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Yesterday, NTEU and IRS entered into a Side Letter agreement, similar to the Side Letter the parties agreed to in November 2014 concerning the distribution of NPAA awards in FY 14 and FY 15, which addresses the ineligibility of certain employees to be granted an award where they have been charged with misconduct (copy attached). The Side letter also clarifies Article 18, Section 1C of the 2016 National Agreement. In this Side Letter, the parties agreed, as we did in the November 2014 agreement, that beginning with the FY 2016 performance year, if there is a final agency decision that the employee committed any act or omission prohibited by Section 1203(b) (1) through (10) of the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, the employee will not be eligible for “a bonus, award or recognition.” If such a finding is overturned, a neutral may direct that the award be granted. In addition, the parties clarified that the standard set forth in Article 18, Section 1C would apply to “all other determinations” concerning the ineligibility of an employee for an award. In other words, a determination that the employee is ineligible based on alleged misconduct and Federal tax noncompliance may be made by the Agency pursuant to the Section 1C standard, i.e., withholding the award is “necessary to protect the integrity of the Service.” The merits of the Agency’s decision to withhold the award based on the Section 1C standard are subject to the negotiated grievance process.
NTEU and the IRS agreed to the November 2014 Side letter after TIGTA issued a report citing instances of IRS employees receiving performance awards despite recent misconduct determinations, including Section 1203(b) violations. The TIGTA report prompted several Members of Congress to introduce legislation to severely limit or prohibit awards for IRS employees with misconduct determinations. In addition, the IRS, inaccurately in our view, took the position and reported to Congress that it could not take any action to limit awards for employees with conduct issues due to restrictions in our collective bargaining agreement. Last year, Congress also enacted a provision as part the IRS funding bill that prohibited the IRS from spending funds on awards unless there is a “process [that] takes into account the conduct and Federal tax compliance of such employee . . .” We believe our previous Side letter and clarification of existing contract language meets that standard and hence signed this additional Side Letter.
SUMMARY: Clarification of the rules regarding the obligation of frequent teleworkers to report to the POD is discussed below.
I want to attempt to address any confusion about the rules in Article 50 and when it is necessary to report to the POD. The parties have had some struggles with this rule ever since it was adopted in the collective bargaining agreement in 2009. The rule in Article 50, Section 1A4 has two parts. The first part requires frequent teleworkers to report to the POD at least twice in a pay period. The purpose of the rule is to ensure that a telework site (typically the employee’s residence) of a frequent teleworker is not deemed to be his/her official duty station for locality pay purposes because they work there every day. In some instances, the locality pay area of the employee’s official duty station and the employee’s telework site could be different. To ensure the employee is only entitled to the locality pay based on their official duty station, OPM requires employees who telework full-time (frequent) from a location that is either in a different locality area than the official duty station or even in the same locality pay area as the official duty station, to report to the official duty station (his/her POD) twice a pay period. To meet the reporting requirements for employees whose locality pay area is in the rest of United States (RUS), the employee must be regularly performing work within the commuting area of his or her assigned official duty station (POD) or in the geographic area where work has been assigned by his or her supervisor.
The second part of Article 50, Section 1A4 has also caused some confusion. It states employees could be removed from telework if they do not meet certain conditions: “. . . or, if his or her work location varies on a recurring basis, and he or she fails to regularly perform work within the locality pay area.” The provision means that where the employee’s work location varies during a pay period, and that work is “regularly performed” within the employee’s locality pay area, there is no obligation to report to the POD at all.
Here are examples of how the rule is applied to certain work situations:
•The employee is a frequent teleworker, and she works at her residence/telework site for the entire pay period, and never performs work at a taxpayer location or other work site. Here, the employee would have an obligation to report to the POD twice per pay period even where the location of the work performed is in the locality pay area of the official duty station.
•The employee is a frequent teleworker and holds a position that requires her to make field calls to taxpayers or otherwise conduct some business at multiple locations other than her telework site. So long as this work is regularly performed in the locality pay area of her official duty station (POD), the employee does not have an obligation to report to the POD.
•Similarly, if the employee is a frequent teleworker who splits time between two locations during the pay period e.g., home/frequent telework site and one taxpayer site, and that work is performed “within the locality pay area,” then the work locations are “varying on a recurring basis” and the employee has no obligation to report to the POD at all during that pay period.
•The employee is a frequent teleworker whose telework site is within RUS and so is their official duty station and the employee sits at one address (the residence/telework site) performing work for the entire pay period, and never performs work at a taxpayer location or other work site, the employee would have an obligation to report to the POD twice a pay period.
•The employee is a frequent teleworker within the RUS and the employee’s work location varies on a recurring basis, and that work is “regularly” performed within the employee’s RUS area, the employee has no obligation to report to the POD in that pay period.
It is important to note that if an employee fails to meet their obligations for telework, he or she can be removed from telework.
SUMMARY: Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) has introduced legislation in the House that would repeal the IRS’ authority to hire private collection agencies (PCAs) to collect federal taxes.
Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) has introduced H.R. 4912, the “Taxpayer Protection Act of 2016,” which would repeal the IRS’ authority to hire private collection agencies (PCAs) to collect federal taxes. NTEU strongly supports H.R. 4912 and sent the attached letter to Rep. Lewis endorsing his legislation.
As you may know, last December Congress approved a long-term highway funding bill which offset part of the costs of the bill by requiring the Treasury Department to contract with PCAs to collect federal tax debt despite the objections of the Administration, the National Taxpayer Advocate, and a coalition of civil and consumer rights groups.
NTEU has long opposed the use of PCAs to collect taxes which has repeatedly been shown to be a waste of taxpayer dollars and jeopardize taxpayer rights. We have noted that study after study have found that IRS employees are much more efficient at collecting taxes than private tax collectors, and that unlike PCAs, IRS employees have a variety of tools at their disposal with which they can help delinquent taxpayers meet their tax obligations.
NTEU appreciates Rep. Lewis introducing this critical legislation and will work with him and all our supporters in the House to repeal the PCA program through passage of H.R. 4912 or through amendments to pending legislation.
To find out how you can help, please go to http://www.capwiz.com/nteu
What IS NTEU doing for you today?
Improving Pay & Retirement
By fighting for fair pay raises, winning locality increases, working for a secure retirement and bargaining for performance awards, NTEU is determined to achieve competitive compensation for the work federal employees do for our country. A few of our accomplishments include:
• 1972 | Winning $533 million in back pay for federal employees.
• 2005 | Winning a 22-year legal battle against the Office of Personnel Management.
• 2009 | Successfully pressing for FERS-covered employees to receive credit for unused sick leave.
• 2015 | Supporting the addition of 13 new locality pay areas to the government’s existing list.
Speaking Out & Expanding Political Action
NTEU gives federal employees a strong voice in the public and in the political process. Here’s how:
• 1976 | We successfully challenged a law prohibiting federal employees from informational picketing.
• 1994 | We won significant reforms to the Hatch Act, which opened up the political process to federal workers.
They Work for U.S.
Educating Americans about the link between the work done by the federal workforce and their daily lives is a key aspect of NTEU’s mission. Through our national public service campaign—They Work for U.S.—we promote the work of federal employees. In other campaigns, we fight to retain important public services. Examples include:
• 2006 | We stopped the IRS from closing dozens of Taxpayer Assistance Centers.
• 2007 | We prevented the Food and Drug Administration from closing seven food-sampling laboratories.
• 2009 | We ended the private collection of back taxes, protecting taxpayer rights.
Advancing Workplace Rights & Fair Treatment
NTEU seeks to make the federal government a model employer, strives for worklife balance and works to ensure federal employees are treated fairly. Here’s how:
• 2003 | Our work led to the creation of federal Flexible Spending Accounts.
• 2007 | Customs and Border Protection Officers were granted enhanced Law Enforcement Officer retirement benefits.
• 2010 | The Telework Enhancement Act became law.
• 2010 | Young adults up to age 26 can be covered by their federal parent’s health insurance plan.
• 2013 | We worked tirelessly to secure retroactive pay for federal employees after a 16-day government shutdown.
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Up Coming Events
-July 30, 2016 - Great America Fun Members fun day