Whether your rating period is tied to the fiscal or calendar year, you’ve just received or are about to receive your annual rating. That rating can be the basis for eligibility for an end-of-year bonus or a pay increase. It is also used when seeking a new position in the federal government. For these reasons, federal workers take the annual rating seriously. Here’s what to do if you disagree with your annual rating.

A recent decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the federal appeals court that decides employee appeals from the Merit Systems Protection Board, made me think about a long-standing belief held by federal employees that it is illegal for their employer to require them to perform job duties above their grade level. It’s not per se illegal, although there are some processes by which a federal worker could be compensated at the higher grade level.

Federal employees have a variety of ways to complain about the conditions of their workplace. The most common methods are: An equal employment opportunity (EEO) complaint. A hotline complaint with the Office of Inspector General. A grievance under a collective bargaining agreement. A grievance through the agency’s administrative grievance procedure. A complaint of a prohibited personnel practice with the Office of Special Counsel. With the exception of complaints filed with the OIG, the other processes have mechanisms for resolving the dispute without having to proceed all the way to a final adjudication. Those resolution methods involve mediation, facilitation or just…

I recently did a series of training courses to managers and supervisors in a fairly large federal agency with two strong unions. The courses are designed to educate these managers on the rules that govern the firing of problem employees. The point of the course is to educate managers and supervisors on what can be a complex set of rules governing performance and conduct proceedings so as to empower them to act, and eliminate the myths about how hard each process can or should be. What came up over and over again in each session covering about 100 managers and…

I often hear employees affected by an adverse personnel action repeat urban legend that this Merit Systems Protection Board will likely reverse or mitigate the agency’s action taken against him or her. There’s also a growing belief in Congress that the MSPB is too employee friendly and a reason why there is a workplace culture of employee entitlement that detracts from an agency’s mission. Recent statistics from the MSPB tell a different story. What does this mean for you, a federal employee with MSPB appeal rights? Know before you go, as most likely the board will affirm (and not mitigate)…

Many federal workers are on an Alternative Work Schedule.  For many, that means you work nine hour days from Monday through Thursday, and eight hours every other Friday with the alternative Friday as your regular day off.  But over the past few years, I’ve heard from multiple federal workers that their agency’s Time and Attendance tracking system (WebTA) will not allow them to accurately record such a schedule.  So those employees are stuck with entering their time into the system essentially not accurately.  Is that ok? The issue that arises when you work an AWS and your T&A system will…

Federal managers are aware of the phrase “probationary period,” and most have dealt with employees who are in it while under the manager’s supervision. Research conducted by the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) have shown repeatedly, however, that while managers know what a probationary period is, they more often than not don’t use it for its intended purpose: to assess the work performance of new employees and to remove nonperforming probationary employees before they obtain job protection rights under Title V that make it more cumbersome for managers to remove poor performers or employees who fail to fully conform to…

Q: If a 17-year vested federal law enforcement officer has his TS security clearance revoked and in turn is terminated, does he still get his retirement at 62? A: In most circumstances, yes. Termination from federal employment does not affect an employee’s annuity or retirement pay. However, a federal employee loses his or her annuity if he or she is convicted of certain crimes codified in 5 U.S.C. § 8312. These crimes are narrowly tailored, concerning acts of disloyalty to the United States. For example, 5 U.S.C. § 8312 lists the crimes of treason, sabotage, espionage, and insurrection. This…

Q: When making a request for sick leave, may my employing agency demand that I inform them of the medical condition that I am seeking treatment for? If I do not, may the agency deny my sick leave? A: It depends on the agency and its requirements regarding acceptable documentation for sick leave. Under 5 U.S.C. § 6307, an employee is entitled to sick leave with pay. In order to request sick leave, an employee must file an application under the procedures and time limits required by the federal agency in which he or she is employed. A federal agency…

Q: I would like to know if there is an allowed discrepancy of GS levels for the same position within the DOD. If not, what are potential methods of remedy that I should explore? A: A grade level represents a band or range of difficulty. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (“OPM”) prepares classification standards and functional guides, which are used when classifying a grade of a position. If the work assigned to a position is covered by criteria in a standard for a specific occupational series, the work is evaluated by that standard. However, if there are no specific…

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