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Most AF civilians to return to work

WASHINGTON (AFNS) --

In accordance with a memo Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel released Oct. 5, the Air Force will recall most of the nearly 104,000 Air Force civilian Airmen placed on emergency furlough due to government shutdown.  However, a significant number will not yet be able to return.

In his memo, Hagel stated that immediately after President Barack Obama signed the Pay Our Military Act into law, he directed DOD’s Acting General Counsel to determine whether he could reduce the number of civilian personnel furloughed due to the shutdown.

After consulting with attorneys from the Department of Justice and the Department of Defense, the secretary said the Pay our Military Act does not permit a blanket recall of all civilians. 

However, he said, DOD and DOJ attorneys concluded that the law does allow the DOD to eliminate furloughs for employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members.

According to DOD guidance for implementation of the Pay our Military Act, in addition to already excepted civilians, civilian Airmen who contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities, and readiness of service members should also be removed from furlough status.  Previously furloughed employees that fall in this category will return to work beginning Monday.  Upon return to work, they may only perform “excepted” duties which encompass those duties necessary for the protection of life and property, so there will continue to be ongoing impacts due to the government shutdown.

"You've heard that we are bringing back many of our civilian teammates, but a significant number of them will not return. That is not what we or OSD wanted; however, the DOJ/OMB/DOD negotiated position on the interpretation of the law does not eliminate furloughs all together and leaves many of our civilian Airmen left behind," said Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning. "Everyone's work supports our Airmen, but the mechanics of the legislation is the driving force of who comes back, not the value of the work. This is unfair and simply a disruptive situation for you and your families. From day one, our primary focus has been to rapidly get as many people back to work as soon as possible; and we will continue those efforts. We are a team, a family -- always have been. We will not be a fully-functioning organization until the last member returns."

Today supervisors began notifying Air Force civilian employees who will return to work next week. The Air Force is utilizing all possible means of communication including supervisor contact, social media, Air Force Personnel Center and AF.mil.

For current government shutdown information, visit AF.mil’s Government Shutdown page, the Air Force Portal and/or contact the Air Force Personnel Center Total Service Center at 800-525-0102.

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