On Thursday, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) updated its website with information on administrative furloughs in case the fiscal cliff discussions do not produce an agreement.
The OPM's communications director said that the furlough guidelines were not "a reaction to any specific action" but were an effort to keep federal workers informed about the possibility of furlough.
President Obama and involved members of Congress have cut their winter vacations short to negotiate the looming potential financial crisis.
As the comments from Washington seem to be increasingly negative about a potential compromise, many federal workers are becoming increasingly concerned about how the lack of agreement could affect their jobs.
OPM guidelines define a furlough as " the placing of an employee in a temporary non-duty, non-pay status because of lack of work or funds, or other non-disciplinary reasons." With the potential funding cuts that the fiscal cliff would bring about, a number of federal workers could be facing furloughs in 2013.
The guidelines mandate that "agencies are responsible for identifying the employees affected by administrative furloughs based on budget conditions, funding sources, mission priorities (including the need to perform emergency work involving the safety of human life or protection of property), and other factors."
Federal workers also are barred from doing their jobs on a volunteer basis unless otherwise authorized by law. Additionally, federal workers are not permitted to take sick leave, vacation or other forms of paid-time off to circumvent the furlough.
Read more about the furlough process on the OPMs website.