Updated January 28, 2019
Q. Will my security clearance or security certification be negatively affected by any late payments or financial instability resulting from negative credit reports attributed to the current lapse in funding? 8
A. Employees received their retroactive pay for PP 26 on January 28, 2019. PP 01 will still be paid on January 31, which is the regularly scheduled pay date for that pay period.
More generally, when there is an approved appropriations bill, employees will be paid retroactive to the start of the furlough. The Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019 confirms that “[e]ach employee of the United States Government … furloughed as the result of a covered lapse in appropriations shall be paid for the period of the lapse in appropriations …” After the lapse ends, retroactive pay is provided at the “employee’s standard rate of pay, at the earliest date possible after the lapse in appropriations ends ….”
Furloughed employees: After the lapse ends, you are entitled to receive your “standard rate of pay” for the furlough period, which includes any—
- basic pay;
- overtime and other premium pay for regularly scheduled work;
- regular premium payments (e.g., law enforcement availability pay); and
- allowances and differentials payable on a regular basis.
Employees who were on previously approved leave without pay (LWOP) or who were absent without leave (AWOL) during the lapse in appropriations will not receive pay for those hours.
Excepted employees: After the lapse ends, you will receive your “standard rate of pay” for the actual hours that you worked (e.g., including any overtime or other premium pay, allowances, and differentials earned based on actual hours worked). Any time that an excepted employee is placed in a furlough status will be compensated under the rules for furloughed employees. (See above.)
A. Pay for PP 02 will be disbursed no later than the regular pay date of February 14.
Q. What will I see in my PP 02 Salary Payment if I was not paid for PPs 26 and 01 while I was in an “excepted” or “furlough” status?
A. In terms of your pay and the guidance we have received to date, you should expect to see what should generally look like a “normal” bi-weekly pay check – a standard single pay period of hours, any applicable allowances and differentials for that single pay period, and deductions for a single pay period — with the exception of FSAFEDS, FEDVIP, and LTC, as noted below. Deductions and allowances for pay period 26 and 01 for personnel under lapsed appropriations (Chapter 2) will be applied in retroactive payments for those pay periods, once the lapse has ended, with the exception of FSAFEDS, FEDVIP, and LTC, which will not be included in retroactive payments.
- A. FEHB – Deductions for FEHB will be paid on a pay period by pay period basis. For individuals under the lapse in PPs 26 and 01, FEHB will be paid to the provider in those retroactive payments. Coverage continues for employees as outlined in the OPM Fact Sheet.
- FEGLI – Deductions for FEGLI will be paid on a pay period by pay period basis.
- FSAFEDS – For your FSAFEDS deductions, for each lapsed pay period, the per pay period deduction amount in a paid status will increase slightly by dividing the balance of your annual election over the remaining pay periods left in the plan year. Please note that utilization of the program may be impacted during lapse periods, as noted in the OPM Fact Sheet.
- FEDVIP – Deductions for FEDVIP, dental and vision coverage, will follow a “catch-up” model where your per pay period deduction amount will be “doubled” for your PP 02 salary and any subsequent pay period in pay status, until you are caught up on your FEDVIP deductions. For any individuals paid by the Department not in paid status for PP 02, current guidance indicates after three consecutive pay periods of non-payment, the employee will be direct billed for any past due amounts not paid through payroll deduction.
- Long-Term Care (LTC) – Deduction for your long-term care coverage will include an additional $50 catch up deduction when you are in pay status until you are caught up on your deductions. For any individuals paid by the Department not in paid status for PP 02, current guidance indicates the LTC program will not be switching to direct billing and will not terminate anyone’s coverage during the lapse.
Q. Will there be any 2018 tax implications on my 2018 W2 or 2019 tax implications on my retroactive pay?
A. No, the last pay period reported on the 2018 W2 is pay period 24, which ended on December 8, 2018 and was paid out on December 20, 2018, prior to the lapse. Since taxes are reported on a cash basis, pay periods 25 and 26, which are paid out after December 31, 2018, will be reported on the 2019 W2s. For any pay periods retroactively paid in 2019, each pay period will be paid separately and your Federal and State taxes will be withheld at the same rate as if you had received your payments on time in 2019.
Q. What about employees who had leave during the week of January 21 approved before the furlough began?
A. HR encourages all supervisors to express understanding for employees as they return to the workplace. Supervisors should honor approved leave requests, to the extent possible, and grant new leave requests where reasonable.
Q. I have travel plans for the week of January 21. Must I report in first? Do I need to take annual leave?
A. You are being directed to report to work. Subject to your supervisor’s approval, you can take annual leave, sick leave or leave without pay, as appropriate, for days you do not work in Pay Period 2.
A. If an employee has a need for sick leave he or she can request it and it should be granted, regardless of where the employee is located.
Q. I wasn’t able to take use-or-lose leave at the end of 2018 because of the furlough. Can I get it back?
A. OPM guidance mandates the restoration of use-or-lose leave for employees who properly scheduled the use-or-lose leave but were unable to use some or all of the leave because of the shutdown furlough. This applies to both excepted and non-excepted employees. In order for employees to restore the leave after the shutdown ends, the following conditions apply:
- The employee must have requested the leave in writing no later than November 24, 2018; and
- The leave was approved by the supervisor and subsequently cancelled.
A Department Notice will be forthcoming with specific instructions as we anticipate the volume of these requests to be high.
A. Once you receive back pay for the furlough period, you will be obligated to repay any unemployment compensation you received.
Q. Will FSI reopen and am I expected to report to training? What if I haven’t started my training (was in transition during furlough)? Will I be able to take the full course?
A. Yes, FSI will reopen and resume training on January 22. Please see FSI’s Resumption of Training Operations page.
A. Shuttle services will resume on their regular schedules on Tuesday, January 22.
A. Detailees from outside the Department should follow the furlough policies and procedures of their home agencies as they remain employed by their home agencies. Department employees on details to other agencies affected by a lapse in appropriations should coordinate with their home bureau. Please refer to Chapter 2 of the Lapse Guidance for more information.
Q. If Tuesday is my normally scheduled telework day, do I have to come in to the office on Tuesday or can I telework as previously approved?
A. Employees should resume their normal work schedules, to include any previously approved telework days. Situational telework requests must be approved in advance by a supervisor. Supervisors should be flexible, particularly given the financial burden of the lapse on employees.
A. Employees on LWOP do not need to take any action at this time. If they are scheduled to return to work in subsequent pay periods and their positions are funded on the date they are scheduled to return to work, they should return to work. If their positions are not funded on their scheduled return date, they should contact their bureau executive office to confirm their furlough status.
A. According to the Back Pay Act, an employee who was on furloughed status during a period of previously-scheduled leave will not be charged leave. For details, refer to Department Notice #44295, issued on January 18, which provides guidance for recording time and attendance, and includes information regarding leave during a lapse.
A. We will onboard those who had offers of employment prior to the start of the furlough with EOD dates that were originally scheduled between December 26 and January 22.
A. HR personnel will commence processing personnel actions upon their return to work. Pending actions affecting pay and benefits will be the initial priority.
Q. I’m a time keeper. Some of my employees had scheduled leave during the shutdown. What do I do now?
A. Any leave scheduled during the lapse period was cancelled. Timekeepers should mark employees as furloughed or furlough excepted. For additional information, please consult the guidance in the Department Notice issued on January 18, 2019.
A. Transit subsidies continued during the shutdown. While your online account may say “on hold”, the Metrocheck program will continue to support employees who were already enrolled in the program prior to the lapse through at least March 31, 2019.
A. HR/CSHRM has extended the deadline for CS appraisals and work commitments from February 14, 2019 to March 15, 2019.
Q. An employee has asked that I write him/her a letter for a creditor/for a personal (non-institution) loan. May I?
A. The Department has prepared a letter, signed by the Deputy Under Secretary for Management, for employees to send to creditors, emphasizing that your non-pay status is beyond your control. You may find the letter here. Supervisors should refer employees to this letter.
Q. The staff in my office want to collect money to help our secretary, who is a single mother and struggling to make ends meet. Can we? May I give personal “loans” to my lower-ranking subordinates?
A. Federal law generally prohibits the supplementation of salaries of federal employees. In addition, there are significant restrictions on fundraising in the workplace, and employees are generally advised not to give personal loans to other employees. There are, however, limited circumstances under which it is permissible for employees to support their coworkers. Please reach out to the EthicsAttorneyMailbox@state.gov for specific guidance if you plan to assist another employee who is struggling financially.
Q. Will the Department provide a letter to my student loan provider? Has the shutdown affected the Student Loan Repayment Program?
A. The Department has prepared a letter, signed by the Deputy Under Secretary for Management, for employees to send to creditors, emphasizing that your non-pay status is beyond your control. You may find the letter here.
In addition, we are pursuing a change in policy for the Student Loan Repayment Program – the change would allow employees who deferred payments to their loan servicer or who missed payments during the furlough to continue in the program. Guidance will be sent to program participants if that or any other changes are effectuated.
Q. Will my security clearance or security certification be negatively affected by any late payments or financial instability resulting from negative credit reports attributed to the current lapse in funding?
A. In all security clearance adjudications, DS reviews the whole person to make an adjudicative determination. Consistent with SEAD-4 (below), the whole person concept is “a careful weighing of a number of variables of an individual’s life to make an affirmative determination that the individual is an acceptable security risk.” Each case is judged on its own merits. It is unlikely that financial problems solely as the result of the current government shutdown will lead to a negative adjudicative determination without any other security concerns being present..
The U.S. Government’s Security Executive Agent Directive (SEAD 4) National Security Adjudicative Guidelines is used by all agencies to make adjudicative decisions for access to National Security Information; specifically, Guideline F: Financial Considerations, addresses security concerns regarding financial considerations. In addition to the “conditions that raise a security concern” in this guideline, this guideline also includes (as do all the guidelines) “conditions that could mitigate security concerns”. Among these mitigating conditions is (b) the conditions that resulted in the financial problems were largely beyond the person’s control (e.g. loss of employment, a business downturn, unexpected medical emergency, a death, divorce or separation, clear victimization by predatory lending practices, or identity theft) and the individual acted responsibly under the circumstances.”