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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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FDA Shutdown Frequently Asked Questions

FDA Shutdown Frequently Asked Questions


1.    Q: Am I allowed to work another job while on furlough?
 
A: It depends on the type of work.  While on furlough, an individual remains an employee of the Federal Government. Therefore, executive branch-wide standards of ethical conduct and rules regarding outside employment continue to apply when an individual is furloughed (specifically, the executive branch-wide standards of ethical conduct at 5 CFR part 2635). In addition, there are specific statutes which prohibit certain outside activities, and agency-specific supplemental rules that require prior approval of outside employment (5 CFR part 5501). Therefore, before engaging in outside employment during the government shut down, employees should review the information below:
  • Furloughed employees must carefully evaluate any proposed outside employment and refrain from an activity or employment that is prohibited. For instance, employees that are public or confidential filers may not have outside employment with a significantly regulated organization unless the activity involves manual or unskilled labor or clerical or retail sales. Also, “filers’ may not be self-employed where they are selling FDA regulated products. Activities that require prior approval include professional or consultative services; service as an officer of an organization or board service to an organization; teaching, speaking or writing that relates to the employee’s official duties; or any work performed for a prohibited source i.e., grocery stores, drug stores, food companies, or any other regulated entity, and work for universities that have business with FDA such as the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University. Accordingly, outside employment that does not require prior approval includes activities like waiting tables, working at a clothing store, or working at a day care service.  It is unlikely that such positions will conflict with an employee’s duties at FDA. Furloughed employees that wish to engage in outside employment during the shutdown that requires prior approval must complete the HHS 520 form, “Request for Approval of Outside Activity”, and submit it to their supervisor using their personal computer (available on the HHS website at: http://www.hhs.gov/forms/hhs520.pdf).
     
  • For excepted or exempt employees, it is also necessary to obtain prior approval on the HHS 520 form for any outside employment/activity that requires such approval (see above for activities that require prior approval.) Prior approval should follow the normal process i.e., completion of the HHS 520 form and submission to immediate supervisor.


2.    Q: Will an employee continue to be covered under the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) program during a furlough if the agency is unable to make its premium payments on time?
 
 A: 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.


3.    Q: Are employees entitled to unemployment compensation while on furlough?
 
A: It is possible that furloughed employees may become eligible for unemployment compensation:
  • Some States require a 1-week waiting period before an individual qualifies for payments.
  • In general, the law of the State in which an employee’s last official duty station in Federal civilian service was located will be the State law that determines eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits. (See the Department of Labor website “Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees” at http://workforcesecurity.doleta.gov/unemploy/unemcomp.asp )
  • Agencies or employees should submit questions to the appropriate State (or District of Columbia) office.
  • The Department of Labor’s website provides links to individual State offices at http://www.servicelocator.org/OWSLinks.asp.
  • A list of Federal Identification Codes (FIC) needed for unemployment compensation applications can be found here http://www.dol.gov/dol/shutdown/FIC_chart.pdf.
  • The HHS Department’s code is 460, FDA’s Agency sub-code is 036.


4.    Q:  Will I get paid for work performed before/during the furlough?
 
A: All employees will receive pay checks on October 11, 2013.  Furloughed, excepted, and exempt employees will be paid for hours worked and leave used through September 30, 2013. In addition, staff who are exempt and working directly on work funded by user fee carry over funding (or other funds not impacted by a lapse in appropriation) will be paid for all user fee work completed October 1st thru October 4th. 
 
Exempt employees working on user fee funded work (or other funds not impacted by a lapse in appropriation) will continue to be paid for that work. We expect such payment to be processed on a bi-weekly basis for the duration of the shutdown. Excepted employees working during the shutdown will be paid for hours worked retroactively once a FY14 appropriation or Continuing Resolution is approved. 
 
You may have heard about a bill pending in Congress providing compensation to Federal employees for the period of lapse in appropriations. While it is unclear at this point whether or not this bill will pass Congress or be signed into law, it is important to note that approval of the bill does not mean the government shutdown ends. Employees who are furloughed as a result of the shutdown should not report to work unless instructed to do so.