Furlough is a nondisciplinary action placing an employee in a temporary nonduty and nonpay status because of lack or work or funds or for other nondisciplinary reasons.
A furlough for 30 calendar days or less is normally processed using the adverse action procedures outlined in 5 United States Code (U.S.C.) 7513 (2010) and 5 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 752 (2010). A furlough for more than 30 calendar days is handled under reduction-in-force (RIF) procedures.
Generally, there are two types of furloughs, a “shutdown” or “emergency” furlough and a “save money” furlough.
A "shutdown" or “emergency” furlough usually means the agency does not have the funds necessary to operate and must shut down those activities which are not excepted activities by the Office of Management and Budget standards (see Appendix A-4 of OPM Guidance and Information on Furloughs). A “shutdown” furlough due to unforeseeable circumstances, such as lapsed appropriations, does not require advance written notice and opportunity to reply (see 5 CFR 752.404(d)(2) (2010)). While an employee must eventually receive a written notice of decision to furlough, such written notice does not have to be issued prior to effecting the furlough. When prior written notice is not possible, then any reasonable method of notice (telephonic, email, oral, etc.) is acceptable until such time when it is possible to provide the employee a written decision notice.
A “save money” furlough is typically a non-emergency furlough in that the agency has sufficient time to reduce spending and therefore give adequate notification of its specific furlough plan and number of furlough days. This type of furlough may be based on a decision of an administrative officer, usually the installation commander. Such furlough of 30 days or less, 5 U.S.C. gives a covered employee the following procedural rights:
- At least 30 days advance written notice;
- A reasonable time, but not less than 7 days, to answer orally and/or in writing or both and to furnish affidavits and other documentary evidence in support of the answer;
- A reasonable amount of official time to: review the material relied on to support the proposed action; to prepare an answer; and to secure affidavits, if the employee is in an active duty status (Note: If the employee is covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the provisions of that agreement must be followed.);
- Representation by an attorney or other representative;
- A written decision and the specific reason(s) for the decision at the earliest practicable date;
- Appeal the agency’s decision to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB);
- Bargaining unit employees, who do not wish to appeal this type of action to the MSPB, may grieve this action in accordance with the applicable negotiated agreement, but not both;