Numerous problems have been reported regarding back pay for the 800,000 employees who were either furloughed or required to work without pay, causing continued personal and financial stress on many of those employees
As agencies conducted a special payroll run apart from the normal biweekly schedule. OPM allowed them to simplify the process by not including premium pay, overtime or other special forms of compensation that employees normally would receive. However, unions say that even with that leeway, issues include that:
* Although employees generally were promised back pay by the end of the week, some payments were held up through the weekend.
* In some cases agencies paid employees much less than their regular biweekly pay distribution and have not told them when they are to be paid in full.
* Some distributions didn’t reflect adjustments for missed insurance premiums and TSP loan repayments, also leaving employees wondering.
* Some didn’t include deductions such as alimony/child support and payments to creditors, leaving employees having to arrange to make payments directly or face possible enforcement actions.
The OPM guidance anticipated that some deductions might not be made from initial payments and told agencies and their payroll servicers to work to put things straight. However, it’s uncertain whether that will be finished by the time of the next regular distribution, which is to happen late this week or early next week for the pay period that ended Saturday (February 2).
Uncertainty continues regarding “excepted” employees who missed regularly scheduled work saying they could not afford the costs of commuting. OPM originally suggested that agencies put such employees in AWOL status, with loss of pay and possible disciplinary implications, but it later softened that position. So far there have not been public reports of such employees being declared AWOL. However, such actions may yet be ahead.