Shutdown holiday pay: Simple as herding cats

Friday - 10/11/2013, 2:00am EDT

For furloughed feds who have lost track of time, today is Friday. TGIF. The favorite workday for many. At least back when they were working. So, if today is Friday, the 11th, Monday has got to be Columbus Day. A federal holiday ... up to a point. That point being the collateral damage from the shutdown.

Thanks to the politicians — who prefer the three-day week — various parts of the government are, as you know, closed. Defense has brought many furloughed folks back to the fold. So have a few other agencies. But some have furloughed even more employees just this week.

There have been a couple of instances where nonexempt employees have been called back to work (like for hurricane duty) then sent packing after doing their no-pay duty. Almost every federal office, government contractor and many private citizens have shutdown horror stories. Some amusing. Some pathetic.

Meanwhile, a lot of people are trying to figure out what the upcoming holiday means to them. Many feds will, if the shutdown continues, stay home. But shutdown or not, tens of thousands will be working. So what about holiday pay? Will they get it? If so, how much and when?

Jack Moore, my never-say-die editor, researched the issue of a holiday during a shutdown. He consulted with Julia Ziegler, our Web/Operations Manager, on the holiday-pay issue. How hard could it be, they asked, to get a straight answer out of the government and make sense of the situation? Harder, it turns out, than we thought.

Ms. Ziegler has since made applications to join several religious orders and subsequently took a vow of silence.

Shortly before he was carried out of the office, sobbing and quoting portions of the Federal Personnel Manual, Jack left this link to the Office of Personnel Management's guidance and this cryptic message.

"If I'm reading this correctly, "excepted" employees who work through the shutdown will eventually receive holiday pay for working during the holiday. However, "nonexcepted" employees who are furloughed will also be furloughed for the holiday, and thus not paid.

"However, a complicating factor is the House-passed retroactive pay bill. That bill says furloughed federal employees 'shall be compensated at their standard rate of compensation, for the period of such lapse in appropriations, as soon as practicable after such lapse in appropriations ends.'

"I'm not sure if the phrase 'standard rate of compensation' means they'll be paid for the holiday. And, in any case, the bill still needs to pass the Senate to become law. "

Meantime, check out the OPM guidance for the official Q&A on holiday pay during a shutdown. If you understand it, would you do us a favor? Let us know what it means, OK?


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

Compiled by Jack Moore

Repeating a word for emphasis (think of a politician shouting "Jobs, jobs, jobs" at a campaign rally) is a rhetorical device known as epizeuxis.

(Source: World Wide Words)


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