The House of Representatives approved legislation on April 1 that would give employees covered by the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS) credit for unused sick leave when calculating their retirement benefits. The Federal Retirement Reform Act of 2009 (H.R. 1804), introduced by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-NY), was approved by a voice vote.
Under current law, employees who retire under FERS receive no compensation for their accrued sick leave balance; employees covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) get credit for unused sick leave when they retire.
In addition to the FERS sick leave credit, the bill contains a number of other provisions the APWU supports. These include:
- Automatic enrollment of new employees into the Thrift Savings Plan. Under current law, employees are required to file Form TSP-1 to make contributions to the Thrift Savings Plan. If H.R. 1804 becomes law new employees will be automatically enrolled in the TSP.
- A “qualified” Roth contribution program. The bill would permit TSP participants to contribute after-tax income to their retirement plan instead of pre-tax contributions. This option, which has been in use in the private sector for a number of years, allows employees who make after-tax contributions to withdraw money tax-free upon retirement.
- Deposit refunds for FERS Employees. Under current law, CSRS employees who leave the USPS or other federal agencies and withdraw their retirement contributions can re-deposit those funds at a later date and be credited for their previous years of service; FERS employees cannot. H.R.1804 gives FERS employees the same right to re-deposit withdrawn funds and to be credited for previous service.
The focus for correcting these FERS inequities will now shift to the United States Senate, where they may be considered as part of a bill providing the Food and Drug Administration with wider authority to regulate tobacco products.
A similar House bill (H.R. 1256) sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), incorporates many of the provisions of H.R. 1804, and would give the FDA additional authority to regulate tobacco products.
[H.R. 958, introduced by Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), which was mentioned in the APWU Legislative Priorities brochure published earlier this year, also includes many of the provisions of H.R. 1804.]