US President Donald Trump has ordered thousands of furloughed government employees back to work without pay during a partial government shutdown.
A total of 46,052 Internal Revenue Service (IRS) staff will return to work to fulfil tax refunds as the shutdown – which has affected around a quarter of government agencies – enters its 26th day.
The employees, who represent 57.4 per cent of the IRS workforce, will join other public sector workers including airport staff and prison guards, who have been working without pay.
“This IRS Shutdown Contingency Plan for fiscal year 2019 reflects a total of 46,052 employees who are designated as excepted/exempt and would be retained in the case of a shutdown,” an updated contingency document said.
The shutdown, which started on 22 December, after Trump refused to pass funding legislation unless it included $5.7bn for a border wall between the US and Mexico.
The wall was a key promise of his 2016 election campaign that saw him voted in as president.
Democrats, who now run the Senate, have refused to give in to Trump’s demand, claiming it would be a waste of money.