Recent AWOL arbitration decision
A primary examiner working in the Alexandria office was charged with 381 hours of AWOL and proposed for removal. The examiner, who was on PTP 32, established that he had worked all of the hours claimed, had achieved 110% production during the time in question, but had worked the hours from his alternate worksite.
The decision on the proposed removal was reduced to a 60 day suspension, removal from the PTP program, and the repayment of 381 hours worth of salary (almost $14,000). POPA took the decision to arbitration.
The arbitrator found, “…[t]he charge of AWOL is ill-suited to the facts of the case,”because “…[g]rievant was virtually present and productively working for the 381 hours in question.” The arbitrator further found that the Agency’s appropriate response to a telework problem should have been that set forth in the telework agreement, “…[s]uspension from the program for no longer than 6 bi-weeks.” The arbitrator also commented that the Agency could have charged the examiner with improperly reporting his time, but it did not. Moreover, fair notice of the consequences of telework abuse were found to be “lacking”. Finally, the arbitrator cited, “…[m]anagement’s failure to provide appropriate supervision.”
The decision then was that the examiner, “…[b]e made whole,” including the rescission of the 60 day suspension with appropriate backpay, its expungement from the examiner’s records, restoration to the examiner of any of the 381 hours of pay recouped by the Agency, and proper adjustments for any lost leave and TSP funds.