Tester unveils bill to address federal administrative leave

by Cody Proctor

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) is sponsoring that he says will cut millions of dollars in government waste.

The Administrative Leave Act will hold federal agencies accountable when it comes to putting employees on paid administrative leave.

“Often times if an employee gets in trouble or if the boss doesn’t like the employee they just send him out on administrative leave and there is very little oversight,” Tester said.

Currently, federal agencies do not need to justify why they are placing employees on leave, or even outline the length of time for which these employees will be sent home for.

“This makes sense to be able to give some continuity to these agencies and let the bosses know what their expectations are and let the employee know what their rights are,” Tester said.

Tester says in 2014 the Departments of Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs spent more than $40 million on employees placed on administrative leave for one month or longer.

“If in fact they want to go past that 10 days than it goes further up the chain of command. If it is going to go further than 30 days, then that goes further up the chain of command. The bottom line is it brings in a lot of folks to look at this administrative leave, to make sure it is warranted. Instead of just one person doing it, there is multiple people looking at it,” Tester said.

The act will define what paid administrative leave is, it will limit paid administrative leave to five consecutive days, and it will have “weather and safety leave” for those who cannot make it to work safely.

The bill’s co-sponsors are Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE), Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI).

Grassley’s website provides this overview:

The purpose of this bill is to define administrative leave in statute and limit the broad variation of its use (and abuse) by federal agencies, and encourages federal agencies to keep employees on regular duty or take other actions to keep the employee working, such as temporary reassignment or telework. Given the lack of uniformity of use of administrative leave across the federal government and the expense of its abuse by some agencies, this bill requires better accounting for the use of administrative leave and defines the rare cases in which an employee should not be working or at the workplace.