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Phased retirement still a ways off for federal workers

Two years ago, Congress approved a program that would give federal employees who are near retirement the ability to work part-time while they trained in their successors. But little movement from the Office of Personnel Management has left a number of employees wondering what the law is and where they fit into things.

Called “phased retirement,” the program is regarded by many as a great way of “mentoring and training the next generation of civil servants” and was anticipated by a majority of federal employees nearing retirement. But the OPM has failed to create guidelines for how the program will run or what rules employees and employers will need to follow.

As was pointed out by a letter given to the OPM director by several Republicans and Democrats, some government employees are choosing to retire completely out of frustration because they are concerned that guidelines may never get handed down.

Although a spokesperson from the OPM says that the agency is working hard to have a set of guidelines finished by September, it does little for employee and employers right now. As some of our readers can imagine, without guidelines, employees may not know if they are violating the law when it comes to announcing their retirement.

Even if an employer does allow a person to stay on part-time, there is no guarantee that the new guidelines will apply to how the employer had been operating. This could open the employer up to complex litigation that may require legal representation in order to come to a resolution on the matter.

According to Chairman Darrell Issa from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the OPM is “unnecessarily delaying the rule and impeding the law.” Whether this will lead to class-action litigation for those affected employees or not remains to be seen.

Source: The Washington Post, “Lawmakers press OPM to finally begin ‘phased retirement’ for federal workers,” Josh Hicks, July 8, 2014

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