Furloughs are over, even for those who want them

Debra Moore
Staff Writer

Furlough Fridays are over, even if county employees don’t want them to be.

The Plumas Board of Supervisors had imposed furloughs to help balance last year’s budget. But with the adoption of the new 2013-14 budget, furloughs weren’t part of the package.

An employee in the Building and Planning Department asked for the ability to go on furlough up to 26 days per year, but both the human resources director and the county auditor recommended denying the request.

“It’s an equality issue when it comes to allowing someone to furlough,” Human Resources Director Gayla Trumbo told the supervisors during their Oct. 15 meeting.

Furloughs affect more than a weekly salary, and could prove an accounting nightmare if employees were allowed to furlough on a volunteer basis.

Trumbo said that with a furlough there would be no change to the employee’s health insurance cost, and the employee’s anniversary date for merit and longevity increases would not change. The employee would continue to accrue vacation time and sick leave at the same rate as if he or she were working full-time.

By contrast, if an employee were to be classified as 0.9 instead of full-time, then the employee would be required to pay more of the health insurance premium, and his or her anniversary date would be extended, affecting pay increases.

Trumbo said that she didn’t anticipate a lot of requests for furloughs, but she could see instances when employees would want voluntary furloughs to extend vacation time or sick leave.

Auditor Roberta Allen concurred with Trumbo’s concerns.

In a written recommendation to the board, Allen wrote: “I believe authorizing this employee to voluntarily furlough could set a precedent that allows departments to use a piecemeal approach that would eventually undermine our employee leave policies be treating some people differently than others. In the long run trying to save money this way could ultimately cost the County more in the form of large payoffs at separation and reduced efficiency in the workplace.”

The board agreed with the recommendation and denied the request.

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