Managing Official Time In The VA Time And Attendance .

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OFFICE of LABOR-MANAGEMENT RELATIONSManaging Official Time in theVA Time and Attendance System(VATAS)forUNION OFFICIALSBARGAINING UNIT EMPLOYEESHR SPECIALISTS, SUPERVISORY &MANAGEMENT OFFICIALS1

Objectives Provide the purpose for tracking Official Time (OT); Define OT in law and outline the meaning according to ExecutiveOrder; Identify categories that will be captured in the VA Time andAttendance System (VATAS) for requesting official time; Understand the roles of Union Representatives, Bargaining UnitEmployees (BUE), Supervisors/ Managers, and Labor Relationspractitioners for requesting, approving and tracking OT in VATAS; Provide guidance regarding the use of the VATAS for the requesting,approving, recording and tracking of OT by Union Representatives,Employees and Department Officials; and Understand when OT -related misconduct serves as the basis fordiscipline or removal.2

PURPOSE FOR TRACKING OFFICIAL TIME Executive Order 13837 (2018) GAO Accountability Report (2017)3

Implementing Executive Order 13837 EO 13837, Ensuring Transparency, Accountability, and Efficiency inTaxpayer-Funded Union Time Use, signed May 25, 2018, requiresfederal agencies to monitor and track official time used byemployees and union representatives. EO 13837 requires BEUs to spend at least three-quarters of theirpaid time, measured each fiscal year, performing agency businessor attending necessary training (as required by their agency), inorder to ensure that they develop and maintain the skills. The Department is responsible for ensuring Official Time is usedefficiently, and only for authorized purposes, and in amounts thatare reasonable, necessary, and in the public interest.4

Government Accountability Office (GAO)2017 Report on VA’s Tracking of Official Time OPM’s report of official time usagegovernment-wide; No prior standardized tracking system forofficial time; and Ensuring that official time is authorized,approved and used appropriately.5

Tracking Official Time The Department is responsible for ensuring theuse of official time is properly approved,accurately tracked and recorded. VATAS will be used to track and record the use ofofficial time.6

What is Official Time?As provided in title 5 United States Code (USC)7131, official time is paid time spent by federalemployees performing representational workfor a bargaining unit in lieu of their regularlyassigned work.7

What is Official Time?“Taxpayer-funded union time” is defined in theExecutive Order (EO)13837 as time granted to anemployee pursuant to 5 USC § 7131, which includestime provided to a Bargaining Unit Employee (BUE) inconnection with any matter covered by the Statute. 5USC §7131(d)(2).Section 6 of EO 13837 requires the Administrations toreport taxpayer-funded union time for employees whouse this time pursuant to Section 7131(d)(2).8

Categories of Official TimeOPM requires Executive agencies to record officialtime in four categories. These categories are foundin VATAS under the following headings: Term Negotiations (BA)Mid-Term Negotiations (BB)Labor/Management Relations (BD)Grievance/Appeals (BK) ** Denotes additional explanation later in presentation *9

Categories of Official Time - Term NegotiationsTerm NegotiationsVATAS Code – BAOfficial time used by union representatives to prepare for andnegotiate a basic collective bargaining agreement or itssuccessor.Examples: Negotiating a Collective Bargaining Agreement Preparing for Negotiations Impasse Meetings10

Categories of Official Time – Mid-Term NegotiationsMid-Term NegotiationsVATAS Code – BBOfficial time used to bargain over issues raised during the lifeof a term agreement.Examples include but not limited to: Impact & Implementation Bargaining Preparing for and negotiating with Managementover a change in conditions of employment (i.e.,Telework policies, Flextime, Alternate WorkSchedules, or Renovated Work Environment) Participating in meetings on organizational change11

Categories of Official Time – Labor/Management RelationsLabor/Management RelationsVATAS Code – BDOfficial time used for meetings between labor and/oremployees with management to discuss conditions ofemployment.Examples include but not limited to: Labor-management committee meetings; Weingarten meetings Labor relations training (hosted by Union) for union representatives Union participation in formal meetings and investigative interviews Travel time for representational duties or scheduled meetings Meetings attended by union representatives to discuss changes inworkplace conditions with management12

Categories of Official Time – Grievance/AppealsGrievance/AppealsVATAS Code – BK*Official time used by Union Representatives to appear before theFederal Labor Relations Authority as described in 5 USC 7131 (c).Managing code BK used by Union Representative: All 7131(c) time used, per statute13

Categories of Official Time – Grievance/AppealsGrievance/AppealsVATAS Code – BK*Official time used by an employee to prepare a response for a grievancein a statutory appeal process or through the negotiated grievanceprocedure.Examples of Tracking OT used by BUE’s: Requests official time to prepare their response to a grievance orcomplaint against management. Requests official time to prepare their response to a grievance.14

General Rules for Requesting Official Time – (Cont.)Union Representatives & BUE’s Required to use VATAS to request and receive approval for OTprior to its use. Requests for OT usage in VATAS must include the followinginformation in the ‘Submitter Remarks’ section of the system: Location of where the official time will be used; Telephone number where they can be reached; and Type of representational activity in which they will be engaged.Note: Similar requirements are on the Request for Official Time form.15

General Rules for Requesting Official TimeUnion Representatives & BUE’s Union representatives must submit their request for the useof official time via VATAS on the first scheduled workday ofeach pay period. BUE’s must submit their request for the use of official time viaVATAS seven (7) business days in advance of the request.Examples include but not limited to: Known scheduled meetings; and Known recurring dates/times of representational duties,etc.16

General Rules for Requesting Official Time – (Cont.)Union Representatives & BUE’s Union representatives without access to VATAS mustsubmit the Request for Official Time Form on the firstscheduled workday of each pay period. BUE’s without access to VATAS must submit theRequest for Official Time Form seven (7) businessdays in advance of the request. Modifications to the scheduled use of official timemust be discussed with the supervisor or designee inadvance.17

General Rules for Requesting Official Time – (Cont.)2Union Representatives & BUE’s A union representative or BUE must contact his or herimmediate supervisor or designated alternate managementofficial to request OT, beyond what was previously approvedfor use, when it’s made known more time is needed.Examples of official time not known in advance may include: Union participation in formal meetings andinvestigative interviews; Weingarten meetings, etc. Approved requests must be entered in VATAS or submit theRequest for Official Time form.18

General Rules for Requesting Official Time – (Cont.)Union RepresentativesGeneralRules for) Official time for travel must be requested and approved viaVATAS by the immediate supervisor or designated alternateofficial before the travel occurs. Union representatives who are authorized to travel to afacility outside their duty station on official time, mustprovide the relevant information. If the union representative will be delayed beyond theestimated time, he or she will notify the immediatesupervisor or designated alternate to request additionalneeded official time. Any approved additional time must be entered in VATAS uponthe union representatives return to duty.19

Request for Official Time Form20

Request for Official Time in VATASUse VATAS to requestOfficial Time and select‘Leave Requests’.21

Request for Official Time in VATASSelect ‘Add Leave Request’.22

Request for Official Time in VATAS3Scroll towards the bottom of the ‘Leave Type’ forthe appropriate category and shift of the leave.23

Request for Official Time in VATAS4Include the following information in the‘Submitter Remarks’ section:Location of where the official time will be used;Telephone number where they can be reached; andType of representational activity in which they will be engaged.24

General Rules for Approving Official TimeDepartment Supervisors and Management Officials Supervisory & Management officials must : Review and assess requests for official time. Determine if it is reasonable and necessary. Provide a response (in VATAS or via the Requestfor Official Time form), within a reasonableamount of time. Track the 25% usage by union representatives. Requests for official time under this section will notbe arbitrarily and capriciously denied.25

General Rules for Approving Official Time - (Cont.)Department Supervisors and Management Officials If a valid operational need would not permit the unionrepresentative to use official time when requested, anotheroccasion will be determined, keeping in mind the interests of theUnion, bargaining unit employees, and the needs of theDepartment. No undue delay should result from these efforts nor will eitherParty be compromised in the exercise of their rights by suchefforts. If canceled or denied: Union representative returns to their official duties;Department, upon request, provides explanation to the requesting Local;Response either verbally or written (in VATAS or on the Request forOfficial Time form).26

Department ResponsibilityDepartment Supervisory and Management Officials Upon request, must submit official time data forany union representative and BUE under theirsupervision to the appropriate Departmentofficials. Responsible for tracking and monitoring the usageof taxpayer funded union time for unionrepresentatives and ensuring use does not exceed25% of their total annual time on duty.27

Department Responsibility – (Cont.)Human Resources Officials and/or Timekeeping Officials Ensure union representatives & BUE’s, with access to VATAS,are properly trained on entering official time requests forsupervisory approval. Union representatives will be on dutytime to attend training for the use of VATAS. Ensure union representatives & BUE’s, without access toVATAS, utilize the Request for Official Time form. Upon request, advise VA supervisory officials, unionrepresentatives and BUE’s on the appropriate use of officialtime. Upon request, provide official time reports, based on the fourOPM reporting categories, to appropriate Departmentofficials.28

Non-ComplianceFailure to Follow Official Time Procedures Union representatives and/or BUE’s that fail to followofficial time procedures outlined here may result indisciplinary and/or adverse action consistent with therespective Master Agreement(s) of the union representativeor VA Handbook 5021. Consult your Employee Relations Department for furtherguidance when taking disciplinary action against unionrepresentatives at the Local, Intermediate, or National level,for failure to follow official time request and approvalprocedures.29

Supervisor and Management AccountabilityFailure to Follow Official Time Procedures Supervisors and/or the appropriate Management Officialswill be held accountable for failure to use VATAS to approve,track and record official time or who fail to produce reportsof the use of official time through the use of VATAS. Supervisors and/or the appropriate Management Officialswill be held accountable for tracking the 25% use of officialtime for Union Representatives employed by theDepartment.30

ResourcesWhere to get information Title 5, United States Code, Chapter 71 29 CFR § 1614.605, Representation and official time Executive Order 1383731

TMS SELF CERTIFICATIONUse the following TMSself Certification number:448231332

employee pursuant to 5 USC § 7131, which includes time provided to a Bargaining Unit Employee (BUE) in connection with any matter covered by the Statute. 5 USC §7131(d)(2). Section 6 of EO 13837 requires the Administrations to report taxpayer-funded union time for employees who use this time pursuant to Section 7131(d)(2).

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