Fedweek

In passing its version of the annual DoD authorization bill (HR-2500) the House added a number of provisions relevant to federal employees beyond making the 12 weeks of leave entitlement under the Family and Medical Leave Act paid time rather than unpaid time. Those amendments would:

* Generally bar agencies from asking about a job applicant’s criminal record as an initial screen—a so-called “ban the box”—with exceptions for positions related to law enforcement and national security, positions requiring access to classified information, and positions for which access to criminal history information is required by law; for other positions, such questions still could be asked later in the process.

* Ensure that in the event of another partial government shutdown, eligible federal employees still could enroll or make changes to FEHB coverage due to life events, and that coverage under the FEDVIP and FLTCIP coverage would continue without direct billing to enrollees for the meantime, with missed premium payments to be made up later.

* Allow the MSPB to stay a personnel action, at the request of the Office of Special Counsel, as an alleged retaliation against a whistleblower even when the merit board lacks a quorum, as it has since early 2017.

None of those provisions are in the Senate-passed version of that bill (S-1790). Further, only the House bill contains language to return the standard probationary period at DoD from two years to the one year generally applying elsewhere, and to require a study that could provide the basis for repealing another DoD-specific policy change made by a 2015 law, making performance the top retention factor in RIFs. Differences between the two bills will have to be resolved in an upcoming conference.