Federal agencies are sending out the second round of furlough notices for non-excepted employees, placing those workers in a non-pay, non-duty status for another 30 days. For at least some agencies, the notices went out on Jan. 18 and were effective as of Monday, Jan. 21.
Furloughed workers were notified via email that they were not able to work as usual, even remotely, during the furlough period or stay in contact with their agencies for anything other than status or emergency updates. However, since employees have been directed to not check their email, some may not have seen this status update. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) instructs agencies to send new, written furlough notices to impacted employees every 30 days via email or mail.
According to one notice, employees who “have completed a probationary or trial period or one year of current continuous employment in the competitive service under other than a temporary appointment” and who wish to file appeals are instructed to do so through the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).
However, as of Jan. 23 MSPB’s main number defaults to an automated message that states the Board has ceased operations due to the shutdown. “This means that we are not processing appeals and other pleadings,” the voicemail stated. “No staff are on hand to answer inquiries.” An MSPB representative was not available for comment.
When OPM was contacted about this matter, a communications officer directed inquiries to an FAQ page.
Per agency notices reviewed by GovLoop, excepted employees of veterans preference were notified that they could appeal to the MSPB if they had successfully fulfilled one year of service in a similar or same position as the one they currently hold. Excepted employees not serving in a trial period or not with veterans preference can also appeal to the MSPB if they have fulfilled at least two years of continuous service in a same or similar capacity.
If an employee has the right of appeal, they must file an appeal with the MSPB within 30 calendar days of Jan. 21. However, appeals will not be processed by the MSPB until the shutdown ends.
Bargaining unit employees can grieve the furlough action as per specific articles in collecting bargaining agreements between federal agencies and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). A spokesperson for AFGE was not immediately available for comment.
You can find all of GovLoop’s shutdown coverage here.