A newly offered House bill, HR-3257, would apply government-wide many of the restrictions on employee rights recently enacted for the VA, while in some cases going beyond that new law’s provisions.

The bill, a reintroduction of one offered in the prior Congress but that did not advance then, could be the first of what has long been predicted to be a series of moves to apply similar policies across the government, the VA law having set the precedent.

Similar to the VA provisions, agencies could immediately suspend employees without pay on charges of misconduct or poor performance and the employee would receive only 10 days of notice and 10 days to respond, after which the agency would have to make a final decision promptly. Also similarly, employees would not receive credit toward retirement benefits for periods in which they were involved in job-related conduct that resulted in a felony conviction.

Further, employees would be ineligible for within-grade raises unless their performance rating is above “fully successful”; senior executives would have their pay reduced immediately upon a downgrade to the GS; personnel actions could be challenged before only one appeals agency (such as the MSPB or the EEOC, but not both); and new limits would be placed on official time, on-the-clock time spent on certain union-related matters.

Also, employees hired starting one year after enactment would work “at will,” meaning they could be disciplined, including fired, with no notice or appeal rights unless the action resulted from discrimination or whistleblower retaliation.