NFFE Scores Win: FEHBP Eligibility Extended to All Temporary Employees


This past Tuesday, July 29, 2014, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) proposed a new rule that would make temporary employees who are expected to work at least 90 days eligible to participate in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP).  This rule would include temporary seasonal and intermittent employees who were left behind two years ago, when eligibility was extended to temporary wildland firefighters. NFFE has worked for years to achieve access to health benefits for all hardworking temporary employees. We are pleased that our years of hard work have finally paid off.

To give some background on how this came to pass, on July 17, 2012, the Obama administration implemented a new rule to make temporary seasonal wildland firefighters eligible for coverage under the Federal Health Insurance Program.  NFFE played a leadership role in getting this done.  In the summer of 2012, NFFE threw its support behind a petition drive on this issue, orchestrating an advocacy campaign that lead to a feature story on NBC Nightly News, a program viewed by millions each night. Shortly thereafter, OPM issued an emergency rule to cover firefighters and asked for comments on the rule.

From the beginning, NFFE made the case that eligibility should not be limited to firefighters, but rather should be extended to all temporary employees. Among other actions, NFFE surveyed employees and encouraged them to comment directly to OPM.  In NFFE’s official comment to OPM, we made the specific recommendation that 5 CFR 890.102 (h) be modified to extend coverage to temporary employees who are expected to be employed for 90 or more days. We have continued to work toward this outcome over the last two years. Now, at long last, it appears our work has paid off: this is exactly what is proposed in the new rule.  

“This is a big victory for temporary employees, but our work is not done,” said NFFE National President William Dougan. “Many temporary employees find their access to permanent jobs blocked by nonsensical federal hiring regulations.  We have been working for years and will continue to work for passage of theLand Management Workforce Flexibility Act, which would put qualifying temporary employees on equal footing with other federal employees with regard to competing for open permanent jobs by giving them access to merit promotion procedures.  These dedicated employees deserve the same fair shot at advancing their careers as other employees, and we will continue to work to see that they get it.”