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KEY POINTS

FEDERAL FIRE FIGHTER TRADE TIME

• Trade time agreements provide fire fighters workplace flexibility to take time off by trading shifts with fellow fire fighters without drawing down their leave.

• Trade time agreements are widespread and commonplace in the municipal sector, and work well to provide municipal fire fighters flexibility to take time off for family responsibilities or unexpected personal obligations.

• Extending trade time flexibility to federal fire fighters is a matter of fairness. Federal fire fighters hold some of the nation’s most hazardous and stressful jobs working at military bases, VA hospitals and protecting our communities from wildfires. They deserve to enjoy the same flexibilities in the workplace as do their municipal brothers and sisters.

• Currently, if two federal fire fighters swap shifts outside of a pay period, one would have his weekly pay reduced, while the other would be paid overtime. This is costly for the federal government. Excluding trade time from the calculation of overtime pay in the federal sector would save the federal government from incurring such overtime costs.

• The legislation in no way impacts management’s prerogative to set a schedule. Because agreements to trade time would be subject to a supervisor’s approval, such agreements would only occur in situations which would incur no negative impact on the department.

• Allowing federal fire fighters to swap shifts instead of taking annual leave helps staff-strapped federal agencies overcome personnel shortages.

• Unfilled federal fire fighter positions can remain vacant for up to half a year. Trade time may aid in the ability of federal agencies to recruit and retain trained fire fighters, as well as and boost fire fighter morale.

• The legislation is bipartisan. H.R. 1141 is cosponsored by members on both sides of the aisle. In the 111th Congress, the legislation was approved unanimously by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and passed the full House by voice vote.

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