The Labor Department sent furlough notices to about 4,700 employees Tuesday — about 28 percent of its total workforce.
Labor spokesman Steve Barr said affected employees will be furloughed for an average of six days by the end of September. The department hopes to spread the furlough days out so employees will take roughly one unpaid day of leave each month, Barr said.
The Labor Department is trying to spare as many field employees from furloughs as possible, to limit damage to mission-critical programs, Barr added. Some agencies within Labor will be able to find most of their sequester-required budget cuts from contracts or grant programs, and, as a result, will not have to furlough as many employees or may be able to avoid furloughs entirely.
Labor’s headquarters in Washington will be furloughing employees, Barr said, but he did not have more specific information on which agencies within the department will be hardest-hit by furloughs.
Barr said department managers are combing through their budgets to find other places to save money to avoid furloughing employees.
“It’s a fluid situation,” Barr said. “We’re still hoping to realize efficiencies and economies” that will allow Labor to cancel at least some of the furloughs.