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house Bill H.R. 4182

Should Probationary Periods for Certain Federal Employees be Two Years Instead of One?

Argument in favor

Federal employees need to be qualified for the roles they were hired to fill. By making their probationary periods two years instead of one would help ensure that unqualified employees can be removed as quickly as possible.

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11/30/2017
Government employees should be treated fairly in all areas. But the government moves slowly, and taking longer to evaluate someone's competence makes sense here.
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SneakyPete's Opinion
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11/30/2017
Passage of a bill to double the length of probationary periods for federal employees in the competitive and senior executive service to two years is a move in the right direction. It would provide a deeper evaluation of an individuals performance through multiple work cycles.
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Bill's Opinion
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12/01/2017
As a retired federal employee, I am for extended probationary periods.
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Argument opposed

This bill would double the probationary period for all federal employees in the competitive or senior executive service, in which they’re essentially at-will employees, with no evidence there’s a need for it to be extended.

Peter's Opinion
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11/30/2017
One year is plenty of time to assess an employee. Most companies don't even have 1 year to decide
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Mike's Opinion
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11/30/2017
220 working days isn’t long enough to evaluate someone? In what world? Man it would be nice to have one decent advocate for workers. Agree to disagree again, Congressman.
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Mochsma's Opinion
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11/30/2017
One year should be plenty to determine whether a person is capable of doing the job.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
  • The house Passed November 30th, 2017
    Roll Call Vote 212 Yea / 204 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Oversight and Reform
    IntroducedOctober 31st, 2017

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What is House Bill H.R. 4182?

This bill — known as the EQUALS Act — would extend the existing probationary period for federal workers in the competitive service and the Senior Executive Service from one year to two years after the completion of required training and licensing. During a probationary period a federal employee can be removed from their position more easily than after their probationary period ends. The bill would also modify eligibility for protection from adverse actions for probationary employees.

Agencies would be required to:

  • Clearly explain the probationary period in any job posting or offer of employment;

  • Tell employees in probationary positions the expectations in order to be retained;

  • Notify supervisors 30 days before the end of a probationary period;

  • Certify satisfactory completion of probationary periods for employees agencies retained after the end of the period.

To be eligible for adverse action procedures for misconduct an employee in the competitive service would have to both complete a probationary or trial period and complete two years of current continuous employment in the same or a similar position. A non-preference eligible employee would have to do the same, while an individual in the excepted service an employee would have to complete two years of continuous employment in the same or a similar position.  Individuals wouldn’t be entitled to appeal a removal or reduction in grade until they have completed those requirements.

This legislation would take effect one year after its enactment.

The bill’s full title is the Ensuring A Qualified Civil Service Act of 2017.

Impact

New federal employees in the competitive and senior executive service; their managers; and federal agencies.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4182

The CBO estimates that enacting this bill would have no significant budgetary effect.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. James Comer (R-KY) introduced this bill to extend probationary periods for new federal hires in the competitive service and Senior Executive Service:

“Having served in both state and federal government, I’ve seen firsthand the critical importance of a qualified government workforce. The EQUALS Act will ensure the American people are served by a professional and competent civil service. It will also provide sufficient time for federal managers to assess the performance of probationary employees and for new hires to demonstrate proficiency in their roles. This legislation will benefit the federal workforce and, most importantly, the American people whom they serve.”

House Democrats expressed strong opposition to this bill in committee, with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) writing:

“The bill would double the amount of time during which federal employees are essentially at-will employees. Due process protections are critical to ensuring the integrity of the federal civil service by preventing its politicization and protecting whistleblowers from retaliation. The Majority would take the drastic step of doubling the probationary period with no evidence that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. The Committee has held no hearings on whether federal agencies need a blanket one-year extension of the probationary period for every federal job in the competitive and senior executive service. This legislation appears to be a solution in search of a problem.”

This legislation passed the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on a party-line 19-17 vote and has the support of three cosponsors in the House, all of whom are Republicans.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: gradyreese / iStock)

AKA

Ensuring a Qualified Civil Service Act of 2017

Official Title

To amend title 5, United States Code, to modify probationary periods with respect to positions within the competitive service and the Senior Executive Service, and for other purposes.

    One year is plenty of time to assess an employee. Most companies don't even have 1 year to decide
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    220 working days isn’t long enough to evaluate someone? In what world? Man it would be nice to have one decent advocate for workers. Agree to disagree again, Congressman.
    Like (20)
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    One year should be plenty to determine whether a person is capable of doing the job.
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    A year should be enough. The powers that be need too do their job and terminate those that don't cut it.
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    This bill requires a minimum two-year probationary period for new hires starting after “formal training” programs or upon completion of a required professional license or certificate. In theory, agencies could keep new employees in probation limbo for many years by extending training programs. Training programs already differ greatly. Some are mandated annually, some are given periodically throughout a career, and are never-ending. One year of probation is enough for nearly all positions in government. If a manager cannot figure out in a year's time whether an employee is a good fit, then it is the manager that may need replacing.
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    You should be able to adequately gauge competency within a year.
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    Government employees should be treated fairly in all areas. But the government moves slowly, and taking longer to evaluate someone's competence makes sense here.
    Like (4)
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    One year is enough for the employer to decide to keep, or discharge someone.
    Like (4)
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    Passage of a bill to double the length of probationary periods for federal employees in the competitive and senior executive service to two years is a move in the right direction. It would provide a deeper evaluation of an individuals performance through multiple work cycles.
    Like (4)
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    My goodness, can't you determine if soneone is qualified in a 12 month period? IF you can't then you shouldn't be supervising.
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    Two years seems like an excessive time to be on probation. In state gov. the probationary period is usually six months. Extending it to one year ok, but two years is way too long. In addition, if you're going to have such a rule for civil servants, then why not have this same rule extend to elected officials-Congress, the President, and appointed officials? Under the current administration, Trump would not have passed his probationary period as he is clearly not qualified for the position.
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    As a retired federal employee, I am for extended probationary periods.
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    Maybe 6 months
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    30 - 90 days is standard in the Private sector. That is more than enough. Most managers make up their minds in the first 45 seconds of an interview.
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    I’m sure this is yet another attack on the rights of workers.
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    You should be able to tell if someone is fit for the job within two months. After that, if you haven’t gotten rid of them it is due to poor management.
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    One year should be plenty of time to make a determination, people need to know this is not temporary don't string them along any longer!
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    If management can't figure it out in a year, the incompetence is in management. Don't keep stringing people along as probationary employees. It's cruel and exploitive.
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    In the private sector, companies take far less than one year to evaluate employee performance. Extending this time for federal employees simply assures that incompetent personnel get to keep their jobs longer before they are ousted.
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    THIS BILL COULD MEAN THAT AN EMPLOYEE COULD BE HIRED BY ONE ADMINISTRATION AND FIRED BY THE NEXT. IT WOULD LEAVE THE EMPLOYEE AT THE MERCY OF POLITICAL PARTY AFFILIATION, AND I DO NOT LIKE THAT IDEA! THE VERY INFORMATION THAT THE REPUBLICANS LIKE IT AND DEMOCRATS DON'T MAKES ME SUSPICIOUS. I AM AN INDEPENDENT, BUT THE SLIMEY SWAMPINESS OF THIS REPUBLICAN CONGRESS AND THE DIRTY THINGS THAT THE REPUBLICANS IN IT HAVE DONE TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAVE MADE ME HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS OF ANYTHING THAT THIS REPUBLICAN CONGRESS LIKES. DEMOCRATS ARE NO SAINTS, WHICH IS WHY IA AM AN INDEPENDENT, BUT THE REPUBLICANS IN THIS CONGRESS HAVE MADE ME FEAR THEM MUCH MORE THAN THE DEMOCRATS, AND SO I TRUST THESE REPUBLICANS FAR LESS THAN ANY I HAVE EXPERIENCED BEFORE, EXCEPT FOR THE GW BUSH ADMINISTRATION.
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