Non-union state employees will not be required to use holidays to fulfill their furlough day requirement, according to rules issued by the Department of Central Management Services.

Non-union state employees will not be required to use holidays to fulfill their furlough day requirement, according to rules issued by the Department of Central Management Services.

However, CMS said employees may voluntarily use that option to meet the requirement that they take 24 unpaid days off by June 30, 2011.

Rules fleshing out how the furlough program, ordered by Gov. Pat Quinn, will work were issued to state agency directors, budget directors and other managers who work under Quinn's control. The rules still leave a lot of discretion to agencies to see that the furlough day commitment is followed while still ensuring that the agency can function.

"Furlough time must be scheduled in a manner consistent with the operating needs of the agency...," said the memo issued by CMS Director James Sledge.

At one time, the administration was considering requiring employees to use their paid state holidays to fulfill the furlough requirement. State employees get 12 paid holidays between now and the June 30, 2011 end of the current fiscal year. Forcing non-union workers to forego pay on the holidays would allow the state to get the benefit of furlough days at a time when the majority of employees would be off work anyway.

However, the CMS memo makes the use of holidays as furlough days voluntary, not mandatory.

Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield, said that doesn't make the furlough days any more palatable, comparing them to the governor’s recent approval of raises for members of his executive office staff.

"The point is, what little the governor is going to save by doing this is so small he would be better off rescinding the pay raises and then rescinding the furlough days," Bomke said. "It's devastating to those employees who have had no raises for several years or very modest raises. The morale is awful."

The administration said it hopes to save about $18 million through the furlough days.

Quinn said furloughs became necessary when he learned the state might not get more than $700 million in federal Medicaid funding it was expecting.

Rep. Raymond Poe, R-Springfield, said he has talked to employees upset by the idea that holidays would be used as furlough days.

"They felt (furlough days) shouldn't be a day when were going to have off anyway," Poe said. "They felt it might as well be an extra day off."

The CMS memo says employees have to take at least 12 furlough days before Jan. 1, with the remainder to used by June 30. Employees can take the entire 24 days before Jan. 1 if they can meet certain requirements and the plan is approved by agency management.

Employees can request which days they want to use to fulfill the furlough requirement, although an agency can reject a request if it will adversely affect operations. There is a stipulation that no more than three furlough days can be scheduled in one week, and no more than four consecutive furlough days and holidays can be scheduled over a two-week period.

Employees who don't schedule enough furlough days can end up having supervisors assign the days for them and face disciplinary action.

The memo also includes a warning that employees should do no work or be on call while serving furlough days.

The memo indicated the administration is still working on ways to ensure that furlough days do not reduce pensions for workers near retirement. The administration said it is looking at legislation or administrative rules to address the issue.

 

Doug Finke can be reached at 788-1527.

 

 

Key points

 

*Non-union employees must take at least 12 furlough days by Jan. 1 and the remainder by June 30.

*No more than three furlough days can be taken in one week and no more than four consecutive furloughs/holidays in a two-week period.

*Furloughs can be taken in half-day increments, but only if another half day is used in the same week.

*Supervisors can schedule furlough days for employees who don't schedule enough furlough days on their own.

*Employees can use holidays as furlough days, but are not required to do so. However, employees cannot use accumulated sick, vacation or personal days to fulfill the furlough requirement.