OPM has issued guidance on how shutdown furlough time is to be treated for considerations such probationary periods, within-grade waiting periods and career tenure, in sum saying that the time will be credited to employees as if they had worked.
OPM said that it interprets the recently enacted law providing back pay for furloughed employees to have placed them retroactively into pay status as of the beginning of the furlough. That means that (in OPM’s words):
* All furlough hours for which retroactive pay is received are treated as time in a pay status for GS within-grade increase waiting periods . . . If a furloughed employee’s within-grade increase would have been effective December 23, January 6, or January 20, but for the lapse in appropriations, the agency must make the within-grade increase retroactive to the applicable date provided other eligibility conditions were met.
* If an HR office was prevented from processing a properly authorized career ladder promotion in a timely manner, the HR office is required to process the action retroactively to honor the authorized effective date.
* The placement of a probationary employee in a non-pay status due to the shutdown furlough did not extend the probationary period . . . Adverse action procedural and appeal rights accrue as soon as the applicable continuous service requirement is met and those provisions are not tolled during a furlough.
* The lapse had no impact on completion of requirements for career tenure.
* The time an individual spends in furlough status counts towards time-in-grade requirements for purposes of promotion.
Earlier guidance had stated that unpaid time—both furlough time and time kept on the job without pay—counts as time worked for retirement calculation purposes, so long as it is less than six months a year.
However, the new guidance adds that there is no basis for extending a temporary or term appointment that expired during the shutdown period.