NOAA plans to pair furloughs with federal holidays for extended weekends

NOAA staff from the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services install a sensor on the Dog River Bridge in Mobile County, Ala. (NOAA).
NOAA staff from the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services install a sensor on the Dog River Bridge in Mobile County, Ala. (NOAA).

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration this week proposed pairing some of its furlough days with federal holidays, joining a growing list of agencies turning unpaid leave into four-day weekends for affected workers.

NOAA acting administrator Kathryn Sullivan informed employees by e-mail on Monday that the agency would close its offices entirely for four nonconsecutive days to absorb its share of the government-wide spending cuts that took effect on March 1.

The furlough-closure days would fall on July 5, July 19, August 5 and August 30, creating four-day breaks during the Independence Day and Labor Day weekends.

NOAA joins the Internal Revenue Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development in planning furloughs around federal holidays. Other agencies are considering the same move, according to union officials for the various labor groups that represent federal employees.

The unions are working to negotiate the terms of unpaid leave for agencies that plan to impose furloughs. They want employees to have a say in which days they take off work, as some may need flexibility for child-care purposes or other personal needs.

On Monday, a group of Senate Republicans proposed a bill that would exempt federal workers deemed essential to public safety from sequester furloughs.

For more federal news, visit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics.

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Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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Josh Hicks · April 17, 2013