We are nearing one month of this partial government shutdown and many federal employees are wondering about leave, pay, or what happens if they can’t pay their bills, i.e. mortgage. Here are a few reminders, and new bills, to help protect your benefits.
When there is a lapse in appropriations, all paid leave or other paid time off is canceled. So, what happens to your “use-or-lose” annual leave annual leave that couldn’t be used because of the shutdown?
The Office of Personnel Management has issued guidance on this, stating “that annual leave in excess of an employees’ annual leave ceiling ‘shall be restored’ (i.e. no agency discretion) if it is lost (forfeited) because of…exigencies of the public business’ when the leave was ‘scheduled in advance.’” This means an employee would have had to have scheduled the leave “before the start of the 3rd bi-weekly pay period prior to the end of the leave year.”
Basically, if an employee had leave scheduled in advance, their agency is required to restore the annual leave that was forfeited because of a lapse in appropriations. The leave must have been scheduled in writing no later than November 24, 2018.
The Senate passed legislation that would guarantee all federal employees will be fully compensated once the ongoing partial government shutdown ends.
The Government Employee Fair Treatment Act (S. 24) was introduced by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD). It passed by voice vote in the Senate. The bill guarantees furloughed federal employees will be paid retroactively and stipulates all employees be paid as soon as possible after the shutdown ends.
The Federal Employee Civil Relief Act (S. 72) was introduced by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI). It is designed to protect federal employees from creditors/landlords during the shutdown in the event they are unable to pay their bills. It is modeled after the Servicemembers Relief Act and would prohibit landlords/creditors from acting against federal workers or contractors who are unable to pay rent or repay loans due to the shutdown. The bill would also give federal employees more power to sue those who violate the protection.
The legislation is specifically designed to shield federal employees from the following:
- Eviction or foreclosure
- Car/property repossession
- Falling behind on student loan payments
- Losing insurance because of missed premiums
The protections would last during and for 30 days following a shutdown.
“Right now, thousands of federal employees and their families are struggling to pay rent and make ends meet. It’s obviously unacceptable. Our bill will protect federal employees and make sure they aren’t harmed because of a political stunt,” Schatz said.
Currently, the bill has 11 co-sponsors.
Harris Federal helps disabled federal employees maintain their federal benefits. If you are struggling in your job, contact us today for a free consultation.