A recently implemented policy allows federal agencies to hire temporary employees in certain positions, specifically those related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), for a maximum duration of 10 years. This represents a significant increase from the previous limit of four years.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is the government agency responsible for issuing this rule, which was originally proposed during the Trump administration. The purpose of the policy is to provide federal agencies with greater flexibility in tackling long-term STEM projects. A spokesperson for OPM emphasized that the rule demonstrates the administration’s commitment to STEM hiring.
Despite its intended benefits, the rule has encountered criticism and has been pending for over two years due to concerns that it may undermine civil service hiring rules and benefits for regular, career workers. Some have argued that the temporary nature of these hires could result in a lack of stability and security for fulltime employees, as well as potentially diminishing the overall value of taking a position in the federal government.
In response to these concerns, OPM has promised to ensure the “appropriate use and intent” of the 10-year term hiring authority and has emphasized that it is not intended to be a substitute for regular agency hiring, but rather is meant to supplement existing hiring authorities. OPM has also stated that it will monitor the effects of the policy to ensure that it does not negatively impact the federal workforce.
It is important to note that this rule currently only applies to STEM positions. However, OPM has left open the possibility of expanding the scope of occupations covered by the policy in the future if there is increased demand from agencies and no negative effects on federal work.
You can read the full official version of the Temporary and Term Employment rule (document: 87 FR 73623) here. This rule is effective starting January 3, 2023.
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