Developments at OPM: In a final regulation published in the Federal Register on February 22, 2013, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) finalized changes to existing regulations to simplify the paperwork for qualified disabled applicants to apply for federal jobs under “Schedule A Hiring Authority”. The final rule appears at 78 Fed.Reg. 12,219.
Schedule A Hiring Authority under 5 C.F.R. § 213.3102(u) allows agencies to hire qualified disabled applicants into the civil service, without the disabled applicants having to compete against other applicants. Schedule A appointments can be permanent, temporary, or time-limited, and are open to applicants with intellectual disabilities, severe physical disabilities, or psychiatric disabilities. Temporary Schedule A positions can be later converted into permanent appointments.
Previously, Schedule A applicants had to file two sets of documents in addition to the resume and other normal job application paterials: (1) medical documentation demonstrating the existance of the disability, and (2) a “certificate of job readiness” showing that the applicant could likely successfully perform the duties of the job being applied for. Under OPM’s new regulations, the requirement for a certificate of job readiness has been dropped. Now, applicants who wish to apply under Schedule A Hiring Authority need only provide medical documentation. in addition to their resume and other normal application materials. OPM noted that the applicants’ qualifications for job readiness were already found in the resumes and other application materials. OPM advised agencies concerned over whether a particular applicant could successfully perform their duties to use the temporary hiring option to test out the applicant in the position.
In the same rulemaking, OPM also changed the terminology in 5 C.F.R. § 213.3102(u). In the spirit of “Rosa’s Law”, all references in the regulation to “persons with mental retardation” are being changed to “persons with intellectual disabilities.” The new rules become effective on March 24, 2013.
If you are disabled and would like to discuss any issues concerning Schedule A hiring, or your rights as a federal employee or applicant for federal employment more generally, please contact the law firm of Passman & Kaplan, P.C. to request a consultation.