PUBLISHED: 16:04 EST, 1 October 2013 | UPDATED: 16:37 EST, 1 October 2013
Federal employees who have been furloughed could lose their jobs if they check their work email during the government shutdown.
The prohibition comes from an obscure law known as the Antideficiency Act that was first passed in 1884, the Washington Post reports.
Federal agencies say a violation of the law could result in a termination of employment.
Oklahoma National Guard human resource specialist Major James R Baxter II calls up the notice he was tasked to send to federal employees slated for furlough
The law bars the government from funding certain services during a shutdown, which includes government-issued email addresses.
Agencies could go so far as to take away staff BlackBerrys, but most have instructed employees to power off their phones, instead.
‘Due to legal requirements, working in any way during a period of furlough (even as a volunteer) is grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment,’ reads a letter from the House Administration Committee that was obtained by Politico.
‘To avoid violating this prohibition, we strongly recommend that you turn your BlackBerrys off for the duration of the furlough.’
A man tries to get into the closed Internal Revenue Service’s offices in Midtown after nonessential work was halted due to the United States federal government shutdown in New York, New York
The prohibition against using work email goes into effect the moment that a furlough begins.
That means that if employers haven’t had a chance to notify employees that they have been furloughed before a shutdown goes into effect, they can’t resort to using work email as a means of notification.
The Office of Personnel Management recommends using ‘800 numbers and emails to home email accounts’ once a furlough begins.
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