Federal employees will be able to see new changes surrounding the appeals process pertaining to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). The MSPB is an agency that is an independent part of the Executive Branch who governs the Federal merit system. It was established by the Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1978 and codified by the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA), Public Law No. 95-454. The CSRA, effective in 1979, was a replacement for the Civil Service Commission. Three agencies surfaced as well as a result: Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), and the MSPB. OPM focuses on the federal work force and the FLRA oversees federal labor-management relations. The MSPB took on the employee appeals process and acquired new responsibility when it came to merit systems studies and OPM action reviews. The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) was a part of the MSPB but now works in the Executive Branch as an independent prosecutor for cases that are presented to the MSPB.
Two new bills that are surfacing focus on labor management relationships and removal of employees. Signed in May by the President, the appeals process would now be shorter for federal employees. Agency leadership are able to bring an adverse action against a particular employee and they can respond within 7-21 days with an appeal for firing, required within the first 7 days. Additionally, decisions on appeals must be rendered within 30 days, otherwise the original decision is valid. This MERIT Act, as it is called, also offers a probationary period extension for new hires of the federal government. Additionally, a 2 year extension would be applicable to any new senior executive. The reason behind the extension is to ensure proficiency in roles are demonstrated to supervisors who are making decisions on whether employees can become permanent or not. Also, the legislation will have the following effects: 1) Reduction in Force (RIF) and Disciplinary Action appeals would not include the negotiated grievance process; 2) Notification procedures for furlough appeals would be changed; 3) Annuity reduction for a federal employee felony convictions or civil service firing, and 4) Recoupment of bonuses and awards from said employees and executives.
A Re-authorization act was also approved that would impact appeals heading to the MSPB. Fees would be approved for collection for those appealing but not exceeding 50% of the fee required for filing a civil U.S. district court action. Fees can be waived and/or adjusted based on hardship at the board’s discretion. MSPB’s adjudication structure would also impact the burden of proof required to be shown in a disciplinary appeal; mitigation of actions will also be limited for the MSPB. The VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act are housed in this bill, allowing those in Title 38 to appeal to the board directly, instead of a judge.
Hurdles for federal employees may be raised with these bills, and both bills would have a difficult time in the Senate. You can read more about both the MSPB and the Merit Act at the following links:
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