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Federal Employment and Labor Law Blog

OPM to federal workers: Opt out of LTC program with care

How important is long-term care insurance? Private financial planners would likely agree that LTC insurance is a "must have" item, if you can get your hands on it. It's not as widely available as it used to be, but the value of LTC coverage is highlighted by the fact that there is a program for protecting federal workers in Texas and across the United States.

That said, just because coverage is available doesn't mean it is affordable. Indeed, the costs of premiums are going up whether you are in the private or public sector. However, as was recently announced by the Office of Personnel Management, there is a feature in the federal program that could allow a large number of employees to opt out of the premiums while retaining some of the benefits. The question to ask, says OPM, is "Is it worth it?"

Finding the best method to resolve employee disputes

Are you married? Do you live with others? You know that disputes can surface over many things. The same is true of our work lives. It should come as no surprise. We probably spend as much or more time with our coworkers than we do with our families.

If you are federal employee in Texas or anywhere else in the country, you could find yourself embroiled in a job controversy of one kind or another. Adverse actions can leave you frustrated and demoralized. Worse, they can leave you unemployed. Understanding all your options for how to protect your rights is paramount.

With elections looming, recall rules of federal employee conduct

Working for the federal government comes with some benefits that private employment does not. It also comes with some drawbacks. As we noted in a previous post, federal workers in Texas or anywhere else can easily find themselves facing disciplinary action for something that most other Americans take for granted – expressing opinions about politics.

This is all courtesy of the Hatch Act. Passed in 1939, the Hatch Act seeks to insulate federal programs from partisan politicking during elections by outlining what government workers can and cannot do.

IRS workplace safety issues cited in new IG report

The headline reads, "Hundreds of IRS Workers Injured on the Job Every Year." If your first reaction is to snicker and say, "They must suffer lots of paper cuts," you'd be well off the mark. The fact of the matter, according to a new report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, is that IRS workers across the country, including Texas, report in excess of 800 new injuries every year and most of them are due to slips, trips and falls.

Generally speaking, the TIGTA report says that in the majority of cases, the IRS can do little to prevent these incidents. It credits the federal tax agency with having processes and policies in place for preventing and responding to most injuries when they do occur. At the same time, the report says there is room for improvement in dealing with injuries that result in workers' compensation claims.

Maintaining OWCP benefits for as long as needed, Part 2

Workers' compensation is supposed to be that no-fault safety net that helps workers get the treatment and therapy needed to recover and return to work. As we noted in our previous post, the benefit system for federal workers in Texas and across the country is separate from those for the private sector.

Getting and maintaining needed coverage isn't always easy. Denials occur and the process of going through the appeals process can be complicated and challenging without help of a skilled advocate. Those with experience in this area of practice likely would agree that there are a few common reasons why injured workers might see their benefits terminated. Read on to learn more.

Maintaining OWCP benefits for as long as needed, Part 1

We suspect this is something most everyone has probably experienced before, especially at the big federal agency offices around the country. You happen to encounter a work colleague you haven't seen in awhile and he has a brace on his wrist that wasn't there before.

Being the caring person you are; you ask what happened. The response is, "Tendinitis. I'm sure it's work related." The next question it would seem legitimate to ask is, "Well, have you filed a workers' compensation claim?" Very often the answer that comes back is, "Wow, I guess I should."

House sets stage for showdown on veteran hiring preference

Congress holds the purse strings of government spending. Just because both chambers are in Republican control doesn't mean that the legislative ship of state is cruising along smoothly along solid party lines. All Texas readers have to do is examine the situation that exists over the government's policy on giving military veterans hiring preference for federal positions.

As we noted in our last post, lawmakers are considering language that would change current elements of federal employment policy. Depending on how things play out, veterans might find that the partiality they enjoy now will be cut back. But it's clear from the way things currently stand that there is some division in congressional ranks about how the matter should be resolved.

Scaling back federal job preferences for vets

There can be a number of different points at which discrimination can come into play in the process of federal employment. As we noted in a previous post, the standard of fairness and openness that the Merit Systems Protection Board is meant to strive for isn't always achieved. Managers may sometimes limit the time a position is posted, or reopen a listing if a preferred candidate suddenly appears.

Once in a job, a person might suffer wrongful termination, miss out on a promotion for which they should be eligible or suffer sexual harassment. All these are forms of discrimination that should not happen, and whether you live in Texas or some other state, you need to know you have rights to protect yourself from any illegal treatment.

What process is due under federal job due process rules?

The concept of due process enjoys a long history. It's been around since before the United States began and is preserved as a core constitutional value in Texas and every other state. It is perhaps most associated with how the government is supposed to treat individuals suspected of criminal or civil wrongdoing to ensure quality of justice.

Despite the recognized value of promoting due process in the broad scope of matters, it was only in 1912 that it began to be applied to federal employment. That's when the first U.S. law took effect saying that workers could not be removed from a job without specific steps being followed for the protection of rights.

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