Liz Crenshaw's Guide to Consumer Issues, Recalls and More

How It Works: Paychecks and Back Pay for Federal Workers

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Shutterstock

    Back to work after 17 days off without pay, federal employees have ongoing questions about their paychecks.

    WHEN WILL I GET PAID?

    The No. 1 answer federal workers want: When they can expect that paycheck? The answer came Thursday. Federal workers who were not paid during the shutdown will receive their next regularly scheduled paycheck on time, which for most federal workers is Oct. 29.

    The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) told us Thursday that same paycheck will include back pay from the shutdown period, which was approved by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama.

    But some union officials say that almost two weeks is too long to wait for a paycheck, so the National Treasury Employees Union is asking federal agencies to issue retroactive paychecks next week.

    The approved legislation ending the shutdown will also allow federal employees to get a 1 percent pay raise Jan. 1. This would be the first pay increase since a salary freeze was put in place in 2010.

    WHAT IF I SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN A RAISE OR WORKED O.T. DURING THE SHUTDOWN?

    If you were supposed to have received a raise sometime between Oct. 1 and 16, you will be paid the increase retroactively on the day it should have begun.

    If you were regularly scheduled to work overtime or work at night during that time, you will be paid as if you had performed the work.

    DO I HAVE TO PAY BACK UNEMPLOYMENT?

    Many federal workers who were furloughed filed for unemployment benefits. So, do those employees have to pay back that money? The answer is likely yes.

    According to the United States Department of Labor, if Congress passes legislation that provides back pay, states will generally require repayment of any unemployment benefits received.

    For example, Maryland's Department of Labor website shows that federal government workers who received unemployment benefits owe the state money back once workers receive back pay. That website and others will update and provide re-payment options to federal workers.

    WHAT IF I'M A CONTRACTOR?

    It's important to note the legislation to provide back pay does not include government contractors, whose companies may have given them advance pay or administrative leave, or used other tactics to weather the shutdown. However, in some cases, contracting companies have not paid their workers and are not expected to.

    Contractors should discuss the situation directly with their managers.

    WHAT IF I HAVE OTHER QUESTIONS?

    The OPM Guidance for Shutdown Furloughs will give you updated information on everything from health premium benefits and retirement to sick leave and vacation days.