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How to Handle FMLA Leave During a Government Shutdown | Leah Shepherd

​During a government shutdown, there will inevitably be some federal employees and government contractors who are scheduled to be out on vacation, paid time off, or Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave. HR professionals need to understand how to properly administer that leave, which would become unpaid.

The federal government shut down on Oct. 1 when Congress couldn’t pass a spending bill to fund federal agencies and services.

“In the context of a government shutdown, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) specifically advises employees on FMLA leave that they begin a leave without pay, since there is no work schedule from which to take FMLA leave. At that point, all FMLA and paid time off during a shutdown furlough period is cancelled, since the requirement to furlough supersedes employee FMLA leave requests and any other paid time off,” said Jeff Nowak, an attorney with Littler in Chicago.

Any previously scheduled FMLA leave would not be deducted from the employee’s FMLA entitlement during a furlough, Nowak confirmed.

During regular government operations, it’s common for workers to use their paid time off concurrently with their unpaid FMLA leave, so they don’t have to go without pay. In addition, federal employees are eligible for paid parental leave under a leave provision signed into law in 2019.

Various types of paid leave, such as vacation days, parental leave, military leave, court leave, and bone marrow or organ donor leave, would become unpaid and not count…

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