OPM Explains How Your Pay Will Be Handled After the Shutdown

OPM has issued a memo detailing how pay will be handled for federal employees directly impacted by the government shutdown.

The brief partial government shutdown from last weekend included a provision in the terms of the resolution that guaranteed back pay to federal employees who were furloughed.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has issued a memo (included below) that outlines how pay will be handled in the aftermath of this situation. It also addresses some other human resources items such as leave accrual and pre-approved leave without pay.

OPM explains the purpose of the memo this way:

The attached guidance has been prepared by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). It is intended to assist agencies in administering pay and leave for employees affected by the lapse in appropriations.

The section from the memo that will likely be of most interest to affected federal employees is on pay:


  • An excepted employee who performed work during the lapse in appropriations may be paid for that work.
  • For periods of time during which an employee was furloughed due to the lapse in appropriations that began on or about January 20, 2018, and ended on January 22, 2018, the employee must receive the same pay he or she would have received for an equivalent amount of work performed for the agency.  Therefore—
    1.  An employee is entitled to receive his or her rate of basic pay for the furlough time to the extent that he or she would have been in a basic pay status but for the lapse of appropriations;
    2.  For the purpose of applying General Schedule waiting periods associated with within-grade increases, the furlough time during the lapse in appropriations is treated as time in pay status;
    3.   A furloughed employee who, during the lapse in appropriations, had been regularly scheduled to perform overtime work or to perform work at night or during a period for which any other form of premium pay would otherwise be payable is entitled to receive overtime pay, night pay, or other premium pay as if the work had been performed;
    4.  Allowances, differentials, and other payments otherwise payable on a regular basis (e.g., administratively uncontrollable overtime pay and law enforcement availability pay) must be paid as if the furloughed employee actually continued to work;
    5.  All periods of time during which a furloughed employee would, but for the lapse in appropriations, have been in a pay status (including regularly scheduled overtime hours and standby duty) must be considered “hours of work” for pay administration purposes under the Fair Labor Standards Act; and
    6.  For the furlough time during the lapse in appropriations, an employee may not be charged any form of paid leave (i.e., annual leave, sick leave, or other paid leave), compensatory time off in lieu of overtime, compensatory time off for travel, religious compensatory time off, or credit hours under a flexible work schedule.

NOTE:  Employees should follow the guidance of their respective Shared Service Payroll Providers for the recording of time and attendance to ensure that all employees are paid at their standard rate of compensation.  Employees may be required to code furlough time as regular duty to ensure that they are paid properly and promptly.

See the full memo for additional details about the shutdown’s impact on human resources matters.

OPM Guidance on Pay Following 2018 Shutdown

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.