Montana state employees: important info on the federal shutdown and you
Important message to Montana state employees from your union, MEA-MFT, regarding the federal government shutdown:
Oct. 9, 2013 – 5:00 p.m.
Since the federal government shut down last Wednesday, MEA-MFT has been in continual communication with the State of Montana – especially the Governor’s Office of Budget and Program Planning -- to determine how the failure of Congress to adopt a continuing appropriations bill may affect Montana state employees.
As of this time, we wanted to provide you with the following information:
The Governor’s Office of Budget and Program Planning (OBPP) has advised agencies that no employees should be placed on furlough or “leave without pay for lack of funds” status without the agency first exhausting all other resources that could be allocated for that position.
OBPP has also advised that no employees in a 24/7 state facility may be placed on “leave without pay status for lack of funds.”
Agencies must provide written justification to and receive approval from OBPP at least three days prior to placing employees in "leave without pay for lack of funds" status. Employees must receive at least 24 hours’ notice before being placed in this status.
MEA-MFT will be asking for information about all such “Leave without Pay” designations from agencies and will work with the Bullock administration to mitigate or avoid furlough situations wherever possible. We have already worked to do so in one case.
Given that Congress does not seem inclined to pass a continuing resolution to reopen the federal government or continue needed appropriations to state and local agencies, there is a strong possibility that some Montana state employees will be placed on “leave without pay for lack of funds” status as early as this week. OBPP has provided the following guidance regarding this status:
a. Should not report to work or conduct official business and must sign and comply with the attached "Notification of Rights, Benefits, and Responsibilities while in Leave Without Pay for Lack of Funds Status" form.
b. Will receive back pay, including holiday pay, if authorized and funded by Congress.
c. Will not accrue sick or vacation leave and will not be able to use accrued sick, vacation, compensatory time leave, or other paid leave.
d. Will not incur a "break in service" for the purposes of calculating leave accelerator hours or longevity increments.
e. May be eligible to draw unemployment benefits by applying at www.ui4u.mtgov but must repay those benefits if back pay is received upon return to work.
f. Will continue to receive state share contributions toward the employee benefits administered by the Department of Administration Health Care and Benefits Division but the employee will be required to cover normal out of pocket costs.
g. Will be recalled as soon as possible upon resolution of the current Congressional impasse and federal lapse in federal appropriations as outlined in the attached document.
Based on our best information and advice at this time, we encourage any affected MEA-MFT members to take the following steps if notified that you are being placed on “leave without pay for lack of funds” status:
1. Comply with all administration directives regarding leaving your office/workspace, etc.
2. Notify your local union president that you have been placed on “leave without pay for lack of funds” status. If you are given information or directives contrary to any of what is stated above, please inform your local union president of this.
3. File for unemployment benefits here: https://app.mt.gov/ui4u/index While any unemployment benefits will need to be repaid should Congress agree to provide funds for back pay, filing for unemployment benefits is likely the fastest and most readily accessible way to maintain some source of continual income during the unpaid leave.
MEA-MFT members deserve far better than this predicament from our federal government. Regardless, we will stick together throughout this ordeal and will continually provide news and updates about the federal government shutdown and its impact on our members on our website www.mea-mft.org.
We are stronger together!