What You Should Know About Furloughs and RIFs

May 2, 2017


With President Trump’s first budget proposal, deep cuts in specific agencies could happen. This means furloughs and RIFs may happen. So, what should you expect if you find yourself on the receiving end of one of these?


You won’t get separated from your agency during a furlough, but you will have unpaid time off during your scheduled work week. Furlough time is determined by the agency and can’t exceed 30 consecutive calendar days or 22 non-continuous work days. A period longer than that falls into a RIF category.

Your agency can schedule your furlough time non-continuously, for example, you may be furloughed every Monday and work a normal shift Tuesday through Friday. This does two things; it lessens the financial impact for the employee and lessens the work-flow impact for the agency.

If you are furloughed and asked to work a half day on a day you don’t typically work (i.e. Saturday), you can’t claim overtime benefits. However, you do maintain your pay, grade, and benefits. You also can’t be ordered to work a day without pay.

Generally, agencies must notify all furloughed employees in writing at least 30 days before furloughs take place. You would then have 7 days to provide both an oral and written response to the letter, and you have the right to appeal the furlough to the Merit Systems Protection Board. Also, you have the right to representation by an attorney, at your expense, during the appeals process.

While furloughed, you may seek outside employment to supplement your pay, provided you follow your agency’s guidelines for outside employment.

Reductions in Force (RIFs)

In a RIF, you may face anything from reassignment to downgrade to separation from service.

If placed in a lower-graded position, you are entitled to retain your current pay grade for two years if you spent 52 consecutive weeks at the higher-grade level. However, you will officially be considered at the lower grade level. This will come into play if there is another RIF or for future job openings.

You also may have bump rights and/or retreat rights. Bump rights are where you can displace another employee. Retreat rights are where you can return to a prior position you held at a lower grade level.

Like furloughs, RIFs are appealable to the MSPB with the right to counsel at your own expense.

If you are separated because of a RIF, you are entitled to a severance package that includes severance pay for up to 52 weeks (depending on the length of service), payment of unused annual leave, and a 31-day extension of benefits through the FEHB and FEGLI programs.

You also will receive placement on the Reemployment Priority List (RPL), which gives you the first opportunity for positions that open in your agency. All employees impacted by a RIF are eligible for their agency’s Career Transition Assistance Plan (CTAP) through which agencies provide service to help employees find jobs, in the public or private sector, including priority for competitive service vacancies with the agency. You can also apply for the Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan (ICTAP) which helps separated employees find jobs at other agencies.

With furloughs and RIFs becoming a real possibility in the future, it’s important to familiarize yourself with them.

Don’t forget about federal disability retirement. If you have been suffering from an injury or illness at work, you may qualify for federal disability retirement benefits. This may be a great time to find out if you’re eligible. Give us a call at 877-226-2723 or fill out this INQUIRY form to see if we can help you!

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