Q & A Session – FEHB Coverage and FMLA When Furloughed


Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.


If the government shuts down, would furloughed employees retain their Federal Employee Health Benefits coverage? If a federal employee were on FMLA leave during a furlough, would the time on the furlough be deducted from the leave time? Can a federal employee use accrued paid leave during a furlough?


In the event of a government shutdown, the Office of Personnel Management has assured employees that even if they are furloughed, they would remain covered by the FEHB program. OPM also explains that no FMLA leave will be deducted for time spent on furlough; instead all leave taken during a furlough will be credited as furlough time. Federal law generally prohibits an employee from taking any paid leave during a furlough because it creates a debt not authorized by the Antideficiency Act (31 USC 1341 et seq.), and employees would not accrue additional leave time while on furlough.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw, Bransford & Roth, PC.

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