As the government shutdown drags on, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees have been granted permission to skip out on work if they are experiencing financial hardship, reports the Washington Post. The announcement comes days after the White House ordered roughly 30,000 IRS employees back to work in order to avoid delays in tax refunds.
“After a month with no pay, real hardship does exist for IRS employees, including not having the money needed to get back and forth to work or to pay for the child care necessary to return to work right now,” said Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union.
Along with the employees who are unable to take on the costs associated with reporting to work, there are those who are expected to stay home as a coordinated protest. Either action is likely to cripple government functions.
One union president in Kentucky told the Post that she has fielded 30-40 hardship requests daily since Trump called IRS employees back to work last Thursday. It’s left many teams with little to no workers.
Hardship exemptions allow IRS employees to skip work without taking sick days and their managers are required to approve them. Although the IRS will not confirm how many people are currently on hardship leave, but estimates signal a troublesome filing season.
American taxpayers are supposed to start filing on January 28, but with far fewer people reporting to work, refund checks are expected to be severely delayed.
The IRS is just one of many government agencies experiencing pushback from employees. The number of TSA workers reporting to across the nation is on a steady decline. Guards at federal prisons are also skipping work, posing a threat to national security. As for the USDA, the Post reports that meat inspectors called out at such high numbers, it triggered an agency crackdown. Now employees are required to bring in a doctor’s note for missing even just one day of work.