Furlough to hit civilian employees at Fort Polk hard

By By Natalie Stewart / American Press

Civilian employees at Fort Polk are expecting a 20 percent pay reduction as they move to a four-day work week.

Fort Polk announced the shortened work week on Friday as part of an across-the-board effort by the Department of Defense to

slash spending in response to budget cuts.

The move, which will last July 8 to Sept. 30, will require employees to take either Mondays or Fridays off unpaid as their

designated furlough day, which will amount to a 20 percent reduction in pay.

According to a news release issued by

Fort Polk, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sent a defense memo to senior

department heads

saying that he had “very reluctantly concluded that major

budgetary shortfalls triggered by a $37 billion cut in defense spending

for fiscal year 2013 forced a decision.”

Scott Stearns, Fort Polk public affairs officer told the American Press on Friday that approximately 2,000 employees, including himself, will be affected by the move to four-day work weeks.

“The civilian workforce is getting 11

furlough days — 88 hours, in response to the sequester,” he said.

“Truthfully, it is

what it is. It’s a situation that is in the hands of our political

leaders and as a government employee we will just adhere

to what we are told to adhere to.”

Stearns said although the employees will move to four-day work weeks, operations on the post will continue to run a normal.

“Everyone won’t be taking their furlough days at the same time,” he said. “For instance half of the public affairs office

will be off Monday and the other half on Friday.”

Brig. Gen. William Hickman said “every effort” at Fort Polk will be made to lessen the severity of effects the furlough may

have on civilian employees.

The weekly leave of absence affects all

Army appropriated fund employees, Garrison Commander Col. Roger Shuck

said in a news

release, with the exception of employees working at child

development centers and in sexual assault response and victim advocate

programs.

Shuck said Fort Polk is prohibited from using compensatory time or overtime to offset the furlough.

The 11 non-consecutive furlough days will not affect employee retirement.