Employee Information During Temporary Shutdown
This site has been established to provide CDC employees with important information related to managing their business affairs during a federal government shutdown. Employees are encouraged to check regularly for updates.
- If a lapse in appropriation occurs, employees have up to four hours to complete shutdown activities. If an employee has a telework agreement in place, he/she can perform an orderly shutdown from their telework site.
- During orderly shutdown, employees should take important documents and information including their SF-50, LES, W-2, and all passwords to access personal personnel information (e.g., TSP, myPay).
- After the completion of orderly shutdown activities, the work site is closed to all non-excepted employees, who must begin their furlough. Non-excepted employees are not permitted to work for any reason, nor do they have access to personal items left on government property.
- CDC staff should stay informed through the media for updates and information on the shutdown status. Staff can also stay informed of CDC's operating status by calling the CDC Emergency Notification number (1-800-937-5157), following @CDC_Status on Twitter, or continuing to check this site.
- For OPM Shutdown Furlough guidance, please refer to their Furlough Guidance website.
- Every effort should be made to avoid doing any business using personal e-mails. If you receive an e-mail on your personal e-mail account to notify you to return to work (either in an on-call status or when the shutdown has ended), do not reply to the e-mail. The e-mail should inform you to call the office or check your work e-mail account for further information.
- Employees are not permitted to log into any HHS systems while in a furlough status or conduct official or personal business using agency IT assets during the furlough.
- Furloughed employees will maintain possession of their BlackBerrys, laptops, or other mobile devices, but should power them down while in a furlough status.
Guidance to CDC Employees
- Travel cards will continue to function normally. The travel card continues to work if you are on travel during a shutdown.
- Employees are not authorized to use the travel card during furlough unless they are exempt and in travel status.
- Bills are still the responsibility of the cardholder to pay on time whether reimbursement from the government has occurred or not. If a card is already delinquent, the cardholder will not gain more time to pay during a shutdown.
- If a card expires during the shutdown, the cardholder will be mailed a new card to their address of record.
While on furlough, federal employees may become eligible for unemployment benefits under the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) program. UCFE is paid by the states under the same terms and conditions as regular state unemployment compensation (UC).
Filing for Unemployment Compensation
You will need to contact the state of your last duty station to file a UCFE claim. To qualify for benefits, you must have earned sufficient wages during the prior 12-18 months, as determined under the state UC law. The state will advise if you are eligible for benefits. State unemployment compensation requirements differ; some states require a one-week waiting period before an individual qualifies for payments.
It is important to have certain key documents ready when you file your claim. States may take claims over the Internet, telephone, or in-person. Follow instructions provided on the state's website (GA locations and USA locations).
You will need to know your department or agency's correct name and payroll address, and, if available, the agency's Federal Identification Code. Documents that have this information and will help you to correctly file your UCFE claim are:
- Standard Form 8 (SF-8, see attached) OR Standard Form 50 (SF-50)
- Leave and Earnings Statements OR W-2 Form
- Valid government-issued picture ID
You will want to either download these forms prior to the furlough or ensure you have access to your usernames, passwords, and bookmarks for the appropriate websites, as no access via government equipment is allowed once the furlough begins.
During the Furlough
Once you file your UCFE claim, you will have to file eligibility certifications weekly or bi-weekly. Most states accept these certifications via a telephone interactive voice response system or the Internet. To be eligible in most states, you must be able and available for work. You will be provided information on how to file your certification at the time you file your claim. Depending on state law, furloughed workers may not be required to actively search for work because you are on a temporary lay-off.
If you work and earn wages during the same period that you may also have a furlough day(s), and you file a UCFE claim for the same weeks, you must report your earnings. Depending upon how much you earn, your weekly UC amount may be reduced (in some cases to zero). If you fail to report earnings, you may be determined to have been overpaid these benefits and required to repay the state.
Unemployment compensation that you receive under the unemployment compensation laws of the United States, or under a state law, is considered taxable income. If you receive unemployment compensation, you will be sent Form 1099-G from the state where you filed your claim showing the amount you were paid and any federal income tax you elected to have withheld.
Repayment of Unemployment Benefits
Unemployment benefits received during the furlough period may be subject to repayment depending on state law. The state in which you filed the claim will provide guidance. For Georgia employees, unemployment benefits paid during a period in which back pay wages are given will be considered an overpayment and must be recovered by the Georgia Department of Labor.
- Do furloughed and excepted employees currently have active health insurance coverage?
Yes, the employee’s 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.
- If congress doesn’t authorize retroactive pay for furloughed employees, how does that affect their health insurance coverage and other benefits, such as TSP, flexible spending accounts, vision insurance, etc.?
- Health insurance coverage: Answered above.
- TSP: Employees should refer to the TSP Fact Sheet regarding the Impact of a Government Shutdown on the Thrift Savings Plan [130 KB, 2 Pages]. For example, you may be eligible for a loan while furloughed.
- Flexible Spending Accounts: Payroll deductions will cease for any employee that does not receive pay. The employee remains enrolled in FSAFEDS, but eligible health care claims incurred during a non-pay status will not be reimbursed until the employee returns 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.
- Vision/Dental: Payroll deductions will cease for any employee that does not receive pay. BENEFEDS will generate a bill to enrollees for premiums when no payment is received for two consecutive pay periods. The enrollee should pay premiums directly billed to him/her on a timely basis to ensure continuation of coverage.
For more information about benefits, see page 11 of the OPM guidance [595 KB, 35 Pages].
- Do the ethics rules apply to both excepted and non-excepted employees during a lapse in appropriations under the Antideficiency Act, more commonly referred to as a federal government shutdown (shutdown)?
Yes. Our status as federal and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) employees does not change for both excepted and non-excepted employees, even though non-excepted employees are not reporting to work at their federal facilities. Therefore, all of the ethics rules continue to apply to all employees.
- Where may employees seek guidance if they have an ethics-related question?
Questions and answers to assist employees with the most common issues that may arise during a shutdown follow below. Please note: unless included in an excepted category based on other duties, ethics officials are non-excepted. However, the CDC Ethics and Compliance Activity will be able to answer questions and concerns on a limited basis. If an employee is concerned that his action may violate the ethics statutes, standards of conduct, or HHS supplemental regulations, it is best to refrain from that action until the employee can seek the necessary guidance or authorization.
Outside Activities/Outside Employment
- May employees seek and accept a non-federal job during the shutdown?
It depends. See the answers to the questions below for the outside activities/outside employment that that require prior approval from CDC/ATSDR. During the shutdown, employees will not have access to the Ethics Program Activity Tracking System (EPATS) to submit an outside activity request (HHS-520). Therefore, employees must evaluate the outside activity closely. If there is a risk that the outside activity/employment would not be approved, the employee should refrain from participating during the shutdown. Employees may contact Ethics and Compliance Activity at firstname.lastname@example.org (please use personal email) or 770.488.8970 with specific questions or concerns.
- What outside activities/employment require prior approval?
Regardless of a government shutdown, the following outside activities require prior approval: 1) consultative or professional services, including service as an expert witness; 2) teaching, speaking, writing; or 3) services to a non-Federal entity as an officer, director, or board member, or as a member of a group, such as a planning commission, advisory council, editorial board, or scientific or technical advisory board or panel, which requires the provision of advice, counsel, or consultation.
- Must employees seek review and approval of outside activities/employment that they began during the shutdown?
Yes. Upon their return to work, employees must contact the CDC Ethics and Compliance Activity and seek a review and any necessary approvals for their outside activities/employment.
- What outside activities/employment are permissible without prior approval?
Generally, no prior approval is required for certain outside employment such as clerical work, retail sales, service industry jobs, and building trades. Positions such as these likely will not conflict with an employee’s duties at CDC.
- May employees volunteer to continue to carry out their Department duties during a shutdown?
No. Employees deemed non-excepted may not volunteer their services and continue working on Department business during a government shutdown.
- May employees participate in pro bono legal work?
No, unless it was approved prior to the shutdown. Therefore, attorneys may not take on new pro bono projects during the shutdown. Attorneys may not take a new case or work at a clinic unless they have cleared it before the shutdown.
- May employees volunteer for a partisan political campaign or candidate during the shutdown?
It depends. Remember under the Hatch Act (5 U.S.C. § 7321–7326), employees have different restrictions on their political activities based upon their positions at CDC. Refer to the Office of Special Counsel’s website (www.osc.gov). If there is a risk that the contemplated activity violates the Act, employees should refrain from participating in the activity.
- May employees use their official title or position in connection with their outside activity/employment?
No. Employees must not misuse their official status in order to obtain outside employment, nor may they use their titles or positions to benefit the outside activities/employment.
- Do the gift rules apply during a shutdown?
Yes. All of the ethics rules continue to apply to federal employees during a government shutdown. The general rule concerning gifts from an outside source (versus gifts among employees) is that a federal employee may not accept a gift from a prohibited source or given because of his official position. There are a few exceptions to this rule, addressed below.
- May employees accept a discount offered by a bank or other commercial organization?
Generally, yes, IF the discount is offered to ALL federal employees regardless of pay or agency. (For example, a local deli is offering free sandwiches to all federal government employees for the first two days of the shutdown.) Employees also may also accept a discount offered to the public. (For example, a local pizza delivery shop offers large pizzas for $7 every Monday.) There is no limit on the value/ amount of the discount offered, so long as it is offered to all federal employees or to the public.
- May employees present their Government identification badge to receive a permissible discount offered to all federal employees?
Yes. Employees may show their Government ID to prove they are eligible for an existing discount. REMEMBER! Employees may not use their Government ID to solicit or encourage a gift or special treatment- this is a misuse of position!
- May employees accept a gift from a prohibited source or offered because of their federal position if the gift is valued at $20 or less?
It depends. Although the letter of the gift rules may permit receipt of this gift, the spirit of the rules requires prudence when applying them. If receipt of a gift from an outside source would raise a concern about an employee’s impartiality, it would be wise not to accept it. (For example, during the shutdown, Microsoft offers an upgrade to its suite of programming products to CDC IT technicians for their personal computers; it is valued at $19.99. A number of CDC IT technicians are evaluating programming needs under a pending IT contract; Microsoft is one of the bidders under the pending contract. To avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest, the IT technicians working on the pending contract should decline Microsoft’s offer.)
- May employees comment/blog about the government shutdown on social media sites?
Generally, yes, employees may comment about the shutdown in their personal capacity. However, be aware that if employees’ official titles/positions are listed on the introduction page of their site, they must be careful not to make comments that would appear to be official Department statements. Also, remember that information that is not appropriate for disclosure by employees in work status continues to be inappropriate for disclosure when employees are in shutdown status.
- May employees continue to conduct Department business during a shutdown using their personal email or social media sites?
No. Employees may not continue to work using their personal email or social media sites. This equates to employees volunteering their services to CDC/ATSDR during the shutdown, which is prohibited. However, supervisors may use personal email addresses to send notices, particularly return-to-work notices.
CDC’s Employee Assistance Program:
- Atlanta – Chamblee: 770-488-7825
- Atlanta – Roybal: 404-639-2830
- Cincinnati: 800-642-9794
- Pittsburgh: 800-222-0364
- All other locations outside Atlanta: 800-222-0364
- International locations: call +1 314-387-4701 collect
BrownRichards & Associates – Offers employee support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
CDC Emergency Hotline – Provides a daily update of CDC’s Absence of Appropriations status
Contact: 800-937-5157, 404-639-2611, or 404-639-0222
The CDC Federal Credit Union will provide assistance to members with a disruption in pay. For more information visit https://www.cdcfcu.com/Home.aspx
- Page last reviewed: October 17, 2013
- Page last updated: October 17, 2013
- Content source:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs