Handling Furlough Fallout

In the wake of the recent government shutdown and subsequent strains on the federal community, we have had many FEDS members contact us with concerns about how current or upcoming furloughs may impact them. Although many of you as federal officers won’t be furloughed yourselves, it is likely that other non-essential personnel within your agency already have been. FEDS recognizes the potential negative implications surrounding a government shutdown for all agency employees and stand by you. Below, we have outlined possible areas in which the furlough could lead to adverse employment consequences and tips on how to avoid these situations until the shutdown is resolved.

You may have colleagues whose natural response to the furlough is to knowingly or subconsciously lower their quality of work in an attempt to “get back” at the agency or leadership for shrinking the workforce, albeit temporarily, and creating more tasks for those excepted. However, it is important to remind them that federal employees are largely all in this together. The shutdown was the result of a political impasse between the president and Congress rather than a decision by agency officials; it affects individuals throughout the federal government. As law enforcement officers, you are held to a higher standard of ethics and responsibility; therefore, exhibit proper conduct, and continue to work your hardest.

LEO’s and special agents are in a class of federal employees that deal directly with the public. Decreased manpower across the board may lead to longer hours, increased public scrutiny, and an uptick in law enforcement actions. Don’t allow yourself to become vulnerable to internal investigations and complaints by exhibiting negativity or lacking attention to detail. Pay attention to your interactions with the public to ensure furlough-related tensions do not affect performance.

We cannot say how long this shutdown will last or if essential employees such as yourself will become furloughed. If you believe you are vulnerable to being furloughed, take time now to determine the impact a furlough will have on your ability to meet your financial obligations and come up with a plan to meet those obligations. This is necessary because getting into financial trouble (i.e., unpaid bills and debts, collections, bankruptcy proceedings, etc.) could have employment consequences, such as security clearance and/or disciplinary implications. Be mindful that this includes paying off government-issued credit cards, even if reimbursement has been delayed. Contact your agency for specific guidelines on how to avoid penalization if you are not able to meet these payments on your own.

 If you do receive notice of furlough, you may consider seeking employment outside of your federal position in order to replace lost income. If you choose to take this path, remember that all regulations regarding outside employment are still in place and must be adhered to. Be sure to consult your agency’s guidelines before pursuing an outside job.

For additional advice or questions regarding FEDS professional liability insurance, visit fedsprotection.com or call us at 866-955-FEDS.

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