Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Attention federal workers: fiscal cliff or not, come to work Jan. 2

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Kitty Felde/KPCC

Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-Lakewood) says she's optimistic that a deal can be reached to avert the fiscal cliff.

If Congress can’t come up with an agreement by Monday night, we go over the fiscal cliff. That means not only higher taxes, but also automatic cuts to defense and domestic programs.

What could that mean for federal employees? There are about 150,000 of them in California — about a third of them in the defense industry.

If we go over the fiscal cliff, federal employees do have to report for work Jan. 2 and beyond. Budget cuts could mean furloughs, but federal workers will get at least 30 days notice.

The Office of Personnel Management — essentially the human resources department for the federal government — has posted fiscal cliff guidelines on its website, including answers to the most frequently asked questions.

But here are a couple of notes: If you’re furloughed, you can’t swap it out for sick leave or vacation days. And even if you love your job so much you want to “volunteer” and work for free, you can’t.

As for the chances of avoiding a fall off the cliff, Democratic Congresswoman Linda Sanchez of Lakewood says she’s optimistic. She's getting on a plane to join her colleagues in Washington for a rare Sunday session.

"We don’t know if there will be a deal," said Sanchez, "but we’re being called back, my sense is, in the event that there is a deal that gets put together. We’re hopeful that can happen and I’m optimistic that a deal can get done because it’s not that tough! It just requires a little bit of give and take."

Happy New Year? We’ll have to wait and see.

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