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FDA Lapse in Funding: Information for Employees

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Messages to FDA Employees:

Messages from FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb:

Messages from FDA Chief Operating Officer Jim Sigg:

FDA Lapse in Funding Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. New - How can I get verification of my FDA employment status during the shutdown?
  2. New - How will an employee’s pending leave be handled during the shutdown?
  3. How can furloughed employees obtain a copy of the FDA SF-8 form?
  4. What about PIV badges that expire during shutdown?
  5. Are financial institutions able to assist Excepted, Partial and Furloughed employees who are not receiving their full pay during the lapse in appropriations?
  6. Can furloughed staff utilize the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?
  7. If an employee’s gross pay is not sufficient to permit all required deductions, then what is the order by which deductions must be withheld?
  8. If I do not receive a paycheck or my pay is insufficient to cover my deductions, then what impact will it have on my Benefits?
  9. If I do not receive a paycheck or my pay is insufficient to cover TSP Loan Payments, then what should I do?
  10. Will Partially-Exempt/Excepted/Furloughed Employees be granted Holiday Leave?
  11. Can Partially-Exempt/Excepted/Furloughed Employees Use Paid Leave?
  12. Am I allowed to work another job while on furlough?
  13. 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?
  14. Are employees entitled to unemployment compensation while on furlough?
  15. Will I get paid for work performed before/during the furlough?
  16. I have not completed the Annual Ethics Training and I have been furloughed. The due date is 12/31/18. Am I allowed to complete the training from home while I am furloughed?
  17. Can the agency provide any guidance on how to approach creditors with personal financial hardship due to the lapse in appropriations funding?
  18. Can employees access myPay from their home computer? 

1. How can I get verification of my FDA employment status during the shutdown?

Employees can send an email to FDA-FurloughVerify@fda.hhs.gov requesting verification. Please include your Full Name, Center, Office, and Title in your email. Employees will receive a personalized notice documenting their employment status during the shutdown within 24-48 hours.

2. How will an employee’s pending leave be handled during the shutdown?

All leave will be cancelled during the partial shutdown for Furloughed and Excepted employees.

Exempt employees may continue to request and use leave under the normal timekeeping procedures.

Partially-Exempt/Excepted /Furloughed employees may request and use leave depending on the number of exempt hours they are working in a pay period. Separate guidance has been provided on how much leave can be requested for employees working a less than full-time schedule.

Separate guidance will be provided once the lapse is over on the process to request that cancelled use-or-lose leave be considered for restoration.

3. How can furloughed employees obtain a copy of the FDA SF-8 form?

Furloughed employees may become eligible for unemployment compensation. Please visit the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) website “Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees” at http://workforcesecurity.doleta.gov/unemploy/unemcomp.asp. The DOL website provides links to individual state offices at http://www.servicelocator.org/OWSLinks.asp.

The SF 8 can be found at https://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/WorkingatFDA/UCM629135 , and below is the agency specific information for employees to reference:

  • Agency Address: 3WFN, (Room – OHR) 12225 Wilkins Avenue, Rockville, MD 20852
  • Agency code: 460
  • Contact Name: Lisa Gilmore, Acting WRD Director

4. What about PIV badges that expire during shutdown?

Badge renewals require that the individual be fingerprinted. Thus, furloughed employees whose badges have expired or will expire during the shutdown will be able to get their badges renewed upon their return to work.

Partially excepted or exempt individuals who have received a notice that their badges have expired and who are available for fingerprinting should schedule an appointment to have their badges renewed.

5. Are financial institutions able to assist Excepted, Partial and Furloughed employees who are not receiving their full pay during the lapse in appropriations?

There are a number of financial institutions that may be able to assist Excepted, Partial and Furloughed employees during the time they are not receiving full pay during the lapse in appropriations. For example, FedFinancial Federal Credit Union (FFCU) offers various programs to its members that may help. For more information, please visit the FFCU website at https://www.fedfinancial.org/ or contact them at 301-881-5626. Also, please review the other FAQs for more information regarding how to approach creditors with personal financial hardship due to the lapse in appropriations.

6. Can furloughed staff utilize the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?

Yes. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is here to help all employees, including those who are furloughed, during the lapse in appropriations. The EAP is a professional service that provides problem solving, coaching, information, consultation, counseling, resource identification and support to all employees. If you need assistance, you may reach the EAP by calling the FOH EAP & Work Life Field Staff Consultant Jill Jensen at (240) 402-0521 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The EAP Office on the White Oak Campus located in Building 1, Room 1322 is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays. If you have an urgent need, you may call the EAP, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year at (800) 222-0364. For more information, please visit www.foh4you.com.

7. If an employee’s gross pay is not sufficient to permit all required deductions, then what is the order by which deductions must be withheld?

Deductions based on the amount of pay received, such as retirement deductions and taxes, will be based on an employee’s reduced earnings and may be lower than usual. Standard deductions, such as health insurance premiums and charitable contributions, remain unchanged.  During this time, employees may make changes to voluntary deductions, such as TSP contributions or personal account allotments, through the myPay website at https://mypay.dfas.mil/.  We recommend that employees consult a trusted advisor before making any deduction changes to ensure the impact is clearly understood.  In addition, please remember that any adjustment or username or password request may be sent to your work account, which you may or may not have access to during the lapse in appropriations.

In addition, if an employee needs financial assistance during the shutdown, they may consider contacting the FDA’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to access financial consultation services. For more information on available EAP services, please visit www.foh4you.com.  Employees may also want to contact their financial institution, credit union or the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) to learn about their options. Additional information for TSP can be found on their website at www.tsp.gov.

Please note, based on the number of deductions an employee has it is possible for an employee to receive a net zero pay check, even though they worked exempt hours for which they were paid during the pay period. See the list of deductions in order of precedence below: 

1. RETIREMENT DEDUCTIONS

a. Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS)
b. Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS)
c. Civil Service Retirement System - Offset (CSRS-Offset)
d. Title 32 National Guard
e. Non-appropriated Fund Instrumentality (NAFI) Employee Retirement   
    Contributions

2. OASDI (Social Security) (collected under the authority of FICA)

3. MEDICARE TAX (collected under the authority of FICA)

4. FEDERAL INCOME TAX

5. HEALTH INSURANCE PREMIUMS (may be pre-tax)

6. BASIC GROUP LIFE INSURANCE PREMIUMS

a. Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI)
b. State Life Insurance Premiums

7. STATE INCOME TAX

8. LOCAL INCOME TAX

9. COLLECTION OF DEBTS OWED TO THE UNITED STATES

a. Continuous Levy under the Federal Payment Levy Program (tax debt)
b. Salary Offsets

10. COURT-ORDERED COLLECTION/DEBT

a. Child Support
b. Alimony
c. Bankruptcy
d. Commercial Garnishments

11. OPTIONAL BENEFITS (see Chapter 11)

a. Health Care/Limited-Expense Health Care Flexible Spending Accounts (pre-tax benefit under Federal Flexible Benefits Plan or cafeteria plan)
b. Dental (pre-tax)
c. Vision (pre-tax)
d. Health Savings Account (pre-tax)
e. Optional Life Insurance Premiums
f. Long-Term Care Insurance Premiums
g. Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (pre-tax)
h. TSP

(1) Loan Payments
(2) Basic Contributions (pre-tax)
(3) Catch-up Contributions (pre-tax)

i. Other Optional Benefits

12. OTHER VOLUNTARY DEDUCTIONS/ALLOTMENTS

a. Military Service Deposits
b. Professional Associations
c. Union Dues
d. Charities
e. Bonds
f. Personal Account Allotments (to savings or checking accounts)
g. Additional Voluntary Deductions (on first-come, first-served basis)

13. INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE (IRS) PAPER LEVIES

8. If I do not receive a paycheck or my pay is insufficient to cover my deductions, then what impact will it have on my Benefits?

Employee’s FEHB coverage (health insurance) will continue even if premium payments are not made on time.  If an employee is in a non-pay status, the enrollee share of the FEHB premium will accumulate and be withheld from pay upon return to a pay status.

Payroll deductions for dental, vision and long-term care insurance 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 under those plans.  If payment is not received coverage under those programs will lapse.

For additional information on the impact of a lapse in appropriations on federal benefits, including FSAFEDS benefits, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has a comprehensive guide available on their website.  Click here to access Guidance for Shutdown Furloughs. Information related to benefits begins on page 15.

9. If I do not receive a paycheck or my pay is insufficient to cover TSP Loan Payments, then what should I do?

If an employee has a TSP loan, the OHCM Benefits Team is available to answer their questions regarding their TSP loan. Please contact the Benefits Team at OO-OHR-BENEFITS@fda.hhs.gov for more information.

10. Will Partially-Exempt/Excepted/Furloughed Employees be granted Holiday Leave?

Per agency timekeeping and leave policy, partially-exempt/excepted/furloughed employees may be granted holiday leave based on their exempt work schedule during the lapse in appropriations, (e.g. an employee scheduled to work 3 hours daily on exempt work should be granted 3 hours of holiday leave on a federal holiday).

If a Center or Organization is unable to identify how many exempt hours a partially-exempt/excepted/furloughed employee works daily, the below chart was used to determine how many holiday leave hours a partially-exempt/excepted/furloughed employee should be granted for each holiday during the pay period.

Table to be used for Pay Period 01-2019:

 Number of Exempt Hours Worked by a Partially Exempt Employee During the Pay Period: Number of Holiday Leave Hours an Employee Should be Granted for Each Holiday During the Pay Period:
0 – 13 
14 – 27 
28 – 41 
42 – 55  6
56 

11. Can Partially-Exempt/Excepted/Furloughed Employees Use Paid Leave?

Per agency timekeeping and leave policy, partially-exempt/excepted/furloughed employees may use paid leave based on their work schedule during the lapse in appropriations subject to supervisory approval, (e.g. an employee scheduled to work 3 hours daily on exempt work may request up to 3 hours of paid leave on any given day).

If a Center or Organization is unable to identify how many exempt hours a partially-exempt/excepted/furloughed employee works daily, the applicable chart below should be used to determine how many paid leave hours a partially- exempt/excepted/furloughed employee may request daily during the pay period.

Table to be used for Pay Period 01-2019 with holidays:

 Number of Exempt Hours Worked by a Partially Exempt Employee During the Pay Period: Number of Paid Leave Hours an Employee May Use Daily During the Pay Period:
0 – 13 
14 – 27 
28 – 41 
42 – 55  6
56 

Table to be used for Pay Period 02-2019 with no holidays:

 Number of Exempt Hours Worked by a Partially Exempt Employee During the Pay Period: Number of Paid Leave Hours an Employee May Use Daily During the Pay Period:
0 - 19 
20 - 39
40 - 59
60 - 79 6
80

12. Am I allowed to work another job while on furlough?

It depends on the type of work. While on furlough, an individual remains an employee of the Federal Government. Therefore, the ethics laws, including the executive branch-wide standards of ethical conduct, and the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) supplemental ethics regulations, which require employees to obtain prior approval for certain outside activities and employment, continue to apply. Therefore, before engaging in outside employment during the FDA’s lapse in funding, employees should review the information below.

Employees who wish to engage in certain outside activities or employment during the lapse in funding must seek prior approval using the HHS 520 form (Request for Approval of Outside Activity) and e-mail the form to FDA Ethics at: FDA_Outside_Activity@fda.hhs.gov. Employees should copy their supervisor on the e-mail. Furloughed employees should submit the form using their personal computer.

To determine whether an HHS 520 is required for your outside activity or employment and additional information about the outside activity rules, please visit the FDA’s Ethics website. The FDA’s Ethics website also provides some important information regarding certain outside activities and employment that are prohibited for FDA employees.

The HHS 520 is available at: https://www.fda.gov/downloads/AboutFDA/WorkingatFDA/Ethics/UCM558162.pdf

13. 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?

Yes. An 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 will be withheld from pay upon return to pay status.

14. Are employees entitled to unemployment compensation while on furlough?

It is possible that furloughed employees may become eligible for unemployment compensation. Please note the following.

  • Some states require a one-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 U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) "Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees" page at: http://workforcesecurity.doleta.gov/unemploy/unemcomp.asp.)
  • Agencies or employees should submit questions to the appropriate state (or District of Columbia) office.
  • The DOL website provides links to individual state offices at: disclaimer iconhttp://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 code is 460; the FDA’s sub-code is 036.
  • An SF-8 for FDA will be needed to file for unemployment.

15. Will I get paid for work performed before/during the furlough?

All employees will get paid on December 28, 2018. Furloughed, excepted, and exempt employees will be paid for hours worked and leave used through December 21st, 2018. 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 during the furlough. 

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. Such payment is expected 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 FY19 appropriation or Continuing Resolution is approved.

16. I have not completed the Annual Ethics Training and I have been furloughed. The due date is 12/31/18. Am I allowed to complete the training from home while I am furloughed? 

No. Furloughed employees who have not completed the FDA Annual Ethics Training (AET) may not take the training while in a furlough status. By regulation, the due date remains 12/31/18, however, user accounts will not be deactivated for noncompliance until a date that is determined to be reasonable once the agency resumes full operations. Furloughed employees remain responsible for completing the AET as soon as possible when they return to duty. Questions may be directed to the FDA Ethics Advice Hotline at 240-402-1111 or FDAEthics_Advice@fda.hhs.gov.

17. Can the agency provide any guidance on how to approach creditors with personal financial hardship due to the lapse in appropriations funding?

Yes. The Office of Personnel Management has provided sample letters in the links below for employees impacted by the lapse in funding.

18. Can employees access myPay from their home computer? 

Furloughed employees who know their myPay username and password can access myPay from their home computer by visiting the myPay site at https://mypay.dfas.mil/.

NOTE: Employees who only access myPay using their PIV card will be unable to access myPay from a personal computer. PIV cards are government furnished and should not be used while on a furlough status. In addition, employees who only have their government email set in myPay will not be able to reset their password.

Employees who need help accessing myPay using their login ID and password they should contact the MyPay helpdesk at 1-888-332-7411.

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