THE VERDICT IS STILL OUT ON PHASED RETIREMENT
I have kept an open ear about the life and death of Phased Retirement. I don’t think all of its provisions are fully understood, at least not yet. There are still some cracks and crevices to be filled by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Employees have voiced that managers have too much leverage and employees not enough when it comes to who can participate in phased retirement.
The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) took up the banner for its members and requested OPM construct a system that would give employees the right to appeal a decision made by authorized agency officials. The regulation currently states that in order for an employee to participate in Phased Retirement or return to regular employment with the Federal government, an authorized agency official must give written approval. Whatever decision is made, the employee has no appeals rights.
There are a number of provisions that either include or preclude employee participation in the program. One of the issues cited by the NTEU is that it appears that those persons eligible for immediate retirement both under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employee Retirement Systems (FERS) with certain age and tenure requirements are the only group pretty much guaranteed participation. However, the NTEU asserts that OPM fails to recognize immediate retirement eligibility for those employees with five years of service and are age 62.
The NTEU has been very thorough in its review of the Phased Retirement regulation citing a number of critical elements such as participation by CSRS-Offset employees and how their annuity and Social Security offset would be handled. The NTEU has urged OPM to consider a number of measures and amendments to make Phase Retirement a program that not only offers continuity of subject matter expertise by holding on to seasoned employees but an equal benefit to the employees as well. Perhaps the first benefit could be allowing employees greater say in whether they can participate in the program or not.
P. S. Always Remember to Share What You Know.