Pandemic related furlough frequently asked questions

Below are details about the 2020 state employee furloughs as well answers about future furloughs. 

We will continue to update these FAQs as more details become available. If you have any unanswered questions, email leave@wsdot.wa.gov.

We know there are many questions and we appreciate your patience during this process.

2021 Furloughs

While the WFSE and PROTEC 17 contracts for 2021–2023 have been ratified, with provisions for an eight-hour furlough once per month throughout the biennium, this is not finalized.

The next step in the process is for the Office of Financial Management to present state budget recommendations to the Governor, which will also include a proposal for non-represented positions, including WMS and exempt. In December, the Governor proposes a budget for the 2021-23 biennium that the Legislature will consider when the session starts in January. The Legislature provides a final budget for the Governor to review and it becomes final once he signs it. The signed budget is effective July 1, 2021.

While what was ratified for the unions is often mirrored for non-represented staff, we won’t know more about furloughs for those positions until after the budgeting process is complete.   

2020 Furloughs

Is the November 2020 furlough date cancelled for good? 

It has been postponed until 2021; an exact date has not been finalized. We’ll share updates as we receive them. 

Will the 2020 furlough hours count as hours worked for retirement credit calculations?
No. However, as long as an employee in PERS2 or PERS3 receives compensation for at least 90 hours in a month, they will still earn a full retirement credit for the month, provided the furlough hours were taken by or before October 20, 2020. Employees in PERS1 receiving compensation for at least 70 hours in a month will still earn a full retirement credit for the month. See below for more detailed information:

PERS 2 and 3: An employee must receive compensation for 90 hours in a month, in a retirement eligible position, to receive one full month of retirement service credit.  An employee must receive compensation for 70 hours to receive a half month’s service credit and if they receive compensation for less than 70 hours but more than zero hours they will receive a quarter month’s credit.

PERS 1: An employee must receive compensation for 70 hours in a month, in a retirement eligible position, to receive one full month of retirement service credit. If they receive compensation for less than 70 hours but more than zero hours they will receive a quarter month’s credit.

There are some state employees who are covered by other retirement plans. For additional questions about the impact of furloughs on these plans, visit the Department of Retirement Systems’ website: www.drs.wa.gov/coronavirus/ or for specific questions call (360) 664-7000 or (800) 547-6657. See also: www.drs.wa.gov/publications/member/multisystem/furloughs/ 
 

What do the 2020 furloughs do to my retirement?
There is a concern that my furlough (reduction in hours) will lower the Average Financial Compensation (AFC). This is not the case for employees who are eligible for the SharedWork Program. Department of Retirement Services (DRS) will identify the highest 60 months of consecutive earnings, no matter where it happens in a career. An emergency ruling was filed on June 23, 2020, to provide protections to employees furloughed before Oct. 20, 2020, to receive the same retirement benefit as if your hours had not been reduced due to the furlough.

For specific questions, please contact a DRS specialist and/or refer to the information on the DRS webpage www.drs.wa.gov/publications/member/multisystem/furloughs/