Retirement reform bill clears the House

The House on Wednesday approved a retirement reform measure that includes language ensuring sick leave is treated similarly in both federal retirement systems.

The bill (H.R. 1804) would give workers in the newer Federal Employees Retirement System credit for their unused sick leave when they retire, putting them on par with colleagues in the older Civil Service Retirement System. It also contains provisions to enroll new employees automatically in the Thrift Savings Plan and create a Roth Individual Retirement Account option within the 401(k)-type program. It gives the TSP board the authority to add self-directed investment window options if doing so is in the best interest of participants.

Finally the legislation, sponsored by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., would remove rules that effectively penalize CSRS employees for working part-time at the end of their careers and would allow FERS employees returning to government after a stint in the private sector to reinvest their retirement savings and claim credit for previous service.

The House passed the 2009 Federal Retirement Reform Act by a voice vote.

Federal employee and managers' groups praised passage of the bill, especially the provision equalizing sick leave policies under FERS and CSRS.

"Both groups of employees are dedicated public servants and both groups deserve to have their sick leave counted," said Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union.

The Federal Managers Association noted that the measure would give FERS employees incentives to avoid taking unnecessary sick days, reducing the cost of sick leave to the government. FMA also applauded the TSP provisions and incentives for FERS employees to return to government service.

Darryl Perkinson, the group's national president, urged the Senate to take up the measure and pass it quickly.

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