QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT THE FDA/NTEU WEEKEND WORK AGREEMENT

 

 

1.      Question.

 

May management require employees to work weekends without overtime or compensatory time?

 

Answer.

 

Agency management has the legal  right to assign work and that right includes the ability to determine when work will be regularly scheduled.  However, major changes in work schedules not covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement may not be made until statutory collective bargaining obligations are satisfied.  Since bargaining on mandatory, non-overtime scheduling of weekend work has not been completed, for the duration of the pilot period specified in the FDA/NTEU Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on weekend work, except in emergency circumstances, non-overtime work on the weekends must be voluntary.  The purpose of the pilot is to determine whether the FDA can satisfy its expanding need to conduct weekend operations through voluntary scheduling arrangements, augmented by overtime.  If this test is not successful, it may be necessary to move to regular work schedules which include weekend work.

 

2.      Question. 

 

Is FDA management obligated to satisfy weekend work scheduling requirements through the use of overtime if sufficient employees do not spontaneously volunteer to work weekend hours on a non-overtime basis.

 

Answer.

 

No.  FDA management may solicit employees to use any of the possible non-overtime options provided for in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, including volunteering to work credit hours or to include weekend days in their regular schedules in order to satisfy the Agency’s weekend work requirements.  However, while management may ask employees to enter into voluntary, non-overtime arrangements to accomplish weekend work, it may not coerce employees to volunteer.

 

3.      Question.

 

What options does management have for staffing weekend operations under this agreement and the Collective Bargaining Agreement?

 

Answer.

 

Management may use any of the procedures provided for in the Collective Bargaining Agreement or a combination of them.  For example, the message below shows the approach used by one FDA facility to schedule weekend operations:

 

Pursuant to Article 22 [pp. 78-80] of the FDA-NTEU CBA, I am looking for volunteers to handle the weekend work though the end of the third quarter of this fiscal year and qualified analysts have until COB Monday, March 19th  to sign up.  If we have no volunteers then “work will be assigned to the least senior qualified employee” on a rotating basis.  The current status of the rotation list of qualified analysts in descending order is as follows:

 

         NAMES OF EMPLOYEES HERE

 

If you are interested in volunteering for any of these weekends, please send me an E-mail or written request designating which weekends you would like to work.  Please remember that if I have more than 2 analysts volunteering for the same weekend, the 2 most senior analysts will get it.  The available weekends are:

 

                                                            April 7/8                       May 26/27

                                                            April 14/15                   June 2/3

                                                            April 21/22                   June 9/10

                                                            April 28/29                   June 16/17

                                                            May 5/6                       June 23/24

                                                            May 12/13                   June 30/July 1

                                                            May 19/20

 

I hope to have the schedule completed no later then Thursday the 22nd.

 

 

4.      Question.

 

May FDA management require employees to work overtime on weekends?

 

Answer.

 

Yes.  While, the Collective Bargaining Agreement recognizes the desirability of staffing overtime requirements through the use of volunteers, the Agency retains the right to direct employees to work overtime when necessary to accomplish needed work in the absence of qualified volunteers.

 

5.      Question.

 

Is FDA management required to accept volunteers for overtime before requiring non-volunteers to work overtime?

 

Answer.

 

Yes, provided that the volunteers are qualified to perform the work in question.  Under Article 22 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, FDA management retains the right to determine which employees have the necessary qualifications to perform particular overtime assignments. In determining who is qualified to perform assignments, Management considers such factors as the particular knowledge, skills, and abilities possessed by employees (e.g., specific knowledge or experience needed to perform the particular assignments in question) and the nature of the specific weekend assignments in determining the pool of employees

 

6.      Question.

 

May new hires (employees hired after April 12, 2001) be required to work on a non-overtime basis on weekends?

 

Answer.

 

Yes.  Under the agreement, new hires are to be informed before accepting their positions with FDA that they may be required to work on weekends as a regular, non-overtime part of their work schedules.  Consequently, by accepting employment, they will be agreeing to work schedules which may include non-overtime weekend work.

 

7.      Question.

 

Is FDA management required to provide security arrangements for employees working on weekends which are equivalent to those provided during the regular work week?

 

Answer.

 

Yes.  Article 50 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement requires management to provide employees with a safe and healthy work environment.  Consequently, while management need not maintain security arrangements which are the same in every detail as those which are in effect during the regular work week, security must be  equivalent in all essential respects.

 

8.      Question.

 

What will happen if the FDA cannot effectively staff necessary weekend operations through the procedures provided in the FDA/NTEU MOU on weekend work?

 

Answer.

 

When the 6-month pilot period is over, the FDA and the NTEU will evaluate the effectiveness of the agreement procedures in meeting the agency’s mission needs.  If those needs are not being met, the FDA will move toward making weekend days part of the regularly scheduled workweek for selected operations and occupations.