Will You Get Paid in the Government Shutdown?

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Why has the shutdown occurred?

Businessman portraitThe government shutdown came about because of a funding gap between two chambers of Congress.

The House of Representatives, led by the Republicans, put forward a continuing resolution that would delay or remove funding from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The Senate, led by the Democrats, did not agree to this and removed the anti-Obamacare funding language from their version of the resolution. As such, Congress was not able to provide an agreement for the bill, which led to funding lapsing and the government shutting down as a result. The budget impasse continues to cause political friction between President Obama, the Senate and the House.

What does the shutdown mean for government employees?

The consequences of the U.S. government shutdown are far reaching and have caused furloughs of some workers and suspensions of many federal services.  Unfortunately, as Congress did not enact a continuing resolution for the 2014 fiscal year, appropriations have lapsed meaning that 800,000 workers have been furloughed without pay. Another 1.3 million government workers have been made to work without pay until an appropriate bill is passed or their work function is no longer covered by the shutdown. The last government shutdown was in the 1995-1996 session.

The big question remains – who will get paid during this shutdown and who will not? For those who will get paid, when will their paychecks arrive?

The general rule

The general rule is that every employee who works for the federal government during the shutdown must be paid for the work done. This is because of rules laid down by the Office of Personnel Management which states that no one is allowed to volunteer for a federal agency unless they are especially authorized to do so by law.

Paycheck delayed

So, that’s the good news. But the bad news is that, because the budget has not been agreed upon for 2014, the paycheck for the time an employee has worked during the shutdown will be late. It may even be delayed until the end of the shutdown, by which time Congress will have made the necessary funding allocations to keep the government running until a resolution is agreed upon between the Senate and the House that Congress can pass with funding budgets in place for the 2014 fiscal year.

What if you are furloughed?

There is more bad news if you are furloughed during the shutdown. Being furloughed means being on unpaid temporary leave. Sadly, this means being off of work without receiving pay. When the shutdown ends, Congress has the discretion to pay those employees for the time that they were furloughed. There is a good precedent for this, as in the 1995 shutdown, Congress did exactly that. However, there is no guarantee that the same decision will be made this time around.

What is the pay situation for different types of federal employees?

President Obama:

  • Has constitutional duties so continues to work during the shutdown
  • His salary is not reliant on the Congress funding, so his paychecks will be delivered undisturbed during the shutdown – the President will continue to be paid on time.

Members of Congress:

  • Even though they caused the shutdown, their constitutional duties continue during the shutdown
  • Their paychecks will be unaffected during the shutdown and they will continue to be paid on time.

Congressional Staffers:

  • Can work during the shutdown but won’t be paid until after the shutdown once Congress pass a funding bill.

Supreme Court Justices:

  • Judges salaries are protected by the constitution
  • They will continue to be paid as normal and on time during the shutdown.

Federal court staffers and officers

  • Work done during the shutdown will only be paid once the shutdown ends and Congress passes a funding bill.

Rank-and-File Government workers

  • Work done during the shutdown will be paid, but may be delayed until the end of the shutdown
  • Furloughed workers may not be paid at all but can apply for unemployment benefits for the shutdown period.

Military personnel in active duty and civilian defense personnel

  • President Obama passes an emergency law an order to ensure that the 1.4 million military personnel in active duty will be paid on time during the shutdown and that they will stay on duty
  • The law also covers civilian personnel and contractors for the Department of Defense, the United States Coast Guard and support members of the Armed Forces that work during the shutdown.

Other federal workers

  • Federal employees working on projects and programs that are funded with money that doesn’t come from annual appropriations will be paid on time during the shutdown, provided the funding lasts the duration of the shutdown.

Are you a federal worker affected by the government shutdown? Will your salary be delayed until Congress can pass a funding bill, or will you be paid on time? What about those of you who are furloughed – how do you plan to make ends meet until the end of the shutdown? We want to know what you think – share your comments, below!


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