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bill Progress

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

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What is it?

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.


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


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.


Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: gradyreese / iStock)


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.