House Passes Federal Workforce Bills

The House of Representatives (Jan. 3 file photo).

The House of Representatives has passed two federal workforce measures that earlier in March had been approved by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

H.R. 4359, a bill introduced by House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (UT) would make changes to how agencies can use administrative leave for employees under investigation for possible misconduct or performance issues. Under the bill, agencies would be able to provide paid administrative leave in these types of situations for up to 14 days. In general, after 14 days, H.R. 4359 would require agencies to return employees to work—either to new duties in the office or to be placed on telework. However, if an agency determines that an individual is a threat to safety, the agency mission, or U.S. government property, then the individual would remain on (paid) administrative leave with the agency reporting 30-day extensions to Congress.

NTEU strongly opposed the original version of the legislation which would have required that individuals be placed into a non-paid status after 14 days, while the agency continued its investigation, and before any determinations regarding adverse actions had actually been made. NTEU worked with Representative Stephen Lynch (MA) prior to committee consideration of the measure to ensure frontline employees ultimately remain in a paid status. Separately, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs approved and reported out a different version of administrative leave reform (that also keeps individuals in a paid status prior to any determinations) in February that was authored by Senator Jon Tester (MT).

NTEU will continue to make sure that employees are not unfairly forced into an unpaid status before agencies have made any determinations and issued any adverse actions.

The House has also passed H.R. 4360, another bill authored by Chairman Chaffetz, which would require agencies to enter any adverse findings into a departed employee’s official personnel file, generally in cases where an employee resigns during an ongoing agency or IG investigation.

NTEU worked with Representative Gerry Connolly (VA) on language that was successfully incorporated into the bill that would establish both a notification and appeals process for any affected individuals. The measure would also require agencies to review the prior personnel files for any individuals seeking to return to federal employment.

I will keep you updated on any further congressional developments for these bills. You can be assured that NTEU will continue to work to ensure that bargaining unit employees are not unfairly treated in agency disciplinary actions.

As always, I welcome and encourage your questions and comments regarding this or any other topic.

Author: chapterpresident

I have worked in the FDA since 1990 in a variety of positions. I currently serve as chapter president of NTEU Chapter 254, representing FDA employees in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah.