With cuts looming, OPM advises agencies on 'planned' furloughs

Friday - 12/28/2012, 11:43am EST

With automatic, across-the-board budget cuts set to go into effect in just days, the Office of Personnel Management has issued new guidance on federal-employee furloughs.

In a new guide for agency human-resources officials, OPM said "administrative furloughs" would be different from those stemming from government shutdowns because agencies would have more time to plan their spending reductions and to give adequate notice to employees of any personnel cuts

"An administrative furlough is a planned event by an agency which is designed to absorb reductions necessitated by downsizing, reduced funding, lack of work or other budget situation other than a lapse in appropriations, " the guide states.

The Obama administration has reassured federal agencies, however, that sequestration won't have an immediate impact on the federal workforce or day-to-day government operations.

OPM echoed that sentiment.

"OPM is simply taking prudent steps to keep agencies and federal employees informed in case a sequestration order is issued," said Thomas Richards, OPM's director of communications and public liaison, in an email. Richards said OPM will provide more information on the OPM website to answer additional questions.

The new OPM guide states that individual agencies will be responsible for identifying the employees affected by furloughs as well as how employees will be notified. If an agency has to furlough employees for more than 30 calendar days (or 22 working days), the agency must provide employees 30 days' notice, according to OPM. Furloughed employees cannot work without pay.

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