(February 7, 2024) NWS employees recruited from the continental United States for service at forecast offices in overseas territories will receive liberalized entitlement to “renewal agreement travel” back to the continental United States as a result of the settlement of a grievance filed on their behalf by NWSEO.
Federal employees recruited for service in U.S. territories overseas and their families are entitled to travel home at government expense at the end of each two-year tour of duty overseas. However, overseas employees often need to delay travel home due to their health, their spouse’s employment, their dependents’ school calendar, or staffing shortages. Last year, NWS Pacific Region implemented a new policy that canceled employees’ entitlement to renewal agreement travel if they did not exercise it within a year of the end of their two-year tour of duty. Several employees who had planned on traveling home at a later date were informed that they had forfeited the right to do so. Previously, employees were allowed to delay renewal travel as long as they wanted, but had to serve a new, two-year tour of duty upon their return before becoming eligible for travel again.
Last April, NWSEO filed a grievance over this unilateral policy change, as well as the NWS’s failure to credit the amount of time an employee served overseas after completing his or her two-year commitment towards completion of the next tour.
NWSEO and NWS have now agreed on a new policy going forward which will allow employees to wait up to one year after they complete their two-year tour of duty before exercising renewal agreement travel and will, for the first time, get to count any such extension towards reducing, upon their return, the amount of time they will need to serve overseas on their subsequent tour before becoming eligible again.
The agreement also made provision for the individual circumstances of three employees in Guam and eight employees in Puerto Rico to accommodate their plans for their next renewal agreement travel.