The Department of Defense is ordering most of its furloughed civilian employees back to work, in a move announced just after midday Saturday. The plan will put hundreds of thousands of workers back on the job next week.
"Today, I am announcing that most DoD civilians placed on emergency furlough during the government shutdown will be asked to return to work beginning next week," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement.
Hagel said he believes the Pentagon can "significantly reduce but not eliminate civilian furloughs under this process," Defense News reports.
The recall would affect "most of the some 400,000 civilian Defense Department employees sent home during the government shutdown," Reuters reports, citing a U.S. Defense official.
"We have tried to exempt as many DoD civilian personnel as possible from furloughs," Hagel said. "We will continue to try to bring all civilian employees back to work as soon as possible."
The Defense employee recall stems from the "Pay Our Military Act," legislation passed by Congress and enacted by President Obama earlier this week.
The bill allows the Pentagon to pay troops and some civilians. Hagel says the law "does not permit a blanket recall of all civilians," but it can be used to bring back workers who support service personnel.
As of Thursday, Defense workers told Stars and Stripes that they were confused about which employees the bill covers.
"I think it is important that our community understands that currently, teachers are still teaching their children with no idea when a paycheck will come," a teacher in the Defense Department of Defense Education Activity wrote to the news agency. The educators have continued to work in the shutdown.
In the days leading up to Monday's shutdown deadline, Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter told Pentagon employees that under a lapse in funding, "All military personnel would continue in a normal duty status; however, a large number of our civilian employees would be temporarily furloughed."
News of the recall comes hours after the House of Representatives passed a bill approving back pay for the roughly 800,000 federal workers who were idled by the government shutdown that began Tuesday.