An employer guide to the government shutdownNews added by Benefits Pro on October 3, 2013

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Joined: September 07, 2011

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By Dan Cook

When the government shuts down, the pain points pop up all over, sometimes in unanticipated places.

The Society for Human Resource Management pulled together an extensive list of what’s working and what’s not during the shutdown. SHRM especially cautions government contractors to be ready to furlough employees dedicated to federal work, but also to make sure they don’t run afoul of wage and hour rules that still apply.

By government agency, here’s the list:

National Labor Relations Board

What’s shut down: Investigations, taking complaints, hearings and elections, docketing of petitions and charges, federal litigation, workplace dispute resolution, employee-union dispute resolution, myriad remedial actions.

What’s not shut down: The Office of Inspector General hot line.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

What’s shut down: No calls from the public to staff; charges will not be investigated; no federal court litigation; no mediations or federal-sector hearings; no decisions will be made in federal employees’ appeals of discrimination complaints; no outreach and education; no FOIA requests will be processed.

What’s not shut down: “Only activities involving the safety of human life or the protection of property will continue.” Charges that must be filed in order to preserve the rights of a claimant during a shutdown will be accepted but not investigated; new discrimination grievances and appeals will be docketed; lawsuits will be litigated where a continuance has not been granted; new charges will be reviewed to determine whether prompt judicial action is necessary and, if appropriate, an action will be filed for preliminary relief; maintain the integrity and viability of EEOC's information systems.

Department of Homeland Security

What’s shut down: Not much.

What’s not shut down: Pretty much everything. You’ll still have annoyingly long lines at the airport. E-Verify

What’s shut down: E-Verify will be totally dark during the government shutdown. The office says: “Employers may not take any adverse action against an employee because of an E-Verify interim case status, including while the employee’s case is in an extended interim case status due to a federal government shutdown.”

What’s not shut down: Zilch.

Department of Labor

What’s shut down: Since most of the DOL’s employees are furloughed for the duration, most programs and services are either dark or very, very dim, “specifically those involving the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Employment and Training Administration,” DOL says. DOL advises that employers review its online contingency plan for details, of which there are many.

What’s not shut down: See above.

What’s shut down: “IRS will cease some of its key functions such as audits, examinations of returns, processing of paper returns and call-center operations for taxpayers with questions,” according to the agency.

What’s not shut down: Treasury “will continue disbursements of Social Security funds, automated revenue collections and the work of daily cash management for the government, in addition to paying interest on the federal debt.”

State Department

What’s shut down: Not very much. Some passport offices will be closed if they are in buildings that are closed due to the shutdown.

What’s not shut down: Most State ops are still live. The department says, “Activities carried out by the Bureau of Consular Affairs, both domestically and abroad, are fee-funded and will continue. The department will continue passport operations and visa issuance overseas. Embassies and consulates overseas will continue to provide American citizen services.”

Health and Human Services

What’s shut down: This is a key “preserving life and limb” federal agency, so while some workers are furloughed, most services continue in some form. HHS says “grant-making and employee-intensive agencies such as the Administration for Children and Families and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will have to furlough most staff so it won’t be very responsive. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will keep some folks working “to protect the health and well-being of U.S. citizens."

What’s not shut down: Not much is totally shut down, the lights are just turned down low.

See also: Grand theft GOP

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