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Federal Employees

Eligible U.S. government employees may be detailed or transferred to certain international organizations (IOs) in which the United States participates.  Authority and procedures for such details and transfers are found in:  5 U.S.C. §§ 3343, 358l-3584 and 5 C.F.R. and §§ 352.301 through 352.314.

How do I negotiate and approve a detail or transfer?

Upon receipt of a written request from an international organization for the services of an employee, an agency may approve and authorize the (separation) transfer of the employee to the organization for any period, not to exceed five (5) years.

The agency retains the option of refusing the request for a transfer to an international organization.  Refusal to grant such a request is not appealable.

At the time of approval of transfer, the employee must agree, and acknowledge in writing to the agency, those federal benefits (and required payments) which he/she wishes to retain while on transfer, including retirement, health benefits, life insurance, and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).

Note:  At the formal request of an international organization or a federal official, and subject to prior approval by the agency, no leave shall be charged to an employee who is absent for a maximum of three days to interview for a proposed detail or transfer.  Also, an agency may approve official travel within the United States in connection with such an interview.

What about my federal benefits?

Federal employees serving on appointments of one year or more can detail or transfer to an international organization and retain certain rights and benefits offered by the federal government.

At the time of approval of a transfer to an international organization, a federal agency must offer the employee the opportunity to continue participating in his or her current retirement, health benefits, and group life insurance programs while seconded to an international organization, and indicate in writing that it will continue to make the agency’s share of contributions to these programs.  To retain such coverage, however, the employee must make his or her contributions during the entire period of the secondment.  If the employee fails to make such contributions, benefits will be lost during the period of secondment.

An employee is not eligible to participate in TSP while employed by the international organization, but upon reemployment, if the employee opted to retain federal retirement coverage, he or she may make contributions to the TSP and receive make-up agency contributions and lost earnings on the agency contributions that he or she missed as a result of service to the international organization.

If the employee retained coverage while on transfer, upon reemployment, the period of separation covered by the transfer is eligible to be deemed employment by the United States.  Note that double retirement coverage is not permitted.  The employee may not earn and retain credit toward a U.S. government retirement benefit for a period of service at an international organization if that same period of service is used to qualify for the international organization’s retirement plan.

Special conditions exist for employees covered by the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) or the Foreign Service Pension System (FSPS).  Legislation passed in August 1994 permits continuation of contributions to the FERS and FSPS systems and payment of Social Security (FICA) taxes, enabling FERS and FSPS employees to earn retirement credit while on transfer.  Retirement credit may be earned upon payment of the required employee's share of contributions to the agency from which the employee transferred.

While on detail, your Agency will continue to pay your salary, allowances and benefits directly.  Your agency, in accordance with their rules and regulations and any contractual arrangements, will provide all social security coverage, including pension, insurance against illness, accident, disability and death, whether service incurred or not.

Agencies can also be responsible for the cost of travel and installation of the employee (his/her immediate family) and transportation of his/her personal effects between his/her place of residence and his/her duty station on appointment and repatriation, in accordance with its rules and regulations. 

Also, the annual, sick and home leave entitlements of the employee will continue to be administered by the Department, and determined in accordance with the terms of the contract between the employee and the agency.

What are my reemployment rights?

If an agency approves a transfer to an international organization, it must grant reemployment rights to the employee.  The transfer period is deemed creditable service for all appropriate employment purposes, including tenure, service computation date, federal retirement, and time in grade.

A transferred employee must apply for reemployment to his or her former agency, in writing, within 90 days after separating without cause from the international organization.  However, it is to the employee's advantage to notify the former agency at least six months prior to the end of employment at the international organization of any intention to return to the federal agency.

An agency must reemploy the employee within 30 days of the employee applying for reemployment.

Upon reemployment, an employee is entitled to be reemployed in his or her former position, or one of like seniority, status, and pay that he or she would have been entitled if he or she had remained in U.S. government employment.

Employment Conditions of Details or Transfers

Employees on secondment shall be considered a staff member of the IO during the period of the detail/transfer and shall be under the technical and administrative supervision of the IO.

The employee’s immediate IO supervisor may provide statements concerning the quality of the employee’s performance to the agency from which he/she was seconded.

Hours of duty are to be mutually agreed between the employee and the IO.

The employee shall be entitled to annual and sick leave in accordance with their originating agency’s regulations governing Foreign or Civil Service employees.  In this connection, the following procedures are suggestions as to what can be agreed between the employee and the IO supervisor:

  1. Each application for sick and annual leave must be approved by the employee’s IO supervisor
  2. Requests for sick and annual leave will be recorded on OPM Standard Form SF-71, “Application for Leave” and forwarded to the employee’s originating agency.
  3. The employee will be excused from duty on all U.S. Federal holidays, if not otherwise scheduled for duty, without charge to annual leave.  He/She may be excused from duty on a local holiday without charge of duty station.

Applicability of Regulations and Policies of IOs

The rules and policies governing the internal operation and management of the IO will apply to the employee.

The rules and policies of both the IO and U.S. Government governing standards of conduct shall apply to the employee on secondment.

Because the detailee is participating in a U.S. Government retirement plan, the IO will agree to exclude the employee from coverage under the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund and other accident, illness, and health insurance coverages.

The obligations of the IO are strictly limited to the express terms and conditions of the agreement that is drafted to cover such employment.  The employee is not entitled to any other payment, allowance, grant or indemnity, including compensation for any service incurred event.

It can be negotiated that the IO provides all travel costs and applicable per diem to the employee for all duty travel directed by the IO and in accordance with the IO rules and regulations.

The IO could be required to reimburse the U.S. Government agency for 50% of special allowances for education, cost of living and housing.  In addition, the IO could reimburse the Agency for 50% of costs for travel of the officer and family members and transportation of household goods and personal effects to and from his place of assignment.