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What Federal Employees Need to Know About a Government Shutdown

With another partial government shutdown looming, we wanted to answer some questions that we are often asked by clients. 

Currently, the following departments are slated for shutdown at midnight Dec. 21, 2018: Homeland Security, Commerce, Interior, Agriculture,Housing and Urban Development, Justice, and Transportation. Among those agencies affected, some 420,000 personnel will continue working, without pay, as their duties are considered essential. About 380,000 are slated for furlough.

Will all employees be furloughed during the shutdown?

No. Certain personnel are considered “excepted,” meaning that they perform work that, by law, may continue during a shutdown. Examples are employees who perform emergency work involving the safety of human life, protection of property, or other types of work essential to the government.

This typically includes military personnel, law enforcement, and certain members of TSA. Employees who are considered “exempt”from furlough are not affected by a lapse in funding—typically those not funded by annually appropriated funds. If you are neither excepted nor exempt, you are barred from working during a shutdown.

Can I volunteer to work from home during the shutdown?

No. The federal government cannot accept voluntary services from its employees

Can I take other jobs while on furlough?

No. While on furlough you remain an employee of the federal government. Therefore, the rules governing outside employment while a federal employee continue to apply.

I am scheduled for paid leave during the shutdown. Will I still be furloughed? 

Yes. Employees must be placed in a furlough status during any paid time off scheduled during the shutdown.

Does this mean I can take my scheduled vacation immediately after the government resumes operations?

Does this mean I can take my scheduled vacation immediately after the government resumes operations?

I am on leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Will the furlough count against my 12 weeks of FMLA leave?

No. No days associated with a shutdown furlough period will count against an employee’s 12-week FMLA leave entitlement. This means that if the government is shut down for a week during your FMLA leave, you will be entitled to your full leave once your agency or department resumes operations.

What happens to my case during a shutdown?

In the past, federal courts have remained open during the shutdown. If you have an administrative case, the EEOC website will provide information regarding the handling of cases. Contact your attorney if you have additional questions or are concerned about an upcoming deadline.  

Will I get paid at all during the shutdown? If so, when?

If you are furloughed, you will not be paid on your regular payday. However, the legislation that re-opens the federal government almost always includes a provision allowing for back pay for employees furloughed during the shutdown. You will most likely be paid, but it will be at a later date, after the government has reopened. 

Will I receive pay for a holiday that occurs during a shutdown furlough?

No. Furloughed employees will not receive pay for a holiday that occurs during a shutdown. However, if the legislation re-opening the government allows for back pay, you will receive your holiday pay at that time.

Will an employee continue to be covered under the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program during the shutdown?

Yes. Your benefits will continue even if the agency does not make premium payments on time.  

If I am a government contractor, will I be paid during the shutdown?

It depends. If you are working on a contract that was fully funded prior to the shutdown, you will likely continue working on your project. However, during the shutdown, the government cannot execute new contracts or make payments on incrementally funded contracts.

For more information on EEOC activities that will NOT occur during the shutdown go to: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/shutdown_plan.cfm.

If you are a federal employee and have further questions on the possible government shutdown, Alan Lescht & Associates can help. Contact us at (202) 463-6036 or visit us at www.dcemploymentattorney.com.

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