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Furlough FAQ: Appealing your furlough

Wednesday - 2/27/2013, 9:29am  ET

Darci Marchese, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Hundreds of thousands of federal workers may be put on notice that they could be furloughed in the event of sequestration.

Some might be wondering if there is anything they can do about it. The answer: There is a system that allows certain federal workers to file an appeal.

Furloughed employees who qualify can appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board, an independent agency with just over 200 employees in Washington and some regional offices across the country. The office itself could be impacted by furloughs.

According to Federal News Radio, the burden of proof rests with the employee to prove the furlough was "personally motivated."

It would be very difficult for a federal employee to prove the furlough was motivated by something other than a lack of funds. Successful appeals are very rare, Federal News Radio reports.

Who qualifies for an appeal?

According to the Office of Personnel Management, "excepted employees" are employees who are exempted from the furlough by law because they are:

  • Performing emergency work involving the safety of human life or the protection of property;

  • Involved in the orderly suspension of agency operations;

  • Performing other functions exempted from the furlough.

OPM says the term "emergency employee" is used to designate those employees who must report for work in emergency situations, such as severe weather conditions, air pollution, power failures, interruption of public transportation and other situations in which significant numbers of employees.

Will you receive back pay from days you're furloughed?

It's not guaranteed. Congress would have to pass legislation granting federal employees the pay they missed while they were furloughed. That has happened in the past.

Federal workers furloughed for seven or more days also may qualify for state unemployment compensation, but it varies from state to state.

Even while on furlough, federal workers are still a government employee and must still abide by outside employment rules, OPM says. According to the "code of ethics," an employee shall not engage in outside employment or any other outside activity that conflicts with his official duties.

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