Lockheed Martin Corp., the world's largest defense contractor, says at least 3,000 employees will temporarily stop working because of the federal government shutdown.
Lockheed joins a growing number of defense contractors impacted by the shutdown, now in its fourth day after lawmakers were unable to pass a budget by Oct. 1, the start of the government's fiscal year. BAE Systems Plc, based in London, has said the shutdown may affect as much as 15 percent of its U.S. workforce, or about 5,250 employees.
Private-sector employees are unable to work because the government facility where they perform their job is closed, or their work requires a government inspection that can't be completed, or contracts have received a stop-work order, according to the Lockheed statement.
"I'm disappointed that we must take these actions and we continue to encourage our lawmakers to come together to pass a funding bill that will end this shutdown," Chief Executive Officer Marillyn Hewson said in the statement. "We hope that Congress and the Administration are able to resolve this situation as soon as possible."
The Bethesda, Md.-based company said the number of workers forced to take mandatory leaves of absence, known as furloughs, beginning Oct. 7 will increase the longer the government remains closed. Employees are being directed to use available vacation time so they can continue to receive their pay and benefits, the company said.
Lockheed is the prime manufacturer for numerous weapons systems, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter -- the Pentagon's most expensive acquisition program.
Some 800,000 federal workers are being forced to take unpaid leave, including about 400,000 civilians at the Defense Department. These workers, whose jobs have been deemed "non-essential," aren't necessarily guaranteed back pay should Congress and the White House agree on a budget or plan to temporarily fund the government.
That's in addition to six furlough days most Pentagon civilians were required to take in the latter half of last year, due to automatic budget cuts known as sequestration. The furloughs are hurting morale throughout the workforce and the Pentagon's ability to carry out routine administrative functions, such as overseeing contracts, officials have said.