Revised rules covering white-collar federal worker pay raises, promotions and layoff procedures will be published tomorrow in the Federal Register.
The new proposals, from the Office of Personnel Management, are considerably different from the tough work-rules changes that OPM outlined March 30 and originally planned to implement next month.
Agencies will have until mid-August to comment on the revised regulations. That means there will not be any change in the pay, promotion or reduction-in-force (RIF) rules until fall at the earliest.
OPM's revised regulations are the result of comments it got from federal personnel directors and from the flak it caught from members of Congress and unions representing federal workers. They were especially upset about the original OPM proposal to devalue seniority.
The personnel agency (which was the Civil Service Commission until President Carter reorganized it) had originally proposed that in future RIFs employes would keep their jobs on the basis of their last performance rating rather than their seniority. OPM said this would help women and minorities who often lack seniority and are often the first fired under current seniority rules. But opponents said it would simply give political appointees more power to punish or fire uncooperative career workers.
OPM also wanted a severe limit on "bumping" during RIFs.
Under current rules, senior employes who are RIFfed can bump less-senior lower-grade workers out of their jobs. That has resulted in psychologists becoming mail room clerks, and doctors working as typists.
Under the new proposed regulations, an employe's seniority and last three job performance ratings would be taken into account when RIF lists are drawn up.
(A new round of RIFs is in the works in several federal agencies. A general RIF notice was issued yesterday for several employes in the Department of Education).
OPM's first set of regulations would not have permitted employes denied within-grade pay raises to appeal. The new rules would continue the current practice of appeal or review rights.
Workers in the first six steps of a grade could get within-grade raises every year or two (those raises are worth 3 percent) if they got a rating of "fully successful" under the new 5-tier rating system OPM proposes.
More senior workers in the sixth through 10th steps of the grade would have to get a higher rating--either "highly successful" or "outstanding" to get the raises that are now virtually automatic to employes with enough time in grade.
OPM Director Donald Devine will outline the revised regulations Thursday when he appears before the Senate Civil Service Subcommittee. Its chairman, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) wants to make the new rules a 3 1/2 year experiment limited to 150,000 employes. Under the Stevens plan unions would be able to negotiate with agencies over work rules.