Federal Workers Should Be Wary of Outside Employment During Furloughs
Federal workers are facing being laid off several days without pay; they’re being advised not to seek private sector employment to make up the difference.
WaPo Federal Eye (“Army cautions about outside employment during furloughs“):
The Army has warned its civilian employees that obtaining or even seeking outside employment while furloughed could trigger ethical considerations that would require approval from management and potentially affect their regular jobs.
The guidance, posted online Friday, comes as the Army along with the rest of the Defense Department prepares to furlough most employees for 11 days over three months starting the week of July 8, and as employees face the resulting loss of income.
“Army employees should be mindful that they remain subject to the ‘normal’ ethics rules (e.g., Joint Ethics Regulation), when furloughed,” the guidance says.
For example, it says, “Once an employee starts to seek outside employment, the employee is disqualified from personally and substantially participating in a particular matter that will have a direct and predictable effect on the financial interests of a current or prospective employer.”
The Office of Government Ethics and the Office of Personnel Management have sent similar warnings, saying that ethical restrictions continue to apply because furloughed workers remain federal employees; they are placed in a status akin to other forms of leave without pay such as parental leave.
This is, of course, both wildly unfair and absolutely necessary. The furloughs are a breach of a good faith understanding people have when taking employment with the government; working for private sector companies that create a conflict of interest would be a greater breach, however, and can’t be tolerated.