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As I understand it, if you work directly for the government, you will get repaid in full when Congress finally passes a budget.

Actually, only those Federal employees who are currently being required to work without pay will receive their checks when Congress passes a budget. ("Essential" is actually not the right term -- the correct term is "excepted", as in "excepted from the requirements of the Antideficiency Act."*) It will take a separate act of Congress to pay workers who have been sent home to wait out Congress's debates about how and when and what to fund.

It is worth noting, however, that all Federal employees are subject to recall at any time and may be found to be AWOL (absent without leave) if they do not report when recalled. So no trips to visit faraway family or to take a nice vacation. If you decide to go hunting, better take your cell phone with you and hope you get service. If you decide to get another job, better be ready to quit it on a moment's notice -- or give up your Federal job just as fast if you've found something better.


Federal employees who have been furloughed are allowed to apply for unemployment benefits. However, if they are paid after the fact, they will have to return any unemployment benefits they receive in the interim. In 1995, this created chaos for many families that applied, then had to wait several weeks for the application to be processed, went back to work in the meantime, and then got an unemployment check. My colleagues tell me it took months to straighten out all the pay issues that arose out of that mess, and I assume it will be no better this time -- it's been too long for many of the lessons learned then to carry over to today.

Nonetheless, DH and I will likely apply for benefits if this drags on much longer. Of course, one of the requirements is that one must be actively looking for work, so I will at that point also shift into looking for another job.

ThyPeace, updating the private sector resume is on the to-do list, yep.

*From the formal Office of Personnel Management guidelines:

1. Who are “excepted” employees?

A. In the context of shutdown furloughs, the term “excepted” is used to refer to employees who are funded through annual appropriations who are nonetheless excepted from the furlough because they are performing work that, by law, may continue to be performed during a lapse in appropriations. Excepted employees include employees who are performing emergency work involving the safety of human life or the protection of property or performing certain other types of excepted work. Agency legal counsels, working with senior agency managers, determine which employees are designated to be handling “excepted” and “non-excepted” functions. See leave/furlough-guidance/#url=Shutdown-Furlough for copies of OMB and DOJ issuances, which provide guidance on the application of these criteria.
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