Working During Shutdown Illegal for Most Federal Employees


If Congress doesn't pass legislation to fund the federal government by March 4, the government will shut down for the first time since fiscal year 1996, when non-essential government services were suspended for 21 days.


According to the Christian Science Monitor, a shutdown means that all federal employees-save Congress and the president, as well as those deemed to be performing emergency work-must stop working until government operations are again funded. By extension, tourism in the region is impacted, as are federal contractors.


But given the availability of mobile devices and cloud computing, can't employees who want to keep working from home, even without pay? Not according to the Office of Personnel Management. Federal News Radio reports OPM has made clear that all non-essential personnel must refrain from working during the shutdown-notwithstanding their willingness or ability to do otherwise.


The directive comes from the Antideficiency Act, which makes it illegal for work to be done, or for agencies to allow work to be done, during a shutdown. In fact, according to NextGov, violations of the act are punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and as many as two years in prison.


So, as the Federal News Radio headline suggests, "In case of shutdown, step away from the BlackBerry."