Who keeps working during a government shutdown?

When a government shuts down due to a budget crisis (ala New Jersey) who still works? Appartently half the NJ state police didn’t show up for work and those that did aren’t being payed. Who enforces the law? What about prison guards and staff? They can’t just lock the inmates in their cells and leave. On a federal level who keeps working besides the military?

IIRC most of them. Even though they are not being paid at the moment their hours are logged and they will all be paid with interest for funds from missed paydays. Usually this is part of the contract with their respective unions. It takes some pretty epic budget failures to get fire and police forces to walk off a job. Its not like the govt is going to suddenly file for bankruptcy and leave you with nothing. You may be laid off for a bit, but one way or another you eventually get paid.

I remember one period during a budget “crisis” in New York when we were given what were essentially IOU’s instead of paychecks.

Ha. The government collects interest on late payments, it doesn’t pay interest.

All security staff in NY prisons have been working without a contract for years. We finally went to arbitration (which the state dragged their feet on for months). Then we went through the whole arbitration process (more foot dragging). Finally, we got a contract. Then we waited a couple of months for the state to actually sign the contract. Now we’re waiting for the state to actually start following the terms of the contract and begin paying us. And what will we get as compensation for all these delays? Nothing.

Meanwhile, the Taylor Law says we have to keep working and can’t threaten a strike as long as the state continues to negotiate “in good faith”.

In the federal government, certain employees are designated as “essential” personnel. (Which I guess makes the rest of us superfluous?) In our law office, IIRC approximately 3 essentials out of a staff of 60. Historically, when there have been brief shutdowns, everyone but the eseentials have been sent home, with instructions that they were not permitted to work. (Darn!)
The kicker is, it has proven more expensive to process the pay cut for the missed time than to just pay us as usual, so we have gotten paid for the time we were sent home.
Not sure what the situation is on a local level. Would presume a far greater percentage of LEOs, ait traffic controllers, and such would be deemed “essential” than a bunch of lawyers.

In this particular case, though, it has nothing to do with a contract. Everyone has a contract. The Great State of NJ, having no budget, has no (official) funds to expend and no authorization to write a check.

AFAIK from my contacts in the state employee ranks, people such as prison guards, police, etc. are still at work – essential people in basic safety are still working. However, the list of who’s not working is quite long: workers at state parks and casinos, employment and unemployment offices, motor vehicle department, state medicare and medicaid offices. And more.

State of NJ employee checking in.

I’m employed in an Unemployment call center and am considered an essential employee. This means I and my coworkers are working.

However those people employed at the local unemployment offices are not considered essential and are not working.

Well my break is over and I have to get back to work.

A couple of years ago, Minnesota went through this. Like stated above, the jobs are classified as essential and non-essential. From here

I can’t speak for state, my mother is federal and this was the situation as she explained it. Then again maybe they like the department of the treasury during a financial crisis.

We had a shutdown here in Kentucky two years ago. I was at a Governor’s scholar’s camp at the time (state run) and the gummint decided that a few hundred seventeen-year-olds playing Ultimate Frisbee on the state’s dime was an essential use of money. Apparently, the bar is set very low.

I work for the PA Department of Public Welfare, and we were recently reassured during the recent budget negotiations that even if there was an impasse, we were all considered essential employees and would continue working even without a budget.

That is (or was) true of most state governments. They pay all bills with “warrants”. And all members of the US armed forces receive ‘paychecks’ that are actually “warrants”.

Such “warrants” are essentially demand drafts written against a government treasury. They generally function like checks. But unlike checks, they are not a guarantee that the funds are available to pay them. So they don’t ‘bounce’ like NSF checks, you are just told that they cannot be honored at this time, come back again some other day. No legal consequences to the payer for not having the money available at that time.

During the depression, many state, local, and school employees who were paid with warrants had to wait for a while to be able to cash them. Sometimes unscrupulous banks or financiers took advantage of them by offering to buy their “warrants” for less than the face value.

Many governments have now moved away from “warrants”, especially as they go to direct deposit paychecks, electronic benefits payments for welfare & unemployment, etc.

I’m considered “essential” and have to report to work during a hurricane (well not during, but as soon as practicable afterwards) even though my only job is dead people.

Go figure. Of all the people you would think could wait –

During the Federal budget shutdown in 2000, a military/civilian organization I worked with shut down. The DoD civilians were told “do not show up” and did not; the military members showed up to continue doing their jobs and fill in as best they could for the civilians. I remember military guys griping that the civilians had gotten a three week vacation with pay but the military had to work longer harder shifts for three weeks and didn’t get paid until the budget passed. Once it was over I think the unit Commander gave most of the military guys one- or two-day passes and got permission to spend his discretionary funds for “The Chiefs’ Fund” which takes care of airmen who are living paycheck-to-paycheck. It worked out okay in the end, but the guys who worked through it were awfully sore about the whole thing, especially if the civilians grumbled about how the military get more leave than the civilians.