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What We Know About When Federal Workers Will Return And When They'll Be Paid

After the 35-day shutdown, thousands of federal workers will be back on the job.

On Friday night, President Donald Trump signed a three-week funding plan to temporarily get the government back up and running after a 35-day shutdown.

Some 800,000 federal workers were either punching the clock without pay or furloughed altogether, leaving all missing two paychecks while many struggled to stay afloat.

So when will they be back on the job? According to the Office of Personnel Management’s guide on resuming operations, “all furloughed federal employees are required to return to work on their next regularly scheduled work day,” but they’re asked to “refer to their own agency for communications and guidance on resumption of duties.”

The Office of Management and Budget has published a more detailed checklist for agencies to advise them on how to handle the reopening. However, it doesn’t provide a specific timeline, rather it suggests well-planned communication with employees and ensuring that staffing is sufficient before restarting operations.

Overall, official opening dates for agencies appear to be up to each individual one.

The National Park Service has already announced its intention to reopen its spaces across the country. In a statement Friday, it noted that “the schedule for individual parks may vary depending on staff size and complexity of operations,” but many parks have remained accessible throughout the shutdown regardless.

The NPS clarified that while the parks that closed may not be reopened right away, but “we will work to open all parks as quickly as possible.”

Museums will also be able to reopen, bringing some federal workers back. The Smithsonian announced on Twitter that each of its locations in addition to the National Zoo will be running by Tuesday.

USDA Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue assured in a statement that the agency “will prepare for a smooth reestablishment of USDA functions,” though no date was given.

The president has already signed legislation that guarantees backpay for all employees, and we will move forward on that as soon as possible. Meanwhile, we will prepare for a smooth reestablishment of USDA functions.

With the government owing at least two pay cycles’ worth of wages to federal employees, it is not yet clear when the money will be seen. According to The Washington Post, workers may not see the missing paychecks until next week.

Regarding backpay at the USDA, Perdue has said that the agency “will move forward on that as soon as possible.” 

On Friday morning before news that the shutdown was ending, the Transportation Security Administration announced it would give most of its workers a “partial payment” for pay period 26. Politico reported that encompasses the time around which the shutdown began from Dec. 23 to Jan. 5.

As noted in a CBS News report, the next pay day for all workers will be Feb. 8, so in the worst case scenario, they would have to wait until then to receive at least some of the money they are owed. However, that would be the latest possible date.

A senior administration official told the outlet that employees should direct specific questions on pay to their respective agencies.

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