Union says IRS worker absences expected to surge amid shutdown

The National Treasury Employees Union on Tuesday said Internal Revenue Service (IRS) worker absences are expected to surge amid the partial government shutdown, The Washington Post reported.

Hundreds of IRS employees will likely skip work as part of a coordinated protest as the shutdown continues into its fourth week, National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) President Tony Reardon and other union officials told the Post.

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“They are definitely angry that they’re not getting paid, and maybe some of them are angry enough to express their anger this way,” Reardon told the Post. “But these employees live paycheck to paycheck, and they can’t scrape up the dollars to get to work or pay for child care.”

The Trump administration last week ordered tens of thousands of IRS workers to return to work; they are expected to miss their second paycheck next week.

Labor groups say that some IRS employees are taking advantage of a provision that allows them to skip work if they suffer "hardship," according to the Post.

“I have fielded no less than 30 to 40 calls, emails or text messages about hardship requests from employees daily since Thursday,” Shannon Ellis, president of the NTEU’s Chapter 66 in Kansas, told the newspaper.

IRS offices across the country are reportedly experiencing a spike in absences as part of the protest.

The IRS is headed into its busiest time of the year, raising the possibility that millions of Americans will receive their tax refunds later than usual.

The partial shutdown, the longest in U.S. history, has affected nine federal agencies, as well as several smaller offices, leading to hundreds of thousands of federal employees being furloughed or required to work without pay.