Employee Information During Temporary Shutdown
Federal Government Status: Open
Due to the enactment of a continuing resolution, Federal government operations are open. Employees are expected to return for work on their next regularly scheduled work day (Thursday, October 17th for most employees).
Organizations are strongly encouraged to use all available workplace flexibilities to ensure a smooth transition back to work for employees (e.g. telework, work schedule flexibilities, and excused absence for hardship situations).
More important information on time and attendance and other issues will be forthcoming in the next few hours and will also be posted on this page.
This site has been established to provide CDC employees with important information related to managing their business affairs during the federal government shutdown. Employees are encouraged to check regularly for updates.
- 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.
Furloughed employees may become eligible for unemployment compensation. The following information is provided to CDC/ATSDR employees for filing unemployment compensation claims:
- Weekly Benefit – minimum $44, maximum $330
- Can file online or in person (GA locations and USA locations)
- Documents needed to file claim:
- Standard Form 50 (SF-50)
- Earnings and Leave Statement (MyPay), or
- W-2 Form
- Valid government-issued picture ID
If back wages are received, then unemployment benefits will be considered an overpayment and must recovered.
- Georgia Department of Labor
- Department of Labor, Unemployed Compensation for Federal Employees
- Department of Labor, Unemployed Compensation for Federal Employees Fact Sheet [PDF - 113KB]
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.
Contact: 800-537-2153 or http://brownrichards.com/
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
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.
- JP Morgan Chase (JPMC, our travel card bank) will work with individual cardholders on a case-by-case basis to address hardships caused by a government-wide shutdown. Account aging, late fees and finance fees remain in force unless the bank determines the individual is experiencing hardship related to the shutdown. JPMC can be reached by calling the phone number listed on the back of the card.
- 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.
Letter to Creditors
Recognizing that employees have continuing financial obligations, the Department of Health and Human Services offers this letter to creditors and this letter to creditors, Commissioned Corps . It may be helpful in asking your creditors to be patient until the shutdown ends and normal paychecks return.
- 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 [PDF - 130KB]. 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.
- 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/ ATSDR Ethics office 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 may 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 the Ethics Office at email@example.com (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 their ethics officials 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 sales positions at a retail store or food service positions at restaurants. 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. They cannot 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.) A discount offered to all federal employees or to the public is not limited to $20 per occurrence or $50 per year.
- 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.