Government Shutdown & How It Affects Your Business
About 800,000 non-critical federal employees are out of the office today, and will remain out until Congress overcomes the impasse regarding the Affordable Care Act. In the meantime, the government shutdown – the first since 1996 – will affect more than your travel plans, but also your business.
1. Courts: Federal Courts will remain open, and operate for the first 10 or so business days as usual. As funding dries up, non-critical employees will have to be furloughed, which means a potential slowing of the judicial process.
2. Commercial Finance: Those seeking business loans and loan guarantees will see their plans impeded. The Small Business Administration saw an influx of loan applications just before the shutdown, which will slow the review process once the SBA resumes operations.
3. Contracted Projects and Construction: Companies with government contracts may not be able to apply for and obtain permits and reviews. Construction projects will shut down.
4. Corporate Strategy: Ready to alert the Federal Trade Commission of anti-competitive practices or unlawful trading? You’ll have to wait. (The Security and Exchange Commission is open, for now.)
5. Employer Defense: Employers, you may get a bit of a breather if you’re facing employee wage and hour, discrimination, or other claims.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will continue to process claims, but will not conduct investigations or participate in scheduled mediations. The EEOC will continue to accept charges for filing, to preserve claimants’ rights.
The National Labor Relations Board will not process charges (though special circumstances apply), and will postpone hearings.
The Department of Labor will investigate incidents involving serious injury or death and will continue some operations with minimal staff.
Employee Hiring: The E-Verify system of the Department of Homeland Security has been shutdown, which means employers will be unable to process I-9 work authorizations for the time being. You can submit late verifications when DHS resumes full operations.
6. Environmental Law: The Environmental Protection Agency has mostly gone dark, though a few EPA projects that are not government-funded, and some considered emergency activities, will continue operating.
7. Intellectual Property: The U.S. Copyright Office, as well as its Public Information Office and Tech Support services, are closed. It’s still possible to file a Copyright Application, but clients won’t get results until the staff comes back to work.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office is open, and will remain open for about four weeks. The PTO will shut down when they run out of reserve funds, and continue to run with minimal staff.
It’s not all bad news.
The U.S. Postal Service is considered a private company, so you’ll still be able to send and receive mail. The Social Security Administration will continue to send checks, and NASA will continue to keep the lights on in their control rooms for our astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
But for those of us doing business on a day-to-day basis, we can only hope this shutdown won’t last for very long.
Tal Grinblat is a Franchise & Trademark Lawyer, and Stephen T. Holzer is an Environmental & Business Litigation Attorney. Contact either of them via email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com.