Blog Official Time in Federal Agencies

Lindsey A. Wanner

The latest report from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) states that in fiscal year 2016 federal employees spent a total of 3,633,290 hours on “official time,” the practice of allowing government employees to perform union activities during business hours. See 5 U.S. Code § 7131. This is a 4.76 percent increase from 2014. The total cost for the total official time hours, including salary and benefits, was $177,211,408.53, a 9.04 percent increase from FY 2014.

Under executive order 13837 signed on May 25, 2018, agencies will be required to explain in their annual report to OPM the reason for any increase in official time, starting in FY 2019.

The U.S. Department of Education made steps to limit official time for its employees in its latest collective bargaining agreement with American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, Council 252, ratified this March. See Collective Bargaining Agreement U.S. Dep’t of Educ. and Nat’l Council of Dep’t of Educ. Locals Am. Fed’n of Gov’t Emps. Council 252, Mar. 12, 2018, article 5.