How DoD Locals Should Respond to New Probationary Period

Locals representing Department of Defense employees should be issuing demands to bargain regarding a new law that extends the probationary period for civilian employees from one to two years, says AFGE Defense Conference Chair Don Hale. 

“Even though the probationary period has already been extended, locals should be bargaining over how employees are notified about the change and to determine which employees are affected,” Hale said. 

The 2016 National Defense Authorization Act extended the probationary period from one to two years for employees appointed to permanent positions in the competitive service and employees receiving career appointments to the Senior Executive Service within DoD on or after Nov. 26, 2015. 

The change does not affect employees who were hired prior to Nov. 26, 2015. Nor does it affect employees who have already completed a probationary period under an initial appointment in the competitive service and who have already attained full appeal rights to the Merit Systems Protection Board. 

DoD issued a memorandum on Sept. 27 regarding the new probationary period, and also released a set of Questions and Answers regarding the change.  

Here are some of the items locals should be requesting: 

  • A list of all bargaining unit employees who are affected by the new probationary period; 
  • Written notices from the supervisor to each probationary employee stating when the probationary period ends and when each employee should receive a within-grade increase if they maintain satisfactory performance; 
  • An assurance that employees transferring from another agency who have completed a probationary period will not be required to complete another probationary period, and that supervisors will not extend the probationary period beyond two years without specific individual cause and notice to the union; 
  • A notice regarding lack of appeal rights for adverse actions taken during the probationary period; 
  • A notice explaining the right of probationary employees to have a union official present during any management meeting that may lead to disciplinary actions (i.e., Weingarten rights); 
  • A meeting between supervisors and probationary employees, attended by the union, to discuss training and career development resources; 
  • Training for supervisors on how to optimize the additional probationary period and use effective performance management practices. 

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