Job Swap Fact Sheet
Revised March 2017
1. What is a job swap?
A job swap is the exchange of positions between two employees at the same grade level. When used as a mitigation strategy for transition, restructuring or reorganization initiatives, it allows directly impacted employees opportunities to continue their employment by swapping positions with non- impacted employees who want to retire or resign by way of a Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment (VSIP), commonly referred to as a buyout, and/or the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA), commonly referred to as an early out. Job Swaps are solely for the benefit of the swapping employees. It is the responsibility of the employees to identify the other employee interested in such a swap.
2. What is the difference between job swaps under Article 15 and those under Article 19?
Job swaps under Article 19 are a mitigation strategy afforded to employees who are impacted by a Reduction in Force (RIF). This mitigation strategy is offered in conjunction with VERA/VSIP during a fixed open window period, allowing employees to swap into a continuing position:
- at the same grade/band, in the same or a different series, if qualified,
- within or outside of the commuting area,
- that requires little or no formal training and only minimal on-the-job instruction is required, and
- typically results in a buyout for the non-impacted employee (or in a rare situation severance pay if a liquidation RIF).
Job swaps under Article 15 allow employees, not impacted by a RIF, to swap into positions (absent just cause):
- in the same series, grade/band and specialty area (if applicable);
- in the same work schedule (e.g. seasonal to seasonal);
- that does not require any formal training; and
- not incurring relocation costs to the
3. What are the requirements for a job swap under Article 19?
Job swaps require that the non-impacted employee be at least fully successful, must be qualified for the impacted employee’s position, must occupy a position at the same grade/pay band as the directly impacted employee and swap only for the purpose of retiring or resigning with VERA and/or VSIP, or in limited situation (e.g. liquidation RIF) be separated in the RIF process and receive severance pay. The directly impacted employee must be at least fully successful, must be qualified for the non- impacted employee’s position and must be able to perform the duties of the non-impacted position with little or no formal training. Employees can only job swap once within a 3-year period.
For job swaps outside of the commuting area, both the impacted and the swapping employee will be assigned to their new POD. Pay and tax obligations of the employee receiving the buyout will be based on the POD subject to the RIF.
4. Can an employee job swap into a position in a different POD?
Yes, in some instances. See the statements/examples below.
- Management could determine that the location of an encumbered, non-impacted position is set and that an impacted employee considering a job swap into it must occupy the position in the POD where it is located on the organization staffing chart. For example, if the non-impacted position is in Atlanta, GA and the impacted employee seeking that position is currently in Richmond, VA, he or she should be prepared to voluntarily relocate to Atlanta, GA. Moving expenses would not be
- Conversely, management might determine that the duties of a non-impacted position in a geographic location different from that of the impacted employee can be accomplished from the impacted employee’s current For example, if a non-impacted position is in Atlanta, GA and the impacted employee seeking that position is in Richmond, VA and management determines that the continuing positions duties can be performed in Richmond, VA the impacted employee does not have to relocate to complete the job swap.
- Whether managers of the continuing position decide that the impacted employee must move to the non-impacted employee’s POD or that he or she may remain at his or her present POD, the impacted employee must be informed of the decision regarding his or her assigned
- If the impacted position to be occupied by the non-impacted employee for purposes of receiving a buyout is located in a different POD, the non-impacted employee should be made aware that the official reassignment to the different POD may affect his or her compensation and retirement benefits. The non-impacted employee should fully understand these ramifications before the job swap becomes final and the official reassignment is processed. Also, job swap participants and management should be informed that increases or decreases in some employees’ pay and benefits might occur. For example, a non-impacted employee swapping to another location with a higher or lower locality pay rate may experience an increase or decrease in salary, lump sum payments, and annuity computations when his or her official reassignment prior to separation is processed. (Note: see questions 9 & 10 for additional information.)
5. How does job swapping into a different commuting area affect the non-impacted employee?
- The job swap reassignment Personnel Action Request (PAR) must be processed, at a minimum, the pay period before the employee is retiring with the buyout. The non-impacted employee must understand that dependent on the locality pay area they are currently in and the one that they are going to, there may be an impact to:
- their salary (locality pay increase or decrease)
- lump sum payment(s) (e.g. annual leave, credit, comp time)
- life insurance,
- withholding tax, and
- state tax
- It is the responsibility of the swapping employees to fully investigate and understand this impact and their
6. How does job swapping into a different commuting area affect the impacted employee?
- The job swap reassignment PAR must be processed, at a minimum, the pay period before the non-impacted employee is retiring with the buyout. The impacted employee must understand that dependent on the locality pay area they are currently in and the locality pay area that they are going into, there may be an impact to:
- their salary (locality pay increase or decrease),
- withholding tax (increase or decrease), and
- state tax
- The impacted employee may also be required to relocate, at their own expense, to the POD of the continuing position if the position is not considered POD
7. Can employees job swap into positions with work schedules different from their own?
Employees who hold (or have previously held) full-time permanent positions can job swap into positions with other work schedules. All other job swaps involving work schedule changes would require competition as outlined in Article 13, Section 2, A (5) of the National Agreement which states “with the exception of subsection 2B14, below, permanent or temporary conversion for more than120 days, from one work schedule to another, for example, a career/career–conditional intermittent employee to a seasonal tour of duty;”. In addition, employees who job swap into positions that are other than full time should be aware of the impact on retirement, Reduction in Force (RIF), health and life insurance, promotion, and step increases as stated in Article 22, Section 3J, of the National Agreement. A formerly impacted employee who job swaps into a position with a different work schedule must accept that work schedule, unless management agrees to let the employee keep his/ her work schedule.
8. Can an employee apply for more than one job swap at a time?
Yes. However, they must prioritize the job swaps for which they have applied. They must provide their supervisors with their priority list, and they cannot be considered for a lower-priority job swap until the outcome of a higher-priority job swap has been decided. The manager will submit the first job swap request and any other, in priority order, if needed.
9. Can an employee swap jobs more than one time?
Once an employee swaps jobs, they cannot swap again for the next 3 years.
10. How are tiebreakers applied in the job swap process?
Tiebreaker provisions can be applied to either group of employees–the non-impacted or the impacted group, as circumstances dictate. The tiebreaker for non-bargaining unit employees is usually the employee’s service computation date. For bargaining unit employees, the tiebreaker is the employee’s IRS entrance on duty date. However, since job swaps usually involve two employees who have ‘located’ each other for job swap purposes, it is unlikely that tiebreaker procedures will be used.
11. Can an employee job swap where different pay systems or pay plans are involved?
No. Job swaps require that the non-impacted employee be qualified for the impacted employee’s position, be at least fully successful and occupy a position at the same grade/band as the directly impacted employee. The directly impacted employee must be at least fully successful, must be qualified for the position occupied by the non-impacted employee, and must be able to perform the duties of the non-impacted position with little or no formal training and minimal on-the-job instruction.
Job swaps should be transparent to the organization. That is, they should cause no disruption to the accomplishment of the work of the organization. Swapping into multi-graded bands provides the potential for non-competitive higher pay. This conflicts with IRM 6.576.1, Use of Direct Buyouts (VSIP) and Job Swaps, and Article 19. Both require that job swap participants be in the same grade/band.
Also, job swaps between manager (IR) and non-manager (GS) positions do not meet the requirement for transparency to the organization since they can cause disruption to the accomplishment of the work. For example, first-time managers must serve a supervisory probationary period–which, in itself, can be disruptive. In addition, manager (IR) and non-manager (GS) positions have different performance requirements, necessitating extra work for the supervisors of these positions.
12. May employees on position descriptions designated as ‘incumbency only’ offer their positions to impacted employees and separate with a buyout?
No. Incumbents of positions classified as ‘incumbency only’ may not offer their positions to impacted employees and accept a buyout. Such positions are abolished when vacated.
13. Where can employees get more information about the job swap process for transition initiatives?
A job swap training tool has been developed and is available through the Enterprise Learning Management System (ELMS), course number 30221.