New House bill addresses federal worker appeals board

| Sep 15, 2020 | Federal Employment Law

You obviously have a lot invested relevant to your professional career as a federal employee.

For starters, federal jobs can be notably hard to get, with open positions often being contended for by high numbers of candidates. If you’ve secured a placement that was hotly vied for, that certainly says something about your educational attainments, workplace credentials, learning aptitude, commitment to excellence and other on-the-job attributes.

It also spotlights the need for you and others similarly situated to be duly concerned about protecting your job and career. Federal employees have strong workplace rights, and those sometimes need to be safeguarded against abuse through a proactive and aggressive response.

The MSPB: a protective platform for federal workers

We’ll quickly get the acronym out of the way: The MSPB shortcut tag stands for the Merit Systems Protection Board. An authoritative legal overview of the board notes its role as “a quasi-judicial agency charged with protecting the integrity of the federal merit systems and the rights of individuals within those systems.”

How does the MSPB do that?

Following is a bullet-point list that helps to explain what the board is all about and its central relevance for federal employees in select instances. Among other things, the MSPB attends to these important functions:

  • Adjudication of employee appeals
  • Oversight of merit system practices through studies and reports
  • Issuance of rulings on matters ranging widely from alleged discrimination and retaliation to job demotion and termination
  • assurance of full due process rights for an affected worker

The MSPB’s current status: battered but still with clout

It understates to simply note that the MSPB currently faces some material challenges. The publication Fedweek notes that the board “has been largely sidelined throughout the Trump administration by a lack of quorum.” In fact, the entity has been devoid of members since early last year.

New legislation seeks to significantly adjust the current reality. A prospective law recently working its way through the U.S. House of Representative provides for the following adjustments:

  • reauthorization of the MSPB through 2026
  • expansion of board authority across several fronts

Concerning that latter bullet point, the enactment of HR-7864 would require administrative judges and additional personnel to participate in a ramped-up whistleblower training program. And it would additionally enable the MSPB to conduct expanded surveys of federal workers relevant to merit principles and job security.

The House bill seeking to shore up MSPB prerogatives and materially reassert its authority commands widespread backing from many federal unions and worker advocacy groups.

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