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What happens to furloughed employees during a government shutdown?

September 20, 2023


Up to 2.2 million civilian federal employees face the possibility of either a furlough or work without pay, as Congress has just days to reach an agreement on federal spending before a government shutdown kicks in.

During a government shutdown, agencies that don’t yet have their funding determined by Congress are legally required to shutter all activities that are financed by appropriations.

That means many federal employees are placed on a “shutdown furlough,” and have to cease work and temporarily go without pay. During the last government shutdown, roughly 800,000 of the 2.1 million civilian federal employees at the time were furloughed. Employees who agencies determine are needed to conduct excepted activities continue to work during a shutdown without pay. Agencies are responsible for notifying employees of a furlough as soon as possible.

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