In 1994, the Office of Personnel Management established a rule that agency “subdivisions” can appoint and rehire employees in seasonal jobs, provided they worked less than 1,040 hours during a given service year.
For years, the National Park Service interpreted this rule to be a cap on seasonal workers’ employment at an individual park but allowed and encouraged those workers to double up: work at 1 park for summer months, and a different park during winter. However, this spring, NPS has apparently changed that policy, interpreting the 1,040 hour-per-year rule to be Park Service-wide.
Regional offices have been enforcing that change, which hasn’t been formally announced, by stripping workers of their rehire status, allowing managers to bring back past seasonal workers without going through the competitive hiring process. Enforcement of this has been inconsistent and retroactive.
National Treasury Employees Union National President Tony Reardon sent a letter to members of Congress asking for assistance in the matter. According to him, officials in the Pacific West Region are barring employees from future seasonal jobs if they worked more than 1,039 hours in a year since 2014. But the Intermountain Region “has no limit on retroactivity”. Also complicating things is workers weren’t told of their situation until after the competitive hiring deadline passed.
“Some are being told that they can sign up for a 6-month contract and they will be terminated after that; while others are being told that they went over the 1,039-hour cap in the past and are now permanently banned from working in the parks,” Reardon wrote. “[Each] region and each park seem to have its own rules. Apparently, there is no uniform policy in place, so many inconsistent approaches have arisen.”