Big Companies Jump In to Help Employees, Clients Amid Shutdown

January 11, 2019, 6:38 PM UTC

About 800,000 federal workers are about to miss their first checks in a partial government shutdown that’s now poised to become the longest in U.S. history. Among staff who won’t get paid Friday are law enforcement officers, NASA engineers and office workers across the country.

Some large corporations are jumping in to give a financial break to those workers — who are also their customers. Here’s the rundown:

Bank Fees, Loans

Major banks including Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. are offering to waive fees or modify loans for affected workers. JPMorgan Chase & Co., the biggest U.S. lender, said Thursday it has been automatically waiving or refunding monthly service and overdraft fees for government employees with checking or savings accounts since Dec. 24. U.S. Bancorp said Friday it’s created a new loan of up to $6,000 available to federal government employees who are customers of the bank.

Car Leases

Toyota Motor Corp. is offering extensions on car loans and leases of as much as two months, calling it a “broad outreach” to furloughed workers but also contractors and suppliers and businesses directly affected by the shutdown. JPMorgan is also extending payments on car loans and leases.

Phone, Web Services

All the big U.S. carriers are pitching in with payment options, including AT&T Inc., Sprint Corp., and T-Mobile US Inc. Verizon Communications Inc., the largest wireless carrier in the country, told customers affected the company is “here for you,” with options to keep their services running such a “promise to pay” program that let them pay later. AT&T promised to adjust late fees and provide extensions as long as the shutdown is in effect. T-Mobile and Sprint, which are in the process of merging, also offer help in the form of payment deferrals, among other things.

On a lighter note, popular D.C.-based salad chain Sweetgreen is giving away free salads to federal employees. “We’ve come a long way since that tiny tavern in Georgetown, but the district will always be home. This Friday, many Federal government employees will go without a paycheck due to the shutdown. We hope to provide some small relief by taking care of dinner. Visit any location in DMV this weekend (1/11 – 1/13) from 6-8pm and receive a free signature salad with your Federal government ID,” the company said on its Instagram page.

And, another company got creative and turned the shutdown into a business opportunity to give unpaid federal workers some love. Adam & Eve, a Hillsborough, North Carolina-based seller of sex toys and erotica, is offering a special 50 percent discount for federal employees “just in time for Valentine’s Day.”