House Democrats have unveiled a Coronavirus relief bill that would provide or guarantee several financial benefits for federal employees while also targeting Trump administration initiatives regarding federal employee unions.
The measure generally would mandate telework by any employee deemed eligible and require agencies to set new telework participation goals and explain to Congress any reduction in teleworking.
It also would mandate payment of weather and safety leave (administrative leave) for employees prevented from going to their regular work locations but who cannot telework; require payment of hazardous duty pay for employees exposed in the line of duty to persons with COVID-19 or who have been exposed to it; and pay up to $2,000 a month to employees who are required to work and incur expenses related to the care of a child or relative who has COVID-19.
Also, there would be a presumption that “any employee carrying out duties that require substantial contact with the public” and who contracts the virus would be eligible for FECA benefits.
The bill also would prevent enforcement of the three 2018 Trump administration executive orders limiting union rights and employee appeal rights as well as a recent memo granting DoD broad powers to avoid dealing with unions by invoking national security.
The bill further would wipe out the Postal Service’s debt to the Treasury, mostly related to a requirement that it pre-fund health insurance for its retirees, while providing it a $15 billion line of credit for operating money.
The measure (HR-6379) was offered as the Senate continued to negotiate with the White House over a separate relief measure (HR-748) differing in many ways, leaving a potentially difficult task of resolving the two. One area in which they agree would be to suspend for 2020 the “required minimum distribution” from accounts such as the TSP affecting retirees age 72 or older.