For the first time in 17 years the federal government is closed for business except for essential employees and functions. This situation could last for days, weeks, or months. No one knows how long it will take for the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House to reach an agreement to fund the federal government for the next fiscal year.
How does this impact HR professionals and the work you do daily?
If your organization does business with the government, there may be no need for your products and services during this shutdown and you may find it necessary to also furlough some of your employees until the government resumes normal operations. Be sure to check the websites of the specific government agency you work with for their contingency plan. Your organization is still obligated to meet statutory deadlines and compliance requirements of these agencies.
Here are some specific areas where HR operations will be impacted:
E-Verify is closed and unavailable and you will be unable to access it to verify employment eligibility or perform any daily functions as normal. This does NOT affect the Form I-9 requirement—employers must still complete the Form I-9 no later than the third business day after an employee starts work for pay. Be aware that you may not take any adverse action against an employee because of an E-Verify interim case status. Check HERE.
Some Passport Offices located in federal buildings may be forced to shut down because of a lack of building support services.
Department of Labor (DOL) The majority of the Department of Labor’s employees will be furloughed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Employment and Training Administration are the departments most affected by the shutdown. Check www.dol.gov.
EEOC Only activities involving the safety of human life or the protection of property will continue. No staff will be available to answer questions or respond to correspondence. However, they will accept charges that must be filed in order to preserve the rights of a claimant during a shutdown. During this time, the EEOC will not litigate in the federal courts, and mediations will be cancelled. In addition, federal-sector hearings will be cancelled, and no federal employees’ appeals of discrimination complaints will be decided. Of course, outreach and education events will be cancelled. No FOIA requests will be processed. Click HERE for the EEOC Contingency Plan.
The Treasury Department will continue disbursements of Social Security funds, automated revenue collections and the work of daily cash management for the government, in addition to paying interest on the federal debt.
The Internal Revenue Service(IRS) will cease audits, examinations of returns, processing of paper returns and call-center operations for taxpayers with questions during this shutdown.
We will keep you posted on these changing events.
~~ Cynthia Y. Thompson is Data Facts' guest blogger this week. She is Principal and Founder of The Thompson HR Firm, a human resources consulting company in Memphis, TN. She is a senior human resources executive with more than twenty years of human resources experience concentrated in publicly traded companies. She is also the Publisher/Editor of HR Professionals Magazine, an HR trade publication approved by SHRM. Cynthia has an MBA and is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources.
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