What the Government Shutdown Means for Employers

By Sue Winkler, Director, EngageHR
Published January 8, 2019

As we enter the third week of the partial government shutdown, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. This is already the second longest shutdown in the past two decades. Over 800,000 federal workers are off the job, and many others are working without a paycheck. This leaves a lot of uncertainty about what’s to come. Here’s what we know.

government shutdownThe Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board have been fully funded for this fiscal year and are staffed and operational. Wage and hour compliance issues, federal contractor compliance, and other responsibilities under these two agencies should be working normally.  

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is also operational, however, there may be some delays with online reporting for those organizations required to file their 2018 data through the ITA (injury tracking application). Data collection was due to start on January 2, and affected employers have until March 2 to upload their information. If the ITA portal is not functional, the recommendation we received is that employers continue to maintain paper forms and try again in mid-February. We anticipate that once again, only the 300A data will be required

The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) is not funded, and of the approximately 2,000 employees, only 103 are on the clock. Many people may only be working part-time. What does this mean?

  • Employers will not be able to receive any information on pending or closed charges.
  • The EEOC will not be able to respond to any inquiries. 
  • Transactions submitted via their website will not be processed.
  • Employers may still receive a Notice of Charge of Discrimination but the portal to view and submit documentation is not available.
  • There will be no training or outreach services available.
  • During the shutdown, mediation services for the private and federal sectors will be cancelled until further notice if previously scheduled. 
  • Federal sector hearings and appeals will be accepted during the shutdown.
  • There may be a delay in being able to file EEO-1 reports.

The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) will not be issuing any refunds to individuals or employers during the shutdown. Call sites are down, and audits and exams are on hold.  

ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) continues to employ 80% of their staff, and there is no expectation that there will be a slowdown or significant delay in I-9 audits and other enforcement activities.  

Most USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) offices are open and are operating normally. However, E-Verify is not available during the shutdown. Employers are not able to enroll in E-Verify, create a case, delete or edit an account, update company information, terminate an account, or run reports.

Employees are not able to resolve Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC) issues. The three-day rule has been suspended for cases impacted by the site being unavailable. Based on prior shutdowns, it is anticipated that the time to resolve TNCs will be extended by the number of days the system is down. Also, it is recommended that no negative action be taken against employees whose case is in interim status. This includes employees who have a TNC, if employee data needs to be reviewed or updated, if a verification by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is in process, or if an employee’s case with the Social Security Administration or DHS (Department of Homeland Security) is in continuance.  

The U.S. Small Business Administration is also on furlough, which results in part in small business loan processing being suspended.

In general, despite the furloughs, employers shouldn’t assume that any deadline will be extended during this time. 

We are now 17 days into the partial shutdown. It is uncertain when and how our government will resolve the issues it faces. If your business is directly impacted by the shutdown, keep your employees as informed as possible.  During uncertain times like this, transparent communication will be imperative to the continued engagement of your staff.  

At HR Source, we will continue to monitor this situation to keep our members informed. Members with questions should contact the HR Hotline at hotline@hrsource.org or 800-448-4584.  

 

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