OPM has sent guidance to agencies on a 2016 change in law regarding the transition between career-conditional and career status, a distinction that mainly comes into play regarding RIF protection and reinstatement rights.

Under prior policy, employees had to have three years of “substantially continuous” service to move from career-conditional to career, but the revised policy requires only three years in total. The change was designed in part to accommodate spouses of military personnel, who commonly move frequently from one federal job to another while accompanying their spouse to a new duty location.


In the RIF retention formula, career employees have greater protections than career-conditional employees by being in a higher “tenure group.” Further, there is no time limit on reinstatement rights for those with career status while eligibility is generally limited to three years for career-conditional employees.