The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) will close its offices every other Friday, starting next week and lasting until June 11. DHW instituted half-day closures on alternating Fridays in January as a way to reduce costs and increase unpaid furloughs for employees. The closures won't effect some critical state services, including operating the state mental hospitals and responding to child protection calls. With the expanded closures, DHW employees will take 13.5 furlough days and a 5 percent cut in annual pay for a total savings of $1 million. A DHW news release says that the full-day closures are a response to the revised budget for the current year that Idaho lawmakers set Feb. 19.
Current state law requires agencies to be open five days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
DHW Director Richard Armstrong's office will remain open during the Friday closures, which would meet that requirement, according to Emily Simnitt, DHW public information officer.
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