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School Districts and Businesses Welcome Furloughed Federal Workers

By Michael Klazema on 1/31/2019

On December 22, 2018, the United States government entered a partial shutdown as funding lapsed during an ongoing dispute over appropriations for presidential priorities. A month later, the deadlock continued, and more than 800,000 unpaid government workers faced growing financial pressure after missing two consecutive paychecks. 

The shutdown affects a broader group of people than the already-large number of furloughed federal employees: contractors feel the squeeze, too. Unlike federal employees, who typically receive Congressionally-approved backpay when a shutdown concludes, contractors can lose out on missed pay entirely. 

As the outcome of the wrangling over a potential deal in Congress remained murky, many of those affected were forced to turn to other ways to make ends meet. While some dipped into savings, many others flocked to whatever freelance employment they could find. According to a report by NBC News, ridesharing apps such as Uber and Lyft are a popular choice. The influx of new drivers in some areas, however, has led to a lack of available fares. Others have taken to online odd job platforms such as Fiverr, and still other furloughed employees found temporary work with friends.

In Virginia, where many federal employees live and work, two regional school districts chose to open their doors to those in need of extra income during the shutdown. Fairfax County Public Schools and Alexandria City Public Schools offered furloughed workers the opportunity to take up the role of substitute teacher or after-school tutor. However, that does not mean that the districts are forgoing procedure; potential applicants had to fill out all the typical paperwork of a new hire. 

All furloughed employees had to complete a mandatory background check to ensure suitability for working with children—a multi-jurisdictional criminal record search similar to those offered by backgroundchecks.com. However, the districts pledged to rush the process to ensure that qualified applicants weren’t left waiting. 

Demand was reportedly high, with Fairfax County announcing multiple hiring events due to the large volume of people who turned out for the initial opportunity.

As uncertainty looms, many businesses and charities have opened their doors to assist those put out of work by the shutdown. For companies considering opening their doors to offer temporary employment to furloughed workers, it is important to continue to do due diligence. 

Just as with any temp hire, vetting credentials and consulting criminal background information is essential for making smart hiring decisions. backgroundchecks.com provides a tailored search product aimed at employers hiring temporary workers to streamline the onboarding process and reduce barriers to obtaining vital details. With these tools, it is easier to safely offer a helping hand or better equip your business to tap into temporary labor in the future. 


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