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FEW Salutes House for Passing Legislation with Federal Worker Provisions; FERS Sick Leave Credit and FERS Redeposit Approved

WASHINGTON, April 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Federally Employed Women (FEW) salutes the House of Representatives for approving legislation (HR 1804) that included two very important federal worker provisions. An amendment was offered by Federal Workforce Subcommittee Chairman Stephen Lynch (D-9-MA) to include the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) Sick Leave Credit (HR 958) legislation during a previous mark up of the bill. Subcommittee member Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11-VA) offered the FERS Redeposit Act amendment (HR 828). "We sincerely appreciate this support of federal workers," stated Sue Webster, FEW's National President. "Our organization remains concerned about the large numbers of retirements expected over the next five to eight years, and these bills will help attract and retain new workers, as well as offer retirees an incentive to return temporarily to the federal workforce to help train these new employees," Webster added.

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), thirty-three percent of all federal workers are now eligible or will be eligible within eight years to retire. Further, roughly 60 percent of the government's 1.6 million white-collar employees and 90 percent of 6,000 executives will reach retirement age by the year 2017.

Employees under the FERS receive no compensation for their unused sick leave when they retire. (In contrast, employees covered under the Civil Service Retirement System [CSRS] are credited for unused sick leave when they retire.) The FERS Sick Leave Credit would provide the exact same benefit to FERS employees that CSRS employees currently have. Accrued sick leave at the end of a federal career will be added to the years of service an employee has worked in order to calculate retirement benefits.

The FERS Redeposit Act would allow individuals who return to government service after receiving a refund of retirement contributions to re-enter without losing their accrued annuity. Instead of forfeiting credit earned during their prior service, returning employees would be able to redeposit their cashed out annuity upon re-employment. This benefit is already available to federal employees covered under the older CSRS. Having a reinvestment option for FERS would make government service more competitive by incorporating the flexibility and mobility of retirement plans available in the private sector.

Cecelia Davis, FEW's Vice President for Congressional Relations, expressed her gratitude to Rep. Jim Moran (D-8-VA) who originally introduced these two bills. "Mr. Moran has consistently helped move legislation through the Congress that benefits not only current federal workers, but also potential and retired workers as well. This is especially important as we attempt to attract and retain new employees so that the services Americans have come to rely on, and deserve, are not interrupted."

These provisions are paid for through changes to user fees on tobacco. This bill also makes important changes to the Federal Government's Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) including be automatic enrollment for new employees with matching funds and the addition of a "Roth IRA option" for current enrollees. "During these tight budgetary times, it is absolutely essential that we not add to our nation's expenses," advised Janet Kopenhaver, the organization's Washington Representative. "Not only are these two provisions completely paid for, but the TSP changes also will result in more younger workers saving for their retirement. This is certainly a win-win situation for everyone," declared Kopenhaver.

"We would like to thank the Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-10-NY) and Federal Workforce Subcommittee Chairman Lynch for their keen support and interest in moving these federal worker provisions forward," Webster concluded. "We ask that the Senate do the same and pass this bill expeditiously in order to fix the Sick Leave Inequity between the two retirement systems and make it attractive for federal retirees to return to service without penalizing them for doing so."

FEW is a private, non-profit organization founded in 1968 after Executive Order 11375 was issued that added sex discrimination to the list of prohibited discrimination in the federal government. FEW has grown into a proactive organization serving more than one million federally employed women--both in the military and civilian workforce.

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