Spo furlough questions and answers Oct 2013 v1


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Spo furlough questions and answers Oct 2013 v1

  1. 1. GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE STATE PERSONNEL OFFICE Furlough Questions and Answers, October 8th 2013 Page 1 of 4 1. Will I receive any kind of a paycheck on October 15 th ? Yes. SALARIED EMPLOYEES: As stated in your furlough notice, furlough hours for October 1st – 7th will be deducted from the October 15th paycheck. Any furlough hours for October 8th – 15th will not be deducted until the October 31st paycheck. So, in other words, we are paying furloughed salaried employees for October 8 th – 15 th on October 15 th . This decision was made due to the October 8 th payroll processing deadline for October 15 th . Your exact net pay amount for October 15 th will be available through the SPO on Wednesday, October 9 th . Each location will be provided with a report, and individual employees can email Sandra Bruce at sandra.k.bruce.nfg@mail.mil or call (678) 569-6022. Any overtime pay submitted for September 16 th – 30 th will not be paid on October 15 th . Instead, it will be added to the next paycheck after federal funding for Fiscal Year 14 is approved. HOURLY EMPLOYEES: The October 15 th paycheck is for hours worked September 16 th – 30 th . You will not see a reduced paycheck until October 31 st . 2. What about my October 31 st paycheck? SALARIED EMPLOYEES: If the furlough continues past October 7 th , we will be forced to deduct any furlough hours for October 8 th through October 15 th from the October 31 st check. If the furlough continues past October 16 th , additional hours may have to be deducted. The specific plan will be developed and communicated the week of October 14 th . HOURLY EMPLOYEES: On October 31 st , you will only be paid for hours worked, if any, for the time period of October 1 st – 15 th . 3. Is there anything I can do to lessen the impact of the furlough deduction on my net pay? You can adjust your tax withholdings by logging into Employee Self Service at www.team.ga.gov. Once logged in, go to “Payroll and Compensation”, and then review “W-4 Tax Information” and “G-4 Tax Information” to make your desired changes. Make your changes as soon as possible as payroll runs four business days in advance of payday (October 8 th for the October 15 th payday; October 25 th for the October 31 st payday). Your change will process overnight. Be advised that having less taxes taken out now may result in owing more out of pocket or having a smaller refund at filing time. Another option for some would be to decrease the amount of your deferred compensation contribution. This can be done by logging into your account at www.gabreeze.ga.gov. Again, please make your change as soon as possible to better ensure the information rolls over to the payroll system in a timely manner. These changes take 2 – 3 business days to process. 4. Will I be able to receive unemployment benefits (UIB) for the furlough days? The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) is accepting and processing UIB applications for our furloughed employees. Provide them with a copy of your furlough notice if possible. GDOL Career Center locations may be found at www.dol.state.ga.us. You may also find answers at and be able to file a claim on-line at http://www.dol.state.ga.us/js/file_unemployment_insurance_claim.htm.
  2. 2. GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE STATE PERSONNEL OFFICE Furlough Questions and Answers, October 8th 2013 Page 2 of 4 Be advised that the UIB will be considered an overpayment by DOL if circumstances allow you to apply for paid leave when the furlough is lifted. (see item 5). The decision to apply for UIB is an individual choice. However, UIB will not be the same amount as your furlough deduction. 5. Will we receive back pay like the federal employees? No. However, you may be able to apply for paid leave when the furlough is lifted. Unlike the federal government, Georgia cannot pay employees for time not worked. Per the Georgia Constitution, the State may only pay state employees for time worked or time covered by paid leave or compensatory time, regardless of the funding source of the salary. Therefore, if sufficient federal funding is later restored to our agency, you will be allowed to utilize your accrued annual leave, personal leave, or compensatory time to recoup the pay lost via furlough. Sick leave could only be used in very limited circumstances and would require documentation plus SPO approval on a case by case basis. Persons who do not have sufficient leave to cover the furlough hours or who do not want to utilize leave will not recoup the pay lost via furlough. Persons who received unemployment benefits during the furlough will be given a choice whether or not to recoup their pay utilizing available leave balances. Recouped pay would result in an overpayment from DOL for the UIB, which you would have to pay back (see item 4). 6. May employees go ahead and use paid leave or compensatory time in lieu of being furloughed? No. The definition of furlough is “a leave of absence from work without pay and without duties”. It is NOT a form of leave like annual leave or compensatory time. It is necessary due to the current lack of federal funding. If federal funding is approved for the time period in which you were furloughed, item 5 above will apply. 7. If an employee is on extended paid leave (e.g., family and medical leave with pay, annual leave, etc.), will he or she be subject to the furlough? Yes. Employees on extended paid leave during the furlough period will be placed in a non-pay status. They will not be charged any leave for those days. However, the absence will still count towards the 12 weeks of FMLA. Specific references for FMLA from the US Department of Labor are below. Fact Sheet #28A: Employee Protections under the Family and Medical Leave Act http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs28a.htm LIMITATIONS TO FMLA PROTECTIONS An employee on FMLA leave is not protected from actions that would have affected him or her if the employee was not on FMLA leave. For example, if a shift has been eliminated, or overtime has been decreased, an employee would not be entitled to return to work that shift or the original overtime hours. If an employee is laid off during the period of FMLA leave, the employer must be able to show that the employee would not have been employed at the time of reinstatement. Fact Sheet # 77B: Protection for Individuals under the FMLA http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs77b.htm Note: Exemption from a furlough, layoff, etc., is not referenced. 8. Will furloughs affect leave accrual? It depends. As long as the employee is in pay status for at least 40 hours during the pay period, leave will accrue as usual.
  3. 3. GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE STATE PERSONNEL OFFICE Furlough Questions and Answers, October 8th 2013 Page 3 of 4 9. Will I be paid for the Columbus Day holiday on October 14th? As stated in item 1, we are paying for October 8 th – 15 th on October 15 th . However, if the furlough continues for the week of October 14 th , the rule on holiday pay eligibility will come into play: GA Reg. 478-1-.16 (4)(d): "…to be paid for a holiday, an employee must be in pay status the full scheduled work shift [for] the scheduled workday before or after the holiday. Therefore, if the furlough is still in effect on October 11 th and 15 th , the 14 th holiday pay may be included in any necessary furlough deduction from the October 31 st check. If recouped pay is authorized, and you chose to utilize your leave or compensatory balances for that purpose, the holiday pay would be included. 10. Is any financial assistance available? Furloughed employees are strongly urged to immediately contact their mortgage company, landlord, utility providers, etc. and provide them with a copy of their furlough notice. Many companies are willing to work with you during this time period. Several credit unions are also offering short term loans to help close the gap between your regular and reduced paycheck. The Georgia Guard Family Support Foundation is also available to provide loans or grants in an emergency situation. http://www.georgiaguardfamily.org/ 11. When will the furlough end for state employees? At this time, we do not know. Our furloughed state employees are paid via Master Cooperative Agreement (MCA) funds, which are reimbursements to the State. This is a completely separate category of funds from those that pay federal technicians. We must have specific permission and funding from NGB to end the “MCA furlough”. 12. What is the impact on my state health insurance during the furlough period? Health insurance will NOT be affected while an employee is furloughed. If there are not enough earnings to cover the premium deduction on October 15 th , the deduction will not be taken. Instead, the State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP) will record and track an outstanding employee premium balance amount. Employees will NOT lose SHBP coverage due to insufficient earnings. The deduction WILL be taken if sufficient earnings are available to cover the deduction. SHBP has posted some FAQs of their own at www.dch.georgia.gov/shbp. 13. What about my other benefits, such has dental insurance and short-term disability coverage? Other benefits will NOT be affected while an employee is furloughed. If there are not enough earnings to cover the premium deductions on October 31 st , an alternative payment solution will be offered. Further details will be available later in the month. 14. When is 2014 Open Enrollment and will it be delayed by the furlough? Open Enrollment (OE) begins October 21 st and runs through 5pm on November 8 th . There are no plans to delay OE at this time. SPO plans to start OE meetings the week of October 21 st or once the furlough is lifted, which ever comes later. Information will be circulated via email even if the furlough continues.
  4. 4. GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE STATE PERSONNEL OFFICE Furlough Questions and Answers, October 8th 2013 Page 4 of 4 15. How will absences due to the furlough be documented on the weekly time sheet and leave grids? On the weekly time sheet, the furlough hours should be recorded in the COMMENTS section for each day impacted. The Total Hours Worked column may not exceed the authorized hours for the week (i.e. zero hours for 100% federally funded, 10 hours for 75% federally funded, etc.). On the leave grid, each location will be responsible for accurately recording each employee’s specific furlough hours using a “FR” code then also notating “FR” hours for the pay period in the “other” totals column. SPO will require a time sheet for EACH furloughed employee along with the leave grids. The deadline for submission will be determined at a later date. If “back pay” as outlined in item 5 is approved, then revised instructions for corrected time sheets and leave grids will be issued by SPO. 16. May an employee volunteer to do their regular GA DOD work during the furlough period without getting paid? No. Employees may not volunteer to work at either their usual workplace or at home. 17. My question wasn’t answered here – who can help me? Employees can email Sandra Bruce at sandra.k.bruce.nfg@mail.mil or call (678) 569-6022.