FEDweek

Hill Leaders Investigating Leave Policies for Political Activities

The chairmen of the House and Senate committees overseeing the federal workforce have asked a dozen large agencies to explain their policies regarding allowing employees to take leave for political activity.

The letters follow investigations by the Office of Special Counsel and the Postal Service IG into top postal management’s practice of allowing such leave there for employees at a union’s request despite concerns by local postmasters about the effect the employees’ absences–in some cases for several weeks or longer–would have on operations. The OSC concluded that the result was an ‘institutional bias” in support of the union’s favored candidates, in violation of the Hatch Act; however, no disciplinary actions were recommended against anyone involved.

The letters ask the agencies for details on the ‘procedures by which federal employees request LWOP, and by which managers and supervisors consider these requests, are the product of negotiation between the agency and the employees’ collective bargaining representative.”

The letters seek data dating to 2008 on the number of employees who requested LWOP in the three months prior to a federal election, the number granted or denied, how many requests and grants were to participate in union-related political activities or in political activities generally, and among them how many were for two weeks or longer.