You will find the complete list of the 52 contract sections here. This page contains 16-22:
Section A: General
An employee in a career ladder will be promoted on the first full pay period after all of the following requirements are met:
1. The employee becomes minimally eligible to be promoted after one (1) year or whatever lesser period satisfies basic eligibility requirements;
2. The employee is certified as demonstrating the potential for satisfactory performance at the next higher level. In this regard, the supervisor must make this determination prior to the date the employee is minimally eligible to be promoted, according to Section C.
3. Employees must have an overall summary rating of fully successful, results achieved, or better. Employees whose current performance is lacking will receive written notice as described in Section B.
4. All other requirements of law and regulations are met.
Section B. Supervisor Certification
1. Supervisors shall review the work of each employee in a career ladder position who will be eligible for a career ladder promotion prior to the employee's eligibility date, unless the employee is moved into a position with greater promotion potential, according to Section C. Employees who do not meet the requirements for promotion will be provided by the supervisor a written notice to this effect no less than 30 days prior to the eligibility date. The written notice will explain in what performance element area and how the employee's performance is lacking in potential to perform at higher level and advise as to what the employee must do to meet the requirements for promotion. Reasons for delays for a career ladder promotion will be explained in the advance notice. Once an employee's performance improves to meet the requirement for promotion level, the supervisor will certify the employee for promotion.
2. If advance notice requirements are not met and performance is found to be acceptable and the employee has displayed the potential to perform at the higher level, the promotion will be made retroactive to the date the employee met the time-in-grade requirements in their current position.
Section C. Movement into New Position with Promotion Potential
1. Employees who compete, are selected, and are moved into a new position at the same or lower grade than they currently hold, and the new position has greater promotion potential may be, promoted to the next higher level, provided eligibility requirements are met.
2. The supervisor will review the employee’s potential for satisfactory performance at the next higher level above the grade of the new position no later than 90 days after being placed.
3. The supervisor will notify the employee of the results of the review within 10 working days. Employees who are not promoted will be given a written notice that will explain the reason(s) for non-promotion. If applicable, they will also be provided information on what performance is lacking and advise as to what the employee must do to meet the requirements for promotion.
4. If the review is not performed and the written notice is not provided and the employee is performing satisfactorily, the employee will be promoted effective the first pay period after the date the review was due or the date minimum qualifications are met (TIG and Quality), whichever is later.
5. If the review is not performed within 90 days of the move to the new position and the written notice is not provided and the employee is not performing satisfactorily, the supervisor must review and notify the employee within 10 working days of the employee’s request for a promotion as stated in this Section. Failure to meet this requirement is grieveable under Article 40 of this Agreement.
Section A. General Provisions
1. The principle of merit promotion is to ensure that employees are given full and fair consideration for advancement without discrimination for non-merit reasons and to ensure selection from among the best-qualified candidates. The Employer recognizes the value of promoting from within.
2. Positions in the bargaining unit will be filled on the basis of merit and in accordance with 5CFR 335 and other applicable law, rule, regulations and this Agreement.
3. To facilitate any downsizing effort, the Agency will, whenever possible, consider qualified in-house applicants prior to considering the applications of outside candidates.
4. Employees who are on extended leave or travel are responsible for notifying their supervisor if they want to be considered for promotional opportunities while they are on travel or leave, and for leaving a telephone number or e-mail address with their supervisor. Supervisors must notify temporarily absent subordinate employees about announced vacancies for which they indicated an interest so that they may apply. Employees who wish to be considered for vacancies but who will be temporarily absent from the workplace should make appropriate arrangements with a second party to submit their applications.
5. Employees who submit applications by mail, e-mail, or FAX are encouraged to independently confirm:
a. the receipt of their application by HRD in advance of the closing date of the vacancy announcement, the employee may provide evidence to of timely submission, e.g. fax confirmation, certified mail receipt;
b. the status of their application and;
c. the status of the vacancy for which they are applying.
Section B. Vacancy Announcements
1. Announcements for bargaining unit positions in FSA shall be open for at least fifteen (15) workdays, whereas, RMA announcements shall be open for at least ten (10) workdays.
2. All vacancy announcements for FSA and RMA positions within the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area will be posted electronically. HRD will issue an e-mail announcement of vacancies that open each week.
3. All vacancy announcements will contain the following information:
a. announcement number and issue date;
b. area of consideration;
c. title, series, grade;
d. types of appointments identified
e. an indication that it is for multiple positions and/or is an open continuous announcement, if applicable;
f. geographic location of position;
g. closing date for acceptance of applications;
h. duties of the position;
i. qualification requirements, including any selective placement factors;
j. evaluation methods to be used; if any;
k. known promotion potential, if any;
l. instructions for applying;
m. whether reimbursement for relocation expenses is authorized in the event selection is made of a candidate from outside the commuting area;
n. a statement that the principles of equal employment opportunity will be adhered to in all phases of the promotion process.
Section C. Qualification Standards
1. Qualification requirements and selective placement factors for vacant positions will be job related.
2. Candidates will be rated basically eligible for a position if they meet the minimum qualification requirements for a General Schedule position described in the OPM Qualifications Standards Operating Manual (or Wage Grade Qualifications Standards, as appropriate) as supplemented by valid job-related selective placement factors, if any.
3. Selective placement factors may be used in determining basic qualifications if they are essential (not merely desirable) to successful performance in the position being filled. The inclusion of such factors must be clearly supported by the position description.
Section D. Evaluation and Ranking Criteria
The best-qualified candidates will be identified through an impartial evaluation of eligible candidates based upon uniformly applied job-related evaluation criteria. The following factors will provide a framework for evaluating and ranking candidates.
1. Application: An application submitted using appropriate forms or other written statements according to the requirements of the announcement.
2. Experience: Experience is to be evaluated in terms of the position to be filled. Length of experience may be used only to the extent to which it can be shown to be a valid job-related factor for the position being filled.
3. Training and Education: Pertinent training, self-development, and outside activities determined to indicate effective performance in the position to be filled will be considered to the extent that they are clearly job-related, or clearly provide evidence of learning ability where this is a requirement for successful performance on the job.
4. Performance Appraisal: All applicants must submit a copy of their latest performance appraisal form.
5. Awards: Employee’s achievements (i.e., formal awards) that earned them special recognition will be considered in terms of the requirements of the job to be filled.
6. KSA’s or job related statements: Supplemental statements that separately address each of the knowledge, skills, and abilities.
Section E. Evaluation and Ranking Procedures
1. Initial Review of Applications:
a. Before beginning the evaluation and ranking procedures, the individual(s) having the candidate evaluation responsibility will first review all applications to ensure that each applicant/application:
(1) is within the area of consideration;
(2) meets minimum qualifications, including selective placement factors, if applicable; and
(3) meets time-in-grade requirements, if applicable.
b. If a merit promotion panel is used, personal information will be redacted from applications/resumes before being forwarded to merit promotion panel members for rating and ranking under procedures in E2, below.
2. Rating and Ranking:
The best qualified candidates will be identified either through an automated rating and ranking of responses to job related statements or by an impartial merit promotion panel/subject matter expert.
a. If an automated rating and ranking system is used:
(1) The agency will use a system accepted by OPM and/or the Department in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
(2) During the review of an applicant’s rating, the employer may only adjust the rating score if the application package clearly does not support the self certification statement and rating. The employer shall notify an applicant if their score was adjusted.
(3) should be a significant or meaningful break in separating the best qualified group from the remaining applicants.
(4) names of the best qualified applicants will be listed alphabetically for referral to the selecting official. Individual scores will not be listed.
b. If an automated ranking system is not used:
(1) If there are eleven (11) or more eligible candidates, evaluation for
Positions will be made by a Merit Promotion panel consisting of subject matter experts. A personnel specialist from HRD will serve as a facilitator.
(2) Based upon the span of numerical scores, the evaluator(s) must determine which of the eligible candidates are best qualified and should therefore be referred to the selecting official. The best qualified applicants are those with the highest scores. There should be a significant or meaningful break in numerical rankings separating the best qualified group from the remaining applicants.
(3) The names of the best qualified applicants will be listed alphabetically for referral to the selecting official. Individual scores will not be listed.
Section F. Selection
1. The selecting official will comply with the law and this agreement. The selecting official is not required to fill a vacancy by selection of one of the candidates listed on the promotion certificate. Instead, the selecting official may, for example, request additional recruitment efforts, re-advertise, or fill the job by other type of placement action.
2. If the selecting official decides to conduct interviews, all reasonable efforts will be made to interview all applicants on the Best Qualified List.
3. The selecting official's decision to select a particular candidate is subject to law, regulation, or Government-wide mandate.
4. If a promotion is involved, Bargaining Unit employees covered by this contract will be notified of their selection and will be released from their existing positions promptly, normally no later than 1 full pay period after selection.
Section G. Merit Promotion Records
In accordance with 5 CFR 335, and ensuring that individuals' rights to privacy are protected, HRD shall keep a copy of the following documents in each merit promotion file for a period of two (2) years or after formal personnel management evaluation review by OPM, whichever comes first, if the time limit for grievance has lapsed before the anniversary date:
1. vacancy announcements;
2. position description;
3. copies of ALL applicants' application package;
4. copies of performance appraisals;
5. rating criteria;
6. ratings for each qualified applicant;
7. ranking and cutoff for Best Qualified;
8. referral list (competitive or non-competitive certificate)
Section H. Employee Requests for Information
Unsuccessful candidates for positions filled competitively under this Article are entitled, within five (5) working days of receipt of written request to HRD, to the following information:
1. basic eligibility determination;
2. basic qualification determination;
3. their own individual rating scores;
4. individual rating scores of other candidates (not tied to name);
5. best qualified rating score and individual ranking;
6. name of individual selected.
Section I. Noncompetitive Promotion
When HRD determines that there has been an accretion of duties and responsibilities that warrants an increase in grade, the employee and supervisor will be notified. The Employer will either promote the employee without competition or eliminate or redistribute the grade controlling duties by the end of the next full pay period from the date of notification.
Section J. Training
To ensure that application, rating, ranking, selection criteria and procedures are understood to the maximum extent practicable, HRD will provide information about the merit promotion process to bargaining unit employees. Employees are encouraged to use the HRD Career Development Center in preparing the job applications. Consistent with Article 11, Section F,5, employees may be granted a reasonable amount of official time to commute from their work units to use the CDC.
Section K. Union participation in Merit Selections
The Union and its representative shall have no participatory rights for representation on rating, ranking, or selection panels, or any other deliberations leading to decision involving the exercise of management rights under Merit Selection and Promotion.
Section A. Definition
A reassignment is changing from one position to another without promotion or demotion, without change of employment status while serving continuously within one Agency.
A transfer is changing from one agency to another without a break in service of more than one full workday.
Section B. General
The parties understand the employees or the Employer may initiate the reassignments of an employee for such purposes as:
1. maintaining or improving the economy, integrity, or efficiency of the Agency;
2. assuring the best utilization of employee skills or abilities;
3. making the best use of current staff and other resources;
4. providing employees with opportunities to enhance their qualifications, skills, abilities, and experience in areas of work performed by the Employer;
5. resolving work-related problems;
6. addressing employee hardship and reasonable accommodation concerns;
7. fulfilling an employee request;
8. allowing cross training for employees.
Reassignments will be consistent with Career Transition Assistance Program (CTAP) regulations.
Section C. Procedures - Employee Requests for Reassignments
1. An employee may make a request verbally or in writing directly to HRD or through the supervisor to HRD for reassignment outside their immediate work area.
2. HRD will respond, in writing, within thirty (30) days of HRD's receipt of the employee's request.
3. The Employer will review the employee’s request utilizing the various factors outlined in Section B of this Article. The Agency may not be able to meet the employee’s requests, give the needs and exigencies of the Agency. Upon request, HRD will provide career development assistance and information regarding available employment resources.
Section D. Employer-Initiated Actions
1. Before initiating a reassignment, the Employer will provide notice to the Union. The Union shall have fifteen (15) workdays to respond to such notification. Failure to respond waives the Union’s rights to negotiate impact and implementation of the reassignment.
2. When a reassignment from one bargaining unit position to another bargaining unit position is required, the Employer will notify the employee of the details of the new assignment in advance of the reassignment.
3. When the reassignment involves a change in duty station from outside the Washington, DC area, the Employer agrees to give the employee a reasonable amount of time to accomplish the change in duty station in an orderly manner. The Employer will provide an explanation to the employee and to the union the reasons for the reassignment if the reassignment was not at the employee's request.
4. When a reassigned or transferred employee indicates that the action will result in undue personal hardship, the Employer will give reasonable consideration to the employee's claims, and, if possible, make reasonable effort to minimize the hardship in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.
Section A. Definition
For the purposes of this article, the term detail means the temporary assignment of an employee to new duties or to another position.
Section B. Details to a Position at the Same Grade Level
1. Length of Detail. The detail of an employee to a position at the same grade level will generally not exceed 120 days. All details will be for a specific period of time. For details of more than 120 days, the Employer will consider any personal concerns of the employee related to the detail. This provision may not be circumvented by resorting to a series of details of less than 120 days.
2. Documentation. Details of an employee to a position at the same grade level will be documented:
a. by an SF-52 for details of more than 30 days.
b. at the request of the employee for details of 30 days or less by a memorandum to the employee and signed by the supervisor to which the employee was detailed with a brief description of the duties of the employee on the detail.
3. Impact on Merit Promotion Procedures. Merit promotion procedures do not apply when a detail is to a position at the same grade level.
4. Employees detailed to a position at the same grade level for more than 120 days will be provided with a copy of the position description and a performance plan for the position. For details of 120 days or less, performance requirements should be incorporated and reflected in the existing performance plan.
Section C. Details to a Higher-Graded Position
1. Length of Non-Competitive Detail. An employee may not be non-competitively detailed to a higher graded position for more than 120 days. A detail to a higher graded position for more than 30 days requires a temporary promotion, provided time in grade requirements are met (per 5 CFR ' 300.604). This provision may not be circumvented by rotating an employee in and out of a detail position.
2. Details under this Section anticipated to be more than 120 days require the competitive announcement of the detail position. This does not prevent an employee from being temporarily promoted for less than 120 days while the position is being advertised.
3. Documentation. Details under this Section will be documented:
a. by an SF-52 for details of more than 30 days.
b. at the request of the employee, for details of 30 days or less, by a memorandum to the employee and signed by the supervisor to which the employee was detailed with a brief description of the duties of the employee on the detail.
4. Details will not be used to circumvent competitive procedures or be used to give an unfair competitive advantage to the employee detailed to a higher-graded position.
5. Employees detailed to a higher-graded position for more than 30 days will be provided with a copy of the position description and a performance plan for the position within 30 calendar days of the beginning of the detail.
Section D. Return to Original Assignment
Upon return to their original position, the employee will be given reasonable time to become acquainted with any changes which have occurred during their absence.
Section E. Training and Developmental Assignments
Work assignments/details made as part of recognized training or professional development programs will not be covered by the requirements of this Article to the extent that they conflict with program guidelines or requirements or interfere with the achievement of the training or professional development program objectives.
The parties agree to establish an Intranet site where employees may indicate their interest in short-term work assignments.
Section A. Employee Information
The Employer recognizes the benefit of part-time employment to both the Agency and employees in those situations where mission accomplishment permits such arrangements. Employees may request information concerning the impact of the conversion from full-time to part-time or part-time to full-time employment in the areas of retirement, reduction-in-force, health and life insurance, promotion, and step increases.
Section B. Consideration
1. The Employer will consider employee requests to convert to part-time or full-time work.
2. Employee requests for changes in part-time or full-time employment must be made in writing to the Employer.
3. Employees will sign a statement indicating acceptance of part-time employment conditions, at the time of entering into a part-time position.
Section C. Adjustment of Schedule
Employees may request in writing to initiate or change their non-pay day(s) off in accordance with the provisions of Article 6.
Section A. Definitions
A probationary bargaining unit employee is a bargaining unit employee who has been given a new career or career-conditional appointment and who meets the conditions described in 5 CFR, Part 315.801(a).
Section B. Procedures for Probationary Bargaining Unit Employees
1. The Employer agrees, upon request, to advise a probationary bargaining unit employee of his/her performance progress at any time after expiration of the first six (6) months of the probationary period but no later than the end of the tenth (10th) month of the probationary period.
2. The Employer may discharge a probationary employee at any time during their probationary period if they fail to demonstrate fully their qualifications for continued employment. When the Employer decides to terminate a bargaining unit employee serving a probationary period because his/her work performance or conduct during this period fails to demonstrate his/her fitness or qualifications for continued employment, the Employer shall terminate the probationary bargaining unit employee by notifying him/her as to why he/she is being separated and the effective date of the action.
3. The Employer agrees that when it deems advanced notice of termination to be in the best interests of the Service, i.e. of the Employer's operation and mission accomplishment, the affected probationary bargaining unit employee will be given two (2) weeks advanced notice. If less than two (2) weeks probationary time remains prior to the effective date of such action, a lesser advanced notice may be given.
4. The Employer may allow a probationary bargaining unit employee the opportunity to resign his/her position in lieu of termination unless the needs of the Service, time or the availability of the probationary bargaining unit employee dictate otherwise.
5. To the extent permitted by applicable law, rule, and regulation, probationary employees shall have the right to appeal their termination to the Merit Systems Protection Board, or, if the employee believes that their termination is based on discrimination, the employee may file an EEO complaint.
Section C. Consultation
Any probationary bargaining unit employee may consult with the Union regarding their termination.
Section D. Grievability
Nothing in this Article shall afford the probationary bargaining unit employee the opportunity to grieve a termination.
Table of Contents
SECTION 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS
1-2. Use of Regulations
1-3. Not Covered
1-5. Communications Between Management and Employees
1-7. Rights to Information
SECTION 2. TRANSFER OF FUNCTION
2-2. Losing Competitive Area
2-3. Identification of Positions in Transfer of Function
2-4. Gaining Competitive Area
2-5. RIF Grievances
SECTION 3. SCOPE OF COMPETITION
3-2. Competitive Areas
3-3. Competitive Levels
SECTION 4. RETENTION STANDING
4-1. Order of Retention for Competitive Service
4-2. Order of Retention for Excepted Service
4-3. Length of Service and Credit for Performance
4-4. Retention Register
SECTION 5. RELEASE FROM COMPETITIVE LEVEL
5-1. Release of Noncompeting Employees
5-2. Release of Competing Employees
5-3. Recall of Furloughed Employees
SECTION 6. ASSIGNMENT RIGHTS
6-2. Best Possible Offer
6-3. Displacement of a Lower Subgroup Employee (“Bumping”)
6-4. Displacement of an Employee in the Same Subgroup (“Retreating”)
6-5. Displacement of an Employee in the Same Subgroup (“Bumping”)
6-6. Preference Eligibles with 30 Percent or More Service-Connected
6-7. Grade and Pay Retention
6-8. Exceptions to Qualifications Standards
SECTION 7. NOTICE TO EMPLOYEES
7-1. Notice Period
7-2. Content of Notice
7-3. Status During Notice Period
SECTION 8. NOTICE TO INTERESTED AGENCIES AND GROUPS
8-2. Information to Employee Organizations
8-3. Information to the Office of Personnel Management
8-4. Information to State Employment Service Offices
8-5. Information to the U. S. Department of Labor
8-6. Information to Local Chambers of Commerce
SECTION 9. PLACEMENT ASSISTANCE
SECTION 10. SEVERANCE PAY
SECTION 11. RIF APPEALS
11-2. Grounds for RIF Appeal
SECTION 12. FURLOUGH
12-1. General Provisions
12-2. Furlough Notices
12-4. Personnel Considerations
12-5. Furlough Grievances and Appeals
12-6. Miscellaneous Considerations
SECTION 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS
This article establishes procedures for effecting any reduction in force (RIF) actions in the FSA/RMA Washington, DC, bargaining unit and successor bargaining units. It should be used in conjunction with 5 USC and Title 5, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 351, which is available in all servicing personnel offices. The Employer recognizes the right of the Union to fully participate in the pre-decisional RIF process, and recognizes the desirability to achieve diversity goals to the extent practicable.
1-2. USE OF REGULATIONS:
The Employer is responsible for determining the categories within which positions are required, where they are to be located, and when they are to be filled, abolished or vacated.
b. Each agency shall follow 5 CFR 351, when it releases a competing employee from his or her competitive level by furlough for more than 30 days, separation, demotion, or reassignment requiring displacement, when the release is required because of lack of work; shortage of funds; insufficient personnel ceiling; reorganization; the exercise of reemployment rights or restoration rights; or reclassification of an employee’s position due to erosion of duties when such action will take effect after an agency has formally announced a reduction in force in the employee’s competitive area and when the reduction in force will take effect within 180 days.
c. When the agency fills a vacant position by an employee who has been reached for release from a competitive level for one of the reasons in paragraph 1-2(b), RIF procedures shall be followed.
1-3 NOT COVERED
Actions not covered. This reduction in force policy does not apply to:
a. The termination of a temporary or term promotion or the return of an employee to the position held before the temporary or term promotion or to one of equivalent grade and pay.
b. A change to lower grade based upon the reclassification of an employee's position due to the application of new classification standards or the correction of a classification error.
c. A change to lower grade based on reclassification of an employee's position due to erosion of duties, except that this exclusion does not apply to such reclassification actions that will take effect after an agency has formally announced a RIF in the employee's competitive area and when a RIF will take effect within 180 days. This exception ends at the completion of the RIF.
d. Placement of an employee serving on an intermittent, part time, on call, or seasonal basis in accordance with conditions established at the time of appointment.
e. A change in an employee's work schedule from other than full time to full time. A change from full time to other than full time for a reason covered in paragraph 1-2 (b) is covered by RIF procedures.
Reassignment, not due to displacement, to a position at the same grade in the same or different competitive levels, including reassignments due to reorganization.
a. Reductions in personnel strength will be accomplished, whenever possible, by planning and attrition. Every effort will be made to avoid use of RIF procedures to effect such reductions. RIFs will be implemented only if their necessity cannot reasonably be abated through other means, such as, hiring freezes, furloughs, reduction in travel or training that is not critical to the mission of the agency, or reduction of contracts with consultants and contractors, and any and all other expenses that are not critical to the mission of the agency.
b. Employees and their union representatives will be informed at least 120 days in advance of any necessity for a RIF. The union shall respond within 30 days of notification with a request for information beyond that provided under this Section. In the event of a reduction of 50 or more employees, the Secretary of Agriculture, appropriate Government agencies and interested employee and civic groups will also be informed of the Agency's plans.
c. Once employees have been informed of a pending RIF under b above, employees may make reasonable use of official time, equipment, and supplies for the purpose of finding other employment as long as it does not unduly interfere with the Agency's business. Employees and supervisors will follow procedures in Article 45 in use of official time for this purpose.
d. The agency will, to the extent feasible, offer employees being separated or downgraded due to RIF vacant continuing positions for which they are qualified.
e. Outplacement assistance will be provided to all employees who are separated as a result of a RIF. Outplacement assistance will be in accordance with the Federal, Department and agency Career Transition Assistance Programs (CTAP). See other relevant articles of this contract.
1-5. COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEES
a. RIF actions covered by this article are highly sensitive subjects. Open communications with employees and union representatives will help employees understand the need for the RIF action and will encourage them to continue work with as little disruption as possible. Management officials will ensure that all employees are provided with complete and timely RIF information.
b. Management acknowledges its duty to comply with negotiated agreement provisions concerning union notice of planned RIFs and participation at formal meetings, and will provide the Union with information on employees’:
1. competitive area
2. competitive level
4. RIF service computation date.
1-6. PLANNING: When the need for a RIF has been ascertained under procedures in 1-2(a):
a. Management will inform the Union of its determinations regarding a potential RIF, and provide relevant information responsive to Union inquires.
b. The Agency will obtain information related to the extent to which the workforce is likely to be reduced through normal attrition, which includes resignations, retirements, and other separation actions.
1-7. RIGHTS TO INFORMATION: The Agency shall notify the union and employees of the following items:
a. Employees and their union representatives will be informed at least 120 days in advance of any necessity for a RIF. The union shall respond within 30 days of notification with a request for information beyond that provided under this Section.
b. Notify employees of their rights to use official time, supplies, and equipment for the purpose of finding outside employment as stated in Section1-4.
c. An employee to be RIFed will be notified at least 60 days before the RIF is to become effective. When a RIF is caused by circumstances not reasonably foreseeable, and the Director of OPM, at the request of an agency head or designee, has approved a notice period of less than 60 days, the Agency will notify the union and employees as soon as practicable. This shortened notice period must cover at least 30 full days before the effective date of release. Agency will promptly provide to the union a copy of its request to OPM.
d. The Agency will provide timely notice to the Union that final retention register and all draft, preliminary, retention registers are available for review such that adequate time is provided for Union input. This will include modeled RIF’s and scenarios.
e. The Union will be provided a list of exceptions to qualification standards when the Agency makes exceptions to qualifications standards in order to assign an employee to a vacant available position. See Section 6-8.
f. Management shall make copies of the OPM regulations 5 CFR 351 available in each Division.
g. The Agency will make every reasonable effort, including manual preparation of documents, to ensure that employees receive a copy of the Separation-RIF SF-50 or equivalent in a timely fashion to file for unemployment compensation. The agency may substitute an equivalent document acceptable to State Unemployment Compensation Agency in the commuting area.
1-8. DEFINITIONS: These definitions only apply to Article 22.
a. Annual Performance Rating of Record - Annual performance rating of record for the purpose of a RIF shall be the record from the most recently completed appraisal period prior to the date of issuance of reduction in force notices or the cutoff date the Agency specifies prior to the issuance of reduction in force notices after which no new ratings will be put on record. Rating of record has the meaning given that term in 5 U.S.C. Chapter 43, Sec. 430.203. For an employee not subject toor part 5 U.S.C. Chapter 43, Sec. 430.203, it means the officially designated performance rating, as provided for in the Agency's appraisal system, that is considered to be an equivalent rating of record under the provisions of 5 U.S.C. Chapter 43 Sec. 430.201(c).
b. Assignment Right - the right of an employee to be assigned (by means of bump or retreat) in the second round of competition to a position in a different competitive level held by an employee with lower standing on the retention register (see sections 6-3, 6-4, and 6-5 of this Article).
c. Bump - Bump assignment rights to a lower subgroup as defined in 5 CFR 351.701 (b). Also see section 6-3.
d. Competing employee - an employee in tenure group I, II, or III in either the competitive or the excepted service.
e. Competitive area - the area described in Article 1 or other organizational and geographical boundaries within which employees compete in a RIF
(see section 3-2.)
f. Competitive Level - Competitive level shall be established by the agency to determine the competitive levels consisting of all positions in a competitive area which are in the same grade (or occupational level) and classification series, and which are similar enough in duties, qualification requirements, pay schedules, and working conditions so that an agency may reassign the incumbent of one position to any of the other positions in the level without undue interruption IAW 5 U.S.C Chapter 43 Sec. 351.403.
g. Days - calendar days.
h. Function - all, or a clearly identifiable segment, of an agency's mission (including all integral parts of that mission), regardless of how it is performed.
i Furlough - the placement of an employee in a temporary non-duty and non-pay status for not more than 1 year. For furloughs of more than 30 consecutive calendar days (or 22 work days, if done on a non-continuous basis) RIF procedures will apply.
(1) Emergency Furlough - A furlough because of lack of appropriations or lack of work due to unpredictable events such as natural disasters, fires, etc.
(2) Non-emergency Furlough - A furlough because of budgetary short-fall or lack of work other than noted in the definition of Emergency Furlough.
j. Local Commuting Area - Local commuting area means the geographic area that usually constitutes one area for employment purposes. It includes any population center (or two or more neighboring ones) and the surrounding localities in which people live and can reasonably be expected to travel back and forth daily to their usual employment.
k. Non-pay Status - Includes AWOL, LWOP, furlough and suspensions.
l. Notice - an official written communication provided to an individual employee announcing that he or she will be affected by a RIF action. The specific RIF notice contains the specifics of RIF action to be taken. It must be issued not later than 60 days before the RIF is to become effective. When a RIF is caused by circumstances not reasonably foreseeable, the Director of OPM, at the request of an agency head or designee, may approve a notice period of less than 60 days. This shortened notice period must cover at least 30 full days before the effective date of release.
m. Representative Rate - the fourth step of the grade for a position under the General Schedule, or the prevailing rate for a position under the Federal Wage system or similar wage determining procedure; and, for other positions, the rate designated by the agency as representative of the position.
(1) register - a list of competing employees within a competitive level who are grouped by tenure of employment, veteran's preference, and length of service, augmented by performance credit. In practice, the terms competitive level and retention register generally have the same meaning and refer to the competitive level after an employee's retention standing is determined.
(2) standing - an employee's relative position on the retention register.
o. Retreat - See Section 6-4.
p. Rounds of Competition - the different stages of competing for retention in a RIF action. In the first round of competition, employees compete to stay in their competitive level. In the second round of competition, employees compete for assignment to positions in different competitive levels.
q. Subgroup Standing - the employee's relative position on the retention register based on tenure group and veteran's preference subgroup. It does not take into account length of service or performance credit.
r. Tenure - the period of time an employee may reasonably expect to serve under a current appointment.
s. Transfer of Function - the transfer of the performance of a continuing function from one competitive area and its addition to one or more other competitive areas, except when the function involved is virtually identical to functions already being performed in the other competitive area(s) affected; or the movement of the competitive area in which the function is performed to another local commuting area. The gaining competitive area may be in the same or a different agency. The movement of work within a competitive area is reorganization.
t. Undue Interruption - a degree of interruption that would prevent the completion of required work by the employee 90 days after the employee has been placed in a different position through RIF. The 90 day standard should be considered within the allowable limits of time and quality, taking into account the pressures of priorities, deadlines and other demands. However, a work program would generally not be unduly interrupted even if an employee needed more than 90 days after the RIF to perform the optimal quality or quantity of work. The 90 day standard may be extended if placement is made under RIF procedures to a low priority program or to a vacant position.
u. Veteran's Preference - Veteran's preference shall pertain to preference in Federal employment and the following apply. Veteran means a person who was separated with an honorable discharge or under honorable conditions from active duty in the armed forces performed in a war; or, in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized; or during the period beginning April 28, 1952, and ending July 1, 1955; or, for more than 180 consecutive days, other than for training, any part of which occurred during the period beginning February 1, 1955, and ending October 14, 1976 IAW 5 CFR 211.102.
Work Schedule – Defined as full-time, part-time, intermittent, seasonal, or on-call basis.
SECTION 2. TRANSFER OF FUNCTION
a. A transfer of function does not suspend management's right to take other legitimate personnel actions. These actions may be taken before, concurrent with, or after the transfer of function.
b. In order to assist employees who must decide whether or not to accept transfer to a new geographic location, Agency officials should provide available information to affected employees regarding the new location of the activity, the timing of the transfer, the gaining organization, the foreseeable new positions, and the conditions upon which this information is subject to change. Information should also be made available to the extent practicable concerning such matters as availability and cost of housing in the new area, and the Government's obligations to pay travel and moving expenses. Similarly, positive out placement programs must be undertaken to assist, to the extent practicable, employees who are faced with separation because they do not choose to transfer with the function, or because they did not receive offers at the new location.
c. A function being transferred solely for the purposes of liquidation is not a continuing function. A function is transferred only when it disappears or is discontinued at one location and appears in an identifiable form at another location. The function must, at the time of transfer, be authorized to continue in operation for more than 60 days. In contrast, a discontinued function that does not appear at another location is considered to have been abolished. An employee whose position is transferred solely for liquidation, and who is not identified with an operating function specifically authorized at the time of transfer to continue in operation more than 60 days, is not a competing employee for other positions in the competitive area gaining the function.
2-2. LOSING COMPETITIVE AREA: The following apply to the losing competitive area in a transfer of function:
a. Regardless of an employee's personal preference, a competing employee occupying a position that has been identified for transfer has no right to transfer with a function, unless the alternative is separation or downgrading in the competitive area losing the function.
b. Except as permitted in section 2-3 (e) below, the losing competitive area must use adverse action procedures if it chooses to separate an employee who declines to transfer with his or her function. An employee who declines to transfer with the function may not be separated any sooner than the effective date of the transfer of the employees who choose to transfer with the function to the gaining competitive area.
Transfer of function regulations do not permit the losing competitive area to carry out a RIF solely for employees who decline to transfer with their function. However, the losing competitive area may, at its discretion, include employees who decline to transfer as part of a concurrent RIF conducted for other reasons. They may also reassign the employee to another continuing position under the general authority to reassign employees.
2-3. IDENTIFICATION OF POSITIONS WITH A TRANSFERRING FUNCTION
a. The competitive area losing the function is responsible for identifying the positions of competing employees with the transferring function. A competing employee is identified with the transferring function on the basis of the employee's official position. Two methods are provided to identify the employees with the transferring function:
(1) Identification Method One; and
(2) Identification Method Two.
b. Identification Method One must be used to identify each position to which it is applicable. Identification Method Two is used only to identify positions to which Method One is not applicable.
c. Under Identification Method One, a competing employee is identified with a transferring function if:
(1) (a) The employee performs the function at least half of his or her work time; or
(b) Regardless of the time the employee performs the function during his or her work time, the function performed by the employee includes the duties controlling his or her grade or rate of pay.
(2) In determining what percentage of time an employee performs a function in the employee's official position, the agency may supplement the employee's official position description by the use of appropriate records such as, but not limited to, work reports, organizational time logs, work schedules.
d. Identification Method Two is applicable to employees who perform the function during less than half of their work time and are not otherwise covered by Identification Method One. Under Identification Method Two, the losing competitive area must identify the number of positions it needed to perform the transferring function. To determine which employees are identified for transfer, the losing competitive area must establish a retention register in accordance with this article that includes the name of each competing employee who performed the function. Competing employees listed on the retention register are identified for transfer in the inverse order of their retention standing. If for any retention register this procedure would result in the separation or demotion by RIF at the losing competitive area of any employee with higher retention standing, the losing competitive area must identify competing employees on that register for transfer in the order of their retention standing.
e. (1) The losing competitive area may permit other employees of the agency to volunteer for transfer with the function in place of employees identified for transfer. However, the losing competitive area may permit these employees to volunteer only if no competing employee is separated or demoted solely because a volunteer transferred in place of him or her to the gaining competitive area.
(2) If the total number of employees who volunteer for transfer exceeds the number of employees required to perform the function in the gaining competitive area, the losing competitive area, at its discretion, may give preference to the volunteers with the highest retention standing, or make selections based upon other appropriate criteria established in negotiation with the union.
2-4. GAINING COMPETITIVE AREA: The following regulations apply to the gaining competitive area in a transfer of function.
a. The transfer of function provisions do not affect employees of the gaining competitive area if the transfer of function does not require a RIF or other personnel actions in that organization.
b. If a transfer of function requires that the gaining competitive area conduct a RIF, employees identified for transfer by the losing competitive area shall be transferred to the gaining competitive area before it conducts a RIF, with no change in tenure. They have the right to compete in any RIF on retention registers comprised of both themselves and the employees assigned to the gaining competitive area at the time the transfer is effected. A transferred employee who is reached for a RIF action in the gaining competitive area has no retreat rights to the losing competitive area.
c. The gaining competitive area may determine the retention rights of incoming employees in a transfer of function without an actual relocation of the competing employees from the losing competitive area. The losing competitive area may act as an agent for the gaining competitive area in providing information to transferring employees and, if applicable, in processing lump sum annual leave payments and severance pay.
d. Employees whose positions are transferred solely for purposes of liquidation, and who are not identified with operating functions specifically authorized at the time of transfer to continue in operation for more than 60 days, are not competing employees in the gaining competitive area. The employee has the right to transfer to the gaining competitive area solely for the purpose of separation by RIF.
An employee whose position is transferred solely for liquidation is placed on the reemployment priority list of the gaining rather than the losing competitive area.
e. The transfer of function regulations do not apply to the transfer of a function which is terminated in the losing competitive area, and is subsequently transferred to another competitive area for completion.
A competing employee who the agency identifies with a terminated program is a competing employee in the losing competitive area for RIF competition.
2-5. RIF GRIEVANCES
An employee has no right to appeal a transfer of function. However, an employee may raise a transfer of function issue as part of an appeal or grievance of a subsequent RIF or adverse action that the employee believes resulted from the transfer of function.
SECTION 3. SCOPE OF COMPETITION
a. Employees compete for retention in a RIF action on the basis of competitive area, competitive level, tenure of employment, veteran's preference, and length of service augmented by performance credit. These factors are explained below.
b. Records established for RIF purposes (such as documentation of competitive area and competitive level determinations) must be available for review by representatives of the Office of Personnel Management, by representatives of the bargaining unit, and by an employee of the agency, to the extent that this register and records have a bearing on a specific action taken, or to be taken, against the employee. The Agency shall preserve intact all registers and records relating to an employee for at least one year from the date the employee is issued a specific notice or until all related grievances and appeals have been settled.
3-2. COMPETITIVE AREAS
A competitive area shall be defined solely in terms of the Agency's organizational unit(s) and geographical location, and it shall include all employees within the competitive area. A competitive area may consist of all or part of the Agency. The minimum competitive area is a subdivision of the Agency under separate administration within the local commuting area. The Union recognizes that the determination of RIF’s competitive areas is a management function.
3-3. COMPETITIVE LEVELS
a. Competitive level - a group of all positions in a competitive area which are in the same grade or occupational level, and classification series and which are similar enough in duties, qualification requirements, pay schedules, and working conditions so that the agency may reassign the incumbent of one position to any of the other positions in the level without undue interruption. It is the concept of interchangeability that is paramount. The competitive level is based upon each employee's position description, not on the employee's personal qualifications. Only occupied positions are included in a competitive level. During the RIF process management will utilize continuing vacancies to minimize the adverse impact of the RIF.
b. Separate competitive levels are established in each competitive area according to the following:
(1) By service - Competitive vs. Excepted.
(2) By appointment authority - Separate levels are established for Excepted Service positions filled under different appointment authorities.
(3) By pay schedule.
(4) By type of work schedule - Full-time, part-time, intermittent, seasonal, or on-call basis. No distinction may be made among employees in the competitive level on the basis of the number of hours or weeks scheduled to be worked.
(5) By trainee status - Separate levels for employees in formally designated trainee or developmental programs, as defined by 5CFR 351.702 (e) (1) through (4).
c. A position is placed in a competitive level when it is established. The competitive level is shown on the position description cover sheet, and is entered into the NFC automated personnel inventory system.
d. The initial round of competition in a RIF action is among employees in the same competitive area who are assigned to positions in the same competitive level.
e. Each subsequent round of competition in RIF attempts to place an employee released from their competitive level in previous round through exercise of their Bump and Retreat rights.
SECTION 4. RETENTION STANDING
4-1. ORDER OF RETENTION FOR COMPETITIVE SERVICE
a. After grouping interchangeable positions into competitive levels, the Agency applies the four retention factors in establishing separate retention registers for each competitive level that may be included in the RIF. The name of each employee is listed in the retention register in the order of his or her retention standing. The retention register includes the name of each employee who holds a position in the competitive level, holds another position because of a temporary promotion from the competitive
level, or is detailed from the competitive level. Employees on military duty with restoration rights are not included. Competing employees are placed on a retention register in the following groups and subgroups. The descending order of retention standing:
(1) By TENURE GROUPS is: Group I, Group II, and Group III.
(2) By SUBGROUPS, based upon eligibility for veteran's preference in RIF, within each tenure group is: Subgroup AD, Subgroup A, and Subgroup B.
(3) By LENGTH OF SERVICE within each subgroup: Employees are ranked beginning with the earliest service date (including performance credit).
b. Tenure groups for competitive service employees are comprised as follows:
(1) Group I - All career employees not serving a probationary period for appointment to a competitive position and other employees specified in 5 CFR 351.501(b)(1) (i) - (iv).
(2) Group II - All career-conditional employees, all employees serving a probationary period for initial appointment to a competitive position, and employees whose tenure status is pending final resolution by OPM.
Note: The fact that an employee is serving a probationary period for a supervisory or managerial position does not affect the tenure group of the employee's appointment for RIF purposes.
(3) Group III - Includes all employees serving under indefinite appointments, temporary appointments pending establishment of a register, status quo appointments, term appointments, and any other non-status non-temporary appointments which meet the definition of provisional appointments contained in 316.401 and 316.403 of 5 CFR 351.
c. The subgroups are comprised of the following employees:
(1) Subgroup AD - All preference eligibles with compensable service-connected disabilities of 30 percent or more.
(2) Subgroup A - All preference eligibles not included in Subgroup AD above.
(3) Subgroup B - All non-preference eligibles.
d. A retired member of a uniformed service who is drawing retired pay must meet certain OPM criteria in order to be considered preference eligibles for RIF purposes. These criteria are defined in 5 CFR 351.501.
4-2. ORDER OF RETENTION FOR EXCEPTED SERVICE
a. Competing employees in the excepted service are classified on a retention register on the basis of their tenure of employment, veteran's preference, length of service, and performance, in descending order as set forth in section 4-1 (a) for competing employees in the competitive service.
b. Groups are defined as follows:
(1) Group 1- All permanent employees whose appointment carries no restriction of condition such as conditional, indefinite, specific time limit, or trial period.
(2) Group 2- All employees serving a trial period or whose tenure is equivalent to a career-conditional appointment in the competitive service.
(3) Group 3- All employees whose tenure is indefinite (without specific time limit) but not actually or potentially permanent; or whose appointment has a specific time limitation of more than one year; or who are currently employed under a temporary appointment of one year or less, but who have completed one year of current continuous service under a temporary appointment with no break in service of one workday or more.
4-3. LENGTH OF SERVICE AND CREDIT FOR PERFORMANCE
a. A service date will be established for each competing employee in a RIF. Employees are listed on a retention register within Veterans Preference subgroups by length of service, in descending order, starting with the earliest service date.
b. An employee's service date for RIF purposes is one of the following:
(1) The date the employee entered on duty, if the employee has no previous creditable service;
(2) The date obtained by subtracting the employee's total previous creditable service from the date the employee last entered on duty; or
(3) The date obtained by subtracting from the date in section 4-3 (b)(1) or (2) above any service credit for performance to which the employee is entitled under section 4-3 (c) below.
An employee who is a retired member of a uniformed service is entitled to credit for the length of time in active service in the armed forces during a war, or in a campaign for which a campaign badge has been authorized, or the total length of time in active service in the armed forces if the employee is considered a preference eligible under 5 CFR '351.501(d). (5 CFR 351.503c)
c. Employees are given performance credit for RIF competition when the employee’s performance meets certain requirements. The amount of credit added is based on the mathematical average (rounded in the case of fractions to the next higher whole number) of the value of the employee's last three actual Federal annual performance ratings of record received during the 4-year period prior to the date of issuance of specific RIF notices, or the date the Agency freezes ratings before issuing RIF notices.
An employee who has not received any rating of record during the 4-year period shall receive credit for performance based on the modal rating for the summary level pattern that applies to the employee’s official position of record at the time of the RIF. A modal rating is defined as the summary level assigned most frequently among the actual ratings of record that are:
(1) assigned under the summary level pattern that applies to the employee’s position of record on the date of the reduction in force;
(2) given within the same competitive area, or the agency’s option within a larger subdivision of the agency or agency wide; and
(3) on record for the most recently completed appraisal period prior to the date of issuance of reduction in force notices or the cutoff date specified in subsection g, after which no new ratings will be put on record.
An employee who has received at least one but fewer than three previous ratings of record during the 4-year cycle shall receive credit for performance on the basis of the value of the actual rating(s) of record divided by the number of actual ratings received.
In determining this average the value assigned to each actual performance rating of record is as follows:
**NA means not applicable to the rating pattern, i.e., the level is not used in that pattern. The numbers represent the number of years to be credited for a rating at that level and under that pattern.
(1) An employee on a 5-tiered system (Pattern H) whose last three annual performance ratings of record were Outstanding, Exceeds Fully Successful, and Exceeds Fully Successful would have a total of 17 years (18 + 16 + 16 = 50, divided by 3 = 16.7, rounded to next higher whole number) added to his or her length of service for RIF purposes.
(2) An employee whose last three annual performance ratings of record were Outstanding and Superior (based on 5-tier system - Pattern H) and Pass (based on Pass/Fail rating system - Pattern A) would have a total of 17 years (18 + 16 + 16 = 50, divided by 3 = 16.7, rounded to next higher whole number) added to his or her length of service for RIF purposes.
NOTE: For all ratings of record put on record before October 1, 1997, or where all ratings within the 4-year cycle and competitive area are in the same rating pattern, the performance credit assigned to each actual performance rating must use the 20, 16, 12 additional years of service for Outstanding, Superior, and Fully Successful ratings.
d. If an employee has had more than three annual performance ratings of record during the 4-year period, the three most recent Federal annual performance ratings of record are used. An annual performance rating of record received prior to the 4-year period cannot be used.
e. Regardless of whether the employee's service occurred in one or more Federal agencies, the employee's actual ratings are to be used to the extent they are available. If they are not available in the employee's official records, the current employing agency will accept employee copies of annual performance ratings of record for this purpose. For employees who received performance ratings while not covered by 5 U.S.C. Chapter 43, those performance ratings shall be considered ratings of record when it is determined that those performance ratings are equivalent ratings of record under provisions of 5 CFR '430.201(c). (5 CFR 351.504 a 3)
f. An employee who has received an improved rating following an opportunity to demonstrate acceptable performance as provided in 5 CFR 432 shall have the improved rating considered as the annual performance rating of record. The cutoff date specified in subsection g applies.
The cutoff date for submission of performance appraisals shall be 90 days before the date the specific RIF notice is issued to employees. No new appraisals will be accepted after this date.
4-4. RETENTION REGISTER
a. The Agency will prepare a retention register for each competitive level affected by the RIF, listing employees by tenure group/subgroup as follows: IAD, IA, IB, IIAD, IIA, IIB, IIIAD, IIIA, and IIIB.
b. An employee serving a temporary promotion will be placed on the retention register for the competitive level from which he or she was promoted.
c. A permanent employee serving in a part-time work schedule will be provided the option to be returned to a full time work schedule 90 days before the specific RIF notice is issued to employees.
d. An employee who has received a written decision to demote or reassign him or her because of unacceptable performance or conduct will be placed on the retention register for the competitive level to which he or she will be demoted or reassigned.
e. The Agency will list, apart from the retention registers but on the same document, in the following order, the name of each employee who:
(1) Is serving under a time limited appointment or temporary promotion (together with the expiration date of appointment or promotion); or
(2) Has a written decision under 5 CFR Part 432 or Part 752 of removal from the position because of unacceptable performance or conduct. An employee who has received a written decision under 5 CFR 432 or Part 752 of the decision to demote him or her because of unsuccessful performance or conduct competes from the position to which he or she has been or will be demoted.
(3) Employees so listed are noncompeting employees in the competitive level, because the Agency must remove them from positions in the competitive level by means other than RIF before releasing any competing employee from the level through RIF.
SECTION 5. RELEASE FROM COMPETITIVE LEVEL
5-1. RELEASE OF NONCOMPETING EMPLOYEES
a. When an employee's position is abolished in a RIF, the employee is not automatically released from his or her competitive level. The Agency first releases noncompeting employees from the competitive level. A noncompeting employee is one who:
(1) Is serving under a specifically limited temporary appointment to a position in that competitive level;
(2) Is serving under a term promotion or temporary promotion to a position in that competitive level (these employees are returned to their permanent positions of record, or equivalent); or
(3) Has received a written decision of removal from a position in that competitive level.
A reassignment made during a reorganization to a position in the same competitive level is neither a RIF nor an adverse action, because RIF regulations apply only when there is a release from a competitive level. The Agency may reassign any employee in the competitive level to a vacant position at the same grade level in the same or different competitive level.
5-2. RELEASE OF COMPETING EMPLOYEES
a. If a competing employee must be released, an employee in an abolished position has a right to one of the other positions in the level as long as he or she is not the lowest standing employee. If the employee in the abolished position is the lowest standing employee, he or she may be released from the competitive level. Similarly, when satisfying an assignment right of an employee from a different competitive level, the Agency is not required to offer the job of the lowest standing employee, but may reassign employees within the level and offer any position in the level so long as the assignment right is satisfied and the proper order of release from the level is followed.
b. After the Agency has released all noncompeting employees from a competitive level, it selects competing employees for release in the inverse order of their retention standing, beginning with the lowest standing employee. All employees in tenure group III are released before any employee in tenure group II is released, and all employees in tenure group II are released before any employee in tenure group I is released. Within each tenure group, employees in subgroup B are released first, followed by subgroups A and AD in that order. Within each subgroup, employees are released in the order of their service dates (as augmented by performance rating credits), beginning with the most recent service date. When employees in the same subgroup have identical service dates and are tied for release, the performance rating credit will be deducted and the employee with the most recent service computation date will be released first if employees have the same service computation date after deducting the performance rating credit, tie breakers are as follows:
(1) Creditable Federal Service, including County Office service and excluding military service.
(2) Creditable USDA service, including County Office service and excluding military service.
(3) Creditable FSA (and predecessor Agency) service, including County Office service and excluding military service.
c. Exceptions to the order of release described above are listed in 5CFR351.601 (a) (1) and (2) and 351.606, 607, 608, and 805. Any employee reached for release out of the regular order must be notified in writing of the reason for the exception.
d. An employee released from a competitive level may have the right to be assigned to another position. If so, the employee must be offered that position (or an equivalent one). Assignment rights are discussed in detail in section 6. below.
e. Only when an employee has no right of assignment to another position, or turns down an offered position satisfying the assignment right, may the Agency furlough or separate the employee under RIF procedures. The Agency may furlough a competing employee only when it intends within one year to recall the employee to the position from which furloughed. The Agency may not furlough competing employees for more than one year. If a furlough is not appropriate, the employee is separated. However, an employee may not be separated while a lower standing employee in the same competitive level remains on furlough.
5-3. RECALL OF RIFed OR FURLOUGHED EMPLOYEES
When the agency recalls employees to duty in the competitive level from which RIFed or furloughed, it shall recall them in the order of their retention standing, beginning with the highest standing employee, or as otherwise required by USDA Regulations.
SECTION 6. ASSIGNMENT RIGHTS
a. In a RIF action, a competitive service employee in tenure group I or II who has a current annual performance appraisal of record of “results achieved” or “minimally successful” or higher has eligibility for assignment to another position, provided that the position:
(1) Is in the competitive service;
(2) Is in the same competitive area;
(3) Will last at least three months;
(4) Is one for which the released employee is qualified;
(5) Has a grade or representative rate of pay no higher than the grade or representative rate of the position from which the employee is released;
(6) Is encumbered by an employee subject to displacement by the released employee by either "bump" or "retreat". Employees do not have inherent rights to vacant positions;
(7) Has the same type of work schedule (full time, part time, etc.) as the position from which the employee is released; and
(8) Has a pay rate which requires no reduction or the least possible reduction in the employee's present pay rate.
b. Promotion potential is not considered in filling a position under RIF regulations. A RIF offer may have more, less, or the same potential.
c. The existence of an encumbered position does not oblige an agency to offer an employee a particular position; however, it does establish the employee's right to be offered a position at the same grade level as the encumbered position.
d. Even though an employee is entitled to only one offer of assignment, the agency must make a better offer if a position with a higher representative rate is available on or before the date of the RIF notice.
e. Employees in tenure group III or those having current annual performance appraisals of record of "unacceptable" have no assignment rights in a RIF action.
6-2. BEST POSSIBLE OFFER
a. When more than one available position meeting all criteria of section 6-1. above will satisfy an employee's assignment right, the employee must be offered the position with the highest representative rate. When two or more available positions exist with the same representative rate, the employee may be offered any of the positions.
While the best possible offer must be made to a competing employee, he or she may voluntarily accept an available position at a lower representative rate. Willing acceptance of such an offer, with full knowledge of entitlement to a position with a higher representative rate, does not satisfy an employee's assignment right. Such a voluntary acceptance of an available position is not covered by RIF regulations and does not confer grade or pay retention.
c. A competing employee may be reassigned to a vacant position in the same competitive area, or in a different competitive area in the same commuting area, which is at least equivalent to the employee's assignment right. However, employees have no right to such reassignment, nor do they have the right to choose assignment to any particular position in a RIF action.
d. A competing employee may be offered a temporary position (under an appointment not to exceed one year) only in lieu of separation by RIF when the employee has no other assignment right.
6-3. DISPLACEMENT OF A LOWER SUBGROUP EMPLOYEE ("BUMPING")
a. Upon release from a competitive level, an eligible employee is entitled to "bump" to an available position which requires no reduction, or the least possible reduction, in representative rate, when the occupied position is encumbered by an employee subject to displacement (see section 6-4 below), AND is the same grade or no more than three grades or three grade-intervals (or equivalent) below the position from which the employee is released. Employees must be qualified for the offered position. (5 CFR 351.701a)
b. An eligible employee in subgroup IAD can displace an employee in IA, IB, or any employee in tenure groups II and III. An IA employee can displace employees in IB, or any employee in group II or III. An IB employee can displace any employee in group II or III. An eligible employee in subgroup IIAD can displace an employee in IIA, IIB or any employee in tenure group III. An IIA employee may displace an employee in IIB or any employee in group III. An IIB employee may displace any employee in group III.
DISPLACEMENT OF AN EMPLOYEE IN THE SAME SUBGROUP ("RETREATING"): Upon release from a competitive level, an eligible employee is entitled to "retreat" to an available position that requires no reduction, or the least possible reduction, in representative rate, when the occupied position is:
a. Encumbered by an employee with a later service date in the same subgroup as the retreating employee;
b. The same grade, or no more than three grades or three grade-intervals (or equivalent) below the position from which the retreating employee is released (the position may be up to five grades or grade-intervals lower if the released employee is a preference eligible with a compensable service-connected disability of 30 percent or more);
c. The same position, or essentially identical to a position previously held by the released employee in any Federal agency; and
d. Encumbered by an employee with a current annual performance appraisal of record no higher than "minimally successful" when the released employee's rating is "minimally successful".
e. The criteria for an essentially identical position are the same as the criteria for competitive level, as defined in Section 3-3, except as stated in 5 CFR 351.701(c)(3).
6-5. DISPLACEMENT OF AN EMPLOYEE IN THE SAME SUBGROUP (“BUMPING”)
The Agency shall permit a competing employee to displace an employee with lower retention standing in the same subgroup consistent with section 6-3 when the Agency cannot make an equally reasonable assignment by displacing an employee in a lower subgroup (reference 5CFR351.705(a)(1)).
6-6. PREFERENCE ELIGIBLES WITH 30 PERCENT OR MORE SERVICE-CONNECTED DISABILITIES
a. The personnel office must notify the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) when it determines, based on the available evidence, that a preference eligible who has a compensable service-connected disability of 30 percent or more is not able to fulfill the physical requirements of a position to which the employee would otherwise have been assigned under RIF procedures.
b. At the same time, the personnel office must notify the employee of the reasons for the determination and of the employee's right to respond to OPM within 15 days of the notification.
c. OPM will make a final determination concerning the physical qualifications of the employee for the position, and inform the personnel office and the employee of the findings. The Agency may not assign any other person to the position until OPM has made its final determination.
d. The personnel office must comply with the final OPM determination.
6-7. GRADE AND PAY RETENTION
Employees assigned to positions at a lower representative rate than the position from which released are entitled to 2 years of grade retention and subsequent pay retention in accordance with 5CFR536.
6-8. EXCEPTIONS TO QUALIFICATIONS STANDARDS
In a RIF action, exceptions may be made to qualifications standards in order to assign an employee to a vacant available position at the same or lower representative rate. This may be done when it is determined that the employee has the capacity, adaptability, and skills required, or that he or she can be retrained to assume the duties of the new position within a reasonable period of time. Reasonable time, for purposes of this exception, will be 90 days unless otherwise agreed to by the union and management. However, minimum educational requirements (such as 24 semester hours in Accounting, or the equivalent, for the GS-511 series) cannot be waived.
SECTION 7. NOTICE TO EMPLOYEES
7-1. NOTICE PERIOD
a. Career and career-conditional employees affected by RIF actions will be given at least 60 days advance specific notice. These conditions apply to employees being separated, furloughed for more than 30 days, reduced in grade, or required to accept assignment beyond the commuting area in a transfer of function. The initial 60 day specific notice need not be extended if the notice is amended resulting in a more favorable action for the employee; but if amendment results in a more severe action (such as a change from demotion to separation), a new 60 day notice is required. Employees who accept a functional transfer offer and then decline during the last 30 days of the 60 day notice period need only be given a 30-day advance notice of separation. At the time the Agency issues a notice to an employee it must give a written notice to the exclusive representative of every affected employee at the time of the notice.
b. Career and career-conditional employees who receive an initial or subsequent notice of separation or furlough due to RIF may not be carried in leave without pay (LWOP) beyond the effective date of their RIF action.
c. Generally career or career-conditional employees may not be carried in annual leave status beyond the effective date of a RIF action. However, if employees would become eligible for immediate annuities if carried beyond the effective date of a RIF they are to be allowed to use accrued annual leave until they become eligible to retire.
7-2. CONTENT OF NOTICE: Specific advance notice of release from the competitive level as a result of a RIF action will include all of the following information:
a. A general statement of reasons the RIF is being conducted.
b. A statement of the specific action to be taken: separation, demotion, furlough, or reassignment.
c. The effective date of the action.
d. The employee's competitive area, competitive level, subgroup, service date, and annual performance ratings of record received during the last four years.
e. The place where the employee may inspect the regulations and records pertinent to his or her case.
f. If applicable, the reasons for retaining a lower standing employee under a mandatory exception, discretionary exception, or discretionary temporary exception authorized by OPM regulations.
g. If applicable, a statement that employees are being separated under liquidation procedures without regard to standing within the subgroup, and the date that the liquidation will be complete.
h. The employee's appeal or grievance rights, time limits, and appropriate procedures.
i. If applicable, the employee's rights, entitlements, and responsibilities with respect to the available out placement and assistance programs such as CTAP, Career Development Centers and other programs which may be available.
j. Notice to the employee of the right to reemployment consideration.
k. Information on applying for unemployment compensation.
l. Estimate of severance pay
m. Information on the employee's eligibility to continue health and life insurance benefits after RIF separation.
n. Notice to the employee of the entitlement to a copy of OPM's retention regulations found in 5 CFR 351.
7-3. STATUS DURING NOTICE PERIOD
The notice period begins the day after the employee receives the RIF notice. Neither the day the employee receives the notice or the effective date of the RIF action may be counted in computing the notice period. Generally, employees will remain in a duty status during the notice period. Under emergency conditions due to lack of work or funds, employees may be placed on annual leave, or in nonpay status, with or without their consent, for all or part of the notice period, with the prior approval of the Administrator. Employees may be placed in leave without pay only with the employee’s consent. (5 CFR 351.806)
SECTION 8. NOTICE TO INTERESTED AGENCIES AND GROUPS
This action is applicable to RIF actions which result in the closure of a field office, or a reduction in personnel within a region, which is expected to be of interest to members of Congress and the public. It applies to actions involving the abolishment of 50 or more encumbered positions within an area.
8-2. INFORMATION TO EMPLOYEE ORGANIZATIONS
Every effort will be made to provide information to the National Office of the Union as well as the president and secretary of Local 3925 on a reduction to the bargaining unit employees.
8-3. INFORMATION TO THE OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT
Appropriate OPM offices will be informed as soon as information is available about significant RIFs so that they may assist in carrying out RIF actions and placing displaced employees.
8-4. INFORMATION TO STATE EMPLOYMENT SERVICE OFFICES
a. Appropriate employment service offices in each competitive area must be provided the earliest practicable advance notice of the number and kinds of employees being affected by a major reduction and be offered office space for satellite offices for both unemployment and employment services.
b. If the RIF involves more than 49 employees, the appropriate Dislocated Worker Unit and the highest elected official in the area where the RIF actions will take place must be notified. As a minimum, the number of employees to be separated, the locations of those employees, and the effective date of the RIF must be provided in this notice.
8-5. INFORMATION TO THE U. S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Pertinent information should be provided to the Department of Labor regarding employees to be displaced, to assist that agency in discharging its responsibilities under the Federal unemployment compensation program.
8-6. INFORMATION TO LOCAL CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE
Information should be furnished to local Chambers of Commerce and other local civic organizations.
SECTION 9. PLACEMENT ASSISTANCE
a. Placement assistance will be offered in accordance with the Federal, Department and agency CTAP programs.
b. Management will provide resume-writing software in each division or over the local area network and allow reasonable use of Agency equipment to prepare resumes by bargaining unit employees seeking outplacement to the extent that such activities do not interfere with ongoing Agency work. Agency equipment shall include but not be limited to: computer, phones, fax machines, printers and copiers.
c. Upon request, the Agency will grant 40 hours of administrative time to career and career-conditional employees who have been identified as surplus to make use of career transition resource services and facilities. Upon request, employees who have received an official notice of separation will receive an additional 40 hours of administrative time to make use of career transition resource services and facilities. Additional time may be provided by supervisors on a case by case basis, in coordination with HRD, without unduly interfering with the Agency's business to attend the following:
(1) job fairs,
(2) job interviews,
(3) seminars, counseling services and appointments with outplacement consultants, and
(4) other job search activities.
d. The Agency will make facilities available for:
(1) in-house job fairs,
(2) D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and other local Employment Officials to set up field offices in Agency office space,
(3) office space for outplacement consultants, counseling services, and classroom space for retirement and job hunting seminars, and
(4) D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and other local Unemployment Officials to set up field offices in Agency office space.
e. The Agency will obtain and make available:
(1) access for bargaining unit employees to search job posting bulletin boards on Internet and other electronic sources,
(2) D.C., Maryland, and Virginia unemployment compensation forms in each Division, and
(3) retirement and job hunting seminars, counseling services and outplacement consultants.
SECTION 10. SEVERANCE PAY
Eligible employees who are involuntarily separated from the Federal Service in a RIF action will be granted severance pay in accordance with 5 CFR 550.
SECTION 11. RIF APPEALS
a. With the exception of those employees covered by this section, any employee who received a specific notice of a RIF action, including separation, demotion, or furlough of more than 30 days, and believes that the provisions of this Manual, or of applicable OPM or USDA regulations, have not been correctly applied, may file an appeal with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). An employee who accepts an offer of assignment to another position at the same grade same representative rate may not appeal the RIF action to MSPB. As part of the specific RIF notice, the employee will be provided with a copy of the MSPB appeal form, and will be advised that he or she:
(1) Has 30 calendar days after the effective date of the action to file an appeal;
(2) May have access to the MSPB regulations regarding the processing of appeals; and
(3) May file the appeal in person or by mail, but in either case is responsible for ensuring that the appeal is received timely at the appropriate MSPB field office.
b. An employee in a bargaining unit covered by a negotiated grievance procedure that does not exclude RIF must use the negotiated grievance procedure and may not appeal a RIF action to the MSPB, unless the employee raises an allegation of discrimination under 5 U.S.C. 2302(b)(1) in conjunction with a RIF action (in which case the employee may either use the negotiated grievance procedures or appeal to MSPB, but not both). Time limits for these employees are spelled out in the collective bargaining agreement.
c. An employee may not file a RIF appeal before the effective date of the RIF action, even when the employee's basic right is to file a grievance under a negotiated grievance procedure.
11-2. GROUNDS FOR RIF APPEAL: Employee appeals of RIF actions may be based on, but not limited to the following grounds:
a. Retention of an employee in a lower subgroup in a job for which the appellant considers himself or herself qualified.
b. Insufficient notice.
c. Inadequate reasons, or failure to give reasons, for exceptions to the regulations.
d. Denial of the right to examine the regulations or to inspect the retention registers and related records.
e. Improper competitive area.
f. Improper competitive level.
g. Improper tenure grouping.
h. Error in establishing the service date.
i. Failure to make a reasonable assignment offer.
j. Improper determination of qualifications for another assignment.
k. Improper placement on leave without pay during the notice period.
l. Failure by the Agency to comply with its own administrative procedures.
SECTION 12. FURLOUGHS
12-1. GENERAL PROVISIONS
a. The Union recognizes that circumstances beyond the control of Management may necessitate having to furlough employees. The union also recognizes that the decisions to furlough employees, which employees will be furloughed, and the duration of any furlough must be made by Management.
b. Management recognizes that the Union in agreeing to the following does not waive any individual employee's rights under Statute or regulation.
c. Furloughs, whether they are emergency or nonemergency furloughs, will be implemented in accordance with applicable Statutes, regulations, and negotiated agreements.
d. Nonemergency furloughs will be implemented only if their necessity cannot reasonably be abated through other means, such as hiring freezes, reduction in travel or training that is not critical to the mission of FSA, or reduction of contracts with consultants and contractors, and any and all other expenses that are not critical to the mission of the agency.
12-2. FURLOUGH NOTICES
a. In emergency furlough situations, employees will be given as much advance notice as possible.
b. In nonemergency furlough situations, employees will be given as much advance notice as possible but not less than the minimum notice required by Statute or regulation.
c. Furlough notices distributed to employees will contain all the information required by Statute or regulation including, if applicable, an explanation of why the employee is being furloughed if not every employee in his/her competitive level and competitive area is being furloughed.
(1) In the case of an emergency furlough both Management and the Union recognize that the number of furlough days may not be known in advance and that Management may not be able to notify bargaining unit employees if the number of furlough days becomes known after the onset of the furlough.
(2) In the case of a nonemergency furlough when the number of furlough days is not known in advance, Management agrees to provide furloughed bargaining unit employees with an updated furlough notice as soon as possible after the exact number of furlough days becomes known.
d. In nonemergency furlough situations and to the extent possible in emergency furlough situations Management will submit a draft furlough notice to the Union for comment prior to distributing it to employees.
e. Management will provide the Union with a list of employees that identifies those who will be subject to furlough and those who will not be subject to furlough. The list will state the reason why an employee is not being furloughed.
(1) In a nonemergency furlough situation, the listing of employees will normally be provided to the union within three work days after making the decision to furlough.
(2) In an emergency furlough situation, the listing of employees deemed critical and noncritical will be provided to the union as much in advance of the anticipated furlough date as possible.
a. In nonemergency furlough situations when less than all employees in a competitive level and competitive area are being furloughed, Management will ask employees to volunteer to be placed in leave without pay (LWOP) status.
(1) Management reserves the right not to accept a voluntary request for LWOP from an employee for work related reasons.
(2) The savings from voluntary LWOP will be used to reduce the number of employees subject to furlough or the number of hours of furlough for all employees being furloughed.
(3) If there are insufficient volunteers to mitigate the need for the furlough, employees will be selected for furlough on the basis of their RIF retention standing.
(4) If there are more than enough volunteers to obviate the need for the furlough, employees will be placed in LWOP status on the basis of their RIF SCD with the employee having the earliest in time RIF SCD being given the first right of refusal.
b. In a nonemergency furlough situation and to the extent it is possible to do so, Management will permit employees to choose the days on which they will be furloughed. In the event of scheduling conflicts among equally qualified employees, the employee with the earliest in time RIF SCD date will be granted his/her request.
c. In a nonemergency furlough situation and to the extent that it is possible to do, Management will not schedule both the day before and the day after a holiday as furlough days.
d. Shutdown procedures:
(1) Necessary shutdown functions may include but are not limited to:
(a) Making necessary contacts outside the Agency to communicate status of operations.
(b) Canceling meetings, hearings, and other previously arranged agency business.
(c) Issuing notices to State and County Offices regarding termination of activities.
(d) Performing the tasks necessary to protect classified and confidential information, including listing of all papers to be accorded confidential status and accounting for all classified documents.
(e) Inventorying and preparing Government property for disposition.
(f) Performing requisite administrative functions, such as processing payroll for the period until the expiration of funds, assuring that employees are accorded all due personnel rights, providing employees with requisite documents, etc.
(2) (a) Only employees designated as critical and employees notified as required for shut-down activities will be required to report for duty on the first day of an emergency furlough. Management shall minimize the number of employees required for shut-down activities.
(b) However, if noncritical employees or employees not required for shutdown activities are requested to report for duty, Management strongly urges that employees report for duty. Failure to report for duty during an employee's normal tour of duty hours will result in the employee not being paid for that day if the furlough ends prior to 11:59 PM on that evening. If the furlough ends prior to the beginning of the duty day and the employees are either late reporting or fail to report for duty on that day, they will be considered to be in AWOL status.
(c) Employees on prior approved leave or on a compressed work schedule (CWS) day off on the first day of an emergency furlough will not be required to report for work unless otherwise directed or unless designated as a critical employee.
(3) Employees required to report to work on the first day of shutdown who will be required to perform the necessary and designated shutdown activities will be:
(a) Informed by their supervisors either orally or in writing of the shutdown activities in which they may engage.
(b) Released from work upon completion of their assigned shutdown activities and approval by their immediate supervisor.
(c) Informed by their immediate supervisor before the termination of the employee's workday whether the shutdown activity in which they are engaged requires the employee's presence on a subsequent day(s) and if so, to whom to report.
(4) Employees reporting to work on subsequent days of shutdown:
(a) Must have the prior approval of their immediate supervisor before reporting to work.
(b) Will engage only in shutdown activities identified by their immediate shutdown supervisor.
(c) Will be released and placed on immediate furlough by their shutdown supervisor when the assigned shutdown activity(ies) identified for the employee's accomplishment have been completed.
12-4. PERSONNEL CONSIDERATIONS
a. Hours of Duty
(1) During the period of an emergency furlough, full-time employees on compressed work schedules (CWS) and part-time will be deemed to be furloughed on the days and for the number of hours of each day in accordance with their last approved work schedule.
(2) During non-emergency furloughs for budgetary short-falls or lack of work, all full-time employees furloughed will be furloughed for the same number of hours. Part-time employees will be furloughed in the same proportion as full time employees, for example, a part-time employee who works 20 hours a week will be furloughed for 50 percent of the number of hours that a full-time employee is furloughed.
b. Time In Non-Pay Status
(1) Aggregate non-pay status not to exceed 22 work days will count toward the completion of the probationary period.
(2) Furlough days count toward time-in-grade.
(3) Within-grade increases will not be delayed because an employee is placed on furlough unless the employee is in non-pay status during his/her waiting period for:
(a) 80 hours for employees in Steps 1, 2, and 3;
(b) 160 hours for employees in Steps 4, 5, and 6;
(c) 240 hours for employees in Steps 7, 8, and 9.
c. Absence and Leave
(1) An employee on furlough will receive annual and sick leave accruals unless he/she is in non-pay status for 80 hours or increments thereof during the leave year.
(2) When an emergency furlough is required, employees on approved annual leave on the effective date of the furlough will have their annual leave canceled and they will be permitted to remain absent from work for the duration of the furlough.
(a) Upon the expiration of the furlough, employees who were on approved annual leave that did not extend beyond the end of the furlough will report to duty.
(b) Employees who have had annual leave canceled due to a furlough will be given every opportunity to reschedule that leave.
(c) Employees who have had annual leave canceled or who were prevented from taking prior scheduled annual leave due to a furlough and who make reasonable efforts to reschedule their leave and are denied an opportunity to take use or lose leave by Management are entitled to request restoration of any excess leave under exigency of the public service leave regulations. If regulatory requirements are met, management will grant requests under these circumstances.
(3) When an emergency furlough is required, employees on approved sick leave on the effective date of the furlough will have their sick leave canceled and they will be permitted to remain absent from work for the duration of the furlough.
(a) Upon the expiration of the furlough, employees who were on approved sick leave the effective date of the furlough will report to duty unless their medical status precludes them from doing so.
(b) If an employee's medical status precludes him/her from reporting to work upon the expiration of the furlough, the employee must request sick leave in accordance with applicable procedures.
(4) Employees may not use annual or sick leave on scheduled furlough days during a nonemergency furlough.
(5) Furlough days do not count against Family Medical Leave absences and entitlements.
(6) Employees in continuation of pay (COP) status will remain on COP status in accordance with Department of Labor regulations during a period of furlough.
d. Health and Life Insurance
(1) Health insurance benefits will continue for up to 365 days in non-pay status.
(a) The Government shall continue to pay the employer share of the health insurance premium. (Refer to 5
(b) The employee is responsible for his/her share of the health insurance premium. Payment of the employee's share of the premium during a furlough will be made in accordance with National Finance Center procedures. (Refer to 5 C.F.R. 890.)
(2) Life insurance shall continue for up to 12 months in non-pay status at no cost to the employee. (Refer to 5 C.F.R. 870.)
e. Pay During Furlough
(1) Employees who are required to report for duty during an emergency furlough will be compensated in accordance with applicable Statute and regulation.
(2) Employees who are placed on emergency furlough because of a lapse of appropriations will be retroactively paid when appropriations are approved to the extent permitted by Statute and regulation. Absence without charge to leave shall be retroactively granted barring statutory prohibition, or actions that would be in violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act, 31 U.S.C. Para 665 (1976), or statements of congressional intent to the contrary.
f. Furlough will not be used in lieu of another adverse or disciplinary action.
g. Performance expectations shall be adjusted to take into account the effect of being away from the workplace on furlough.
12-5. FURLOUGH GRIEVANCES AND APPEALS
a. This section applies only to furlough grievances and appeals. Either Party may submit an institutional grievance over the interpretation of this agreement or its general application to the Director, Human Resources Division or the President of AFSCME Local 3925, as appropriate.
(1) The grievance will be in writing and submitted within 5 work days of becoming aware of the issues giving rise to the grievance.
(2) Within 5 work days of receipt of the grievance, representatives of the Parties will meet to attempt to mutually settle the grievance.
(3) If settlement cannot be reached the Parties will jointly request the designation of a panel of not less than 3 nor more than 5 arbitrators from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
(a) Within 2 workdays of receipt of the list of arbitrators, representatives of the Parties will meet and select an arbitrator by alternately striking names. The loser of a coin toss will strike first.
(b) The arbitrator's authority will be limited to interpreting the agreement language and determining remedies for breach of this agreement. The Arbitrator is not empowered to fashion a remedy that decides the appeal of any individual employee.
(c) An expedited arbitration procedure will be used. The arbitration hearing will be scheduled for the earliest date available on the calendar of the arbitrator selected. The arbitrator shall be asked to issue a bench ruling, followed by a short written confirmation of his award.
(d) The arbitrator's fee shall be paid by the losing party. In the event of a split decision by the arbitrator, the arbitrator's fees shall be paid by the Parties in a proportion determined by the arbitrator.
b. This grievance procedure does not cover individual employee appeals of furlough actions.
12-6. MISCELLANEOUS CONSIDERATIONS
a. To the extent that Management has information available on contact points for unemployment compensation and other benefits to which employees being placed on furlough may be entitled, it will be provided to those employees.
b. Outside Employment: Employees may accept outside employment during furlough days, as long as the work does not constitute an illegal conflict of interest.
c. Access to Union Office: To the extent possible, the union officers and officials shall be allowed access to the designated union offices and related space during the time of a furlough, of whatever type and duration, in order to continue to fulfill the union functions and responsibilities dictated and delineated in and under the Federal Statute, 5U.S.C.5596(b), Chapter 71 of Title 5. The Union recognizes that the employer does not control access to the South Building.