Fedweek

Houston, TX - March 2020: McLane Global worker in collaboration with USDA to deliver meals to students of rural schools closed due to COVID-19. Democrats in Congress are attempting to use a fifth relief bill to override executive orders on union and disciplinary matters, among other efforts.

New proposals continue to be raised in Congress for changes to federal pay and other personnel policies to be added to a next Coronavirus relief bill although there has been no definite movement toward passing such a bill.

The broad agreement that led to quick approval of four previous bills has run up against differences on issues including further financial relief for the Postal Service, overall spending levels and most recently whether language should be added to shield businesses that reopen from liability for infections.

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Earlier, Democrats had proposed adding to a next bill language to mandate telework for those eligible and to mandate payment of hazardous duty pay, contrary to the administration’s approach of giving agencies wide discretion.

Even more potentially controversial are calls from many Democrats to use the measure as a vehicle for broader policy changes including overriding the administration’s executive orders on union and disciplinary matters and putting TSA screeners under the same personnel policies applying to federal workers in general.

Meanwhile, several other proposals have been made that sponsors also could seek to add to a relief bill. Those include a package from a group of conservative House Republicans that would include greater discretion for federal managers in hiring and revising the GS pay system “to allow for improved compensation for individuals with critical skills and the expanded use of meritorious bonuses to reward excellent performance by federal employees.”

Other new proposals include removing the limit on how much annual leave front-line employees can carry to next year; and creating a separate hazardous duty pay entitlement for potential exposure to the virus at work.

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