The State Department recently issued its policy for locally hired staff at U.S. Mission in suspended operations (see 3 FAM 7170). Suspended operations denote “a U.S. mission or post that has ceased operating. During this period, U.S. direct hire (USDH) personnel are usually removed from post (often evacuated). It is possible that some LE staff may remain working on premises to maintain the facilities. Diplomatic relations with the host government are usually maintained under suspended operations; it is not a revocation of diplomatic relations with the host country.”
3 FAM 7174 Authorization of Caretaker LE staff
(CT:PER-1039; 05-13-2021) (Uniform State/USAID/Commerce/Agriculture) (Applies Locally Employed Staff Only)
a. LE Staff who will continue to work on behalf of the U.S. mission during suspended operations must be designated as “Caretaker LE Staff”. Caretaker LE Staff continue to be subject to all applicable personnel policies (e.g., discipline, performance management, awards, pay increases, etc.).
b. Within thirty (30) calendar days from the date on which a U.S. mission is determined to be in suspended operation status, the regional bureau will submit an action memorandum to the Under Secretary of State for Management requesting approval for retention of and continuation of pay to current LE Staff. The action memo requesting continued employment of Caretaker LE Staff must include specific information establishing the need for continued employment of and sufficient supervision over Caretaker LE Staff and should include, at a minimum, the following information:
(1) List of proposed Caretaker LE Staff, along with their respective employment sections;
(2) Duties being performed and an explanation regarding why these duties are mission essential;
(3) Confirmation of appropriate supervisory controls;
(4) The extent to which employees will regularly report to the workplace and, if not reporting to the workplace, information on how employees will be performing their duties and communicating with supervisors; and
(5) Data on those employees who may require updated work plans or job reassignments.
c. Retention of and/or continuation of pay to LE Staff will be subject to review every six (6) months thereafter by the Under Secretary for Management. If approved, the action memoranda will be provided to CGFS/C/PPR/LE.
d. As noted in 3 FAM 7174(a), Caretaker LE Staff are subject to applicable personnel policies (e.g., discipline and performance management) and any discipline or separation of Caretaker LE Staff should be consistent with 3 FAM 7720 and 3 FAM 7730.
The new guidance says that immediately upon the determination to place a U.S. mission in suspended operation status, LE Staff who are not designated as Caretaker LE Staff will be temporarily placed in excused-leave status (i.e., administrative leave).
According to the FAM, once a determination is made to remove an LE Staff from excused-leave status or to remove an employee’s position from the authorized caretaker list, separation should proceed pursuant to the U.S. mission’s Reduction in Force (RIF) policy and the mission’s Local Compensation Plan (LCP).
No RIF retention register is required, no RIF appeal process is required, and the FAM says that the “U.S. mission should not include information about appeals in the RIF notice provided to LE Staff.”