2015 Shutdown Explained

Categories: Congress

It’s absurd, we know. The last shutdown wreaked havoc on many fronts, but many elected officials, driven by their ideological agenda – this time over funding for Planned Parenthood, are shooting for a sequel. As a federal employee, you are directly affected by the shutdown. Here are the answers to some of the important questions you may have regarding the shutdown:

FAQs about the Shutdown 

Why are we facing another government shutdown? 

Funding for most federal government operations runs on a fiscal year, from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. Congress has not passed agency budgets for the 2016 fiscal year, so funding for most programs and services will run out on Sept. 30.  

What needs to happen to keep the government open? 

Congress needs to pass full-year appropriations for every government agency. Barring that, Congress needs to pass a stop-gap funding measure known as a continuing resolution that would keep agencies operating at last year’s funding level until new budgets can be approved.  

What will happen to my job if the government shuts down? 

During a government shutdown, many federal employees and contractors will be furloughed without pay (850,000 were furloughed during the previous shutdown in 2013). Other employees deemed ‘essential, excepted, or retained’ by their agencies will be required to work during the shutdown but won’t get paid either until the shutdown ends.  

What should I do if there is a shutdown? 

Consult your agency’s shutdown contingency plan. This plan should detail which agency activities will continue and which will stop during a shutdown; estimate the process for shutting down operations at the beginning of the shutdown; and identify which types of employees will be required to work during a shutdown.  

Where do I find out if I’m being furloughed?

Your agency’s contingency plan details which employees are furloughed and which employees are retained. Your agency will also notify you of your furlough status before a shutdown commences.  

Will I be paid for time worked before the shutdown? 

Yes, you will.  Checks for the last pay period before the shutdown will be issued by a skeleton crew of payroll staff, pursuant to OMB’s August 28, 1980, guidance.  

Will I be paid if I am required to work during a shutdown? 

In the past, employees required to work during a shutdown have been paid retroactively, when funding was restored to the government.   

Will I be paid if I am required to stay home during a shutdown? 

Furloughed employees will not be paid unless Congress passes legislation ensuring that federal employees are paid for time they could have otherwise been working during a shutdown. Legislation has been introduced in Congress to ensure all federal employees are paid in full retroactively in the event of a funding lapse, and AFGE fully supports this legislation.  

Will I continue to receive health insurance during a shutdown? 

Yes, you will continue to receive health care benefits under FEHBP, even without payment of premiums from you or the agency. Your share of your FEHBP premium will accumulate and be withheld upon return to work.  

Can I use paid leave instead of being furloughed if there is a shutdown? 

No, all paid leave or other paid time off is cancelled during a period when a lapse in appropriations is in effect. 

Am I eligible to collect unemployment insurance if there is a shutdown? 

Depending upon the length of the shutdown, your status, and the requirements of your state’s unemployment insurance, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits.

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