In a Feb. 16, 2018, memo to chief human capital officers, Office of Personnel Management acting Director Kathleen McGettigan said that federal agencies that furloughed employees during the Feb. 9 nine-hour government shutdown would have “some flexibility” in determining employee pay and leave for that day.
“For many employees, the lapse in appropriations ended during their daily tour of duty. These employees had a portion of their tour during the lapse and a portion of their tour after the lapse ended. The retroactive pay provision in Public Law 115-124 applies to the hours during the lapse in appropriations,” McGettigan wrote.
“Within the bounds of law, regulation, and agency policies, employing agencies have some flexibility to determine employees’ pay and leave status during the portion of their tour that occurred after the lapse ended.”
According to McGettigan, the use of excused absences for employees that did not report to work by the time the government reopened would be appropriate.
“In exercising that flexibility, agencies should take into account the facts and circumstances applicable to an individual employee or group of employees, including the directions or lack of directions given by the employing agency and the reasonableness of the actions taken by the employee,” wrote McGettigan.
Congress provided for retroactive pay for furloughed employees through the Continuing Appropriations Amendments Act of 2018, which was signed into law on the day of the shutdown.
The president signed the bill ending the shutdown at 8:45 a.m. on Feb. 9, meaning that many employees who arrived at work for normal business hours were minimally impacted. Employees who worked nontraditional hours or overseas, however, saw a greater portion of their workday, and therefore paychecks, impacted by the shutdown.
In addition, the pay freeze imposed on some senior political officials and appointees, such as the vice president, was extended to March 23, 2018.
Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.