OPM issues revised RIF rules

ksaldarini@govexec.com

Agencies must give employees access to records documenting why they were selected to be laid off during reductions-in-force, the Office of Personnel Management reaffirmed this week.

Under new rules published Wednesday in the Federal Register, an employee who has been selected for downsizing-or a representative of the employee-can review retention records that have a bearing on the layoff decision. The rules take effect May 7.

Although feds have always had the right to see their retention records, there had been some confusion among agencies about the law, OPM said. The new rules spell out which records agencies are required to produce and clarify agencies' obligation to release the records. The new rules also allow employees' union representatives, who were not previously permitted to view retention records, to see such records.

In the past, when records were released to employees, agencies often tried to meet the requirement by "simply giving the employee a sanitized retention register with all of the pertinent information blocked out," OPM noted. Now, agencies are required to show how the RIF decision was made and what bump-and-retreat rights the employee might have.

The rules were based on regulations proposed in August 1998 to reform civilian and military crediting for RIF layoffs. Veterans' preference rules require agencies to first consider employees' appointment type, tenure, veterans' preference and performance ratings when deciding who to lay off.

In the new rules, OPM also issued regulations on RIF service credits. For retired military members with 20 or more years of active service, retention credit will only be given for active duty served in war, or on a military campaign or expedition that earned the veteran a badge or medal.

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