House Democratic leaders on civil service issues have asked OPM and OMB what steps they are taking to provide full back pay and square up missed payroll deductions for many of the 800,000 federal employees who were furloughed or who worked without pay during the partial shutdown.
“We have heard reports of many instances of shorted pay and inconsistent tax deductions that left workers unable to make mortgage or rent payments,” said a letter signed by members including the chairmen of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and its subcommittee on federal employees, Reps. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Gerald Connolly, D-Va.
“They also received paychecks that did not reflect adjustments for missed insurance premiums, Thrift Savings Plan loan repayments, and court-ordered deductions, which have resulted in confusion and additional burdens on federal workers,” they wrote.
Problems with delays and only partial payments were common in a special pay distribution made off-cycle in the early days of this month for the two paydays that were missed during the shutdown, and some of those problems continued in the regular distribution made late last week or early this week for the pay period ending February 2.
Such issues had been expected in the first payout, since agencies were allowed to do a simplified payroll distribution not taking into account all of what employees may be due and what deductions they pay. As a result, many of those payments fell well below what employees would normally receive—and some of those payments further came days late. In some cases the second, regular, payroll distribution did not catch up with the discrepancies and they now will be resolved no sooner than the next regular pay—to be distributed it late next week and into the following week.
The letter asked for information including plans to ensure that all affected employees are paid in full, what options workers have for retroactively paying missed garnishments, and what information agencies are providing to employees to help them ensure that their tax deductions are accurate.