By Mike McAuley
NTEU Chapter 73 has received some questions and comments on our agreement with IRS to allow seasonals to swap with perms during the VERA/VSIP Open window. The agreement was designed to open up more opportunities for employees who wish to retire to take advantage of the $25,000 VSIP and to provide seasonals in Submission Processing (SP) whose jobs are being abolished the opportunity to move into continuing positions while at the same time to expand perm opportunities for those seasonal employees in the non SP work units. Here is how it works. It’s like a 3 way swap
If a directly impacted SP seasonal requests to swap positions at the same grade with a permanent employee in , for example, Compliance or AM, the agreement provides that IRS will review the release recall standing of employees in the unit where the SP seasonal wishes to swap into. If there are seasonal employees in that organization that have a higher release recall rating that the SP seasonal, the seasonal employee in that work area with the highest release recall ranking will be asked if they want to convert to perm. If the answer is yes, that employee will be converted and the SP seasonal will then assume a seasonal position. If the highest ranking seasonal wants to remain a seasonal, then IRS moves to the next highest ranked employee until he/she agrees to a conversion.
If there are no seasonal positions in the organization where SP seasonal wishes to swap with a perm, the SP employee will be converted.
The basic principle of the agreement with respect to conversions is to maintain the long held practice and contractual standard that employees with the highest release recall ranking get converted. No SP seasonal will be converted to a perm position unless they rank the highest or there are no other seasonals in the organization.
This is what we call a mitigation strategy. Its designed to maximize VSIPs for employees who are interested in retiring with the buyout while giving directly impacted employees at the same grade who need/want to keep working the chance to do that.
A question was raised as to whether this is legal and does not violate OPM regulations. This is legal. Swaps during a VERA/VSIP open window are authorized. This is not governed by the RIF regulations at 5 CFR part 351. Those regulations discuss how perms and seasonal are in different tenure groups and perms have preferences when you bump a less senior person or retreat back into a position you once held. Here, the consolidation of Covington SP is what the IRS calls a total liquidation. Every single SP position in Covington will be eliminated in the RIF competitive area of Covington/Florence. There will be no bumping or retreating do the tenure group RIF requirements do not come into play. Thus, there is no conflict with the RIF regulations.
We are breaking new ground here by opening up the swap opportunities across work schedules while maintaining and preserving the practice of conversions based on release recall order.