Governor Polis Announces Expanded Benefits to Federal Workers Impacted by Shutdown

Friday, January 18, 2019

DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis announced today that federal workers in Colorado who are required to report to work yet whose pay is being withheld, known as excepted workers - are now permitted to file a claim for jobless benefits.

While all salaries of federal workers impacted by the shutdown will be retroactively paid, under most scenarios when people are working full time with the promise of a future pay date, they are not eligible for state unemployment benefits. Only furloughed workers are eligible to file a claim for unemployment benefits, not those who are working without pay.

“Those federal employees who are required to report for work are feeling the same economic squeeze as those who have been furloughed. They should not be denied the immediate financial assistance provided by unemployment benefits while being mandated to show up to work,” Governor Jared Polis said. “I have authorized an emergency rule that makes all unpaid federal workers eligible for unemployment benefits, whether they are reporting for work or not.”

U.S. government workers who have not yet filed an unemployment claim can apply online at The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment also has information about filing a claim posted at that same web address. Among the things federal employees should know when filing:

  • All federal workers, both those who are working and those who have been furloughed, will have to repay the unemployment benefits they received after they have recovered their lost wages;

  • There is a mandatory one-week waiting period before the claim is activated;

  • Unlike most claimants, the federal workers impacted by the shutdown are considered “job attached,” which means they are not required to conduct a job search during their furlough;

  • Furloughed federal employees are permitted to work up to 32 hours a week and still apply for benefits.

The Department of Labor and Employment estimates that there are about 53,200 full- and part-time federal workers in Colorado and that 2,416 of them have filed for benefits since the first week of the shutdown that started Dec. 22, 2018.

Additional assistance through state or local human services organizations may be available for federal employees, including food, housing, legal and medical expenses. Coloradans can find their local human services county office on the CDHS website. Additional resources can be found on the Department of Labor’s website at