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Federal furloughs: Would you check e-mail? Would you have a choice?

The latest attempt to squeeze savaings out of federal employees came in the form of a bill that would require agency employees to take 10 days off without pay in fiscal 2012. The furlough would not require employees to take off two weeks straight -- they can take one day a month during 10 of the 12 months of the year, for example -- but it does require losing a day's pay 10 times during the year.

The impact of this on employees would of course vary. For some feds in higher pay grades, or with spouses who also earn substantial incomes, it might be minor. For younger, lower-paid single federal employees, it could be very difficult.

But there's another question, raised by an anonymous reader who posted this comment: " In this age of expanded teleworking, what manager is not going to expect people to work from home even when furloughed? If I get furloughed, I am going to drop the BlackBerry on the boss's desk on my way out."

Another commenter. RayW, said the workload is too heavy to take time off even voluntarily. "I have a hard time using my PAID leave because of my work load," he wrote. " If I knew I had a week off without pay I would have to do overtime before and after to get my projects back on track since we are evaluated on FIRM dates of delivery, not sliding dates at the whim of some over-paid over-benefited lawmaker. So where is the savings when I am doing the hours in overtime to compensate for the time off?"

What about you? If you're required to take unpaid time off, will you still try to do some work? Check e-mail? Return calls? Work on documents? Will you take the day off completely off? Will your work suffer to the extent you'll need extra time to get it back in order?

Tell us in the comments.

Posted by Michael Hardy on Jan 20, 2011 at 12:18 PM

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Reader comments

Wed, May 18, 2011 johann

I can tell you what I did about furlough days. I made a website for it: www.furloughdays.com I decided to turn a down into an up and help others while I'm at it.

Fri, Apr 22, 2011 Wes Lacey, WA

This is the way our Government works. Then they wonder why they can't decrease the deficit. The Japanese and the Americans decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River. Both the teams practiced hard and long to reach their peak performance before the race. On the big day the Japanese won by a mile. Afterward, the American team became very discouraged and morally depressed. The American management decided the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found. A "Management Team" made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action. Their conclusion was the Japanese had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the American team had 8 persons steering and one person rowing. So American management hired a consulting company and paid them an incredible amount of money. They advised that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing. To prevent losing to the Japanese again next year, the rowing team's management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 3 area steering superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager. They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 1 person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the "Rowing Team Quality First Program," with meetings, dinners and free pens for the rower. "We must give the rower the empowerment and enrichments through this quality program." The next year the Japanese won by two miles! Humiliated, the American management laid off the rower for poor performance, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles, and canceled all capital investments for new equipment. Then they distributed the money saved as bonuses to the senior executives.

Tue, Apr 12, 2011

Well, I won't have any choice but to work thru it, because I have projects with independent funding... but if I did have time off? I would get to work and get the inside of my mother's house painted. It hasn't been painted since around 1985 (she died last year) and it's quite a job!

Tue, Mar 15, 2011 a UA

yeah being furloghed is scarry really My husband and i are both MILTECHS and Reservist. plus just because i have off from work doesn't mean my day care would let me off for my 150 a week.yes we save but only in the TSP everything else goes to bills. i say those guys up high need to take a 5% pay cut i mean how they gotta be making 20 X's the amount working class makes

Mon, Mar 14, 2011 gswhatever

I would love to take Thursday and friday for 5 extra four day weekends or better combine it with a already three day weekend and have 5 days off....I like the idea. I am willing to give up pay for more time off with my kids! But what about congressmen and women? Why not reduce their rediculous pay- they more than make up any losses in earmarks anyway!

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