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Government may ease barriers to firing federal employees

A 2015 report from the Government Accountability Office state it takes six months to one year to dismiss a federal employee. It states the “time and resource commitment” to remove poor performing employees “can be substantial.”

To increase the efficiency of this system, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has proposed new regulations that directly impact how federal agencies fire and otherwise discipline federal employees. The proposed changes are part of an executive order that is currently open to public comments.

Key changes include:

  • Progressive discipline. The changes would remove the requirement for the use of progressive discipline.
  • Communication. The new regulations would require agencies provide information on an employee’s misconduct or poor performance to other agencies.
  • Probationary period. The probationary period would become the final step in the hiring process.

The OPM also calls on supervisors to use the probationary period as an opportunity to promptly address any issues with a candidates’ performance or conduct. The OPM would encourage this with regulations that require the agency provide notification to the candidate’s direct supervisor at the 90 day and at the 30-day mark prior to the end of the probationary period. At that time, the agency would expect the supervisor to decide the candidate’s fitness for continued employment. If the candidate is not deemed “fit” then the supervisor must pursue appropriate action.

The proposal is just that, a proposal. It is not yet in effect. However, if it does go into effect it will make it even more imperative for federal employees to seek legal counsel when facing disciplinary action.

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