Spanberger Joins Bipartisan Effort to Connect Federal Firefighters With Full Workforce Flexibilities, Implement Trade Time Policy

Dec 19, 2023
Press

As Part of the FY2022 NDAA, the Congresswoman Voted to Grant Federal Firefighters the Ability to Trade Shifts Without Affecting Their Pay or Using Annual Leave

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger yesterday joined a bipartisan effort with 86 of her colleagues urging the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to extend full workplace flexibilities granted under law to federal firefighters, including the ability to trade shifts without affecting their pay or using annual leave.

The Federal Firefighter Flexibility and Fairness Act — which Spanberger voted to pass and the President signed into law nearly two years ago as part of the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY2022) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) — allows federal firefighters to trade shifts across pay periods without affecting pay or using annual leave. As of October 26, 2023, DoD was still working to incorporate the new trade time policy into its internal Department policy documents. Unfortunately, this has left federal firefighters unable to take advantage of this new flexibility.

In a letter sent to U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Spanberger and her colleagues requested an update on the Department’s implementation of its federal firefighter trade time policy.

“As you know, the Fiscal Year 2022 NDAA, enacted on December 27, 2021, provided federal firefighters the ability to trade shifts across pay periods — a practice known as trading time — without affecting their pay or annual leave, and in so doing, remedied a longstanding disparity between federal firefighters and their state, local and municipal counterparts,” wrote Spanberger and her colleagues. “We write today, however, because of concerns that implementation has been delayed at the Department, leaving federal firefighters in various components without the opportunity to utilize the trade time policies as the law provides.”

Their letter continued, “With the shared goal of ensuring proper access to workplace policies authorized in law and promoting sustainable working conditions for our federal firefighters, we request an update on the status and expected timeline for the implementation of the federal firefighter trading time policy at DoD. We look forward to a response on the Department’s implementation of trade time policies and to working to promote strong workforce policies that build on this policy’s success and help us recruit and retain a strong federal firefighting force.”

The letter was led by U.S. Representative John Sarbanes (D-MD-03).

Click here to read the letter, and the full letter text is below.

Dear Secretary Austin:

We write to request information on the implementation of Section 1110 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022, which allows federal firefighters to trade time. Federal firefighters put their lives on the line for our nation every day. It is critical we live up to the commitments we have made to these brave first responders and promote healthy, sustainable work environments for them by ensuring full implementation of this law.

As you know, the Fiscal Year 2022 NDAA, enacted on December 27, 2021, provided federal firefighters the ability to trade shifts across pay periods – a practice known as trading time – without affecting their pay or annual leave, and in so doing, remedied a longstanding disparity between federal firefighters and their state, local and municipal counterparts. On December 14, 2022, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued a memorandum, titled “Firefighter Trading Time Policy,” providing general guidance to federal agencies on how to implement the trade time policy for federal firefighters. The Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Service then issued a memo on May 10, 2023, acknowledging OPM’s guidance and their intent to distribute it to Department of Defense human resources practitioners and hiring managers, as well as update DoD Instruction (DoDI) “DoD Civilian Personnel Management System: Hours of Duty” to reflect these changes.

We write today, however, because of concerns that implementation has been delayed at the Department, leaving federal firefighters in various components without the opportunity to utilize trade time policies as the law provides.

For example, as of October 26, 2023, the Defense Civilian Personnel Civilian Personnel Advisory Service informed the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE)’s Firefighter Steering Committee that the Department was still working to “incorporate the OPM guidance and related DoD policy into the DoD issuance.” Unfortunately, while awaiting this issuance, federal firefighters at Department of Defense report that they have been unable to trade time. The inability to access this timekeeping flexibility has had a negative impact on the morale and welfare of many dedicated civilian first responders and firefighters who play a vital role in keeping our military installations safe.

With the shared goal of ensuring proper access to workplace policies authorized in law and promoting sustainable working conditions for our federal firefighters, we request an update on the status and expected timeline for the implementation of the federal firefighter trading time policy at DoD. We look forward to a response on the Department’s implementation of trade time policies and to working to promote strong workforce policies that build on this policy’s success and help us recruit and retain a strong federal firefighting force.

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