I think in a private sector situation (and I'm in the Pacific NW, so weather related no-work days are few and far between), but both in California and Oregon, through a variety of professional and menial jobs, I've never worked somewhere where an "act of God" or similar prevented a person from going to work, but entitled them to pay.
I never said anything about being "entitled." That's a bit of a loaded term, which is exactly why I said a "good" employer. What you're saying implies that the employee somehow has some control over whether or not they get paid.
Nothing prevented all those federal employees from filing for unemployment, and at least according to TV interviews with folks affected, many did, so they were already in the system. It would make sense that one part of the government saving money by shutting down a bunch of departments, wouldn't really save money, since another department would now start paying them (although you get that unemployment benefits would only pay a fraction of their standard salary, right?). But that's not how the government does budgeting. It's department-specific. DHS has this budget. EPA has this budget. It's not like if one goes over budget, another department gets their budget slashed to balance (like any intelligent company would do)
The government isn't a for-profit company and it shouldn't be run like one. Ether way, we're still operating under the sequester and the one budget that should absolutely get cut, never will be. I'm sure we agree on which one.
The benefits of federal employment have historically been job security, retirement/pension, and health benefits. Their salaries are lower than private, but that's the sales pitch for government jobs. I don't see ethically or logically, why it wouldn't be just to tell them to use PTO for the time away from the office, or don't get paid. What's far more likely, is that nobody in Congress wants to bring wrath to their entire party (well aware of the irony in this) by saying "we caused you guys to be out of work AND we're not paying you".
Why not just eliminate unemployment insurance at that rate?
Here's a question. If a furloughed employee was receiving unemployment benefits (likely the most they would've received is about one check, assuming it's paid out every two weeks), then they also get backpay, shouldn't they have to pay back the unemployment?
I'm pretty sure it takes more than a week to start collecting once you submit a claim. The unemployment office also verifies employment status and checks the earnings with the former employer to calculate the benefit. Frankly, I find it very hard to believe that anyone would be approved to collect benefits even for that one week. If someone slips through the cracks and actually collected something, I highly doubt that it would be worth it to even pursue it. It'd end up like the drug testing for benefits in Florida: it costs more money to find the fraud than the money saved from finding it. Spending $10 to fix something that will only cost me $5 in less than half the time is a fool's errand. Me? I'm a pragmatist. No system is perfect and there will always be a loophole or someone slipping through.