etc. are not considered an active pay status.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  4. Will FRA continue to contribute 10 percent of my compensation to my 401(a) retirement plan (for eligible employees)?

    Eligible employees will continue to receive contributions to retirement plans based on actual compensation received.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  5. Can I make additional contributions to my 401(a) retirement plan to make up the difference (from the annual compensation decrease)?

    The 401(a) retiree plan does not allow for employee contributions.  You may want to verify the amount you are contributing to the 403(b) supplemental retirement plan to ensure you are making the maximum contribution allowable.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  6. Can I change the amount deducted for my 403 (b) plan or my Flexible Spending Accounts (health care reimbursement or dependent care reimbursement)?

    403 (b):

    You may change the amount deducted from your 403 (b) at any time by filling out the following form:

    Flexible Spending Accounts:

    Due to IRS requirements, you may not change the amount you contribute to your Flexible Spending Account in the middle of a benefit year unless you experience a qualified status change.  The next time you are able to change the amount would be at annual enrollment for 2009.  For more information, please review:
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  7. Would the furlough period qualify for a hardship withdrawal from my 403(b) plan?

    403(b) hardship withdrawal rules are based on Internal Revenue Service regulations. The furlough period is not a qualification for a hardship withdrawal under the plan.  Hardship withdrawals may be taken for the following: 

    • Medical expenses incurred by the participant, spouse or dependents
    • Purchase (excluding mortgage payments) of a principle residence of the participant
    • Payment of tuition and related educational fees for the next 12 months of post-secondary education for the participant, spouse or dependents
    • Prevention of eviction from or foreclosure of the principal residence of the participant
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  8. Can I temporarily cancel my memberships or enrollments and receive a credit for programs such as day care, recreation membership, etc.?

    Recreational Programs and Memberships:

    Temporary cancellation or changes to recreation memberships or programs cannot be made as the operational costs continue at the same level.  You may use your membership and attend programs during the furlough period. 


    The Children’s Center is unable to provide tuition credit for furlough periods as the furlough does not affect staffing requirements and program costs.  The Children’s Center is required to maintain teacher/child ratios and maintain programs.  You may still use daycare services during the furlough period.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  9. May I take a loan from my retirement account during the furlough?

    The 403(b) plan has a loan feature that allows you to borrow against your account. The 401(a) plan does not have a loan feature.

    The 401(a) plan is the basic retirement plan to which Fermilab contributes 10 percent of the employee’s salary. The 403(b) plan is the supplemental plan to which employees may contribute their own pretax dollars. They may invest their money with TIAA CREF, Fidelity, Dreyfus or T. Rowe Price.

    Both TIAA CREF and Fidelity allow for loans from your 403(b) account. The amount of the loan and the repayment period depend on the type of loan. Loans are not available through Dreyfus or T. Rowe Price.

    Information on the loan process and impact of taking a loan on your retirement account can be obtained by calling TIAA CREF at 1-800/842-2776 or Fidelity at

    1-800/343-0860 or on the following web sites:



    To access the web site data you will need to establish a log-in and password.

    Representatives from TIAA CREF and Fidelity will be available to answer individual questions and conduct counseling sessions on the following dates:

    The representative will be at Wilson Hall in the Aquarium Conference Room on
    the 15th floor.
    Employees can make appointments by calling 1-800/842-2005 extension 5602 or
    at the TIAA CREF web site

    The representative will be at Wilson Hall
    January 30  One North
    February 13 Small Dining Room
    February 27 Aquarium
    Employees can make appointments by calling 1-800/642-7131 or using the
    Fidelity web site
    Posted: 01/29/2008  

  10. Just wanted to verify: if I see a doctor or have any medical business on a day that I am on furlough, I will be covered the same as when I am not on furlough.

    Yes, you will have medical coverage on furlough days the same as when you are not on furlough.
    Posted: 01/31/2008  

  11. 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.
    Posted: 02/04/2008  

  12. 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.
    Posted: 02/04/2008  

  13. I am planning to take one week of furlough during July 21-27 and another week of furlough during Aug. 4-10. Since I am a monthly employee who is using FTL, I will have only 10 working days left in August. Does this mean I will loose my benefits like two days of vacation, pension and medical?

    No, you will not lose any benefits due to the 11-day rule. The 11-day rule is applied on a calendar month basis. No one will lose benefits due to the 11-day rule as a result of the furlough.
    Posted: 02/08/2008  

  14. What if an hourly employee is sick for five consecutive days, and he has a planned furlough day on the fourth day. Can he change the furlough day to a sick day?

    It depends on if the employee has requested Family Medical Leave (FMLA) in conjunction with the sick leave. If the employee is on an approved FMLA for those 5-days, the employee would take the 5-days of sick time since the FMLA policy requires paid leave to be used prior to any unpaid leave.

    If the employee does not apply for FMLA, the employee who becomes ill during a scheduled furlough day cannot change the furlough day to a sick day. Scheduled furlough days count as furlough even if an employee would ordinarily have taken a sick day.
    Posted: 02/08/2008  

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  1. What happens if I am on furlough during a holiday week?

    For weekly (non-exempt) employees, you will receive holiday pay if you meet the guidelines per the Fermilab Holiday Policy:

    Furlough is considered an "excused" absence; therefore, if a weekly employee takes the day before or after the holiday as a furlough day, the furlough day(s) will be considered "excused" and the employee will not lose holiday pay.

    For monthly (exempt) employees, per the Department of Labor regulations, you may not be paid for a period where no work is performed.  So, if your furlough week is during a holiday week, you will not be paid at all for that week.
    Posted: 04/07/2008  

  2. I am a weekly non-exempt employee. I would like to take May 26 (Memorial Day) as a furlough day. Will I receive holiday pay for May 26?

    If a weekly non-exempt employee takes furlough on a holiday, that person will not be paid for the holiday. If a weekly employee takes the day before or after the holiday as a furlough day, the furlough day(s) will be considered "excused" and the employee will not lose holiday pay.
    Posted: 04/07/2008  

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Leave of Absence

  1. What if I get sick during my scheduled furlough days off?

    Any employee who becomes ill for a short time (and is not eligible for Family Medical Leave) during a scheduled furlough day cannot change the furlough day to a sick day. Scheduled furlough days count as furlough even if an employee would ordinarily have taken a sick day.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  2. What if I need to request Family Medical Leave (FMLA) for an accident, an extended illness, or maternity leave during the furlough?  Am I required to take furlough during the paid FMLA leave?

    You may request Family Medical leave (FMLA) per the FMLA policy:  If approved for the leave for your own condition, you are required to use sick time and/or vacation time in conjunction with FMLA leave.  If this paid FMLA leave occurs during your scheduled furlough days, your furlough period will commence on your next eligible furlough day once all paid time off has been exhausted.  Unpaid furlough time will run concurrently with your FMLA period and will count toward the 12-week FMLA period.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  3. What if I need to request Family Medical Leave (FMLA) to care for a family member during the furlough?  Am I required to take furlough during the unpaid FMLA leave?

    You may request Family Medical leave (FMLA) per the FMLA policy:  If approved for the leave, you are required to use vacation time in conjunction with your FMLA leave prior to taking unpaid leave to care for a family member.  If you have exhausted your vacation time, then your unpaid furlough time will run concurrently with your FMLA period and will count toward the 12-week FMLA period.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  4. What if I am called to jury duty during my scheduled furlough days off?

    Any employee who is called for jury duty during a scheduled furlough day cannot change the furlough day to a jury-duty absence.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  5. What if I need to request bereavement leave during my scheduled furlough days off?

    Any employee who needs to request bereavement leave during a scheduled furlough day cannot change the furlough day to bereavement.  Please refer to the bereavement policy for more information on the period of time that is eligible for leave:
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  6. What if I am called to military duty during my scheduled furlough days off?

    You may request military leave per the Military Leave Policy: If you meet the requirements for supplemental pay, your furlough will commence upon your return from leave.  If you do not meet the requirements for supplemental pay and are on unpaid leave, your unpaid furlough time will run concurrently with the Military Leave.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  7. What if I need to request Family Military Leave during the furlough?

    You may request Family Military Leave per the policy: If approved for the leave, you are required to use vacation time in conjunction with your Family Military leave prior to taking unpaid leave.  If you have exhausted your vacation time, then your unpaid furlough time will run concurrently with your FMLA period and will count toward the 12-week FMLA period.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  8. Can I take vacation in place of my scheduled furlough days off?  

    No, all employees are required to take the allotted furlough days off under the Furlough Policy.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  9. What if Fermilab closes due to inclement weather during my scheduled furlough days off?

    If Fermilab closes to inclement weather on your scheduled furlough day, an employee cannot reschedule the furlough day.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  10. 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.
    Posted: 01/30/2008  

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Alternative Work Schedules

  1. How is the furlough period scheduled for an employee on an alternative work schedule?

    Employees who work an alternative work schedule will be subject to the same provisions for furlough time off per two-month furlough period.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

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Off Site Assignment

  1. Can I go to a conference, give a talk at another facility, or serve on a review committee at another facility during my scheduled furlough days off?

    No.  Attendance at a conference, giving a talk or serving on a review committee at another facility is considered hours worked, so you may not perform those types of duties during your scheduled furlough.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  2. If I am on business travel, can I extend my trip for personal reasons and use furlough during that time?

    Yes, you may take furlough instead of vacation to extend a business trip for personal reasons, but only in accordance with the Fermilab Business Travel policy:
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  3. I have a rental car and am receiving per diem per the travel policy.  Will I be able to continue use of the rental car and receive per diem if I am on furlough?

    Yes, subsistence costs for employees stationed away (not on business travel but assigned to work at a different location other than Fermilab) can continue during the furlough since it is an excused absence under the policy.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  4. How will the budget affect travel?

    Decisions about travel will be in the hands of division and section heads. We will travel conservatively, but some travel is important to carry out Fermilab business effectively.
    Posted: 01/24/2008  

  5. 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.
    Posted: 01/30/2008  

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New Hires

  1. Does a new hire need to take the furlough?

    All employees are subject to the furlough.  However, a new hire must have sufficient time within the two-calendar-month furlough period to take the allotted furlough time.  For example, if a monthly employee is hired on March 24, 2008, there would not be enough time remaining in the February-March 2008 furlough period.  The employee would not be required to “make up” that period’s furlough.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

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On-Call and Contract Employees

  1. Can on-call employees be called for work during the 8-month furlough period?

    Yes.  An on-call employee would not take “furlough days,” but will likely not be scheduled to work as many hours as normally expected between February 1, 2008 and September 30, 2008.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  2. Will contract employees work during the 8-month furlough period.

    Yes.  A contract employee is not a Fermilab employee and not subject to the furlough, but will likely not be scheduled to work as many hours as normally expected between February 1, 2008 and September 30, 2008.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

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Part-Time and Phased Retiree Employees

  1. How is the furlough period scheduled for a part-time or phased retiree employee?

    Part-time and phased retiree employees will be scheduled furlough days based on the proportion of the day the employee normally would have been scheduled to work.  For example, an employee who works 32 hours per week would need to take 25.6 unpaid, furlough hours per two-calendar-month furlough period.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  2. How does the furlough affect an exempt employee on phased retirement?

    Just like an exempt part-time employee, an exempt phased retiree would take one week of furlough (totaling the number of hours normally scheduled to work in the week). For example, an exempt (monthly) phased retiree who normally works 32 hours per week would need to take one week (32 hours) of furlough during the two-month furlough period. This furlough time would not affect the exempt status of the phased retiree.
    Posted: 01/24/2008  

  3. 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.
    Posted: 01/28/2008  

  4. 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
    Posted: 01/30/2008  

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Performance Awards/Increases

  1. Will the performance management process be delayed during the furlough period?

    No, the performance management process will proceed as normally scheduled.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  2. If I have been awarded an R&R award, can that payment be delayed during the furlough?

    Fermilab will make its best effort to pay any R&R awards in a timely manner as long as funds are available.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

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H1-B Visa Holders

  1. Are employees who hold a non-immigrant visa part of the furlough?

    Yes, though dependent on visa status implementation of the furlough requirement will be different: employees holding H-visas will be re-classified as part time; the furlough requirement for those holding other visa types will be implemented as for all other employees.
    Posted: 01/23/2008  

  2. I am a monthly full-time employee on H1-B visa. What will I be starting February 1? Full time or part time? Exempt or nonexempt? Monthly or weekly? Why are H1 Visa holders not treated fairly with respect to other employees? If full-time H1 Visa holders can be reclassified to part-time, why not all employees?

    Answers to these and other questions are provided in this pdf file, which was posted following after the town hall meeting on February 1.
    Updated: 02/08/2008  

  3. I’ve heard that the furlough policy for H1-B visa holders was updated. Where can I find the information?

    Correct. The policy statement, updated on Jan. 31, 2008, can be found online.
    Posted: 01/31/2008  

  4. I missed last week’s town hall meeting. Is the information you provided at the meeting on the Web?

    Yes, the pdf file with answers to the questions that people asked at the meeting is here.
    Posted: 02/07/2008  

  5. As an H1-B visa holder, how should I complete my monthly leave sheet to show absences from the lab?

    Since H-1B employees are part time employees and not within the furlough program, the only absences that need to be shown are vacation and sick leave (i.e. paid time off). Since each H-1B employee has an agreed weekly work schedule, if a vacation or sick leave day (or half day) is taken, then the number of hours in that scheduled day (or half day) should be shown as “V” or “S” on the monthly leave sheet.

    For example, let’s assume the employee has agreed that he or she will work nine hours on each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and five or six hours each Thursday. If a vacation day is taken on a Monday, the notation on the leave sheet for that day should be “V-9 hrs.” If a half day of sick leave is taken on a Wednesday, the notation for that day should be “S-4.5hrs”. This will allow Payroll to accurately charge the employee’s vacation/sick leave accruals according to the amount of paid time off used.
    Posted: 03/13/2008  

  6. How will holidays be paid for H-1B visa holders?

    Holidays will be paid as for any other part time employee – if the holiday falls on a day the H-1B employee is scheduled to work, holiday pay will be provided and the employee has no obligation to be at work; if the holiday falls on a day the employee is not scheduled to work, no holiday pay will be provided.
    Posted: 03/13/2008  

  7. As an H1-B visa holder, how much vacation time should I use by the end of September, 2008?

    Vacation accrual for H-1B employees will be prorated at the reduced part-time rate. The reduced, prorated amount should be used by the end of September 2008. Each employee’s vacation balance on the last pay advice of September 2008 must be equal to or less than his or her balance on the last pay advice of January 2008. In order to count toward the September 30, 2008 balance, employees must take vacation by September 21, 2008, due to time and leave-sheet cutoff dates.
    Posted: 03/13/2008  

  8. How and when will the vacation and sick leave balances for H-1B employees be adjusted?

    The difference between part-time and full-time accrual values for both sick leave and vacation will be credited to H-1B employee accounts during October, 2008.
    Posted: 03/13/2008  

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

    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.
    Posted: 03/21/2008  

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