Fedweek

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Congress is moving toward passing a compromise version of the annual DoD authorization bill (S-1605) containing a number of provisions affecting personnel policies government-wide, including two new weeks of paid leave for federal employees on the death of a son or daughter.

The new “parental bereavement leave” replaces a House provision that would have expanded the authority for federal employees to take paid time rather than unpaid time for parental purposes covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act. The Senate version had not included any provision on parental leave.

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The compromise provision uses the same definitions for children as under the FMLA; rules likely will be needed to define the policy, including the effective date.

The bill also: extends long-running authorities for all agencies to pay certain special allowances to employees working in areas of active military operations; requires OPM to perform a study of allowances for employees working in remote areas; and orders OPM to establish or update occupational series in the fields of software development, software engineering, data science, and data management.

However, the final version drops House language to require OPM to redefine locality pay areas for wage grade employees so that they align with the areas used for the GS system. Currently, in some cases wage grade employees receive smaller raises than GS employees at the same location. The bill however encourages OPM to address that issue.

Also dropped was House language to create an interagency “national digital reserve corps” to assist in addressing the digital and cybersecurity needs of executive agencies; to require an annual survey of federal employees on agency performance, leadership and employee satisfaction; and to require regular updating and posting of the “Plum Book” listing of politically appointed positions.

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