WASHINGTON — Air Force officials just released the following furlough-related questions and answers to inform military and civilians about pay impacts as a result of the government shutdown.
Late in the recent pay cycle, the Air Force received updated guidance on how to record time and attendance for those employees who continued to work after the government shutdown. Despite extraordinary efforts to make these changes in a very compressed time frame, all necessary time and attendance adjustments did not take place. According to Air Force leadership, potentially a large number of Air Force civilian employees will not receive the proper amount of pay for the hours worked. The pay impacts may be significant.
“The Air Force is working to correct any pay errors and expects adjustments to be reflected in the next leave and earnings statement for payment on Oct. 25,” said Doug Bennett, the director of financial operations. “We apologize for the significant impact this causes and we’re doing everything we can to alleviate the hardship on our civilian Airmen.”
Q1. Will the military be paid?
A1. Normal pay and allowances have been processed and military will receive the related pay as scheduled on Oct. 15.
Air Force has authority to pay essentially all military pay and allowances with the exception of Reserves Inactive Duty Training, or IDT, Participation.
Q2. How will pay be impacted and will civilians receive back pay if their pay is incorrect?
A2. Defense Finance and Accounting Service has processed civilian payroll. All employees will receive normal pay through Sept. 30. The amount of pay for Oct. 1-5 will be dependent on whether an employee is exempt, excepted from furlough, or furloughed. Pay will be received on your normal pay dates beginning Oct. 11.
DFAS has also provided assurance to Air Force Financial Management leadership that civilian pay, for the period starting Oct. 6 and going forward, will be on time. This applies only to civilians in a pay status (no longer on furlough or other leave without pay status).
According to Air Force Financial Management leadership, a large number of “excepted and exempt” Air Force civilian employees will not have the proper amount of pay in their Civilian Leave and Earning Statement (CLES) issued Oct. 9. Some may see significant reductions. The Air Force is working to correct any errors with earnings. Corrections will be posted in the next CLES and paid on Oct. 25. Instructions are being provided to civilian employees on how to review time and attendance cards and make necessary corrections. The Air Force will ensure time and attendance systems are open and certification requirements are active. Employees will have the current pay period to make retroactive corrections to their time and attendance cards. Finally, Defense Finance and Accounting Service will process payroll on Oct. 21 and employees should receive their corrected pay for the pay period including Oct. 1-5, in their Oct. 25 paycheck.
Civilians furloughed during Oct. 1-5 will only receive back (retroactive) pay if we receive legislation authorizing back pay from the beginning of the fiscal year. If that occurs, then all employees will be made whole for all furlough hours and for leave without pay taken in place of paid leave.
Q3. Why didn’t I accrue annual or sick leave for the pay period ending Oct. 5? Why does my Civilian Leave and Earning Statement show “0” in these two leave categories?
A3. According to Air Force Manpower, Personnel and Services leadership, civilian employees who were furloughed Oct. 1-4 (32 hours) may find that they did not accrue annual or sick leave for the pay period ending Oct. 5. This is because these civilians were already furloughed 48 hours in calendar year 2103. These two furlough events equal 80 hours in a non-pay status for the year. By law (5 CFR 630.208(a)) the accumulation of non-pay status hours during a leave year can affect the accrual of annual leave and sick leave. When a full-time employee with an 80-hour biweekly tour of duty accumulates a total of 80 hours of non-pay status from the beginning of the leave year (either in one pay period, or over the course of several pay periods), the employee will not earn annual and sick leave in the pay period in which the 80-hour accumulation is reached. If the above circumstances apply to you, your LES will most likely reflect “0” in these two leave areas. Legislation is pending for retroactive pay. If this is passed and we get an appropriations bill or a continuing resolution for fiscal year 2014, you will be granted back pay, resulting in the restoration of accrued leave hours.