Before 2016 comes to a close, I want to note one important anniversary that did not get much attention. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act — better known as the workers’ comp program for the federal workforce.
FECA is one of the most important programs for federal workers. It provides federal employees with workers’ compensation coverage for injuries and diseases sustained while performing their duties.
The program seeks to provide adequate benefits to injured federal workers while at the same time limiting the government’s liability strictly to workers’ compensation payments. Payments are to be prompt and predetermined to relieve employees and agencies from uncertainty over the outcome of court cases and to eliminate wasteful litigation.
Most importantly, the program stands ready to support a federal employee who is injured and cannot work. An injured worker should still be able to provide for his or her family and live a dignified life.
Taking care of injured workers is the hallmark of a good employer and the federal government should strive to be one of the best employers in the country. Many federal employees take on dangerous jobs in service to our country as prison guards, park rangers and border protection. They—and all federal employees—deserve peace of mind knowing that the workers’ comp program is there.
It is important to take a step back and realize that a high priority is keeping employees off workers’ comp by ensuring safe and healthy workplaces. To that end, I encourage employees and agencies to work with federal unions and put in place safety practices and procedures that allow federal workers to return to their homes at the end of the day.
This program has helped many federal employees and their families over the past 100 years. It is not a perfect program and parts of it should be strengthened. I am ready and willing to work with Congress and the administration to make that happen.
But today I want to celebrate 100 years of protecting the federal workforce. Here is to another 100.
Tony Reardon is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here. Reardon is also National President of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 150,000 employees in 31 agencies.