Vermont’s Republican governor and Democratically controlled Legislature have managed to do what elected officials in Washington, D.C., so far have not: provide financial relief to the federal workers forced to work without pay during the partial government shutdown.
In a memorandum issued Monday, and made public Tuesday, Gov. Phil Scott directed the Vermont Department of Labor to offer unemployment benefits to all federal workers affected by the shutdown.
The directive, issued by Scott after conferring with legislative leadership in the House and Senate, will ensure that “essential” and “excepted” federal employees will be treated in the same way as their “furloughed” counterparts.
Furloughed federal workers — employees who both aren’t going to work and aren’t getting paid — are already eligible for unemployment benefits. But essential employees forced to work without pay have until now been ineligible for unemployment, by virtue of their active employment status.