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Freeze could send more than shivers through federal workforce

The recent change in government isn't unusual. That doesn't mean it is without its wrinkles. While President Trump's executive order freezing hiring is something anyone could expect, the level of confusion resulting is more unsettling. While some agencies reportedly are exempt, the order's lack of detail is ginning up confusion for workers in those same agencies and others across the country.

Attorneys with depth of experience in protecting federal worker rights and welfare understand how sudden administrative moves can ripple through the fabric of institutions. In this instance, the freeze order includes instruction for the Offices of Management and Budget and the Personnel Management to, "Recommend a long-term plan to reduce the size of the Federal Government's workforce through attrition." 

Experts observe that these job actions typically result in the lowest level workers suffering the most. And experience tells us it's important to anticipate capricious moves that might run counter to employment law. Securing worker rights to due process becomes even more important than usual. 

The future is unknown. What might be good to be asking is what impact the hiring freeze could have on the workers on the job right now?

It should surprise no one that federal managers and workers in many agencies complain they already lack the staff they need to fulfill their mandates. Meanwhile, outside experts say pressures are only likely to get worse. The suggestion from some is that increased stress and anxiety could lead to increased workers' compensation claims for emotional issues.

The Office of Workers Compensation Programs handles such disabling conditions, and it acknowledges in its own information online that they are more complicated than physical trauma claims. More evidence is demanded and a narrative from the claimant that specifies what work conditions are believed to have contributed to the situation is required.

Government leaders have a right and duty to try to maintain controls over spending. Unlike leaders in most private businesses, though, they have a greater obligation when it comes to providing workers due process.

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