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Beware of ‘Summer Fridays’

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You may know the ways to escape your office stealthily -- a back stairwell or a route through the office that circumvents the boss. But if you think Memorial Day weekend presents a perfect opportunity to take an early “summer Friday,” you might want to think again.

A Washington law firm is reminding federal employees that playing hooky, or just ducking out early on a Friday before a holiday weekend, has consequences -- and won’t necessarily go unnoticed .

In a public service reminder, Tully Rinckey PLLC partner John P. Mahoney, chairman of the firm’s labor and employment law practice group, reminds employees of a 2011 case when the Merit Systems Protection Board ruled that a Social Security Administration employee with 22 discrepancies on credit hour forms, even by less than five minutes each, could receive a 14-day suspension.

“A few minutes saved could end up marring years of federal civil service. I implore federal employees to refrain from leaving early this Friday before Memorial Day without a supervisor’s written permission,” Mahoney said.

The firm claims agency supervisors have been on the lookout for seemingly innocuous infractions such as skipping out prior to a long weekend and fudging time cards in the wake of the General Services Administration scandal. “Employees who leave work early before a holiday weekend are easy targets,” Mahoney says.

Easing TSP Concerns

Legislators have addressed concerns about a proposal to allow a small group of Secret Service agents and uniformed police offers to withdraw from Federal Employees Retirement System and the Thrift Savings Plan to be covered instead under District of Columbia and Firefighter Retirement and Disability System.

The measure, first proposed by Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., would permit a select group of officers appointed between 1984 and 1986 during the shift from the Civil Service Retirement System to the FERS benefit structure to transfer money from their TSP plans into the district’s system.

The board that oversees TSP initially thought this would mean playing favorites with beneficiaries by giving these officers an unfair advantage. After meeting with lawmakers, Kim Weaver, the board’s director of external affairs, said the provision had been revised and her “concerns were eased.” TSP funds are no longer part of the legislation, after a recent committee markup. The bill is expected to move to the Senate floor for debate in the coming weeks.

Weaver also told board members at a recent TSP meeting that another measure allowing the Internal Revenue Service to levy funds in TSP accounts was getting marked up in the House and would not be ready until later this spring or early summer. Board members had previously sought clarification on this law because they believed it was illegal to use funds credited to TSP beneficiaries for anything that did not directly help the beneficiary. A 2010 Justice Department opinion found that TSP accounts are in fact subject to federal levies, and Weaver previously told Government Executive that the board “had reached an understanding” with lawmakers on the issue.

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