DOE clarifies Hanford furloughs for some workers

April 9, 2013 

The Department of Energy is emphasizing that just one week of furlough is required of Hanford workers at Mission Support Alliance and CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co.

Human resource directors are meeting with supervisors of those two contractors to make clear the policy, according to DOE. There is no mandatory time off beyond one week and supervisors should not tell employees that more time is mandatory, according to DOE.

However, the furlough time was reduced to one week on the assumption that workers would also take the average amount of vacation or other leave time this summer.

Progress toward that goal will be revisited in July, DOE said.

CH2M Hill employees were sent a memo Tuesday clarifying the policy after many questions were being asked, the memo said.

Employees use an average of 120 hours of personal time bank between April and the end of September. The time bank includes vacation, holidays, sick time and military leave.

Sequestration, or the federal budget cuts, will require employees to take one week off. That may be paid time if they have it in their personal time bank.

If additional time off is the same averaged over all employees, CH2M Hill will remain within budget, the memo said.

On March 6, CH2M Hill nonunion workers at Hanford were sent a message saying that "we are planning on furloughing all non-bargaining ... employees 160 to 200 hours of paid or unpaid time between April 1 and September 30."

The policy was revised by DOE and communicated in an employee memo Thursday.

"Instead of five weeks of furlough, each CHPRC employee will now only need to take one week of mandatory furlough," the new memo said.

The revised policy provides relief particularly for employees with few hours in their personal time bank.

About 1,800 employees at the two contractors, plus CH2M Hill's primary subcontractors, must take the one week furlough.

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