Developments at OPM: The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) published a Proposed Rule in the January 6, 2014, edition of the Federal Register (79 Fed.Reg. 610-613) which proposes to ease the rules for federal employees to reach ‘career’ status. Comments on this Proposed Rule must be received by OPM by March 7, 2014.
Competitive service employees who reach “career” federal employee status gain certain preferences in terms of how they are treated during reductions-in-force (RIF) and are eligible in some cases for noncompetitive rehiring by the federal government once they leave federal service. Under regulations dating back to the 1950s, an employee enters “career” status if they have three years of current continuous service. Any break in service longer than 30 days, however, cuts off “career” status, forcing the employee to start their three years all over again. Under the Proposed Rule, this requirement for continuous service would be eliminated, so that an employee who has three years of qualifying federal civilian service would permanently retain “career” status. Further, this three year period would be cumulative, so that an individual who had worked in qualifying federal positions on-and-off during their career could ultimately accumulate enough creditable service to qualify for “career” status. According to the Proposed Rule, OPM was prompted to reevaluate this rule at the request of the Department of the Army, which had raised concerns about military spouses in federal civilian positions losing their “career” status when they were forced to move with their spouses’ military redeployments.