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OPM — The Potential Impact of a Lapse in Appropriations on Federal Employees

April 6, 2011

The Potential Impact of a Lapse in Appropriations on Federal Employees
Source: U.S. Office of Personnel Management

f the current continuing resolution expires at 12:01 a.m. on April 9, 2011 without passage of an FY 2011 appropriations bill or a further continuing resolution, Federal departments and agencies will be required to execute contingency plans for a lapse in appropriations (more commonly referred to as a “shutdown”). These contingency plans detail which agency activities are allowed by law to continue to operate, and which activities must stop. Employees whose salaries are funded through annual appropriations will not be able to work and will be furloughed, unless their duties qualify under the law as “excepted” to continue to work during periods of lapsed appropriations. During a shutdown, non-excepted employees are not permitted to work as unpaid volunteers for the government. Any paid leave (annual, sick, court, etc.) approved for use during the furlough period must be cancelled. An excepted employee who is absent from duty during the shutdown must be furloughed during such an absence.

Federal agencies do not have the authority to pay their employees during a shutdown, regardless of whether the employees are working as “excepted” or furloughed as “non-excepted”. “Excepted” employees will receive pay for hours worked when the Congress passes and the President signs a new appropriation or continuing resolution. Congress will also determine whether “non-excepted” employees will receive pay for the furlough period.

Federal employees’ health benefits continue during a period of lapsed appropriations lasting less than 365 days, regardless of the “excepted” or “non-excepted” status of the employee. Federal Employees Group Life Insurance coverage continues for up to 12 consecutive months while in a non-pay status without cost to the employee or the agency. Both Federal Long Term Care (LTC) and Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Plan (FEDVIP) deductions will cease for “non-excepted” employees. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will provide information on how non-excepted employees can continue LTC and/or FEDVIP coverage, as well as details on other federal benefits, through its website (www.opm.gov). OPM will update the information on its website regarding these matters no later than Friday, April 8th.

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