Over a week ago, President Trump issued three executive orders aimed at reducing the time it takes to fire federal employees.
The president’s directives emphasize a merit-based system for employees, while cutting down the amount of time required before an agency can terminate a federal worker. In addition, they also encourage federal agencies to fire poor-performing employees rather than initially suspending them, and direct agencies to limit the amount of time a poor-performing worker is given the opportunity to demonstrate improvement.
The executive orders signed by Trump call for the following:
- Make it easier to fire and discipline federal workers. The Trump administration said that it takes an average of six months to a year to dismiss a poorly performing employee, followed by an appeals period of often eight months. In order to streamline the process, the executive order will give poor performers only 30 days to show improvement, instead of the current limit of a maximum 120 days.
- Negotiating smarter contracts with federal employee unions. The second executive order directs federal agencies to renegotiate contracts with unions representing government workers so as to reduce waste. Additionally, agencies are also encouraged to complete labor negotiations in less than a year to limit the cost of “drawn-out” bargaining.
- Renegotiating contracts to limit to 25 percent the amount of time federal workers—who are authorized to work on behalf of a labor union—can spend on union business during work hours. The third order aims to reduce “official time,” in which federal employees who have roles in the union are allowed to perform those duties during normal working hours for which they draw their usual salary. Agencies will also be able to collect rent from workers who use federal office space for union business. The administration claims these and other changes will save taxpayers at least $100 million each year.
Arguing against the administration’s orders, The American Federation of Government Employees sees the moves as a government attempt to strip federal workers of their right to representation on the job, depriving their rights to address various workplace issues such as harassment and retaliation. The union represents 700,000 workers in the federal government and the District of Columbia.