Gov Career

By Phil Piemonte

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Furloughs … all you ever wanted to know

Government shutdown?  At this point, it’s anyone’s guess.

As lawmakers prepare to reconvene after the Presidents Day recess, word of another short-term continuing resolution to head off a shutdown already has begun to circulate.

But if a shutdown does occur – and considering that it’s been about 15 years since the last time a budget stalemate (or political brinkmanship) forced a shutdown of the federal government -- many feds might be a bit rusty on its exact implications at the individual level.

All you “essential’ employees pretty much know who you are already, so you probably need not worry.

But a few basic questions about pay, benefits, creditable time, and other considerations might be forming in the minds of the many “non-essentials” out there as the expiration of the current CR draws closer.

We noticed today that the Civilian Personnel Management Service has posted a pretty decent furlough FAQ (from 2008) on its home page that DoD employees -- and other feds, for that matter -- might find pretty informative.

Another place to get answers is the “furlough page” on the Office of Personnel Management Web site. While geared more from the agency side, this long, scrolling document covers 88 specific questions concerning furloughs.

Never hurts to be prepared.

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Feb 25, 2011 at 4:02 PM

Reader comments

Fri, Apr 8, 2011

I'm a lowly support person but my office considers me "essential" (maybe so the supv. doesn't have to answer the phone?)...anyway, so I will still be working if there's a shut down...and if those furloughed people eventually get paid (as has happened in the past), then I get screwed since the furloughed people will get a paid vacation.

Wed, Mar 2, 2011 Jack

The last shutdown was short-lived. Just "brinkmanship" among the good ole' girls and boys as described earlier. Nobody won anything. Nobody learned anything. Everybody just got scared. Shutdowns, furloughs and buyouts are a result of a high-stakes poker game played out by elected people so incredibly disconnected from real-world life that the peasants no longer have a clue as to why they should have even voted. This will all come out in the wash just like it did last time. The potential problem I see down the road is a continued erosion of federal compensation and benefits. It started already a few years ago with increased insurance premiums and two-year probationary periods. My fear is that federal employees will eventually keep taking hits until we're all making at least as much as fast food restaurant managers......and liking it. I sure wish there was some semblance of reason among those in the House and the Senate that would be visible from out here. I see none.

Tue, Mar 1, 2011 West Coast Renton, WA

Could someone elaborate on the big shutdown of 15 years ago? I cannot bring it to mind.... I've never been furloughed more than 1 day in the entire 30+ years I've worked for the Fed.

Tue, Mar 1, 2011 Hampton Roads Area

My husband and I were caught up in the first shut-down and it was scary not knowing if we were going to get paid or not. Ex-spouses still want support checks even if you don't get any income, bills have to be paid, your mortgage is still required, etc. It's a shame that 15 years later we are destined to repeat history and this time we may not repeat getting paid. I would rather work and be paid than sit at home and worry whether I can make ends meet or not.

Tue, Mar 1, 2011 Sue

Did you know that Congress gets paid while we get furloughed? They are considered civil servants, therefore, if they shut the government down, they nor their staff should get paid!

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