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Enhanced Family Leave Policies


Balancing work and family life is a challenge that many employees face. Recognizing this, the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), has structured Article 18 of the collective bargaining agreement to provide enhanced yet comprehensive family leave benefits. This policy not only supports the well-being of employees but also aligns with federal regulations, ensuring that workers can take necessary time off without jeopardizing their careers.


Overview of Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Entitlements


Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), as detailed in Section 1 of Article 18, eligible HHS employees are entitled to up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for specific family and medical reasons. These reasons include the birth and care of a newborn, placement of a child for adoption or foster care, care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition, or the employee's own serious health condition that makes them unable to perform their job functions.


Procedural Requirements for FMLA


The process for applying for FMLA is meticulously outlined to ensure transparency and accessibility. Employees are required to provide 30 days' notice for foreseeable leave, or as much notice as practicable in emergencies. They must also submit medical certification to support the need for leave related to serious health conditions. HHS maintains confidentiality regarding the employee's medical condition, emphasizing respect and privacy.


Paid Parental Leave (PPL)


Significantly, Article 18 introduces Paid Parental Leave (PPL), which marks a substantial progression in leave benefits. Employees meeting certain criteria can receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave for the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child. This initiative reflects a growing recognition of the importance of supporting employees through significant life events, not just in terms of job security but also financially.


Flexibility in Using Leave


The agreement provides flexibility for employees to substitute accrued paid leave (annual or sick leave) for unpaid FMLA leave. This flexibility is crucial for many workers who need to maintain their income during leave periods. The policy also accommodates unforeseen circumstances, allowing leave to be retroactively applied in specific situations, ensuring that employees are not unduly penalized for emergencies.


Protection and Compliance


To protect both the employee and the agency, Article 18 includes provisions to verify the validity of medical certifications and, if necessary, to require further verification at the agency’s expense. This process is designed to prevent abuse while also accommodating genuine needs for leave. Furthermore, the article stipulates that any denial of leave requests must be accompanied by a written explanation, reinforcing the agency's commitment to fairness and transparency.


Article 18 represents a thoughtful approach to family leave, accommodating a range of family-related circumstances while ensuring compliance with national standards and provide great benefit to all HHS employees. By providing both unpaid and paid options, the policy underscores a commitment to supporting employees’ family responsibilities without compromising their professional obligations. This balance is vital in fostering a supportive, productive workplace culture that recognizes the diverse needs of its workforce.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact a union steward.

Performance Management Appraisal Program (PMAP)


As you know, NTEU works tirelessly to ensure employees are treated fairly in the workplace. NTEU’s dedication continues as they work with agency leadership to create an environment that is beneficial for all HHS/FDA employees. One example of this hard work is the Performance Management Appraisal Program (PMAP) process which was modified in the 2023 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). In addition to the full CBA, a high-level summary was developed to provide a list of specific PMAP process changes for easier reference.

The following is a list of specific modifications to the PMAP process:

  • Clarified NTEU’s right to bargain over changes to any aspects of the PMAP that are more than de minimis.


  • Clarified that NTEU’s comment rights apply when there is no bargaining obligation (de minimis change to a critical element). This is in addition to the employee’s right to participate in the development of their PMAP.


  • All performance elements and standards will be SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.


  • The mandatory documented progress review may be conducted in person or virtually.


  • Eliminated the need for employees to sign their progress review when there is a written narrative. It will be emailed to them.


  • Added a requirement to discuss any revised PMAP with employees, if they request.


  • Added that elements which are “not ratable” will not affect the average score used to determine the summary rating.


  • Added a requirement that written explanations for declined performance must state how the performance can be improved.


  • Added a 10-day timeframe for employees to submit written comments to proposed ratings of unsatisfactory.


  • Added a new right for employees to request reconsideration of a rating within 5 days of receipt. The Employer must respond within 5 days.




Last year, NTEU prepared a PMAP guide which emphasized the 3 main parts of the process and provided the following guidance:


Establishment of Your PMAP


  • Normally within 30 days of the rating period, you will receive your plan including your critical job elements (CJEs), performance standards, and rating levels.

  • Standards must be objective, explicit, observable or measurable, and attainable.

  • You have five workdays to submit comments about your plan, and those comments must be considered by your supervisor before finalization of the plan.

  • Make sure you understand your plan and request clarification anytime throughout the year.

  • Discuss any barriers to success, resources or training you may need, and the accuracy and appropriateness of the plan, accounting for all performance areas.

  • Track your own performance! Create a drop file. Memorialize issues and solicit feedback as appropriate.


Mid-Year Review


  • Communication regarding your performance should be ongoing, but the mid-year is a set time for you to hear how you are doing while giving you time before the final rating to achieve your goals.

  • Prepare – Revisit your PMAP objectives. Write a document which maps what you have achieved for the year and what you still need to achieve.

  • Ask yourself – are there barriers to attain your objectives? Do you need assistance, training, or guidance? Has the agency changed policies or initiatives making some of your goals no longer attainable or relevant? Does your PMAP need to be adjusted?

  • Ask your supervisor – What do you need to do to achieve the rating I am striving for – Outstanding Results (AO), More than Expected Results (AM) or Expected Results (AE)? Do any areas need improvement? If so, ask to connect to specific assignments with attendant feedback.

  •  Take notes on your supervisor’s answers to the above questions. Prepare a summary after the meeting and send the summary to your supervisor.

  •  If your supervisor identifies any areas that require improvement, continue to ask for feedback.

  • Your supervisor must write up documentation explaining why you are tracking below 3.0, which should identify specific deficiencies and the steps needed to bring your performance up to a 3.0.


End of the Year – Final Rating


  • You are entitled to four hours of work time to provide your supervisor with your self-assessment before they complete your rating.

  • You will receive a summary rating. Your rating official must explain the basis for the score for each CJE, but a written explanation is only required if an element is rated below a 3.0.

  • If you fail to meet one or more CJEs, it can lead to a Performance Improvement Plan and removal from federal service.

  • You can submit a rebuttal for any rating, but special emphasis should be given to a deficient score.

  • The contract allows 30 days for a grievance to be filed from receipt of the PMAP.



At first glance, the PMAP process may feel daunting, but you are never alone. NTEU is available to help employees successfully navigate the process. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact a union steward.

Embracing Flexibility: A New Era of Work Schedules at FDA

In the fast-paced world of today's work environments, the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) understands the need for flexibility to accommodate life and work and has embarked on a groundbreaking journey to redefine the traditional workspace. Article 25 of the current CBA agreement introduces the "AWS Hours of Work," a testament to NTEU's commitment to fostering a work culture that values flexibility, equity, and efficiency.

Key Components of AWS

  • Flexibility and Core Hours: AWS embodies the essence of flexibility, allowing employees to adjust their arrival and departure times within specified bands. This flexibility is balanced with defined core hours, ensuring that critical operational needs are met.

  • Variety of Schedules: From the traditional 9-to-5 to more compressed work weeks, AWS offers a range of schedules to accommodate different work styles and personal commitments.

  • Equitable Participation: NTEU have pledged to ensure fair and equitable access to AWS, guided by federal laws and a commitment to employee welfare, health, and wellness.


Key Schedules & Terms Available under AWS


  • Flexible Work Schedule (FWS) – FWS consist of workdays with core and flexible hours. Flexible work schedules include Flextime, Flexitour, and Maxiflex.

  • Compressed Work Schedule (CWS) – Fixed schedules that allow employees to complete the basic work requirement in fewer than ten (10) days in a pay period. Employees on approved CWS are not permitted to earn credit hours.

  • Mid-Day Flex – Not a type of work schedule but a flexibility within existing flexible work schedules. Mid-Day Flex is only available to employees on flexible work schedules (FWS)


The Impact of AWS

The implementation of AWS at FDA marks a significant shift towards recognizing the diverse needs of its workforce. By allowing employees to tailor their work hours,  NTEU and FDA aims to boost morale, increase productivity, and attract a broader talent pool. This flexible approach is not just about accommodating personal preferences; it's about creating an environment where employees can thrive, innovate, and contribute to their fullest potential.


A Step Towards the Future

Article 25 of the HHS-NTEU agreement is more than just a policy; it's a reflection of the evolving landscape of work. As organizations worldwide grapple with the challenges of modern work dynamics, FDA's AWS program stands out as a beacon of progress, signaling a future where flexibility and productivity go hand in hand.

In embracing AWS, FDA is not only enhancing the well-being of its employees but also setting a precedent for other institutions to follow. It's a bold step forward, one that acknowledges the changing contours of work and the indispensable value of employee satisfaction in achieving organizational success.


For more information and details regarding AWS, CWS, FWS, and Mid-Day Flex options, click here or contact a Union Steward.

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.

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

  1. 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)             

  2. 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.

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