What Feds Furloughed During the Shutdown Need to Know About Their Back Pay and Leave

Union members protest during the 2013 government shutdown. Union members protest during the 2013 government shutdown. AFGE file photo

When Congress passed a bill Monday to reopen the government after a three-day lapse in appropriations, lawmakers also approved back pay for federal employees who were sent home during the shutdown.

The Office of Personnel Management on Wednesday put out a memo to agency chief human capital officers to clarify exactly how the back pay provision will be administered. The memo also addresses how the relatively short-lived shutdown affected federal workers’ leave.

Here are some key points from the memo:

  • Furloughed employees who were scheduled to work overtime or night hours that would have entitled them to extra pay will be paid as if they had completed that work;
  • Furloughed employees will continue to accrue annual and sick leave as though they had been working during the shutdown;
  • Furloughed employees will not be charged for annual or sick leave during the shutdown;
  • Employees who were previously scheduled to take leave without pay during the shutdown will remain in that status and will not be paid for the hours of the shutdown.

Click here to view OPM’s memo for more details on how the shutdown affected pay and leave for furloughed employees. Excepted employees who worked during the shutdown will be paid for that work, as will members of the military.  

With the prospect of another shutdown looming when the next continuing resolution runs out on Feb. 8, federal employees should also know that contrary to a few initial news reports, the back pay provision as approved by Congress applies only to last weekend's shutdown. It does not guarantee back pay for furloughed feds in the event of another shutdown in fiscal 2018, according to Aaron Fritschner, a spokesman for Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., who has been a key advocate of back pay for furloughed federal workers. Congress would need to pass separate language to grant back pay for feds sent home in the event of another lapse in appropriations.

Erich Wagner contributed to this report.

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