OPM’s Proposed Guidelines for Hiring Military Spouses in 2020

OPM’s Proposed Guidelines for Hiring Military Spouses in 2020

Following a promise to amend guidelines for hiring spouses of active service members and veterans, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has released the changes it proposes to make to several Federal regulations. The new guidelines primarily address a special authority granted for hiring military spouses non-competitively. It proposes to adjust the regulations keeping in mind new eligibility criteria as well as the more stringent reporting requirements for veteran hiring agencies.

OPM Proposes Changes to Hiring Military Spouses

According to the Federal Register notice issued by OPM, the proposed changes relate to a special authority set up by an executive order back in 2008. The authority pertained to hiring spouses of military service members and veterans and underwent several subsequent alterations through legislative changes and other executive orders. The authority originally intended to make it easier for these spouses to find employment and career success despite frequent relocations.

Reading Suggestion: Adapting Your Onboarding Strategy for Veteran Employees

The 2008 Special Authority for Hiring Military Spouses for Federal Roles

The executive order granted hiring managers in Federal organizations the right to prefer military spouses for open Federal positions. For the purposes of this authority, military spouses include the following:

  • Spouses of service members on active duty.
  • Spouses of 100% disabled service members.
  • Spouses of deceased service members.

At the same time, the executive order also allows federal agencies to fill temporary, term, or permanent roles with military spouses without a competitive process. This is specifically for positions that would otherwise involve competition. However, the authority neglected to specify a means of prioritizing the selection of military spouses. Under the current rules, hired military spouses gain a competitive service status after their probationary period has been successfully completed.

The New Changes Proposed by OPM

These existing regulations were intended to offer military spouses a better chance of building their own careers amid frequent relocations and postings across the world. Since they usually stay in one place for less than three years, military spouses often have to start over, again and again, every time they relocate. This obviously puts a limit on their career trajectories and prevents them from building a long-term employment relationship. The trouble is, these regulations and subsequent amendments have become a bureaucratic nightmare for many military spouses, who struggle to find employment that the regulations are supposed to make easier for them.

Reading Suggestion: Measuring the Success of Your Veteran Hiring Program

This is exactly why OPM has proposed several changes to the existing rules. The Office aims to bring a 2018 executive order into the regulations; one that makes it mandatory for federal agencies to advertise the availability of their military spouse programs in their job ads. It will also manifest change in the way federal bodies report their hiring information, including the staffing agencies with whom they conduct business.

But that’s not all. The OPM also wants to bring a 2018 law into full effect. This law temporarily broadens the eligibility criteria for hiring military spouses. Instead of focusing only on military spouses that have relocated, it makes all qualifying persons eligible for consideration. This temporary relaxation of eligibility criteria is expected to continue through 2023. With a growing shift towards hiring veterans, spouses of veterans may also find themselves in a better position to apply and be selected for federal as well as private sector roles.

Looking for a Job? Great! We Can Help.

Are You a Veteran? Even Better – That’s Our Expertise