Why does the government have “nonessential” employees?
“Nothing improves workplace morale like labeling some employees ‘essential’ and others ‘nonessential,’” Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s communications director, Nu Wexler, wrote on Twitter Wednesday.
For staffers working for lawmakers, it is up to their individual offices to decide the category under which they fall in the event of a shutdown. “Nonessential” employees are placed on “unpaid, nonwork” status. “Essentials” must report for duty. Both could receive back pay if Congress approves funds in an appropriations bill, but that’s not guaranteed. Many staffers said Thursday they still had not been told whether they were “essential” or not…
An employee who “knowingly and willingly” shows up to work despite being deemed non-essential is subject to a criminal penalty of up to $5,000 and/or two years imprisonment, according to the documents.