Civilian army employees who served too many furlough days under the sequester can swap their excess hours for annual leave in order to receive pay for the now-unnecessary time off work. The obvious drawback is that they will lose vacation time.

The Department of the Army notified its civilian workforce of the policy in a memo last week, addressing concerns about employees who surpassed the required amount of sequester-related unpaid leave before the Pentagon reduced the time from 11 days to six last month.

The army said it will not authorize excused absences to make up for the excess furlough time. That policy has drawn criticism from the American Federation of Government Employees. “Agencies have the option to grant time not chargeable to leave, but in the case of DOD, they patently forbid it as a consideration,” said union spokeswoman Sydney Glass.

The army policy on excess furloughs does not apply to all branches of the military. Defense Department spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Christensen said the Pentagon is still developing its own guidelines. “At this time, no final decisions have been made,” he said.

Army spokesman Lt. Col. S. Justin Platt said the army followed furlough guidelines from the Office of Personnel Management. “We believe this is non-controversial guidance that we can issue to assist our Army civilian employees during this time of financial and personal uncertainty,” he said.

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