How The Government Shutdown Affects Employers


In any shutdown of the federal government, the media is quick to report on whether federal employees are “essential” or “non-essential.”  Make whatever joke you want, but most federal employees of agencies that deal with the workplace are considered non-essential and are not showing up to work today.  Here is a quick breakdown of shutdown staffing for those agencies:

National Labor Relations Board:  Of its 1,161 employees, only 11 will be working (they include the five Board members and the Acting General Counsel).  All field offices are closed.  Employers who are going through the representation process or dealing with an unfair labor practice charge will see those processes grind to a halt.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Of its 2,164 employees, only 107 will be working.  New charges can still be filed during the shutdown and litigation will continue if judges do not grant continuances.  But, the EEOC will not investigate charges, file new lawsuits, conduct mediations or process FOIA requests during the shutdown.

U.S. Department of Labor:  The division of the DOL which deals with FLSA enforcement will furlough nearly all of its staff.  Employers involved with an audit or investigation should expect them to stop during the shutdown.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration: OSHA will temporarily cease all operations except in emergency situations, namely those which “present a high risk of death or serious physical harm.

We will continue to keep you posted of developments with the government shutdown as it continues.  While most Washington observers think the shutdown will be brief, Congress has defied expectations in the past and if the shutdown continues, the agencies may shift their priorities and some of the affected services may resume.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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