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Reduction in Force (RIF) Retention Standing

Employees are ranked on retention registers for competitive levels (groups of similar jobs) based on four factors: tenure, Veterans' Preference, length of service, and performance.

  1. First they are placed in Tenure Group I, II, or III, depending on their type of appointment. Within each group, they are placed in a subgroup based on their veteran status:

    • Subgroup AD includes each preference eligible who has a compensable service-connected disability of 30 percent or more.

    • Subgroup A includes all other preference eligibles not in Subgroup AD, including employees with derived preference.

    • Subgroup B includes all employees not eligible for Veterans' Preference.

    The Dual Compensation Act of 1964 puts significant restrictions on retention rights of retired military. For further information on these retention rights see the appropriate section of Vet Guide.

  2. Within each subgroup, employees are ranked in descending order by the length of their creditable Federal civilian and military service, augmented by additional service according to the level of their performance ratings.

  3. When a position in a competitive level is abolished, the employee affected (released from the competitive level) is the one who stands the lowest on the retention register. Because veterans are listed ahead of non-veterans within each tenure group, they are the last to be affected by a RIF action.

  4. Employees are not subject to a Reduction in Force while they are serving in the uniformed services. After return from active duty, they are protected from RIF action. If they served for more than 180 days, they may not be separated by RIF for 1 year after their return. If they served for more than 30 but less than 181 days, they may not be separated by RIF for 6 months.

Assignment Rights (Bump and Retreat)   

When an employee in Tenure Group I or II with a minimally successful performance rating is released from a competitive level within the competitive area where the RIF takes place, he or she is entitled under certain circumstances to displace another employee with lower retention standing. The superior standing of preference eligibles gives them an advantage in being retained over other employees. These displacement actions apply to the competitive service although an agency may, at its discretion, adopt similar provisions for its excepted employees.

Bumping -- An employee may bump in the same competitive area to a position no more than three grades (or grade intervals) lower than the position from which the employee is released that is held by an employee in a lower group or subgroup.

Retreating -- An employee may retreat in the same competitive area to a position held by another employee with lower retention standing in the same tenure group and subgroup that is essentially identical to one previously held by the retreating employee and is no more than three grades (or grade intervals) lower than the position from which the employee is released.

A preference eligible with a compensable service-connected disability of 30 percent or more may retreat to a position up to five grades (or grade intervals) lower.

An employee with an unacceptable performance rating has no right to bump or retreat.

An employee with a minimally successful performance rating may retreat only to positions held by an employee with the same or lower rating.

Reemployment Priority for Separated Employees

After a RIF, separated competitive service employees in Tenure Groups I and II are listed on the agency's Reemployment Priority List. The agency generally may not hire from most outside sources when qualified employees are on the List. In hiring from the List, preference eligibles receive preference over other employees. Excepted service employees separated by RIF receive similar priority in excepted employment. If the employee files an Reemployment Priority List appeal, the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) may order a retroactive remedy which could include extending the employee's time period for consideration under the Reemployment Priority List.


Filing an Appealing during a RIF

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