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Holiday Furloughs for DC Government Employees Passed Unanimously by DC Council

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(Washington, DC) Today The Balanced Budget Holiday Furlough Emergency Act of 2011, introduced by Council Chairman Kwame Brown at the request of Mayor Vincent C. Gray, was unanimously approved by the Council. The Act, which implements the Fiscal Year 2011 Revised Budget Request Act introduced last year when Mayor Gray was Chairman of the Council, authorizes the government to furlough employees for 4 legal public holidays. Those holidays include Presidents’ Day on Monday, February 21; DC Emancipation Day on Friday, April 15; Memorial Day on Monday, May 30; and Independence Day on Monday, July 4.

“The furloughs are the first of several cost-saving measures we will have to implement to ensure that the city is financially solvent,” said Mayor Gray. “In these challenging times, we must all share in the sacrifices as ‘One City’ -- and as government employees who are public servants, we must be willing to share the burden and shoulder the responsibility when the public interest demands it.”

Several groups are exempt from the furloughs, including uniformed members of the Metropolitan Police Department, emergency medical services personnel of the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department and employees in subordinate agencies occupying positions subject to a court order that specifically excludes such positions from furloughs. Prior to the implementation of furloughs, a notice will be prepared and distributed to each employee with the specific furlough dates and hours.

Furloughs as an option to help save costs were first introduced in December 2010 by then-Chairman Gray. According to DC personnel regulations, a furlough can be conducted when “required for budgetary reasons” and with appropriate written notice to each affected employee. As part of the Fiscal Year 2011 $188 million gap-closing plan passed in December 2010, the Council approved a specified cost savings of $19,322,000 to be achieved through a District-wide furlough of District government employees, with some exceptions to ensure public health and safety.