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Federal government shutdown continues to affect Oregon workers

The impact of the October 2013 federal government shutdown still lingers among federal workers.
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    December 07, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Federal government shutdown continues to affect Oregon workers

Because of a failure by Congress to pass legislation to appropriate funds for the government to operate during fiscal year 2014, the federal government shut down for 16 days in October 2013. While Pres. Obama and congressional leaders eventually worked out a deal for a continuing resolution for an interim appropriation of funds to give Congress until January 2014 to reach a budget deal, the impact of the shutdown still lingers among federal workers.

Oregon workers must repay unemployment benefits

About 730 Oregon federal employees applied for and received unemployment benefits totaling about $390,000 during the federal government shutdown. Workers applied for unemployment because they had no idea how long the government would remain shutdown and whether Congress would vote to provide federal employees with back pay once the government resumed operations. The state paid the federal employees their unemployment benefits believing that it would be reimbursed by the federal government, since Oregon law allows workers to keep unemployment benefits, even if the workers receive back pay, as long as the workers did not actually perform any work during the time they were receiving unemployment benefits.

However, the Labor Department announced in late October 2013 that federal employees who received unemployment benefits during the shutdown would need to repay those benefits, as federal employees would be receiving back pay for the time the government was shutdown.

Many workers still struggling after shutdown

Even though the government is up and running again, the financial hit that some employees took continues. Many contract employees who work in federal buildings in low-wage positions such as janitors or food servers did not receive back pay because they were not direct employees of the government. Essentially, these workers, many of who only make minimum wage, were without paychecks for two weeks because they do not have benefits such as paid leave time that other employees have.

For those who live paycheck to paycheck, having no income can send them into a financial tailspin. Some reported being unable to pay for basic necessities such as gasoline, utilities and health insurance, leaving them with no recourse if they were to get injured in an accident.

Speak with an attorney

The struggles of federal employees in the wake of the government shutdown show how often employers, both private businesses and the government take their employees for granted. Employees work hard each day at their jobs, and employers do not always acknowledge this. In some cases, when employees are injured on the job, these employers fight not to have to pay workers' compensation benefits, even though they are obligated to do so by law. If you have been injured on the job, speak with a skilled workers' compensation attorney who can help you obtain the benefits you need to help you recover from your injury and get back to work.

Article provided by Alvey Law Group
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