Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
With a United States federal government shutdown occurring after the U.S. Senate did not approve an appropriations bill before the deadline of midnight on January 19, 2018, employers would be wise to recall the impact felt from the United States federal government shutdown of 2013. (UPDATE 01/22/2018: CNN reports the U.S. Senate has reached a deal to reopen the government for three weeks until February 8, 2018.)
From October 1, 2013, to October 17, 2013, the U.S. federal government shutdown and curtailed most “non-essential” operations as approximately 800,000 federal employees were indefinitely furloughed. Some federal agencies affected by the 2013 U.S. government shutdown relevant to employers include:
- Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) – an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that measures labor market activity – stopped conducting research on employment during the government shutdown which affected the Employment Situation report for October 2013.
- E-Verify – an electronic employment eligibility verification system run by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – was temporarily unavailable during the government shutdown. The USCIS released information addressing questions on how the shutdown affected E-Verify.
- National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) – the agency governing union-employer relations – was closed during the government shutdown and stopped handling all cases but granted an extension of time to file or serve any document as permitted by law.
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – an agency of the DOL that promotes and ensures safe and healthy working conditions – stopped all workplace safety inspections during the government shutdown that did not involve immediate danger or death.
- Small Business Administration (SBA) – an agency that provides support to entrepreneurs and small businesses – stopped processing new loans to small businesses with the exception of loans to businesses affected by natural disasters during the government shutdown.
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – the agency that enforces federal employment discrimination laws – was closed during the government shutdown although a limited number of EEOC services, such as filing a charge, remained available.
- Wage and Hour Division (WHD) – an agency of the DOL that enforces Federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor requirements – was greatly reduced during the government shutdown.
The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) – which produces the President’s budget – has a web page with government shutdown contingency plans for federal agencies. The page, which will be updated as more plans are posted, is at www.whitehouse.gov/omb/agency-contingency-plans/.
A federal government shutdown in the United States occurs when Congress and the President fail to pass appropriations legislation funding government operations and agencies. Since 1976, there have been seven federal government shutdowns in 1980, 1981, 1984, 1986, 1990, 1995–1996, and 2013.
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