UPDATE: Furloughs headed to SRNS - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

UPDATE: Furloughs headed to SRNS

Posted: Updated:
Aiken County, SC (WFXG) -

"Frustration. Shock. Disappointment."

That's how Savanna River Nuclear Solutions Senior Vice President Jim Hanna describes his employees' feelings, after he told them their hours would be getting cut - or worse - they might be furloughed.

The cuts are set to go into effect on April 1.

"Unfortunately with this scenario, if it goes through the remainder of the fiscal year, you'd go in a situation where at some point people would go unpaid," explained Hanna. "And so at that time, they're no longer accruing service."

Hanna says the cuts to the approximately 2000 were a long time coming, but the recent impact of Washington failing to avert the across-the-board spending cuts known as Sequestration only added fuel to the fire.

"Sequestration compounds our challenge," said Hanna. "But we had a budget shortfall of $200,000,000 to start the fiscal year back in October."

US Congressman Joe Wilson seemed to foreshadow the cuts last week, when he told FOX54 that sequestration put jobs in the CSRA at stake.

"Sequestration will have a very negative effect in Aiken and Barnwell Counties that I represent, particularly at the savannah river site," said Wilson. "Thousands of jobs are truly at risk."

As for the man having to make those tough decisions, he's taking each cut personally.

"You try to minimize the personal impacts as much as you can," said Hanna. "A day doesn't go by that you wish you had a different answer."

But the answer for now is reduced paychecks and possibly no paycheck at all for SRNS employees.

UPDATE:

SRNS has released the following statement to employees:

In an effort to reduce the impact of potential furloughs and SRNS employees being in an unpaid status for a lengthy period, we have decided to implement reduced work schedules beginning April 1, 2013.  Approximately 2,000 employees will be impacted by this decision and placed on 32-hour work schedules with corresponding adjustments in pay at that time.

We have established the following three 32-hour reduced work schedules, including a half hour unpaid lunch period each day:

  •      W1        Monday-Thursday          8.5 hours/per day
  •      W2        Tuesday-Friday        8.5 hours/per day
  •      W3        Monday-Wednesday        10.5 hours- Monday; 11.5 hours-Tuesday and Wednesday

Some employees may not be affected at this time. The majority of impacts are to the Environmental Management and SRNL programs, with only minor implications to the National Nuclear Security Administration programs. Specific essential work must continue and those associated with the work will remain on their normal work schedule. It is our intent to notify impacted employees by March 15, 2013.

In select areas where work scope has been eliminated, full furloughs will begin in April. Employees in these areas will also be notified by March 15.

Our intention is to minimize the impact to our workforce as much as possible. We are taking a slow and graded approach to dealing with the uncertainty surrounding our FY13 budget in anticipation of more severe impacts later in the year.  If we are unable to close the gap sufficiently, we may reduce hours even further or more full furloughs will be required in additional areas.

Questions and answers are provided below and the Workforce Services Response Account (WORKFORCE SERVICES RESPONSE/SRNS/Srs) in Lotus Notes has been reactivated for more questions.

These are unprecedented times for the entire DOE complex and these actions are happening quickly. We will keep you informed as more information becomes available.

Jim


Frequently Asked Questions

1.        What is a full furlough?

Ø        Answer: A full furlough is defined as an employee assigned to a non-duty status. During this period, notified employees with accrued time bank will be utilizing these hours until expended.  Those employees without accrued time bank will be in an unpaid status and may be eligible for unemployment compensation.

2.        How will essential personnel be defined? Will those individuals defined as essential personnel be required to participate?

Ø        Answer: Each Senior VP will identify the areas impacted based on funding.

3.        Will I be able to use available time bank (vacation) hours, make-up time or any other paid time off so that I will get paid as if I were still on my current assigned schedule, even though I am now on a reduced work schedule?  

Ø        Answer: No, consistent with past practice, employees are only allowed to use time bank (vacation) hours and other paid time off to cover time missed when you are scheduled to work. Of course, employees can continue to use time bank hours to cover time on their new schedule pursuant to the policy.

4.        Who will determine the reduced work schedule that I will be assigned to and why?

Ø        Answer: Based on business justification, your Level 2 manager will determine the personnel assigned to work a reduced schedule and the specific schedule.

5.        If an employee has time bank hours remaining, can the employee take time off without pay during the reduced work schedule period?

Ø        Answer: No, an employee must use time bank (vacation) hours before being allowed to take time off without pay as applicable with the current policy.

6.        Since the schedules will be reduced, will employees eligible to receive overtime (nonexempts and SOPs) be required to work a minimum of 40 hours per week to be eligible for overtime pay?

Ø        Answer: Yes, employees working more than 40 hours in a payroll week will receive overtime compensation as applicable with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  Additionally, any hours worked beyond 32 hours up to 40 hours will be compensated at a straight time rate.

7.        Is the requirement that I use 50% of my FY2013 time bank accrual by 3/31/13 still in effect?

Ø        Answer: Yes.

8.        Will I continue to accrue time bank hours at my present rate during the reduced work schedule process?

Ø        Answer: Yes, an individual will accrue time at their current rate during the reduced work schedule.

9.        Will my service date be affected by the reduced work schedule?

Ø        Answer: No, Adjusted Service Date, Site Service Date, or Credited Service Date will not be affected by the reduced work schedule.

10.         Will furloughed employees be allowed to work from home?

Ø        Answer: No, if employees are furloughed, working from home to include the use of electronic devices is prohibited during the furlough period.  

11.        Will it be acceptable to obtain employment elsewhere while on the reduced work schedule or during the furlough period?

Ø        Answer: Yes, as long as it does not violate any Conflict of Interest requirements. You can find these requirements at: http://srsweb1.srs.gov/ethics/SRNSCoi.  Specific questions regarding conflict of interests may be directed to the SRNS Ethics Office at 725-8181.  

12.        Are there impacts to my medical, dental, and vision benefits coverage during a reduced work schedule or the full furlough period?  

Ø        Answer: Benefits coverage will not be impacted for medical, dental, vision, and contributory life insurances.

13.        Will I be able to change my SIP contributions?

Ø        Answer: Employees have the ability to change their SIP contributions on a daily basis by contacting the Mercer Service Center at 1-866-288-3257 or by accessing the www.ibenefitcenter.com secure website.

14.        If an employee is under court order to pay a certain amount each month (e.g. domestic relations order, child support, alimony, etc.) and the amount was based on a 40-hour per week salary and the employee cannot meet that obligation during the time of furlough or reduced work schedule, is the company willing to assist employee in petitioning the court for relief (e.g., legal fees/representation)?  

Ø        Answer: No, it is the employee's responsibility to work with the corresponding party.

Additional Questions and Answers will be forthcoming based on questions received from the Workforce Services Response Lotus Notes Account.

Original Story:

Employees at SRNS were notified yesterday afternoon of reduced hours and furloughs that are on the way.

The furloughs are scheduled to begin April 1 with about 2,000 employees being put on a 32 hour work schedule. Sources tell FOX54 the impacted employees will be notified by March 15.

Employees were also told that more furloughs may be necessary in the future.

FOX54 will have more on the furloughs coming up tonight on FOX54 News at 10pm and right here at wfxg.com.

 

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