When can an agency furlough employees?
Generally, there are two types of furloughs. In a “save money” furlough, typically a budgetary shortfall causes an agency to take certain cost-saving steps, including putting employees on unpaid furlough. In a “shutdown” furlough, an agency has no authority to spend money, which can happen if an agency’s appropriations are not renewed on schedule.

Agencies have flexibility in scheduling required furlough days, subject to any applicable collective bargaining requirements.

Employees must be given at least 30 days advance written notice, except in the case of “unforeseeable circumstances.” Employees are entitled to appeal the action to the Merit Systems Protection Board, or grieve under an applicable negotiated grievance procedure.

If a furlough lasts more than 30 consecutive days, or 22 nonconsecutive workdays, reduction in force protections apply, although generally without assignment rights to a position held by another employee who is not affected by the furlough.

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