Over 200 employees put on 'unexpected' unpaid furlough by Palmet - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Over 200 employees put on 'unexpected' unpaid furlough by Palmetto GBA

Palmetto GBA put 200-plus employees on furlough. (Source: WMBF News) Palmetto GBA put 200-plus employees on furlough. (Source: WMBF News)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Palmetto GBA, a subsidiary of BlueCross BlueShield, received a government-issued stop-work order and was forced to put about 200 employees on unpaid furlough.

Palmetto GBA had previously hired those 200-plus employees for a specific government contract.

Some employees said they heard there was some pushback against the work that contract implemented. However, the company assured its workers that they would be secure in their job for at least three years.

WMBF News talked with two workers on furlough who wanted to remain anonymous since they are still technically employed by the company until July 1.

They said that the main reason they are upset is not the fact that they do not have a job, but the fact that the company was not transparent enough about the situation.

They said up until the day before they received the notice, the company assured them a furlough was not going to happen.

"That everything would be fine, that this was just temporary, and that they would keep us up-to-date and let us know everything as it was happening," said one employee.

They were first put on a pause in early April, but still, they said the company told them it was just temporary.

Then, on April 27, they received an official email from Palmetto GBA notifying them of the unpaid furlough that would go into affect on May 1.

That email was signed by President Ed Sanchez and Vice President Robin Leigh.

Many of the employees were former nurses who had moved to insurance work within health care, thinking it was a safe department to work for as far as job security goes.

Even though the contract was for a minimum of three years, some employees said they were planning on staying with the company through the end of their careers.

WMBF reached out to Palmetto GBA for an interview, and received this statement in response:

Palmetto GBA, a subsidiary of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, which administers government contracts, recently received a stop-work order on a multi-state review effort. These orders are used by the government when it wants to pause a project in order to determine next steps.

At the time of the stop-work order, we had no choice but to place on furlough approximately 200 employees hired specifically for this initiative. The furlough was effective Monday, May 1. Employees were notified about the details of the furlough, including information on pay and benefits. We are hopeful that we will receive guidance from the government quickly and that this will be a short-lived measure.

However, many of the employees on furlough said they don't plan on coming back in July, even if the furlough is lifted, because they feel they can no longer trust the company.

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