Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Furlough Due to Government Shutdown 

Last updated January 18, 2019

Where Do I Find Government Shutdown Information? 

Employees with questions about the shutdown and resources may refer to the Government Shutdown Guidance page on BUNET, Inside the Bureau on UNet, or www.fbi.gov/employees. For non-excepted employees, HRD has posted EAP resources, outside employment information, and unemployment information on www.fbi.gov/employees.

If questions can’t be answered with those resources, employees can call the HRD Call Center at (202) 324-3333; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.


What Is a Furlough? 


Q. What is a furlough?

A. A furlough is the placing of an employee in a temporary non-duty, non-pay status because of lack of work or funds, or other non-disciplinary reasons.

Q. What type of furlough is this?

A. As of December 22, 2018, we went into a shutdown furlough. In a shutdown furlough, the agency no longer has the necessary funds to operate and must shut down those activities that are not excepted by Office of Management and Budget (OMB) standards. The DOJ, of which the FBI is a component, is operating under a Continuing Resolution that expired at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, December 21, 2018. At that time, appropriations lapsed and no funds are available until a new appropriation is enacted.

Q. Where do I find information about the status of the federal government shutdown and about when I should return to work while I am in a furlough status?

A. Employees can get updates on the government’s operating status by checking www.opm.gov on an Internet-connected device, monitoring reliable news media, or calling the HRD Call Center at (202) 324-3333 for recorded messages. As soon as legislation is signed by the president, everyone must report for their very next regularly scheduled shift or be placed on leave.

Q. The OPM website says that after 30 days in a furlough status, I will be part of Reduction in Force (RIF). Is that true?

A. No. That does not apply to employees during a furlough due to a lapse in appropriations.

Q. For furloughs necessitated by lapsed appropriations, is an agency required to provide 30 calendar days’ advance written notice and an opportunity to respond prior to issuing a decision to furlough?

A. No. OPM regulations provide for emergency adverse action furlough without the necessity for advance written notice proposing the action. OPM’s position that this regulation be applied to lapsed appropriations was upheld by the Federal Circuit in Horner v. Andrzjewski et. al., 811 F.2d 571 (Fed. Cir. 1987). Section 752.404 (d)(2) of 5 CFR states:

The advance written notice and opportunity to answer are not necessary for furlough without pay due to unforeseeable circumstances, such as sudden breakdowns in equipment, acts of God, or sudden emergencies requiring immediate curtailment of activities.

Q. Can an employee be furloughed without first receiving a written notice of decision to furlough?

A. Yes.

Q. When will I receive an official furlough notice and what do I do with that notice?

A. Federal law requires that agencies provide official notice to employees who were furloughed for any period of time. HRD sent these notices from the FBIJobsDoNotReply.gov email address to each employee’s UNet email account and their personal email account, if they provided a personal email address in HRSource. The notice is contained within the PDF file that also contained the financial impact letter. The furlough notice does not need to be signed or acknowledged. Also, the furlough notice does not change your excepted or non-excepted status as communicated to you by your division leadership.

Q. Can an employee volunteer to do their job on a non-pay basis during a furlough period?

A. No. Unless otherwise authorized by law, the FBI may not accept the voluntary services of an individual. (31 U.S.C. 1342)

Q. As a furloughed or excepted employee, will I be paid for work performed during a government shutdown?

A. Agencies will incur obligations to pay for services performed by excepted employees during a lapse in appropriations, and those employees will be paid after Congress passes and the president signs a new appropriation or continuing resolution. Congress will determine whether furloughed employees receive pay for the furlough period.

Q. If I am in furlough status or excepted from a furlough, how do I input my time in WebTA?

A. WebTA guidance will be provided to employees upon return from furlough.


Q. Can I enter my hours worked in WebTA?

A. No. WebTA is in Admin mode and inaccessible to employees until we receive further guidance from the National Finance Center. Each employee is expected to maintain a paper record of their daily hours worked, premium pay transactions, TURK, and AVP. Hours worked, AVP, and TURK for PP26 and PP1 will be input into WebTA at a later date.


Q. If I am an employee who has veterans preference, what are my rights if I have been placed in a furlough status?

A. Employees in the excepted service who have veterans preference may appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) if they have completed one year of current continuous service in the same or similar positions as the one they now hold. Employees have a right to representation in this matter and may be represented by an attorney or other person of their choosing. If an employee has the right of appeal to MSPB and wishes to appeal this action to the MSPB, the employee must file the appeal within 30 calendar days after the effective date of his/her furlough. If the employee wishes to file an appeal, a copy of the MSPB regulations, appeal form and the address of the MSPB Regional Office having jurisdiction are available at www.mspb.gov.


Q. Are transfer orders being cut during the shutdown?

A. Any transfer orders that were cut prior to December 21 are now being executed. No new orders for cost transfers will be cut during the shutdown, except for limited exceptions. No-cost transfers will proceed.


Q. If I’m in non-excepted status, can I use my government phone or review my UNet email?

A. Yes.


Excepted vs. Non-Excepted Status 


Q. What is the definition of excepted and non-excepted employees?

A. Excepted employees are expected to report for work each day; with approval of their supervisor, they can be temporarily put into a non-excepted status for excused absences such as a funeral, pre-paid vacation, doctor’s appointment, or sickness. If the reason for an excepted employee’s absence is sickness or a medical appointment, supervisors at their discretion may request a doctor’s note, regardless of the length of the absence. Non-excepted employees do not report for work.

Q. Which employees are excepted from a shutdown furlough at the FBI?

A. All employees assigned to field offices and legal attaché offices and all employees participating in Basic Field Training Course and all residential training courses are excepted from a shutdown furlough. At FBI Headquarters, division leadership teams will determine which Headquarters employees will be excepted from a government furlough.

However, depending on the length of time the government is shut down, furloughed employees may be recalled by their division management as necessary as a result of newly identified emergency activities. In the event of a recall, employees must be prepared to report to duty within a reasonable period of time upon notification.

Q. What is the difference between an excepted employee and an emergency employee? (Note: an excepted employee is not to be confused with an employee in the excepted service.)

A. The term excepted employee refers to employees who are excepted from a furlough by law because they are (1) performing emergency work involving the safety of human life or the protection of property, (2) involved in the orderly suspension of agency operations, or (3) performing other functions exempted from the furlough.

The term emergency employee is used to designate 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 that require agencies to close all or part of their activities).

Q. How do I know that I am excepted or non-excepted?

A. Your division management will notify you verbally or by email if you have been designated as non-excepted. You will be placed in a non-pay, non-duty (i.e., furlough) status.

Q. If Headquarters or a field office area has inclement weather, which employees are required to report to work?

A. If the government is closed due to inclement weather during the shutdown, that workday will be treated as any other workday with inclement weather. That means that only those employees who are designated as emergency personnel are required to report to work. All other employees will be placed in non-excepted status for the duration of the inclement weather.

If the starting time for government offices is delayed due to inclement weather during the shutdown, excepted employees are expected to report for work up to the delayed start time if they can safely arrive at the office. Hours worked will be recorded as “74 WORKED LWOP Furlough” and the hours in delayed status are recorded as “74 LWOP Furlough.” Employees designated as emergency personnel are to report as normal.

Q. What about people working for federal agencies under mobility agreements pursuant to the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA)?

A. The specific authority for furloughing persons who are working under mobility agreements pursuant to the IPA, either inside the federal government or with other organizations, will depend upon the nature of individual agreements, the status of the appointments, and/or the funding arrangements for the assignments. As a general rule, the following principles are applicable in determining whether to furlough personnel on IPA mobility assignments:

  • Personnel from non-federal organizations on appointments to the federal government are subject to furlough in the same manner as other employees.

  • Personnel on detail to federal agencies from non-federal organizations may continue working, provided that the non-federal organizations pay the total costs of the detail.

  • Personnel on detail to federal agencies from non-federal organizations that share part of the costs of detail may continue to work if the federal portion of the cost was obligated from prior appropriations at the time of the IPA mobility agreements. In the event that a furlough takes place in the second year of the agreement at which time no funds are appropriated, the assignment should be terminated.


Personnel on detail to federal agencies from non-federal organizations that do not pay or share the costs of the detail are subject to furlough in the same manner as other employees.

Q. Would employees who are detailed or assigned outside the FBI during part, or the entire period, of furlough be subject to furlough?

A. The status of FBI employees on a reimbursable detail is determined to be excepted or not excepted by the gaining agency. If designated as non-excepted for such a detail assignment, the employee may still be excepted by the FBI to perform an excepted function at the FBI. If designated as excepted for a reimbursable detail assignment, the FBI may not challenge or change their status to non-excepted.

The initial determination of the status of FBI employees on a non-reimbursable detail is made by the gaining agency. Once the initial determination is made, the gaining agency coordinates with the FBI Joint Duty Program Office to seek concurrence from the employee’s FBI home division. Ultimately, the FBI makes the final determination regarding a non-reimbursable detailee’s status.

Q. How should an agency determine the number of furlough hours for alternative work schedule (AWS) employees during a shutdown furlough? Can an employee reschedule a non-workday that occurred during the furlough?

A. Employees are furloughed based on the number of hours they are scheduled to work on the days for which there is a shutdown furlough. Each agency that has an AWS program should have a policy specifying how flexible and compressed work schedules must be established and when they may be changed. Normally, such schedules are established in advance of the pay period involved. Under such a policy, an AWS non-workday scheduled to occur during a shutdown furlough should not be changed after the pay period begins.


Q. During the shutdown, which scheduling flexibilities are available for excepted employees?

A. The FBI Work Schedule PG explains the available scheduling flexibilities. The most flexible scheduling option is a maxi-flex schedule, wherein employees, with the concurrence of their supervisor, may work a flexible work schedule that contains core hours on fewer than 10 workdays in the biweekly pay period, so long as the basic work requirement of 80 hours is met. Employees may vary the number of hours worked on a given workday or the number of hours each week, within the limits established by the division. Employees must be scheduled to work on at least four days in each workweek and cannot work more than 12 hours on any one day. Alternative work schedules, RDOs, split shifts, and work on the weekends can also be considered. All of these options are at management discretion.

During the present shutdown, HRD waives the requirement for an alternative work schedule to be documented with a FD-968 form, and waives the prohibition on special agents participating in an alternative work schedule. At the conclusion of the shutdown, these provisions will resume.

If the requested work schedule includes working on a Sunday but management does not specifically need the work performed on a Sunday, then Sunday premium pay is not authorized. Similarly, if an employee is permitted to work between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. but management does not specifically need the work performed between those hours, night differential is not authorized.


Leave 

Q. Can an employee work on a furlough day in exchange for taking a day off at another time for religious observances?

A. No. The statute that permits employees to take compensatory time off for religious observances (5 U.S.C. 5550(a)) does not authorize an agency to accept the voluntary services of any individual on a furlough day. Periods of time worked in exchange for taking time off for religious observances must be scheduled on non-furlough days.

Q. If I have pre-approved leave scheduled during a government shutdown, can I still take that leave?

A. For both excepted and non-excepted employees, approved paid leave will be cancelled and any new requests for paid leave will be denied during a shutdown. However, with supervisor approval, excepted employees can shift from excepted to non-excepted based on division operational needs for the time that their pre-approved leave overlaps with a government shutdown. If the shutdown continues beyond the dates of the pre-approved leave, the employee originally designated as excepted then reports to work.

Q. If an employee is scheduled to take paid leave or other paid time off under FMLA during a shutdown furlough, is the employee furloughed?

A. Yes. An employee must be placed in furlough status during any paid time off FMLA scheduled to be taken during a lapse in appropriations. For example, if an employee is scheduled to take paid time off under FMLA during a shutdown furlough (either continuously or intermittently), the paid time off must be canceled and the employee must be furloughed for any period during which paid time off was scheduled. Any previously scheduled days of unpaid leave under FMLA will continue to be documented as LWOP. No days associated with a shutdown furlough period will be counted against an employee’s 12-week FMLA leave entitlement.

Q. If an employee is on leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) during the furlough, does the leave count towards the 12-week entitlement to FMLA leave?

A. No.

Q. If an employee properly scheduled “use-or-lose” annual leave before the stated deadline of November 24, 2018, but was unable to use some or all of the leave scheduled during Pay Period 26 because of the furlough, does the furlough constitute an “exigency of the public business” that would permit an agency to restore the leave after the furlough ends?

A. Yes. However, only annual leave that was previously scheduled may be restored. As well, time spent on furlough during a federal holiday—i.e. December 24 and December 25, 2018, and January 1, 2019—or an authorized in-lieu-of holiday, will not be restored. After the shutdown ends, HRD will issue guidance on how to apply for the restoration of that leave.

Q. If an employee has properly scheduled “use-or-lose” annual leave before the start of the third biweekly pay period prior to the end of the leave year, but is unable to use some or all of the scheduled leave because of the furlough, does the furlough constitute an “exigency of the public business” that would permit an agency to restore the leave after the beginning of the new leave year?

A. Employees in this situation should make every effort to reschedule “use-or-lose” annual leave for use before the end of the current leave year. However, if this is not possible due to a lapse in appropriations, agency heads (or their designees) are encouraged to use their discretionary authority to restore any lost annual leave by determining that the employee was prevented from using his or her leave because of an exigency of the public business—namely, the need to furlough employees because of the lapse in appropriations.

Q. What type of leave can be used during furlough?

A. None. According to OPM, otherwise excepted employees who do not perform work due to weather, illness, unavoidable medical appointment, etc. must be furloughed. No leave is granted during a furlough.

Q. If employees request paid leave (e.g., annual, sick, court, military leave, or leave for bone marrow or organ donation) after receiving a furlough notice, can the requests be denied for those days that coincide with the dates of furlough? If an agency has already approved requests for these categories of paid leave before issuance of the proposed furlough notice, can the approval be rescinded and the employees furloughed on the days that coincide with the dates of furlough?

A. The answer to both questions is yes. All paid leave during the government shutdown is cancelled. The Anti-Deficiency Act (31 U.S.C. 1341 et seq.) does not allow authorization of any expenditure or obligation before an appropriation is made, unless authorized by law. Paid leave creates a debt to the government that is not authorized by the act. Therefore, agencies are instructed that during a lapse in appropriations all paid leave during a furlough must be cancelled and employees must be either (1) at work performing excepted activities or (2) furloughed.

Q. Can excepted employees take previously approved paid leave during a furlough caused by a lapse in appropriations? Can excepted employees be granted new requests for paid leave during a lapse in appropriations?

A. No. When an employee is not at work and performing the duties determined by the division/executive management to be allowable activities in compliance with the Anti-Deficiency Act, he or she cannot be in a paid leave status. Therefore, agencies must take one of the following actions:

1. Cancel any approved paid leave during the furlough and/or deny any new requests for paid leave; or

2. Furlough the employee for the period of the employee’s absence from duty. An agency may subsequently terminate the furlough whenever the employee’s services are required for excepted activities.

Q. Can excepted employees be required to report for work?

A. Yes. If an employee refuses to work without a justifiable reason, let them know they need to report to work and, if they do not, they can be charged AWOL. Explain that that “AWOL is not itself a disciplinary action, but it can lead to disciplinary actions like removal from the FBI. Also, time recorded as AWOL will not qualify for back pay. Employees who willfully and intentionally fail to report for duty when ordered may also be charged with insubordination.”

You must follow up that conversation with an email or text that reiterates that information. Keep that email or text. Divisions must be consistent in enforcing work requirements—meaning that similarly situated employees must be treated similarly. Divisions should not excuse an absence for one employee while charging a similarly situated employee with AWOL.

If you are going to charge AWOL or have employees with other leave-related issues, first call the Performance Appraisal Unit at (202) 324-5120.

Q. If an employee is scheduled to take approved leave without pay (LWOP) during a shutdown furlough, is the employee charged LWOP during the period of furlough?

A. Yes. Furloughed employees scheduled to take preapproved LWOP during a shutdown furlough will continue to be charged LWOP during the furlough period, unless the agency cancels the approved LWOP prior to the beginning of the furlough period. If the approved LWOP was scheduled to end before the furlough ended, the employee must be placed on furlough for the remainder of the furlough period unless later designated as an excepted employee.


Q. If an employee’s Time Off Award or Comp Time Earned expired during the shutdown, can it be restored?

A. No, unfortunately not.


Q. Will I accrue annual and sick leave during the government shutdown?

A. Leave earned for PP26 and PP1 (and any future pay periods affected by the government shutdown) will be accrued when employees eventually receive retroactive pay for these pay periods. That is, when employees are returned to a pay status, the normal leave accruals will appear with each processed pay period.


Holiday Pay/Leave 


Q. Will an excepted employee who does not work on a holiday that occurs during a shutdown furlough be paid for the holiday?

A. An excepted employee who does not work on a holiday will be placed in a furlough status for the holiday and will not receive pay for a holiday that occurs during a shutdown furlough unless authorized by subsequent legislation.

Q. Can an excepted employee voluntarily report to work on the holiday?

A. No. Each agency must determine which excepted activities must be performed on a holiday, and which employees are needed to perform those functions. Employees who are not otherwise needed to perform excepted functions on the holiday must be placed in furlough status for that day.

Q. Can excepted employees be required to perform work on a holiday that occurs during a shutdown furlough?

A. Yes. Each agency is responsible for determining which excepted activities must be performed on a holiday in order to carry out functions related to such excepted activities. Failure to report to duty on a holiday is the same as failure to report to work on any other day.

Q. Which pay entitlements will accrue to an excepted employee who performs work on a holiday during a shutdown furlough?

A. The federal government will be obligated to pay an excepted employee who performs work on a holiday according to the normal rules governing pay for work on a holiday. For example, under 5 U.S.C. 5546(b), a covered employee would receive his or her rate of basic pay, plus holiday premium pay at a rate equal to the employee’s rate of basic pay. In addition, if such an employee performs officially ordered or approved overtime work on a holiday (i.e., work in excess of his or her basic non-overtime work requirement for that day), the employee would receive overtime pay (or compensatory time off) for that work. Of course, an excepted employee cannot receive payment for working on a holiday until an appropriations act or a continuing resolution is enacted. Please note, holiday premium pay and overtime pay are not applicable to certain employees, such as heads of agencies and members of the Senior Executive Service.

Q. Can use-or-lose leave scheduled for Monday, December 24, 2018, be restored?

A. No. For leave to be restored, it must have been lost due to an exigency of the public business, administrative error, or illness of the employee. Leave previously scheduled for December 24, 2018, was cancelled because the president declared it to be a holiday. This is not a basis for restoring leave.

Q. Will furloughed employees be paid for a holiday that occurs during a shutdown furlough?

A. Furloughed employees will not receive pay for a holiday that occurs during a shutdown furlough unless authorized by subsequent legislation.

Q. What is the status of an excepted employee who does not perform work on a holiday that occurs during a shutdown furlough?

A. An excepted employee who does not perform work on a holiday must be placed in a furlough status for the holiday.


Pay 


Q. Can an excepted employee be permitted to earn premium pay (e.g., overtime pay, Sunday premium pay, night pay, availability pay, holiday pay worked) during the furlough period?

A. Yes. Excepted employees who meet the conditions for overtime pay, Sunday premium pay, night pay, availability pay and other premium payments will be entitled to payment in accordance with applicable rules, subject to any relevant payment limitations. Premium pay may be earned but cannot be paid until Congress passes and the president signs a new appropriation or continuing resolution.

Q. Can FBI employees join recently initiated class action lawsuits regarding pay for federal employees?

A. Yes.

Q. If my function is paid through a reimbursable program, can I be paid now?

A. No. All payments to FBI employees are initially taken from FBI-appropriated funds.

Q. After the shutdown ends, if multiple pay periods are paid to employees at one time, will my taxes or the bi-weekly pay cap be affected?

A. No. Each pay period will be processed individually, so no one will exceed the bi-weekly pay cap nor will their tax status change. This is true, even if the net pay for the pay periods is paid out simultaneously.

Q. As a furloughed or excepted employee, will I be paid for work performed during a government shutdown?

A. Agencies will incur obligations to pay for services performed by excepted employees during a lapse in appropriations, and those employees will be paid after Congress passes and the president signs a new appropriation or continuing resolution. Congress will determine whether furloughed employees receive pay for the furlough period.

Q. When an employee’s pay is insufficient to permit all deductions to be made, what is the order of withholding precedence?

A. The order of precedence for applying deductions from the pay of its civilian employees when gross pay is insufficient to cover all authorized deductions can be found at www.chcoc.gov.

Q. Is furlough or leave without pay (LWOP) considered a break in service?

A. No. Both situations mean the employee is in a non-pay, non-duty status for those days/hours. However, extended furlough or LWOP may affect the calculation of creditable service for certain purposes.

Q. To what extent does non-pay status affect civil service benefits and programs?

A. The effects of non-pay status (which includes furlough, leave without pay, absence without leave, and suspension) on federal employee benefits and programs vary based on current law and regulation. For more information, see OPM’s fact sheet on the “Effect of Extended Leave Without Pay (or Other Non-pay Status) on Federal Benefits and Programs” at www.opm.gov.

Q. How is Continuation of Pay (COP) under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act affected by a government shutdown?

A. The Department of Labor’s Office of Workers' Compensation Programs which administers the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) advises that, in the event of a government shutdown, an employee who is disabled due to his or her injury is to be maintained in COP status during the shutdown. This employee will be treated the same as an excepted employee who has worked during the shutdown. The COP will be paid once appropriations has been approved. In the event an agency is legally unable to pay COP to an employee because of a lapse in appropriations, the employee may file a claim for regular FECA wage loss compensation for that period.

Q. Are employees who are injured while on furlough or leave without pay (LWOP) eligible to receive workers’ compensation?

A. No. Workers’ compensation is paid to employees only if they are injured while performing their duties. Employees on furlough or LWOP are not in a duty status for this purpose. An employee who is receiving workers’ compensation payments will continue to receive workers’ compensation payments during a furlough and will continue to be charged LWOP.

Q. Can employees who separate prior to a lapse in appropriations receive a lump-sum payment for their unused annual leave? Are the funds paid out of the current continuing resolution or the new appropriation’s monies?

A. The obligation of funds for a lump-sum annual leave payment is triggered by an employee’s separation from federal service. For example, if an employee separates on December 21, 2018, the money to pay the lump-sum annual leave payment is covered under the current continuing resolution.

If an employee separates during a lapse in appropriations, the lump-sum annual leave payment must be delayed until enactment of an appropriation that would allow the obligation and payment of funds for this purpose.

Q. If performance management plans require the payment of performance awards to employees, can the payment be delayed until after a furlough?

A. Yes. Neither law nor regulation requires agencies to pay performance awards (5 U.S.C. Chapters 43 and 45 and 5 CFR 451.104(a)(3)). If performance management plans require the payment of performance awards, payment may be delayed until after the furlough.

Q. Can within-grade or step increases for employees be denied or delayed?

A. Within-grade and step increases for General Schedule (GS) and wage employees are awarded on the basis of length of service and individual performance. Such increases may not be denied or delayed solely because of lack of funds. However, extended periods of non-pay status (e.g., because of a furlough for lack of funds) may affect the timing of such increases. For example, a GS employee in step 1, 2, or 3 of the grade who is furloughed for more than 2 work weeks during the waiting period would have his or her within-grade increase delayed by at least a full pay period. (See 5 CFR 531.406 (b)).


Q. My pay is subject to a court-ordered garnishment for a commercial debt/child support/alimony/etc. What happens to that garnishment during a shutdown furlough and must I make other arrangements to pay the debt?

A. A garnishment order is a court order to your employer to withhold and divert a portion of your pay. If you receive no pay, no payments will be made. If you are later authorized back pay for the duration of the shutdown, payroll will be calculated based on the normal bi-weekly pay periods and normal deductions, including allotments or garnishments, will be taken at that time.

Garnishments typically arise from an underlying legal obligation, such a judgement for an unpaid debt or court-ordered child support or alimony. While in a non-pay status, you should review the terms of that legal obligation to determine if you must make payments apart from payroll deduction. For example, if you were ordered to pay $1,000 per month in child support, does that obligation continue if you are in a non-pay status? You may wish to discuss your situation with your creditor or the applicable state agency. Every state, along with the District of Columbia, has an agency charged with enforcing child support.


Q. Will W-2 Forms for 2018 be provided on time?

A. Yes. The FBI has been advised by the National Finance Center that employee W-2 Forms will be provided on time despite the shutdown. The 2018 W-2s will be mailed (if option selected by employee) no later than January 31, 2019, to the employee’s mailing address on record with NFC. Employees may begin to see W-2 forms on your Employee Personal Page at www.usda.epp.gov as early as January 17, 2019.


Q. Will my 2018 W-2 form reflect all of my earnings from 2018?

A. Yes. The 2018 W-2 tax form includes pay from pay periods 25 and 26 of 2017 thru pay period 25 of 2018. The pay date for the 2018 pay period 26 fell in January, so that pay period will be covered (when it is paid retroactively) on your 2019 W-2.


Benefits 


Health Insurance 


Q. Will my health benefits continue while the government is shut down?

A. FEHB enrollment continues for up to 365 days in a non-pay status. The government contribution continues while employees are in a non-pay status. The government will also advance from salary the employee’s share. The employees’ premiums will accumulate and be withheld from their pay upon returning to pay status and receiving a paycheck.

Q. Am I still covered under the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program during a shutdown furlough if the agency is unable to make its premium payments on time?

A. Yes. Your FEHB coverage will continue even if an agency does not make the premium payments on time. Since the employee will be in a non-pay status, the enrollee share of the FEHB premium will accumulate and be withheld from pay upon return to pay status.

Q. Can I terminate FEHB coverage while in a non-pay status in order to avoid the expense?

A. Unlike other types of non-pay status, employees in a non-pay status due to a lapse of appropriations cannot terminate or cancel FEHB coverage. You will remain covered and your share of the FEHB premium will accumulate and be withheld from pay upon return to pay status.

Q. What happens if employees cancel Federal Employees Health Benefit (FEHB) coverage while in a non-pay status in order to avoid the expense?

A. Unlike other types of non-pay status, employees in a non-pay status due to a lapse of appropriations (shutdown furlough) will not have the opportunity to terminate or cancel FEHB coverage. The employee will remain covered; the enrollee share of the FEHB premium will accumulate and be withheld from pay upon return to pay status.

Q. What happens to an employee’s Federal Dental and Vision (FEDVIP) Program coverage if furloughed?

A. Payroll deductions will cease for any employee who does not receive pay. BENEFEDS will generate a bill to enrollees for premiums when no payment is received for two consecutive pay periods.

Q. If an employee submitted a new application or a change to his/her health insurance plan (e.g. because of a Qualifying Life Event) and the paperwork was not processed by the agency because of a shutdown furlough, how would the employee seek services or coverage?

A. If you experience new enrollments or changes in enrollment due to a Qualifying Life Event during a furlough, please call the HRD Call Center at (202) 324-3333.


Q. If I signed up for health insurance for the first time during Open Enrollment last November and my effective date was January 6, am I covered by health insurance even though no insurance premiums have been paid during the shutdown?

A. For employees who signed up for Federal Employee Health Benefit (FEHB) plans during the 2018 Open Season, their effective date for coverage started on January 6, 2019. However, you may not receive health insurance identification cards for up to six weeks; this is consistent with the standard processing timeline. If someone covered by your health insurance needs to see a doctor or get medication, be prepared to pay for the visit or prescription “out-of-pocket.” You can file for reimbursement of eligible expenses from your health insurance carrier once you receive your policy number. Be sure to keep all the receipts, bills, and documentation.

You can also try the following:

  • Have the primary policy holder call the new health insurance carrier. If NFC has processed the enrollment, the insurance carrier may give the primary policy holder the policy number over the phone.

  • Print proof of your health insurance coverage from your Employee Personal Page at www.nfc.usda.gov. With proof of coverage, some doctors will bill you for the costs. By the time you receive the bill, you may have your new policy number and can provide it in lieu of payment. Note: because the proof of insurance does not contain your policy number, the doctor cannot bill the insurance carrier directly.


Q. I am a new employee who on-boarded to the FBI in January and selected a health insurance plan. Am I covered by that health insurance carrier even though no insurance premiums have been paid during the shutdown?

A. If you turned in your SF-2809 with your health insurance selection by January 19, you will have coverage as of January 20. If your paperwork is submitted after January 19, your coverage will be effective the first day of the next first full pay period. The FBI will process these forms with NFC and the carrier.

However, you may not receive health insurance identification cards for up to six weeks; this is consistent with the standard processing timeline. If someone covered by your health insurance needs to see a doctor or get medication, be prepared to pay for the visit or prescription “out-of-pocket.” You can file for reimbursement of eligible expenses from your health insurance carrier once you receive your policy number. Be sure to keep all the receipts, bills, and documentation.

You can also try the following:

  • Have the primary policy holder call the new health insurance carrier. If NFC has processed the enrollment, the insurance carrier may give the primary policy holder the policy number over the phone.

  • Print proof of your health insurance coverage from your Employee Personal Page at www.nfc.usda.gov. With proof of coverage, some doctors will bill you for the costs. By the time you receive the bill, you may have your new policy number and can provide it in lieu of payment. Note: because the proof of insurance does not contain your policy number, the doctor cannot bill the insurance carrier directly.


Life Insurance 


Q. What happens to my Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) Program coverage while furloughed?

A. Coverage continues for 12 consecutive months in a non-pay status without cost to the employee or to the agency. Neither the employee nor the agency incurs a debt during the period of non-pay.

Q. What happens to an employee’s Federal Long Term Care (FLTCIP) Program coverage if furloughed?

A. Payroll deductions will cease for any employee who does not receive pay. Coverage will continue so long as premiums are paid. If Long Term Care Partners does not receive payment for three consecutive pay periods, it will begin to direct bill the enrollee.


Thrift Savings Plan 


Q. Will Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) loans be considered delinquent if payments that normally come directly out of an employee’s paycheck are not made?

A. No. HRD has spoken directly with TSP management and understands that some FBI employees may have received incorrect guidance from some TSP representatives.

All TSP loan payments will be put in suspension during an employee’s non-pay status. According to TSP, “If your loan payments were up to date prior to the furlough, missing one to two payments will not cause your loan to be in default. As long as retroactive pay is approved, all missed loan payments will be submitted and posted to your loan.”

To read the full notice from TSP, go to www.tsp.gov and look to the right of the screen under “Bulletin Board.” Click on “Government Shutdown and Loan Payments.”

Also, during the shutdown, employees can apply for a TSP loan or request an irrevocable hardship withdrawal. For more information, call the TSP ThriftLine at (877) 968-3778 Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.

Q. Can employees obtain a loan from their Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) account while furloughed? What happens if an employee has a TSP loan and is placed in a non-pay status?

A. According to TSP Fact Sheet 11-5 Impact of a Federal Government Shutdown on the Thrift Savings Plan, dated March 4, 2011, employees may be eligible to obtain a loan from their TSP account while furloughed. As for current TSP loans, employees should refer to the same fact sheet for more information. This issuance is available from the TSP website at www.tsp.gov.

Q. What is the effect of a shutdown furlough on Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) contributions, investments, and loans?

A. The TSP will continue its normal operations during the federal government shutdown. You can refer to the TSP fact sheet Effect of Non-Pay Status on Your TSP Account located on the TSP website to get answers about the shutdown’s impact on TSP contributions, loans, and withdrawals.


Flexible Spending Accounts 


Q. What happens to my Flexible Spending Account (FSAFEDS) coverage while furloughed?

A. You remain enrolled in FSAFEDS, but eligible health care claims incurred during a non-pay status will not be reimbursed until you return to a pay status and allotments are successfully restarted. The remaining allotments are recalculated over the remaining pay periods to match the participant’s election amount.

Q. What happens to my Flexible Spending Account (Dependent Care) coverage while furloughed?

A. Eligible dependent care costs incurred during a non-pay status can be reimbursed up to the balance in your dependent care account—as long as the expense (e.g., day care cost) incurred during the non-pay status allows the employee (or spouse if married) to work, look for work, or attend school full-time.

University Education Program 


Q. Will University Education Program (UEP) participants who are scheduled for classes that start after the shutdown have to pay out-of-pocket for those classes?

A. Possibly. Many academic institutions will wait for the FBI to remit tuition payments until after the shutdown. However, some will not. UEP participants who have been approved for classes for a 2019 term are encouraged to contact their academic institution and confirm their enrollment status. If the institution indicates an issue, please contact the UEP Team at (202) 324-3524 or send an email to FBI_UEP@fbi.gov for assistance. (Note: 2018 invoices continue to be processed.)


Justice Employee Transit Subsidy 


Q. What happens to my Justice Employee Transit Subsidy (JETS) during the government shutdown?

A. All participants received their subsidy for January. Those employees in the Virginia, D.C, and Maryland area who use Metro, Commuter Direct, VRE, and MARC are also covered for February.


Retirement 


Q. When a furlough occurs during the three years of service prior to retirement, what effect will time in a furlough status have on an employee’s high-3 average?

A. Generally, there will be no effect on the high-3 average unless a furlough causes the employee to be in a non-pay status for more than 6 months during the calendar year.

Q. Are the retirement rules concerning the effect of a furlough the same for employees under the Civil Service Retirement System and the Federal Employees Retirement System?

A. Yes.

Q. What will happen to employees who would have retired during a shutdown?

A. For employees who, on or before the requested retirement date, submitted notice of their desire to retire, when the lapse in appropriations ends, the FBI will make the retirement effective as of the date requested. The retirement request may be informal (such as a letter requesting retirement) and can be either mailed or personally submitted to the Human Resources Division, Retirement Unit (RU). Any additional required paper work, such as the formal retirement application form, may be completed when the government reopens. No time spent by the retiree in such actions after the effective date of the retirement may be considered as duty time, since the individual would no longer be an employee of the FBI.

Some employees may request retirement retroactive to a date prior to submission of the request. The Comptroller General (CG) has issued guidance permitting retroactive personnel actions (including retirements) only under limited enumerated circumstances. It will be up to the Human Resources Division to determine in each case whether the OPM’s requirements and the CG’s guidance have been met. At 58 Comp. Gen. 51, at 53 (1978), the Comptroller General stated:

As a general rule a personnel action may not be made retroactive so as to increase the rights of an employee to compensation. We have made exceptions to this rule where administrative or clerical error (1) prevented a personnel action from being effected as originally intended, (2) resulted in nondiscretionary administrative regulations or policies not being carried out, or (3) has deprived the employee or a right granted by statute or regulation.


Q. I am scheduled to retire during the shutdown and have use-or-lose leave. How do I submit a request to restore that annual leave?

A. Your division POC will follow the normal process for approving restored annual leave and submit the request per guidelines that will be issued after the shutdown ends. If you are no longer an active employee, the restored annual leave balance will likely be paid to you in conjunction with your lump-sum leave payout.  


Financial Impact of Furlough 


Q. What is a financial impact letter and how do I get one?

A. One of the resources available to FBI employees during the government shutdown is a Financial Impact Letter, which documents an employee’s unpaid status. You can provide the letter to a financial institution or creditor to document your status; however, it does not relieve you of any debt or financial obligation. Those personalized letters were sent to every employee on January 8 from the FBIJobsDoNotReply.gov address to each employee’s UNet email account and their personal email account, if they provided a personal address in HRSource. If you don't receive the corrected letter, please call the HRD Call Center at (202) 324-3333.

Q. Will missed payments to personal financial obligations resulting from the shutdown affect my ability to maintain a security clearance?

A. No. According to National Security Adjudicative Guidelines, an employee’s ability to satisfy debts is a condition for maintaining a security clearance, however, a mitigating factor in determining an employee’s ability to maintain a security clearance is a financial problem that is largely beyond the employee’s control. Delinquencies in personal financial obligations resulting from the shutdown will not negatively impact one’s ability to maintain a security clearance.

HRD sent a Financial Impact Letter to each employee that can be provided to a creditor requesting official documentation of an employee’s unpaid status. As noted in HRD’s email, the Financial Impact Letter, however, does not relieve an employee of any debt or financial obligation. All employees are reminded of their obligation to satisfy their debts once payment of salaries resumes after the shutdown.

Q. How should I handle payments on my government travel card during the shutdown?

A. During the shutdown, the FBI’s JPMorgan credit cards will remain active and can be used for approved activities. If a traveler receives reimbursement for their approved travel, they are to pay the balance on their card. Approved use of the GTC, GTA or Fuel Accounts that relate to a voucher that has not been paid to the traveler within the billing cycle will not incur a late payment penalty. Full payment to travelers for vouchers is expected once an appropriation is passed; at that time, prompt payment to JPMorgan is expected.


Q. If I had allotments made from my pay check directly to a creditor, how will those payments be made if we are not being paid?

A. While you are in a non-pay status, these payments will not be made. We strongly encourage you to reach out to each creditor or financial institution that received those allotments and discuss your options.


Fundraising 


Q. Can offices initiate “among our own, for our own” fundraisers to collect money within a field office/division and lend it to those employees from the same field office/division who have an urgent financial need during the shutdown?

A. Yes. However, it is critical that the office consult with the Office of Integrity and Compliance (OIC) before creating any such fund, to ensure that all relevant rules are followed. Reach out to AD Catherine Bruno or Ethics Unit Chief Kevin Chenail.


Q. Can I, as an FBI employee, fundraise for myself (i.e., start a GoFundMe page)?

A. Yes, with the following conditions. An FBI employee may fundraise in his/her private capacity, provided he/she does not:

1. Personally solicit funds or other support from:

a) Subordinates, such as (i) an employee in the direct chain of command; or (ii) another employee receiving less pay and for which there is no personal, non-work, relationship.

b) Prohibited sources (i.e., private organization or individual that does or seeks to do business with the FBI, or is affected by the performance or non-performance of the employee’s duties, such as an investigation target, victim, or witness).

c) NOTE: any gifts received from such sources must be returned. While an indices check is not required to be conducted on each donor, there must be a good faith effort to discern, or avoid willful ignorance, whether a donor is a prohibited source.

2. Use or permit the use of his/her official FBI position/title to further the fundraising effort.

3. Notwithstanding, any GoFundMe (or legal defense fund) page that establishes such a fundraising site must include a clause stating that “contributions shall not be accepted from anonymous sources.” This is pursuant to the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) guidance, and is based on the general rule that FBI employees may neither solicit nor accept donations from prohibited sources. Thus, the employee must know who the donation/gift is from in order to either accept it, or return it. In posting the above clause, the employee may not explain its rationale by stating he/she is an FBI employee. Any required context to the clause should be on a case-by-case basis and stay general. For example: “due to being an executive branch employee,” or “due to being an employee of a federal agency.”


Unemployment Compensation 


Q. Are employees entitled to unemployment compensation while on furlough?

A. It is possible that employees may be eligible for unemployment compensation based on state unemployment compensation requirements. Employees should submit their questions to their appropriate state office where their work duty station is located.

  • Maryland: www.dllr.state.md.us or (410) 949-0022

  • Virginia: www.vec.virginia.gov or (866) 832-2363

  • District of Columbia: www.does.dc.gov or (202) 724-7000

  • West Virginia: www.wv.gov or (800) 252-5627


Q. If I receive unemployment payments during the shutdown, do I have to repay those funds if legislation is passed to back-pay government employees for the period of the shutdown?

A. Yes. If legislation is enacted to back-pay all government employees for the period of the shutdown, any employee who received unemployment funds must repay all of those funds.


Headquarters Staffing Initiative TDYers 


Q. How should HSI expenses be handled during the shutdown?

A. All HSI TDYers are in excepted status and are required to report to work. The government travel card should be used for rent and other TDY-related expenses. Upon receipt of reimbursement for December expenses, HSI TDYers are expected to make their credit card payments; any prior delinquent balances for which the employee was already reimbursed must be paid immediately. Payment of unreimbursed December 2018 expenses can be delayed until after the shutdown ends.


Q. As an HSI TDYer, can I take my home trip?

A. No. Home trips are not authorized during the shutdown. However, some home trips may be authorized on a case-by-case basis for emergency reasons. For example, the death or serious illness of an immediate family member, catastrophic occurrence, or impending disaster such as fire, flood, or act of God that directly affects your home. If you have an urgent issue that requires a home trip, call HRD’s Leadership Selection Unit at (202) 324-5605.


Q. How will my HSI vouchers for December and January expenses be reimbursed?

A. December rent can be reimbursed as long as it was billed before December 22, 2018 (even if paid by employee between December 22 and December 31, 2018). M&IE, utility, laundry, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses incurred on or before December 21, 2018, can be reimbursed, including bills that are dated before 12/22/18 but not paid by the employee.

M&IE, utility, laundry, transportation and misc. expenses incurred on or after December 22, 2018, will not be reimbursed (i.e., bills dated December 22, 2018, and later.) After the shutdown ends, any expenses on the current voucher that are not reimbursed must be submitted on a new supplemental December voucher; reference must be made to the original TRIP voucher. Do not submit this supplemental voucher until the original HSI voucher is processed. These supplemental vouchers will not be reimbursed until an appropriation is passed. January HSI vouchers will not be reimbursed until an appropriation is passed.


Q. Are HSI TDYers expected to be at work?

A. Yes. HSI TDYers are excepted employees and therefore must be at work during the shutdown.


Q. Will I be able to convert to permanent status at the 6-month mark of my HSI during the shutdown?

A. No. During the shutdown, paperwork will not be processed for conversions from HSI to permanent status at the 6-month mark. After the shutdown ends, you will have one week from that date to submit your conversion request.


Job Postings and Outside Employment 


Q. Can employees take other jobs while on furlough?

A. Even while on furlough, an individual is an employee of the government. Therefore, the Executive Branch-wide standards of ethical conduct (the standards), at 5 CFR Part 2635, which include rules on outside employment, continue to apply to employees on furloughs. Also, there are statutes that prohibit certain outside activities.

Even during the furlough, employees must follow FBI policy regarding outside employment, and get approval in advance of starting such employment. The policy is contained in section 4.8.5. (FBI Policy on Outside Employment) of the FBI Ethics and Integrity Program Policy Implementation Guide. Employees with access to EPAS must follow current procedures by using the SecD Self-Reporting Module for outside employment. Employees without access to EPAS can use a new temporary, off-line process to request approval for outside employment before they start that employment. The Outside Employment Application and instructions—as well as the policy—are posted at www.fbi.gov/employees.


Q. Will the monetary cap on special agent earnings for outside employment be lifted during the shutdown?

A. FBI policy generally prohibits special agents from earning more than $3,000 per year in outside employment to avoid interference with official duties and degradation of response capability. In this usual situation, flexibility is warranted. Division heads can consider whether the agent requesting outside employment has exhausted other options, such as no-interest or low-interest loans, before requesting a waiver to the $3,000 limit. If you have questions, please contact HRD EDSP SC Amir Ehsaei. Agents must request the waiver when they submit their outside employment request in EPAS or via the off-line process. Waivers will only apply for the duration of the government shutdown.


Q. Will HRD re-open announcements for most jobs?

A. To ensure the FBI continues the process to fill critical positions, HRD will re-open announcements for most jobs, including Senior Executive Service (SES), Senior Level (SL), Senior Leader, SSA, CDC/ADC and most professional staff positions at the GS-14 level and below. Announcements for non-excepted positions (mostly at HQ) will not be posted until the shutdown ends.

For all jobs posted in EPAS (SES/SL, ASAC, SSIA, AO, UC, SSA, and CDC/ADC): to ensure all applicants have a fair opportunity to apply, a listing of all jobs currently posted in EPAS and their closing dates will be kept up to date on www.fbi.gov/employees. Furloughed employees should check the site frequently if interested in other positions. If a job appears for which you are eligible to compete and to which you want to apply, absent any objection from your division management, you may go into the office to fill out your application in EPAS. This is an exception to the general rule that furloughed employees are not permitted to work. Please coordinate with your Administrative Unit.

For all other jobs: Job announcements will continue to be posted on www.fbijobs.gov as usual. Jobs currently open will be extended through COB Wednesday, January 23. All new jobs will open and close on the standard 10-day posting time.