Browsing: Employment

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.

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…

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: 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…

The 2016 United States Presidential election season is upon us. As a federal executive branch employee, it’s important to be extremely careful when using social media to engage with, talk about, or otherwise post about the remaining presidential candidates. The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from engaging in “political activity” while on duty. Duty status, of course, include telecommuting and other pay statuses other than paid leave. It also prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activity in the workplace. In November, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) revised its previously issued guidance regarding social media activity to account for…

I thought I’d written my last column this year in which I offer advice on being interviewed by an Office of Inspector General. We litigated the two widely reported recent Veterans Benefits Act (VBA) cases before the Merit Systems Protection Board in which two career senior executives with stellar careers were demoted by the Department of Veterans Affairs based on an OIG report that turned out to be wholly unreliable. It became clear in the lead up to the two MSPB hearings that a major reason the report was so unreliable because of the testimony the OIG elicited from witnesses…

Q: If I resign, would I have no recourse with MSPB? A: Generally not. An employee-initiated action, like resignation, is presumed voluntary and outside of the Merit System Protection Board’s (MSPB) jurisdiction. Freeborn v. Dep’t of Justice, 119 M.S.P.R. 290, 294 (2013). However, if the federal employee presents sufficient evidence to establish that the action was obtained through duress, coercion, or shows a reasonable person would have been misled by the agency, the presumption of voluntariness is removed. Green v. Dep’t of Veterans Affairs, 112 M.S.P.R. 59, 63 (2009). The employee has the burden of proving the MSPB’s jurisdiction by…

Q:  I am a GS-09 seeking a promotion go a GS-11 position. How can I be sure that I will get a promotion?  I already fill in for GS-11 employees when they are out sick or use leave. I believe I already have some of the experience and qualifications needed for a promotion. A:  Gaining the experience you have by filling in for higher-graded employees is an excellent source of experience, and hopefully an indicator that you will be promoted in the future. However, there is no way to be sure that you will get a promotion. There must first…

Q: I am a military reservist and also a full-time civilian federal employee. I am hoping to advance in my civil service career, and hope to be promoted. However, my manager has made several comments that I might be deployed in the near future. There has been no indication that I will be deployed, and I worry that my status as a reservist is being used to inhibit my career progression. How can I be sure that I am treated fairly? A: As a subordinate, it is difficult to ensure that you are treated fairly – how you are treated is largely…

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