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 2024 fiscal year, so funding for most programs and services will run out when the continuing resolution expires.
What needs to happen to keep the government open?
Congress needs to pass a continuing resolution to keep government running or full-year appropriations for every government agency.
What will happen to my job if the government shuts down?
During a government shutdown, most federal employees and contractors will be furloughed without pay. 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. We estimate this would mean nearly 1.8 million federal workers would stop receiving a paycheck if the federal government goes through a full shutdown.
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 furloughed or required to work during a shutdown?
Thanks to legislation AFGE supported after the 2018-2019 shutdown, all employees will be paid retroactively when funding is restored to the government. During the shutdown, you will not receive a paycheck.
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.
What happens to life insurance or other benefits I get through AFGE during a shutdown?
Many AFGE members choose to purchase life insurance, short term disability or other benefits from outside benefit partners such as Benefit Architects and Colonial Insurance. If an AFGE member has questions about those programs during the shutdown they should contact the benefit partner directly.
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.
Review your state’s eligibility requirements here.
Most frequently asked questions from furloughed employees
Can I take a second job?
It depends. Even while in a furlough status, individuals remain employees of the federal government and are still bound by the laws, rules, and regulations governing outside employment. Many agencies, for example, have their own policies covering outside employment. Furloughed employees should consult their agencies before accepting outside employment to ensure compliance with all applicable laws, rules, regulations, and agency policies.
Can I take paid leave during the shutdown?
No. A lapse in appropriations cancels any scheduled paid leave such as sick leave, annual leave, and paid parental leave. Furloughed employees may not take paid leave.
What happens to furloughed employees on unpaid Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave?
Scheduled unpaid leave, such as LWOP, is not cancelled by a lapse in appropriations. Employees, however, are not entitled to receive retroactive pay for scheduled unpaid leave that occurs during the furlough. The scheduled unpaid leave will not count against an employee’s 12-week FMLA leave limit.
Can I apply for unemployment benefits?
Furloughed employees may become eligible for unemployment compensation during the furlough period depending on the applicable state unemployment rules. Review your state’s requirements here. While eligibility for benefits will vary by state, you will likely be required to pay back any unemployment compensation you may have received once the government reopens and processes the retroactive pay.
Most frequently asked questions from excepted employees
If I need to be absent from work, what are my options?
Excepted employees should look to their agencies to determine what options are available. Some agencies may approve leave, intermittent furloughs, telework, or schedule changes to accommodate excepted employees who need to be absent from work for brief periods during a shutdown. OPM has encouraged agencies to place excepted employees in a furlough status when the agency authorizes their absence from duty. If your agency’s guidance is unclear, ask management to clarify.
Can I take paid leave?
Under the Government Employees Fair Treatment Act of 2019, excepted employees may request paid leave if they need to be excused from duty and their employing agency has not otherwise authorized their absence, subject to the normal policies and procedures governing the usage of paid leave. Paid leave, however, must be requested and approved, or the employee runs the risk of being placed in an AWOL status and otherwise subject to discipline. Any paid leave taken by an excepted employee during the furlough period will be charged against their leave balances.
Can I take paid or unpaid FMLA leave?
If an excepted employee faces FMLA-qualifying circumstances, OPM has encouraged agencies to place qualified excepted employees in a furlough status for appropriate periods consistent with the employees’ rights under the FMLA. Excepted employees who need to take FMLA leave should discuss their situation with their supervisors and/or their HR office as appropriate.
Can I take leave to take a second job?
It depends. Excepted employees must report to work as they normally would. Further, even while working in an excepted status, excepted employees remain employees of the federal government and are still bound by the laws, rules, and regulations governing outside employment. Many agencies, for example, have their own policies covering outside or secondary employment. Excepted employees should consult their agencies before accepting outside employment to ensure compliance with all applicable laws, rules, regulations, and agency policies.
I have to work without pay during the shutdown. Can I apply for unemployment benefits?
While this may vary by state, excepted employees who are required to work their regular schedule during a lapse in appropriations are unlikely to meet the eligibility requirements for unemployment compensation.
For further information or FAQs, employees should consult the most recent guidance from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, available at https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/furlough-guidance/guidance-for-shutdown-furloughs.pdf. The information provided above is general in nature only. It is not a substitute for individualized legal advice, nor does it guarantee a particular result or create an attorney-client relationship. The law is also subject to change, sometimes with little or no notice.