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WORKSPAN
WORKSPAN DAILY |

The Government Shutdown and Its Effect on the Workplace

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The federal government’s partial shutdown, which began Dec. 22, has left several total rewards-related areas in limbo as the new year begins.

It took a few days, but the E-Verify system is now down due to the partial government shutdown. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which runs E-Verify, is one of the agencies affected by the shutdown. E-Verify and E-Verify services are expected to remain offline until a government funding plan is reached.

Employers should prepare themselves by keeping track of all new hires during the shutdown so cases can be created once the system is back online.

Employers and E-Verify employer Agents will not be able to create cases in E-Verify, the shutdown does not affect the Form I-9 requirement. Employers still need to complete the employment eligibility verification form (Form I-9”) within three business days of the hire as well as re-verify the work authorization of employees whose authorization is expiring.

DHS issued the following statement about policies relating to E-Verify being offline: “We understand that E-Verify’s unavailability may have a significant impact on employer operations. To minimize the burden on both employers and employees, the following policies have been implemented:

  • The “three-day rule” for creating E-Verify cases is suspended for cases affected by the unavailability of E-Verify.
  • The time period during which employees may resolve Tentative Non-Confirmations (TNCs) will be extended. The number of days E-Verify is not available will not count toward the days the employee has to begin the process of resolving their TNCs….”

Government Contractors
The partial shutdown is especially costly for contract workers who have little hope of recuperating the pay they lose when the government isn’t operating.

During previous government shutdowns, Congress has approved back pay for most federal workers. That is expected to happen again but nothing is certain until a deal is reached.

However, contract workers whose hourly wages are funded by private companies don’t get paid unless they work. This includes workers at 19 Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo.

Tax Filing Complications
Given the new corporate tax law enacted by Congress a year ago, it’s especially important for the IRS to be prepared for the upcoming filing season in which taxpayers and the agency will need to navigate the changes.

According to Politico, about seven in eight IRS employees are currently furloughed. But Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said last week that the agency would have to call many more workers back, without pay, if the shutdown continues into filing season.

Small Businesses
The shutdown will affect millions of small businesses. While about 800,000 government workers are experiencing temporary financial loss, many of the roughly 30 million small businesses nationwide face revenue losses and limited access to certain loans.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offices are closed in Washington, D.C., for some workers. Excepted employees who work for disaster services report to work, “non-excepted” employees are not permitted to use SBA email or other federal resources, which prevents them from doing their job.

The SBA sent out a notice on its website during the shutdown. The SBA guarantees to back loans that are suspended during shutdowns.

“Unfortunately, we don’t know when the president and congressional leaders will reach an agreement to re-open the government,” said Melissa Murdock, WorldatWork director of external affairs. “House Democrats intend to pass legislation on Thursday to reopen the federal government, but the Senate is not expected to pass anything until they have a better understanding of what President Trump will accept in the funding deal.”

The shutdown presents unique challenges for rewards professionals at federal agencies, she added. "It’s extraordinarily difficult to motivate employees when there is a risk that their employer could shut down or require employees to work without pay.”

About the Author

Brett Christie is a staff writer at WorldatWork.


About WorldatWork

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