Civil Service (CS) employees who will be accompanying their U.S. government direct hire spouse abroad should consider all their options before moving overseas. The employment and benefit information below is a guide for transitioning to an overseas post.
Direct Hire Domestic Employee Teleworking Overseas (DETO)
Federal Civil Service employees interested in teleworking their current position should discuss the possibility of a DETO agreement with their supervisor six-to-nine months before moving overseas. The Department of State’s DETO policy allows domestic direct hire employees accompanying their Foreign Service or Civil Service spouse on an overseas assignment to telework from post. The DETO arrangement is not an entitlement, but an additional workplace flexibility option permitted at the discretion of the supervisor, regional bureau (State)/ agency (non-State), and the overseas mission. For more information on DETOs contact FLOaskEmployment@state.gov.
Leave Without Pay (LWOP)
Supervisors may have the flexibility, with concurrence from the bureau/agency, to grant LWOP if they are accompanying a U.S. government employee spouse to a post abroad. It is important to note that for employment overseas, family members on LWOP are not considered Appointment Eligible Family Members (AEFM). Additionally, family members in LWOP are not eligible to enroll in the Foreign Service Family Reserve Corps until they meet the cited eligibility requirements. For information on requesting LWOP, see 3 FAH-1 H-3514.4.
Separation (Resignation) and Reinstatement
When resigning from a position, a Civil Service employee can request that the HR specialist include a remark on the separation SF-50 stating that the employee is vacating the position in order to accompany a spouse on an overseas assignment. Civil Service employees should talk with their HR department about reinstatement eligibility, which allows employees to re-enter the federal competitive Civil Service workforce without competing with the general public, or undergoing the probationary process again to earn tenure. See OPM’s FAQs on Reinstatement Eligibility for more information.
Each SF-50 will reflect the employee’s tenure status and, where appropriate, document the time worked in a qualifying position that will count toward tenure. Service performed overseas by family members under a limited non-career appointment (i.e. a Family Member Appointment) can be counted toward creditable service for tenure if it intervenes between two competitive service appointments (5 CFR 315.201 (b)(3)(iv)(H)).
Keep in mind that upon separation from federal service, employees receive a lump sum payment for unused annual leave; however, sick leave is not paid out but will be restored if the employee returns to direct hire federal employment. For regulations on leave, refer to 3 FAM 3410.
Retirement and Benefits
Before leaving a Civil Service position, the employee should calculate how many years of work have been accrued and consider how many additional years of federal employment are needed to receive certain retirement benefits. Family members who work under a Family Member Appointment (FMA) continue to earn creditable federal service.
Contact the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) at (877) 968-3778 or go to www.tsp.gov for details on how to rollover a TSP when separating from federal employment. Additional information can be found in FLO’s employment FAQs and for the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) on OPM’s website.
Foreign Service Family Reserve Corps (FSFRC)
Family members who are interested in seeking employment at post should apply to join the FSFRC, if eligible. Entry on duty may be streamlined for FSFRC members who apply for and are chosen to fill a position inside the mission. Go to FLO’s FSFRC webpage for more information.
Family members currently working in a Civil Service (CS) position with the Department of State who are listed on their sponsoring employee’s travel orders to a post abroad and have a transfer date within the next six months should apply to the FSFRC via the DS-5137 form on MyData. The application should be submitted a minimum of 30 days prior, but not more than six months prior, to the departure date from the CS position.
Earning Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE)
Appointment Eligible Family Members (AEFM) can earn NCE after completing 52 weeks of service, or 2087 hours, in a Family Member Appointment (FMA) or TEMP Appointment at an embassy or consulate overseas. Work must have been performed during the time the family member was accompanying a sponsor officially assigned to an overseas post and the AEFM must have received a fully successful or better performance rating. NCE candidates may apply non-competitively to a competitive service position in the federal government within three years after resuming U.S. residency.