AFGE Begins New Year with Expanded Benefits for Feds in Newly Enacted Law

Categories: DoD, The Insider

Thanks to our union’s grassroots mobilization and support from members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, AFGE members governmentwide will get to enjoy new benefits as the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has become law following a broad bipartisan override of the president’s veto of the measure. 

On Jan. 1, the Senate, following in the footsteps of the House, overrode President Trump’s veto to enact the NDAA, a budget blueprint for the Department of Defense with several provisions that benefit federal workers governmentwide.  

Meanwhile, federal workers will receive a 1% pay raise in 2021. Locality pay, however, will remain at 2020 levels. 

Here are some of the highlights of the new benefits in NDAA: 

Governmentwide provisions: 

  • Annual leave carryover  

Federal employees under Title 5 will be permitted to carry over an additional 25% of annual leave into 2021 in recognition of our dedicated service during the pandemic. The Office of Personnel Management has just issued guidance on how agencies can implement the law. The additional leave must be used in calendar year 2021.  

  • Paid parental leave extension   

Congress extended paid parental leave to approximately 100,000 federal employees outside of Title 5 who were inadvertently excluded from 2019 legislation, including workers at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Transportation Security Administration (non-screener workforce), Federal Aviation Administration, and D.C.’s Courts and Public Defender Service.   

The 2019 law, which took effect Oct. 1, 2020, provides 12 weeks of paid leave for federal workers who are new parents – both men and women – to care for a newborn or an adopted or fostered child. Finally, new parents don’t have to choose between their jobs and their families. This is the same benefit service members have received since 2016 under a separate military policy.   

  • Enhanced protections from discrimination and retaliation   

Each federal agency is now required to establish a model Equal Employment Opportunity program that is independent of the agency’s human resources or general counsel offices and establishes requirements related to complaints of discrimination and retaliation in the workplace.   

DoD-specific provisions: 

  • Restriction on DoD workforce cuts   

We successfully restricted workforce cuts at DoD. The Secretary of Defense is prohibited from reducing programmed funding levels for the civilian workforce unless the department assesses the impact of such a reduction on workload, military force structure, lethality, readiness, operational effectiveness, stress on the military force, and fully burdened costs.   

  • Protecting military medical treatment facilities   

Before DoD can downsize or realign military medical treatment facilities, they are required to provide patient safety metrics to be approved by Congress before shifting work to TRICARE.   

  • Commercial product determinations 

The law requires contracting officers to consult with the Defense Contract Management Agency and the Defense Contract Audit Agency and consider the views of public- and private-sector entities when documenting a product or service as a commercial item.  

  • Merging Commissaries and Exchanges  

The law requires DoD to perform a new business case analysis for consolidating military exchanges and commissaries and prohibits DoD from proceeding with any consolidation of DoD’s resale entities until the House and Senate Armed Services committees have reviewed and approved the updated analysis.  

 “This critical legislation recognizes the invaluable role that federal and D.C. government workers perform in service to the nation and includes many provisions that our union strongly supports,” said AFGE President Everett Kelley. “On behalf of the 700,000 employees represented by AFGE, I thank members of the House and Senate for their hard work on this legislation and their commitment to supporting our dedicated employees in the Department of Defense and governmentwide.” 

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