WASHINGTON (CNN) — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Saturday that "most [Department of Defense] civilians placed on emergency furlough during the government shutdown will be asked to return to work beginning next week."
The ongoing government shutdown has left more than 800,000 workers furloughed for the past five days -- roughly half of those are civilians working for the Pentagon.
Hagel says Pentagon and Justice Department attorneys have concluded that the law does allow the Department of Defense to eliminate furloughs for employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members.
Hagel says he's directing that employees who fall under these categories be identified.
"I expect us to be able to significantly reduce -- but not eliminate -- civilian furloughs under this process," Hagel said in a statement.