Federal employees uncertain of whether they are going to work next week can reference a one-page document from the federal Office of Personnel Management for answers.
The sheet, titled "Guidance and Information on Furlough," was for many government employees the first official document discussing the potential shutdown. The note says:
If the current continuing resolution expires at 12:01 a.m. on April 9, 2011 without passage of an FY 2011 appropriations bill or a further continuing resolution, Federal departments and agencies will be required to execute contingency plans for a lapse in appropriations (more commonly referred to as a "shutdown").
The document outlines pay, leave, and health care.
All those designated "non-excepted employees" will not be permitted to work. Individual agencies will inform their employees who is "excepted" - generally, emergency and security personnel - and who is not. Employees will not be permitted to come in during the furlough period, even as unpaid volunteers.
If the goverment heads into a shutdown (or what the OPM calls a "temporary lapse in appropriations), nobody, not even excepted employees, will get paid. If and when a federal spending plan is passed, employees will get paid for the hours they have worked. The non-excepted workers that get furloughed may not get paid for their lost days.
If you are a federal worker, you can't take paid vacation or leave during the furlough period.
That's the bad news. A silver lining, of sorts, is that if the shutdown does happen, health benefits paid for by the federal government will remain in effect, whether an employee is excepted or non-excepted.
Also, if the potential shutdown does go on for an extended period, federal workers will be eligibile to get unemployment benefits. The exact duration of time before workers start collecting depends on the state in which they live.