Fedweek

Baltimore, MD - April 2020: Clarence Shields, an Army veteran, pickets with a small group of activists from the American Federation of Government Employees local 424 and the National Association of Government Employees local R3-19 during a rally to bring awareness of employee concerns of lack of personal protective equipment, telework and hazardous pay outside the Baltimore VA Medical Center.

Calls are arising for additional funding to pay hazardous duty pay for federal employees and others in front-line positions that have put them at higher risk of covid-19, along with money to prevent potential furloughs in two DHS components that are partly self-funding but that have seen a dropoff in the fees they collect.

While several virus relief bills have been enacted into law, the latest, passed by the House weeks ago (HR-6800), remains stalled in the Senate with no sign of action there in the foreseeable future.

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That measure would include federal employees in general provisions providing for a $13 per hour hazardous duty pay allowance and child care subsidies for front-line employees nationwide who meet certain qualifications—at a time of widespread complaints that agencies continue to fail to pay hazardous duty pay under civil service law to federal employees who have now continued to work in such positions for months. It also contains numerous other provisions affecting telework eligibility, injury compensation benefits, and more.

Meanwhile, a separate bill (HR-6909) has been introduced to create a fund modeled on a post-9/11 fund to help essential workers and their families who have suffered the health and economic effects of the pandemic. Federal employee unions support both measures.

The unions and some members of Congress also say that two DHS subagencies, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Customs and Border Protection, need supplemental funding to make up for loss of funds—from decreased immigration applications in the former case and decreased travel and trade volume in the latter.

More than two-thirds of CIS employees, some 13,000, are facing a furlough starting in early August, the AFGE union told a House hearing. “Furloughs of this magnitude would make it entirely impossible for the agency to carry out more than a tiny fraction of its mission,” it said.

Meanwhile the NTEU said the CBP may have to do the same since the fees effectively pay the salaries of a third of its officers, about 8,000. “CBP employees at the ports of entry already face many challenges in the course of their work and concerns about their health and safety or of being furloughed as the country reopens for business should not be among them,” it said.

As Federal Employee Recalls Grow, So Do Warnings

OPM Highlights Flex Scheduling Option for Recalling Employees

More Guidance on Recalls Issued but Most Employees Still Waiting (June 10)

ask.FEDweek.com: Hazardous Duty Pay to Federal Workers

ask.FEDweek.com: Environmental Differential Pay for Federal Workers (wage grade)

FERS Retirement Guide 2020