CBA SHOUT-OUT SERIES!
Telework and Remote Work Options
Are you aware of the updated telework privileges in the new 2023 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)? Remote work has proven to be beneficial to our work life balance but in instances where full time remote status is denied, NTEU has successfully bargained (in Article 26 of the CBA, p. 136) for additional telework categories to give all Bargaining Unit Employees flexibility to adapt to the many life circumstances we encounter. NTEU has genuine concern and understanding of our dynamic family care as well as personal welfare.
Below are the new telework categories included in the new CBA:
Routine Telework – Allows for telework up to 8 days per pay period. The official duty station is an Agency location, and the employee must report in-person for a minimum of 1 day per pay period UNLESS the employee is approved for remote work.
Episodic/Ad Hoc Telework – Occasional, episodic, special assignments. Typically, appropriate for assignments that include but are not limited to activities requiring uninterrupted concentration.
Telework Reasonable Accommodation – For medical conditions that meet the criteria of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Temporary Workplace Flexibility – Allows telework for a temporary illness or physical incapacity. This option is also available for caring for a family member who is recovering from an illness or state of incapacity.
All FDA employees are entitled to apply for telework. NTEU knows the importance of workplace flexibility and is in tuned with how it helps us to meet work requirements while living a harmonious life. We will continue to fight for your rights in future contract negotiations. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a union steward.
Child Care Subsidy
Busy, working parents need to know about new benefits they enjoy under the NTEU’s 2023 contract with HHS. Article 24 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (see p. 121) requires FDA to create an annual pool of funding and to notify all FTEs of the process for applying for a subsidy. These benefits are available to all full-time and part-time civilian employees that meet the adjusted gross income (AGI) threshold of $75,000, with one or more qualifying children under the age of 14 (or 18 for children with physical or mental disabilities) enrolled in a licensed child care provider.
The amount of support employees are eligible to receive is calculated as a percentage of your family’s adjusted gross income (AGI), and is paid out on a weekly basis.
If your AGI is $60,001 - $75,000, your child care subsidy is 20% of your AGI
If your AGI is $50,001 - $60,000, your child care subsidy is 25% of your AGI
If your AGI is $40,001 - $50,000, your child care subsidy is 35% of your AGI
If your AGI is $30,001 - $40,000, your child care subsidy is 45% of your AGI
If your AGI is $30,000 or less, your child care subsidy is 50% of your AGI
If you also receive state, county or local child care subsidies, the total amount paid by FDA will be reduced
according to the amount of your additional subsidies.
The application process requires submission of an application form (HHS-698), OPM-1644 Child Care Provider Form, and your SF-50, as well as W2s, most recent tax filings, and two most recent pay statements for each parent/guardian. You will also need to provide the birth certificate for each child, an ACF form for direct deposit to the child care provider, a copy of the child care provider’s license, current W9 verifying their tax identification number, and their current rate sheet.
All the information you need to know to complete the application process can be found on Inside.FDA here: FDA’s Child Care Subsidy Program. If you have any questions, please reach out to a union steward. NTEU knows how important financial assistance such as the Child Care Subsidy is to working parents, which is why we fought to ensure this benefit was included in your contract.
Additional Excused Absences
NTEU Chapter 282 is particularly excited about two new Excused Absences provisions in our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)— Article 20 (starting on page 110) Section 8 and Section 10. Securing these new provisions for excused absences in our new contract is crucial to support FDA employees as we continue to build a more inclusive space for our Active-Duty Service members and strengthen OUR UNION. You should be aware of these benefits should you have a need to take advantage of them:
SECTION 8: Union Benefits Counseling
Subject to workload considerations the Employer may grant an employee up to one (1) hour administrative leave per calendar year for the purposes of attending a health benefits fair, reviewing health benefits information and materials, receiving financial counseling, and seeking supplemental retirement counseling. These activities must be sponsored or made available by the Union.
When the Employer provides benefits counseling for employees (including sponsoring external presentations), attendance will be on duty time.
SECTION 9: Return from Military Duty
Employees who return from active military service in support of Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) are entitled to five (5) days of excused absence each time they return from active military duty. In order to receive the five (5) days of excused absence, employees must spend at least forty-two (42) consecutive days on active duty in support of OCO. A returning employee is authorized to use this excused absence only once during a twelve (12) month period beginning after the first use of the excused absence. This provision must be applied consistent with published OPM guidance at the time the request is made.
Why does this matter to you?
Excused Absence (or administrative leave) is an absence from duty which is administratively authorized without loss of pay and without charge to leave. The HHS-NTEU Collective Bargaining Agreement is a legal contract that will remain in force for at least the next 5 years regardless of the political environment.
NTEU sponsors several informative meetings to counsel employees for a better understanding of a wide range of topics including financial matter and health benefits. Union members will now be able to use duty time for receiving counsel in these matters.
Our Service members now have five (5) additional days of excused absences whenever they return from the Support of Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). An Agency mandate to provide our military members with 5 days following OCO allows for critical decompression and relaxation prior to retuning to civilian life.
These new provisions are in addition to the excused absence provisions that NTEU has already fought for and supported. Those provisions include Voting, Blood Donations, Weather & Safety, Office Open with Early Closure/Departure, Bone Marrow/Organ Donations, Volunteer Work, and Absence of Less than One Hour.
To read more about Excused Absences, go to page 106, Article 20 of the new CBA. If you have any questions about these new CBA provisions and how they may impact you, please reach out to an NTEU Steward.
Stay tuned to learn about additional contract updates in future stories on our website.
New Remote Work Inclusion
NTEU Chapter 282 is excited to share with you that we negotiated with HHS to include protections initially provided through the October 2022 Remote Work MOU— in Article 26 Section 2 of the CBA. Securing this provision for remote work in our new contract is crucial to support FDA employees as we continue to build a productive and sustainable hybrid workplace culture at FDA.. Article 26 Section 2 of the CBA mentions the following :
Remote Work - Full-time at an alternate worksite; report to office less than 16 hours per pay period (Section 2C, pgs. 137-138)
Remote within the commuting area (within 45-mile radius)
Remote outside the commuting area
No presumption against eligibility for telework or remote work; case-by-case decisions; the parties may bargain to identify positions that are presumptively eligible (Section 2f, p. 139)
A presumption of eligibility for remote work is granted for employees who previously teleworked full-time in their current job (excludes full-time telework based on a reasonable accommodation, because of the pandemic emergency, and episodic full-time telework).
Why does this matter to you?
The HHS-NTEU Collective Bargaining Agreement is a legal contract that will remain in force for at least the next 5 years. The inclusion of remote work protections in this contract ensures that FDA employees seeking remote work arrangements will benefit from these contractual rights. Furthermore, inclusion of language in the CBA requiring that supervisors review each remote work request on a case-by-case basis protects employees against unilateral prohibitions against remote work for groups of employees. This protection reflects NTEU’s vigorous efforts to refute management efforts to create blanket remote work eligibility standards for specific position descriptions. As HHS employees, you have the right to request remote work arrangements barring any disciplinary history with your employer.
To read more about remote work and to see if you’re eligible, go to page 137 of the new CBA to read Article 26 Section 2. If you have any questions about how our CBA’s protections for remote work impact your labor rights, please reach out to an NTEU Steward.
Stay tuned to learn about additional contract updates in future stories on our website. If you’re not a dues paying member and would like to join our chapter, go to Join NTEU - National Treasury Employees Union - NTEU and click “Join NTEU Online” to fill out your 1187 form. As a union, we get our bargaining strength from having a robust pool of active and engaged members and we need your help to boost our seat at the negotiating table by joining today.