Politicians Seek to Increase Probationary Period for Feds to 2 Years

The House of Representatives Nov. 30 passed a bill that would at least double the probationary period for federal employees. The bill, introduced by Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, would punish good workers and does nothing to improve how employees are evaluated.

Under HR 4182, newly hired employees would be on probation for at least two years, double the current length for most workers. But the probationary clock wouldn’t start until after an employee has completed any required training or certifications – meaning new employees could be on probation for three years or longer.

The bill would keep federal employees in a perpetual state of limbo, where they could be fired for any cause with little ability to appeal.

Civil service protections and the merit system exist to protect the government from politicization. Without these rights, employees on probation will have little to no protection against discrimination or retaliation.

According to the Merit Systems Protection Board, employees under probation have very limited rights to appeal terminations or other adverse actions and aren’t even considered true federal employees until the probation period ends.

“One year is more than enough time for a competent manager to determine if new employees have the skills and ability to do the job they were hired to do,” said AFGE Legislative Director Tom Kahn. “If managers are having trouble assessing a worker’s performance within a year’s time, the solution is better training for these supervisors – not more time.”


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