Paycheck Chronicles

A Government Shutdown Could Affect Leave


Elsewhere on, Bryant Jordan is reporting that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM)'s finally released Guidance and Information on Furlough states that military members may not take any leave during a furlough.

While the entire document is interesting, the part pertaining to leave states:

Questions regarding leave:

Q: May an employee not excepted from the furlough take previously approved paid leave (e.g., annual, sick, court, military leave, or leave for bone marrow or organ donation) during a shutdown furlough? A. No. All paid leave during a shutdown furlough period must be canceled because the requirement to furlough supersedes leave rights. The Antideficiency 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 shutdown furlough, all paid leave must be canceled.
Q: May an excepted employee take previously approved paid leave or be granted new requests for paid leave during a shutdown furlough? A. No. When an excepted employee is not working or not performing excepted activities in compliance with the Antideficiency Act, he or she cannot be in a paid leave status. Excepted employees must be either performing excepted activities or furloughed during any absence from work. The furlough must be documented by a furlough notice. If an excepted employee refuses to report for work after being ordered to do so, he or she will be considered in an absence without leave (AWOL) and will be subject to any consequences that may follow from being AWOL.
While I sort of understand the budgetary logic, the whole thing seems ludicrous to me.  Even more ludicrous is that they've waited until days before a possible furlough to publish this information.  There is no explanation of what will happen to people who are on leave when a furlough might begin, or what will happen to excepted employee (i.e., military) needs to take paid leave (family emergency, etc.)

I wish I had useful news, but this is the best I can do right now.

Oh, I should probably note, for those who don't know:   It is possible that a government shutdown could occur and the military could be unaffected.  It has happened in the past.  However, in the past, there has been an approved Defense Appropriations bill in effect when the government shutdown occurred.  We not have a current Defense Appropriations bill.  If Congress passes a Defense Appropriations bill, or passes some sort of legislation to pay the military outside of the budget or defense appropriations bill, the military could be unaffected by a federal funding gap due to no budget.

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