Federal HR Policies Affecting Schedule A Appointment
CES employees with Federal benefits are employees of the 1862, 1890, and Tuskegee land-grant institutions that employ them. CES employees must have the state/university/college appointment in order to maintain their Federal benefits. As a result of this cooperative relationship, the former federal appointees in CES are subject to the Reduction-In-Force (RIF) policies and procedures of their employing office.
Federal RIF regulations, policies, and procedures relative to the Federal benefits program, e.g. Early Retirement Authorities (VERA/VISIP/DSR), and the establishment of retention registers for involuntary separations are not appropriate for the employing CES colleges and universities. The structure of CES offices and the Tenure of the former CES Federal appointees does not allow for the retention, bump, and retreat methods required by the Federal RIF regulations and procedures.
CES Policies and Procedures
CES employees with Federal benefits are subject to the rules, regulations, and procedures of the college/university that employs them. The policies and procedures of the employing office, unlike the policies and procedures of the Federal government, are unique to the state, county and university/college of the employing CES office. The CES employing office is responsible for determining the categories and types of positions, where they are to be located, and when they are to be filled, abolished, or vacated. The CES employing office determines when there is a surplus of employees at a particular location or in a particular line of work. However, actions that may result in reducing the workforce should be discussed with the USDA, HRD, CES Team to discuss the impact of the involuntary separation action on the affected employee’s Federal benefits.
Each college/university is responsible for assuring that their policies and procedures are uniformly and consistently applied in a reduction in force/involuntary separation situations. The policies and procedures should address how employees will be released from their positions and any alternatives available to retain employees that are selected for release from their current positions.
Former CES Federal appointees who wish to file an appeal must follow the appeal procedures of their organization. If the employing agency decides that a RIF action was unjustified or unwarranted the employee can be reinstated in accordance with the policies and procedures of the employing office.
Affect of Separation on Benefits
Retirement - Former Federal appointees eligible for a Discontinued Service Retirement (DSR)(if approved by USDA) and/or a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) (if the employing office has been granted the VERA from OPM) may retire from the Federal service if they meet the requirements for the early retirement authority when they are to be separated in a RIF situation.
CES employees that are eligible for but choose not to separate on a DSR or VERA, and those who are not eligible for early retirement but who have at least 5 years of creditable Federal service when involuntarily separated are entitled to:
- apply for and receive a refund of their employee contributions; or
- apply for a deferred annuity at age 62 if they did not receive a refund of their employee contributions or they re-deposited their CSRS refunded contributions prior to their last separation.
Employees are not eligible to receive a refund of their retirement contributions if they are eligible to receive an annuity within 31 days after filing for a refund. If an employee chooses to receive a refund of their FERS retirement contributions their FERS creditable service will be forever lost, i.e., the employee cannot re-deposit the money at a later date to receive credit for the FERS period of employment.
Health Benefits - CES employees covered by the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program who are separated from their CES employment may be eligible to continue their coverage after their separation. Employees eligible for early retirements (DSR or VERA) actions may transfer their coverage with them into retirement if they meet the requirement for transfer. Generally speaking, all employees with 5 or more years of coverage, or coverage since their first opportunity, are eligible to transfer their health benefits into retirement.
Former CES Federal appointees who are separated and are not eligible for early retirement can continue their health insurance coverage by converting to an individual policy, or they may be eligible for Temporary Continuation of Coverage (TCC). See the Health Benefits information in this guidance for additional information on conversions to individual policies and TCC.
Life Insurance - CES employees covered by the Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) program who are separated from their CES employment may be eligible to continue their coverage after their separation. Employees eligible for early retirements (DSR or VERA) actions may transfer their coverage with them into retirement if they meet the requirement for transfer. Generally speaking, all employees with 5 or more years of coverage, or coverage since their first opportunity, are eligible to transfer their life insurance into retirement.
Former CES Federal appointees that are separated and are not eligible for early retirement can continue their insurance coverage by converting to an individual policy. See the FEGLI information in this guidance for additional information on conversions to individual policies.
Information on State/ University/College Benefits must be obtained from the employing CES/HRD Office.
CES offices that are faced with a systematic reduction in staff that lead to involuntary separations, including the abolishment of positions, should contact the USDA, HRD/CES team before any action is taken to separate former CES Federal appointees. CES HRD officials and USDA CES/HRD Human Resource Specialist need to discuss the situation(s) before written notices are issued to former CES Federal appointees.
All DSR and VERA separations must be discussed and approved by the USDA CES/HRD before any action is taken to offer a DSR or VERA to a former CES Federal appointee. Copies of reorganization and RIF plans, may be required and copies of letters to the employees notifying them of their separation must be forwarded to USDA with the required forms for the early retirement action.
Additional and/or specific information on RIF processes and procedures, and state benefits, can be obtained from the CES HRD employing office. Information on Federal benefits and the impact that the RIF separation has on Federal benefits can be obtained from the CES employing office and the USDA HRD CES Team.
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