The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

May 1, 2012
California controller's office 'very close' to finalizing furlough back pay

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100831 calculator.JPGThe State Controller's Office is "very close" to settling all the thorny issues connected with issuing furlough back pay to hundreds of current and former state workers, but some questions still need to be answered before the checks will be cut, according to a letter provided to The Bee that went out Friday to the affected departments.

The letter from the controller's office, which we've posted below, doesn't commit to a payment date.

According to the letter, the pay will be issued in one check and "subject to federal and state income tax using the flat tax method (25% federal tax and 6% state tax), retirement, Social Security, Medicare, and SDI if applicable."

The controller's office also will withhold garnishments and union dues or fair share fees from the checks.

It also looks like employees may be paid at different times, depending on how quickly their employers submit documentation. Payments will go out "within 10 working days from the date SCO receives the completed Furlough Settlement Pay Template from your department (further details regarding the template will be forthcoming)," the letter says. No word when that will happen.

The state's furlough policy withheld the equivalent of two days pay per month beginning in February 2009 and then upped it to three days per month in July of that year - a nearly 15 percent pay reduction.

The payments will go to current and former staff forced to take unpaid time off while working for the California Lottery, First 5 California Commission, Prison Industry Authority, Earthquake Authority or state Housing Finance Agency. Those departments do not receive an appropriation from the Legislature, an appellate court ruled, leaving room for the possibility that the Legislature illegally furloughed them.

Gov. Jerry Brown, the departments, SEIU Local 1000 and the state attorneys' union agreed to settle the dispute. The departments then extended the back wages to cover all their employees. The five departments together employ about 1,500 workers.

Here's the controller's letter:

Hello everyone,

We are very close to finalizing all pertinent details on how to most efficiently process the furlough settlement. See below for the latest updates:

Employment History Update

There is a change in the Employment History Update procedure which is also #5 in the original FAQ's:

Departments WILL NOT be updating Employment History. PPSD - Personnel Operations will be manually processing all the PAR transactions to remove the furlough EID's 8FR1 and 8FR2 for all eligible employees. This manual update will include all Out of Sequence PAR transactions that have the furlough EID. The estimated completion date for all PAR transactions to be processed is the 3rd week of May.

IMPORTANT: PPSD - Personnel Operations has asked that unless it is an urgent matter, please do not key PAR transactions for a furlough settlement employee until after the employee's record has been updated to remove the furlough EID. As soon as you see that the employee's record is updated then you may proceed with keying PAR transactions. Note: A turnaround PAR will be generated and distributed once the employee's record is updated.

Furlough Settlement Pay

The Furlough Settlement Pay:

Will be issued as one (1) Furlough Settlement payment reflecting the total settlement gross amount.

Will have a unique Payment Type and Pay Suffix (Earnings ID) - more information to follow.

Will be subject to federal and state income tax using the flat tax method (25% federal tax and 6% state tax), retirement, Social Security, Medicare, and SDI if applicable.

Will have applicable garnishment deductions withheld.

Will have SEIU dues and fair share deductions withheld for applicable employees.

Will be issued in a current month pay period, with the exception of employees who are currently not employed at your department.

IMPORTANT: We have determined that issuing the settlement pay in a current month pay period would be the most expedient manner for the employees to receive their money. If issuing the furlough settlement pay in a current fiscal year is a budgetary problem for your department, please let us know immediately and we will plan a different method to accommodate your request. Please be advised that this may delay your employees settlement pay.

Will be issued within 10 working days from the date SCO receives the completed Furlough Settlement Pay Template from your department (further details regarding the template will be forthcoming).

Payment History

A Payment History Report will be provided to you for all eligible employees once the PAR's have been processed for your department. The report will include:

Regular Pay issued for each applicable pay period during the furlough period

Disability Pay issued during the furlough period

Note: Employees with disability pay will need to have their Furlough Settlement Pay processed through the Form 674/674D and not the above template.

Further details regarding the payment history report will be provided in the near future.

SZ PAY - Furlough Overtime

The issue of SZ Pay - Furlough Overtime is still under review and another update will be sent as soon as information becomes available.

FAQ's - Revised

The FAQ's that were sent to you on March 21, 2012, are being updated. You will receive revised FAQ's once they have been reviewed by SEIU. The revised FAQ's will include answers to questions that have been asked previously as well as the above information.

Again, thank you very much for your patience and you will be hearing from us very soon regarding the Payment History Report and the Furlough Settlement Pay Template.

PHOTO: freefoto.com

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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