Some 800,000 federal employees who have been in non-pay status since December 22 due to the partial government shutdown likely will feel the impact even more strongly over the coming days when they receive a payless pay distribution for the biweekly pay period that ended Saturday (January 5).
While they have been well aware of their pay status — whether furloughed or still working as “exempt” from furlough—the impact had been delayed; the pay distributions for the two-week pay period leading up to the shutdown had been made on their regular schedule. (There was a minor exception that affected relatively few employees—the first day of the shutdown was also the last day of that pay period, and so affected employees who did work, or who had been ordinarily scheduled to work, that day were not paid for that day.)
Until recent days, a chance had remained that funding could be restored in time for affected employees to still receive their regular pay for the December 23-January 5 period. Now, however, it’s virtually guaranteed that they will get no pay when the distributions for that period come out—either later this week or early next week; dates differ among agencies. Agencies for the most part have closed out their payroll reporting for that period by now.
Employees who are still working in non-pay status are assured by long-standing policy that they will be paid, and Congress is moving toward repeating the past practice of also retroactively paying those who have been furloughed. However, those payments could not be made until their agencies are funded again.
As a reminder:
* FEHB coverage continues for all employees, 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 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 is no impact on an employee’s eventual retirement benefit unless the employee was on unpaid leave for more than six months in a calendar year. Also, the “high-3” for annuity calculation purposes is based on the salary rate, not the actual salary received, for up to six months of unpaid time—an issue that would apply even then only if the period is part of the high-3.
Free download: Shutdown and Furloughs, What You Need to Know