How Will the Government Shutdown Affect Federal Workers?

The New York Times has published this helpful chart regarding which federal employees must still attend work during the government shutdown – because they are “essential to the protection of life and property and to national security” or fall under other exceptions – and which are instructed to stay home.NYTChart backup

More than 800,000 out of the federal government’s 2 million employees may be furloughed. Some departments, such as the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and State, will furlough only a small proportion of their workers because their missions are so closely tied to national security. Other offices and programs, such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Affordable Care Act, will continue because their appropriations largely do not come from the annual budget process.

Yet, when those who continue to work will get paid for this time remains unclear. The Office of Management and Budget has said that “all excepted employees are entitled to receive payment for obligations incurred by their agencies for their performance of excepted work” during the shutdown. But, these payments will not occur until after Congress passes an appropriations bill – in other words, until the shutdown is resolved. Consequently, many federal workers could be waiting weeks or months before receiving their paychecks, even if they are required to continue working.

What about employees who are furloughed? According to the Congressional Research Service, “Federal employees who have been furloughed under a shutdown historically have received their salaries retroactively.” Yet, there is no guarantee that Congress will appropriate money to pay furloughed workers this time. Interestingly, according to the New York Times, “Members of Congress [themselves] . . . are deemed essential and would continue to be paid.”

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