In response to these past few items — “Let Them Eat Vacation Days,” “3 Simple Facts About the Shutdown,” and “Yet Another Reason to End the Shutdown” — furloughed federal workers write in about their experiences.
Vacation days aren’t the bonanza that they may seem. Last night the head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, Kevin Hassett, said in apparent seriousness that furloughed federal workers were “in a sense better off,” since they were in effect on “vacation” now and would eventually get back pay.
One veteran federal worker, who is also a military veteran, disagrees:
It's worth noting that even by Mr. Hassett's logic there's going to be workers that are considerably worse off, because an awful lot of federal workers carry "use-or-lose" vacation (I always did).
One of our friends did, in fact, have a lot of vacation scheduled for January that she was forced to take. Now she's furloughed instead -- and if the furlough ends in the next month, has to take that vacation right away. Which means she'll probably just go to work "on vacation" to clear out a backlog -- she's not getting "free" vacation days, she's getting screwed out of them.
Yes, it’s complicated. Another worker to similar effect:
Because the leave year ended January 5, and there is a maximum number of annual leave hours that can be carried forward, some of those furloughed employees were probably using "use or lose" leave. I am unsure whether the furlough would justify restoration of that leave for all those employees.
(My particular agency is permitting restoration, but that appears to be a agency decision, rather than a broadly-applicable OPM or OMB decision.)