On March 13, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform approved HR 4106, the Telework Improvements Act of 2007, sponsored by Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL). This legislation largely follows recommendations NTEU made in congressional testimony last November. The bill seeks to ensure that all eligible employees will have the opportunity to telework. It defines teleworking employees as those who telework at least 20% of the time. The bill would require agencies to provide training on telework to both managers and employees and have each agency appoint a full-time Telework Managing Officer. Further, the Government Accountability Office would annually rate each agency to measure their compliance with the telework requirement. Similar legislation (S. 1000) has been approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. NTEU expects the Senate bill may move to a floor vote sometime after the Senate’s spring recess.
CSRS Part-Time Service
On March 13, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform approved H.R. 2780 to fix the calculation of retirement annuities for future CSRS retirees having some part-time service. The bill, introduced by Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) and long supported by NTEU, was reported out of committee by voice vote. This bill would correct a glitch in a 1986 law that changed the formula calculation for CSRS individuals with some part-time service. The 1986 change was intended to address another problem in the formula calculation, but it had an unintended effect on individuals who had worked full-time and then chose to go part-time towards the end of their careers, due to family obligations, illness, or other reasons. Their pensions did not accurately reflect the earlier full- time work. NTEU has pushed for a fix to this formula change and Rep. Moran introduced H.R. 2780. The bill received support at the subcommittee level and was reported out of full committee with bipartisan support. It still needs to be passed by the full House of Representatives.
FERS Retiree Sick Leave Payments Bill
NTEU is supporting bipartisan legislation (H.R. 5573) that would provide workers covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) a one-time lump sum payment for unused sick leave. Currently, FERS employees earn no credit toward retirement for unused sick leave while their counterparts covered under the older Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) receive credit toward their pensions. The bill was introduced today by Rep. James Moran (D-Va.) and co-sponsored by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), as a step to correct some of the disparity in treatment for FERS retirees. Under the bill, FERS retirees with more than 500 hours of sick leave would earn a payment calculated on 15 percent of the average hourly rate for their highest salary years, up to $10,000.
On March 6, Chairman Danny Davis (D-IL) of the House Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee introduced H.R. 5550, legislation called for and supported by NTEU to increase the age of FEHBP coverage for dependent children to age 25. Representative Tom Davis (R-VA) signed on as an original cosponsor along with several other members of Congress.
Heeding longstanding advice from NTEU, on March 17 the General Services Administration raised the federal mileage reimbursement rate to 50.5 cents per mile for employees who use their personal vehicles on official business.