If you’ve booked a vacation between Christmas and New Year’s, you may find yourself using unpaid leave. If Congress cannot reach a deal to fund the government in the next 10 days, then that’s what could happen.
Congressmen have until Friday, December 21st to come to an agreement to fund agencies and departments that don’t already have full-year appropriations. If they cannot, there will be a partial government shutdown. Those still waiting for funding include the Departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, State, Interior, Agriculture, Treasury, Commerce, Homeland Security, and Justice.
If an agreement is not met, here’s what could happen if you have previously scheduled time off:
You cannot substitute paid leave for furloughs if the government is closed. Meaning, if you already scheduled leave, whether, for vacation or medical leave, those paid days off would be canceled during a shutdown. You would be forced to accept an unpaid furlough.
Congress does often retroactively approve shutdown pay for furloughed workers. Those who took vacation during their furloughs could eventually get paid for the days they were absent; however, those days won’t be counted as vacation time.
If you deemed essential by your agency, the outlook isn’t so positive. In this case, your scheduled leave would be canceled during a shutdown and you would have to come to work or be labeled “Absent Without Official Leave”.
The Office of Personnel Management offered guidance and there are some flexibilities allowing managers to let essential employees use telework or alternative work schedules when they must be absent for “brief or intermittent periods”. If these programs cant sufficiently accommodate you or your agency, the agency must furlough you for the time you miss.