Over 100,000 state employees in the United States have been ordered to stay home for one day as part of a federal spending cut program.
Almost the entire staff at several US institutions, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), were placed on mandatory unpaid leave on Friday, May 24.
Most of the 90,000 employees of the IRS as well as some 8,700 HUD staff stayed home on Friday.
According to officials, the total number of furloughed employees amounts to approximately five percent of the federal workforce.
The furlough was the first of several holidays without pay for government staff within the so-called sequestration plan. The plan has been in place since March 1 and is expected to cut 85 billion dollars in US government costs.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has also said that some 800,000 civilian employees of the American military will have to take mandatory unpaid leave to cut costs and meet a budget shortfall of USD 30 billion.
According to the cost-cutting plans, the US military’s civilian workforce will be forced to take 11 days off work, starting July 8 through next September, which is half of the 22 so-called furlough days originally planned by the Pentagon.
Meanwhile, some have expressed concern about the possible and harming effect of the forced holidays on employee morale. They have also said that the unpaid leaves have real consequences on government operations.
“Certainly having four agencies with locked doors is not a good thing,” said Bill Dougan, the head of the National Federation of Federal Employees.
“These agencies provide services … that the … citizens of the country need,” he added.