How Employers are Affected During the Government Shutdown

By Kelsey Basten

Published on Jan. 15, 2019

The shutdown began on Dec. 22, 2018, and has continued for 25 days, making it the longest federal government shutdown in history. Now more than ever, employers are feeling the challenges that come along with it. Here are some of the areas in which employers are most affected:


All E-Verify operations come to a halt during a government shutdown, as system funding is completely stopped. Employers will not be able to process new hires and verify an applicant’s eligibility to work. Also, employers will not be able to view cases, change or create an account, or access any of E-Verify’s customer support.

So, what should employers do during this downtime? Employment experts don’t recommend stopping all hiring. Employers may complete their I-9 forms and submit them once E-Verify becomes available again. However, it is important for employers to be mindful of the backlog of new cases that will most likely exist in the E-Verify system once it is back up and running.

Federal Agencies

Several employment-related federal agencies will not operate during a shutdown. During the shutdown of October 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics stopped monitoring labor market activity and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ceased processing cases, stalling the management of employer-union relations.

A few other enforcement agencies will either shut down completely or be maintained by minimal staffing, such as:

  • The Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Federal Contractors

Federal contractors may be feeling the effects of the shutdown as well. When funding ceases, federal contractors will possibly not get paid, depending on the circumstance. For businesses with contracts to provide goods and services to the federal government, the best thing you can do is check the terms of your contract and communicate with your contracting officer prior to the shutdown. Doing so will be key to making the best possible decisions if a government shutdown occurs.

In the future, employers can mitigate the effects of a federal government shutdown by being proactive in their hiring decisions and communicating with contracting officers where applicable.

This Labor Law News Blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

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