Shutdown means double pay for Oregon federal workers

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by Shelby Sebens| Northwest Watchdog

How about we send you home and give you twice your normal salary? Sound like a good deal?

In Oregon, about 1,300 federal workers will get double the pay for time off during the 16-day partial government shutdown.

DOUBLE DIP: Federal workers in Oregon will get double the pay for time off the job.

Because of an administrative rule in the Beaver State, Oregon officials cannot require those federal employees to pay back state unemployment benefits they received during the shutdown despite the fact they are getting back pay from their employer, said Craig Spivey, public information officer for the Oregon Employment Department.

The rule was written to help private sector workers on long layoffs, Spivey said. With another government shutdown possible in a mere months, Oregon will take another look at this regulation, he said.

“We are currently reviewing that rule in lieu of this situation,” he told Northwest Watchdog. “The rule that was written was not written for this type of situation.”

In addition to federal labor laws, each state has its own administrative rules, so Oregon may be alone in letting federal workers double dip on the taxpayers’ dime.

Spivey said about 4,400 federal workers in Oregon applied for unemployment benefits during the shutdown and 1,300 were eligible. He said the rule applies because, until this week, lawmakers hadn’t passed a resolution guaranteeing the back pay for government employees. He said workers who were off this week won’t be eligible for unemployment benefits because Congress passed a bill to provide them back pay.

Spivey said the total dollar amount of state unemployment benefits to those federal employees is still being calculated.

UPDATE (10/25/2013): Oregon federal workers must repay jobless benefits

Contact Shelby Sebens at [email protected]

Northwest Watchdog is a project of the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity