Federal-employee union wants broader eligibility for phased-retirement program

One of the nation’s largest federal-worker unions wants to expand a program that will allow federal employees to work part-time after the age of retirement while receiving partial annuities and continuing to pay toward their benefits.

The National Treasury Employees Union said in a statement on Tuesday that more federal workers should be able to qualify for the “phased retirement” program, which Congress and President Obama approved last year.

The Office of Personnel Management plans to complete guidelines for the program by the end of the year. The NTEU is pushing to make changes to the draft rules before the Aug. 5 deadline for submitting comments.

The labor union expressed concern that the proposed guidelines would limit phased-retirement eligibility to employees with 20 or more years of service with the federal government. “NTEU supports broadening the eligibility,” said the group’s president, Colleen M. Kelley.

The NTEU also took issue with a proposed rule that would require workers to spend at least 20 percent of their part-time employment on mentoring, saying the policy wouldn’t make sense for all the participants at a time when the government is trimming its workforce.

Kelley said the guidelines should “allow agencies to waive the mentoring requirement when severe budget restrictions prevent an agency from hiring new employees.”

The NTEU also called for the creation of an appeals system that would allow employees to challenge adverse decisions about their eligibility for phased-retirement.

Phased retirements could reduce the federal deficit by $200 million over the next four years, according to estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which calculated the effects last year for an analysis of proposed legislation.

An article from the Post’s Eric Yoder explains the phased-retirement concept in greater detail.

To connect with Josh Hicks, follow his Twitter feed, friend his Facebook page or e-mail josh.hicks@washpost.comFor more federal news, visit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics. E-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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Josh Hicks · July 30, 2013