Workforce

OPM rule would elevate performance in layoff decisions

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A proposed rule change would implement part of a 2018 workforce executive order by prioritizing performance over service length in determining who is kept and who is let go in the event of a large "reduction in force" among federal workers.

The Office of Personnel Management's proposed rule is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Thursday, and it comes with a 30-day comment period.

The rule change is based on part of a 2018 executive order that made it easier to fire federal employees. One section of that executive order called on agencies to prioritize employees' performance over their length of federal employment in the event of layoffs.

The current rules for mass layoffs have performance last on the list of factors to consider in the determining which employees to keep, with the type of job coming first and followed by veterans preference and service length after.

The proposed rule change would move performance up in the list, so that the order would be "tenure" or job type, performance, veterans' preference and length of service.

Currently, performance is used to "supplement an employee's length of service for purposes of determining an employee's standing on a retention register."

Under the rule change, employees would first be sorted by job type. Then, they would be ranked by performance levels within that subgroup, before being again sorted by veteran status. Service length would be used as a tie breaker if all else was equal.

Under the regulation, agencies would determine performance by adding each employee's summary level performance rating for the three most recent ratings of record before the reduction in force.

The proposed regulatory change is among other workforce policy changes coming at the end of the Trump administration, the most significant of these being a new workforce category called Schedule F under which many senior federal employees would be reclassified essentially as "at-will" workers without current civil service protections.

Democrats in the House and Senate are pushing to block the implementation of Schedule F through language in appropriations legislation expected to be finalized this week, in advance of the Dec. 18 expiration date of the current continuing resolution funding the government.

About the Author

Natalie Alms is a staff writer at FCW covering the federal workforce. She is a recent graduate of Wake Forest University and has written for the Salisbury (N.C.) Post. Connect with Natalie on Twitter at @AlmsNatalie.

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