In the latest developments in the ever-changing calculus regarding a further pandemic relief bill, the House added several provisions of specific interest to federal employees to a measure (HR-8472) it passed on a party-line vote, but President Trump has ruled out agreeing to any further broad relief bill before the elections – only then to leave open the possibility of a more piecemeal approach.
Among the provisions in the House bill are a presumption that front-line employees who are diagnosed with covid-19 will be presumed to have contracted it at work for purposes of eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits; and a guarantee that those under special retirement provisions for law enforcement officers be able to maintain that status if they are unable to remain in such positions because of contracting the virus but are able to continue in other federal jobs.
Also included are provisions to eliminate out of pocket costs related to the virus under the FEHB program; an extension of a special additional sick leave entitlement under the earlier “Families First” relief law; and a budget supplement for the Postal Service. However, an earlier provision to create a special form of hazardous duty pay for front-line employees was dropped.
Until Trump’s statement Tuesday, negotiations had been continuing between House Democrats and the administration on an off and on basis, but now appear off at least until early November.