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U.S. Layoff Rules Tie Security to Merit

From the Washington Post

The federal government plans to publish revised layoff procedures this week that tie job security more closely to performance--a long-sought goal of the Reagan Administration--but retain elements of the civil service’s last-hired, first-fired system of seniority.

The new Office of Personnel Management regulations, a compromise worked out in recent months, are to go into effect Feb. 3 and would cover most of the government’s 1.4 million white-collar civilian employees.

Layoff procedures are particularly important because the new Gramm-Rudman balanced-budget law could force agencies to cut employment over the next few years to reduce spending.

Under the new rules, agencies about to lay workers off would base firing decisions on a system of points, earned by workers through seniority and annual performance ratings.

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One White House official said Monday that the change “puts more emphasis on merit and performance than the government has in many years.”

He noted that women and minority-group males, who often lack seniority, would be special beneficiaries of the new rules.

During the first 3 1/2 years of the Reagan Administration, more than 2,900 of the Washington area’s 350,000 federal workers were fired for economy reasons, and thousands more were demoted. Most of them had little seniority.


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