Furlough time that state workers have on the books can now stay in the bank indefinitely, according to a memo issued Thursday by the Department of Personnel Administration.
PML 2010-015 outlines the well-known details of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest furlough order: The policy reduces state workers' pay by an amount equal to three days per month with most employees taking off commensurate time off the second, third and fourth Fridays. Several departments, union bargaining units and a few employee classifications also are exempt.
Then, at the bottom of the second page, this two-line paragraph:
Furlough hours cannot be cashed out. Effective immediately, there is no longer an expiration date to previously accrued furlough hours.
You can read the DPA memo by clicking this link.
Until now, furlough time off carried past June 30, 2012 would be lost. That aspect of the policy had opened the administration to charges that "self-directed" furloughs were a de facto pay cut for state workers such as correctional officers and psychiatric technicians. Under earlier furlough plans, they had to work full schedules and take the pay hit with the possibility that their facility's workload might not allow them to take the time off before the expiration date.
The issue arose a part of an Alameda Superior Court lawsuit brought by the California Correctional Peace Officers' Association. The governor's attorneys argued that there's enough slack in the system for state workers to take the time off, especially because they're supposed to take furlough time before any other leave time, such as vacation.
And besides, if state workers wind up shortchanged, they can always sue, Schwarzenegger lawyer David Tyra said.
Click here for more details from oral arguments in that case.
Judge Frank Roesch eventually ruled in favor of CCPOA. The case is now on appeal.
We've asked the governor's office to explain why the administration eliminated the deadline. We'll report when we hear back.