Unemployment not available for essential workers, credit unions offer help

Posted at 11:06 PM, Jan 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-12 01:06:38-05

BOISE — Not only does today mark day 21 of the government shutdown, but it also marks what should be payday for hundreds of thousands of federal workers.

Around 800,000 federal workers, more than half still on the job didn't get a paycheck today.

That's, of course, having impacts nationwide, and here in Idaho, it’s affecting nearly 11,000 workers. Lucky for some, there are financial aid options:

"A worker who is unemployed, regardless of who they work for, including the federal government, when they are unemployed or partially unemployed, can file a claim for unemployment," said Josh McKenna, the Benefits Bureau Chief at the Idaho Department of Labor.

But that's only if the worker is one of the non-essential federal employees, those are the workers who are furloughed and not reporting to work. While on the other hand, essential workers don’t get the same treatment.

"Individuals that are the essential employees are not considered unemployed because they are currently working, if they are working full time, they are not able to file under our state law," said Josh McKenna

In other words, those full-time government employees, still reporting to work over the last three weeks, they're not eligible for those unemployment benefits, even while they haven't been receiving a paycheck. That's where banks and credit unions nationwide, are stepping in.

"We have several options available that we're offering, so one of them being waiving late fees or overdraft fees, if that's needed. The other option is that we're doing a payday advance, so a 0% signature loan," said CheRanda Brogan, Assistant Manager at the Idaho Central Credit Union Nampa branch.

Those options available state-wide for Idaho Central Credit Union members who have had a loss of income due to the government shutdown.

"There's a 3-month repayment period after the initial 60-days," said Brogan.

With no end in sight for the government shutdown, it's an offer ICCU plans to continue for the time being.

Even those federal workers who are receiving unemployment are essentially getting a loan.

"If our government does come back and pay these employees for the time they were off, they would need to repay that money to us," said McKenna

Vice President Mike Pence stated all of the agencies affected by the shutdown will be paid in full when the government reopens.

For more information on the benefits for non-essential workers, click here.