A Shutdown Could Cancel Some Federal Employees’ Vacation Plans

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By on December 18, 2018 in Pay & Benefits with 0 Comments

American flag pictured in the background behind blocks of American dollars falling along with the word 'shutdown' depicting a government shutdown and loss of money

A new report says that a partial government shutdown, should it take place over the upcoming Christmas holiday, could throw a wrench into some federal employees’ vacation plans.

According to the Washington Times, over 400,000 federal workers who are deemed “excepted,” meaning they must remain on the job during a shutdown, could be forced to work even if they had already planned to take vacations.

“A quirk of federal law says paid leave is considered government spending, and since no unauthorized spending can happen during a funding lapse, no one can take vacation,” said the Washington Times story.

But the good news is that these federal employees could be eligible for double pay if the shutdown were to last long enough to make them miss a paycheck.

This is based on a judge’s ruling from a few years ago. A class action lawsuit that stemmed from the 2013 government shutdown awarded back pay to a group of 20,000+ non-exempt federal employees.

According to the Washington Times, “[T]he decision sets a standard that could ding the government again, making a shutdown even more costly to taxpayers should it happen again.”

“The short answer is, employees cannot take leave during a shutdown, whether they’re excepted from the shutdown or not, since paid time off is basically an appropriation and in general no appropriations can be made during the shutdown” Tim Kauffman, an official at the American Federation of Government Employees, told the Washington Times.

The government will experience a partial shutdown at the end of the week if Congress and President Trump cannot resolve their differences. To see how a partial shutdown impacts pay for current and retired federal employees, be sure to see How Pay and Retirement Benefits are Impacted by a Partial Shutdown.

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.

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