Nearly 1,500 workers at Natick Soldiers System Center are among the federal employees who will be taking furlough days as a result of sequestration, beginning Monday.
The vast majority of personnel will be taking 11 mandatory unpaid days off up until Sept. 30, or about one day a week, according to the center's spokesman, John Harlow.
“That’s 20 percent of paychecks over 11 weeks,” said Harlow.
Harlow said 34 workers essential to health and safety at the center are exempt from the furloughs.
The furloughs are part of across-the-board spending cuts resulting from the Budget Control Act of 2011, and the federal government’s failure to prevent the so-called sequester from starting in March.
According to the Department of Labor, while on furlough, some federal employees may become eligible for unemployment benefits under the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees, which is paid by the states under the same terms and conditions as regular state unemployment compensation.
However, Harlow noted that the furlough days will also be impacting research and development at Natick Labs.
“What would normally take 20 days or four weeks to accomplish could take 25 days and five weeks,” Harlow said.
“Our workforce is beyond professional,” Harlow added. “Once they get in the gate, they’re focused on how to protect the soldier. … Through no actions of their own, they are getting punished. They’re losing pay for something they have no control over, but they still come in every day and think of the next best thing to protect our soldiers.”