Furlough FAQ

Thursday - 4/7/2011, 2:01am EDT

Federal News Radio is closely following the prospect of a federal shutdown and how it would affect federal workers.

As the threat of a government shutdown looms, what will happen if you are furloughed?

Below are the answers to your frequently asked furlough questions, based on guidance on federal furloughs from the Office of Personnel Management.

As we answer more of your questions, we will regularly update this list.

Have a question? Email Federal News Radio at fnrcomment@federalnewsradio.com.

FAQ updated on April 8, 2011

Am I entitled to unemployment compensation while on furlough?

The shutdown contingency plan issued by the D.C. Mayor's office says the city will provide limited unemployment benefits. From the Department of Employment Services website: "The D.C. Department of Employment Services Office of Unemployment Compensation is currently developing claim filing procedures for federal and District government workers if there is shutdown of federal government operations."

D.C.-area unemployment resources:

  • District of Columbia

  • Maryland
    The Division of Unemployment Insurance is currently developing special claim filing procedures if there is shutdown of federal government operations. The website will be updated as soon as additional information is available, but no later than Friday afternoon, April 8.

  • Virginia

In Maryland, you qualify for unemployment from the first day of a shutdown, and could get a maximum of $430 a week.

In Virginia and D.C. , you qualify after you've been out of work a week. The top benefit is $359 in the District.

In Virginia the top benefit is $378.

Federal workers in West Virginia also would qualify.

If Congress does approve back pay, you'd have to pay back the unemployment money you received.

Will the National Weather Service be affected? What if major storms blow through? Will we get warnings?

A: The National Weather Service is governed by the Commerce Department. According to its shutdown contingency plan, NWS employees who provide weather, water and air quality forecasts and warnings are excepted employees and will remain on the job.

D.C. Public Schools will remain open in the event of a shutdown. Does that include bus drivers?

A: Yes. From the DCPS website: "All schools and school employees will continue without disruption, including extracurricular and after school programming."

If the Smithsonian museums close during a shutdown, does that include private, non-profit schools housed within them, such as the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center?

A: Yes. Schools housed within the Smithsonian museums would also be closed.

FAQ updated on April 7, 2011

When will I find out if I am furloughed?

Federal News Radio's Jason Miller reports on a memo released by the Office of Management and Budget that details what agencies should do over the next four days to prepare for a shutdown.

The OMB says it wants all non-exempted, or furloughed, employees to plan to work a four-hour day on Monday to help with an orderly shutdown.

The memo then goes into further detail:

"We will advise you tomorrow of further developments, including whether a new CR will likely be enacted. If we inform you tomorrow that a new CR is not likely to be enacted, then you should prepare to implement your shutdown plan beginning on Saturday, April 9. In that case, agencies must instruct non-excepted employees (including those who do not have a weekend work schedule) that they are prohibited, pursuant to the legal requirements of the Antideficiency Act, from performing any work over the weekend pending further notice.

You can read the full 16-page memo here.

FAQ updated on April 6, 2011.

From OPM's Guidance and Information on Furlough

How will employees be notified whether they have been designated to be handling "excepted" or "non-excepted" functions?

Each agency will communicate with its employees regarding the method and timing of notification of whether they have been designated as an excepted or non-excepted employee.

Are all employees who qualify as "emergency employees" for the purpose of weather emergencies considered to be "excepted employees" for the purpose of a shutdown furlough?

Not necessarily. "Emergency employees" are those employees who must report for work in emergency situations-e.g., severe weather conditions, air pollution, power failures, interruption of public transportation, and other situations in which significant numbers of employees are prevented from reporting for work or which require agencies to close all or part of their activities. Emergency employees are not automatically deemed excepted employees for purposes of shutdown furloughs. Each agency must determine which employees are excepted employees.

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