Federal employees would have the chance to make up lost ground on their retirement calculations if they started their careers as temporary workers, under legislation reintroduced in the House on June 30.

Temporary federal employees do not have the ability to make retirement contributions to the governmentwide system, meaning that employees converted to permanent work have to start their retirement calculations from that conversion date.

“Many federal employees begin their careers in temporary positions before transitioning to permanent status — so we need to have their backs,” bill co-sponsor Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., said in a news release. “This bill will ensure that all federal workers, from the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and beyond, have the opportunity to retire on time, regardless of how they started their careers.”

The bill would allow feds that transitioned from temporary to permanent status to buy into the retirement system for the years they missed, a system that was in place prior to 1989, as the government moved from the Civil Service Retirement System to the Federal Employee Retirement System.

The legislation has bipartisan support.

“Whether first hired under temporary status or not, civil service should be recognized, and these workers should have the option to pay toward retirement credit for the entirety of their employment,” said co-sponsor Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. “I am proud to join in reintroducing the Federal Retirement Fairness Act that allows this buy-in benefit to give these civil employees earned time credit toward retirement.”

The first iteration of the legislation was introduced in 2019 but never made it past committee consideration.

“Seasonal and temporary federal employees who answer the call of duty deserve the same level of deference as the permanent employees they work with. It is unconscionable to ignore temporary or seasonal labor upon becoming permanent employees given many of these employees risk their lives and health for these jobs, as thousands of wildland firefighters do each year. To deny counting that time on the job is akin to creating a second-class of employee. If they put the time in, they deserve to have it counted toward retirement,” said Randy Erwin, the president of the National Federation of Federal Employees.

The legislation also has support from the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, the Federal Managers Association, the National Association of Letter Carriers, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, and the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association.

Jessie Bur covered the federal workforce and the changes most likely to impact government employees for Federal Times.

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