Although many federal employees say they are suffering from shutdown threat fatigue, should the threat turn into reality–and the chances seem higher this time than previously–the impact on them would be much greater than one of annoyance.
Employees who are ordered to continue working despite a partial government shutdown are guaranteed by law to be paid for that time since the government has incurred an obligation to them. For employees furloughed, there is no such assurance. In past shutdowns they have been paid as well, but that requires action by Congress each time. That issue most likely would be addressed in whatever measure eventually passes to restore funding.
The mechanics of exactly when employees would be paid for the shutdown time depends on the length of the closing and payroll cycles, also an uncertainty at present. Most employees are on a payroll cycle in which a new biweekly pay period starts January 21, which would be the day after a shutdown would start, under the current scenario.
FEHB coverage continues during a shutdown, with the employee share to be paid retroactively later if an employee’s pay for a pay period would not be large enough to cover it. Premiums under FEDVIP and FLTCIP insurance similarly would accumulate but if a shutdown went on for a number of weeks, those programs would directly bill enrollees. FEGLI insurance continues without cost to the employee.
There would be no impact on an employee’s eventual retirement benefit unless an employee was on unpaid leave for more than six months in a calendar year.