- On Friday, the Office of Personnel Management tweeted three sample letters that furloughed federal employees could send to landlords, creditors, and mortgage companies to explain why, thanks to the government shutdown, they might be unable to pay their bills.
- One of the letters suggested furloughed employees could offer to do chores and other services for their landlords in lieu of paying rent.
- The suggestion was quickly rebuked on Twitter. A day latter, the OPM said the letters had been published by accident.
We are currently on day nine of the government shutdown which means that, for more than a week, federal employees have been working without pay – or not working at all.
For many, this means delays in bill and rent payments. On Friday, the Office of Personnel Management, a federal agency, shared three sample letters federal employees could send to their landlords, creditors and mortgage companies explaining why they would be unable to make their monthly payments thanks to the government shutdown. In one of the letters, the OPM told employees they should offer to do chores instead of paying rent.
“I would like to discuss with you the possibility of trading my services to perform maintenance (e.g. painting, carpentry work) in exchange for partial rent payments,” the sample letter to landlords said. On its tweet, the OPM told furloughed employees it could not provide legal advice and instead encouraged them to get lawyers if needed.
The rebuke online was swift. Soon after, on Saturday, the office told the Washington Post the letters had been posted by accident.
“OPM – itself acting with limited resources during the furlough period – inadvertently posted a legacy document from the 2013 shutdown,” the statement said. “Although most federal employees have yet to miss a paycheck, OPM recognises that many employees are concerned about the financial implications of a continued lapse.”
The three letters were originally shared to furloughed employees during the 2013 government shutdown. The letters, the OPM said, have been updated. The link on the original Tweet now leads to a download that makes two of the three letters available – the ones to creditors and mortgage companies.
On Twitter, users spoke up against the original letters, saying the suggestion that workers should do chores for their landlords in exchange of rent was insulting.
After a long week of working without compensation, who wouldn't love to conduct the rest of their life on the barter system?
— Eric Williams (@Eric_Williams_1) December 28, 2018
This is one of the dumbest and most insulting tweets I’ve ever read. No landlord is going to let you mow a lawn in exchange for rent. No creditor cares. They want $$. And who in heck has an atty?
— Susan Joliver ????????☮️????️???? (@SeekingSusie) December 28, 2018
Sure because if you can't afford rent you can afford an attorney
— Erase Rewind (@EraseRewind1) December 28, 2018
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