Benefits and Training Make Our Strong Workforce Even Stronger
As employees of the Federal Government, Forest Service employees enjoy a comprehensive and flexible range of benefits. All permanent employees and some temporary/term employees are eligible. Our employees find that the benefits program we offer is designed to support the lifestyles of a diverse national workforce in a flexible system that allows you to match benefit choices to your family's individual needs.
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Forest Service employees will find that the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB) is one of the best benefits systems among employers anywhere. Employees can enroll in health insurance coverage for themselves and their families at reasonable rates. There is an annual open season during which employees can change their enrollment. Unlike a growing number of private sector health benefits programs, Forest Service employees can (if you meet certain requirements) continue their health insurance coverage into retirement with a full government contribution. Most enrollees pay only approximately one-fourth of the health benefits premium. Federal employees can now use pre-tax dollars to pay health insurance premiums under the "Premium Conversion" program. Premium conversion uses Federal tax rules to let Federal employees deduct their share of health insurance premiums from their taxable income, thereby reducing their taxes.
The FEHB offers three types of health plan options: (1) the traditional FEHB Plan, which includes fee-for-service plans, health maintenance organizations, and point-of-service plans; (2) a Consumer Driven Health Plan, which provides the employee with greater freedom in spending health care dollars up to a designated amount; and (3) High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) with Health Savings Account and Health Reimbursement Arrangements components. This combination of health plan and savings vehicle provides a new opportunity to save and better manage your money. There are also supplemental FEHB options available. These include Flexible Spending Accounts (Health Care Flexible Spending Account and the Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account).
As you can see, the FEHB Program offers the Federal employee a wide array of cost-effective health care options. Information is available to help you make the best choice for you and your family: click here.
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Forest Service employees are entitled to 10 paid holidays each year.
Sick leave and annual (vacation) leave policies are generous. Forest Service employees earn 13 days of sick leave each year. There is no ceiling on the amount that may be carried over from year to year. Annual leave accrued in the first year (13 days) exceeds the standard of 2 weeks (10 days) in the private sector. Employees earn additional annual leave as their tenure with the Federal Government increases, up to a maximum of 26 days per year.
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Family Friendly Policies
The Forest Service is a leader in providing family-oriented leave policies and flex-time/telecommuting arrangements!
Alternative Work Schedules: Allows employees to work several types of workweeks other than traditional 8 hours per day/40 hours per week. Hours per day and starting/ending times each day may vary and, in some cases, employees may be permitted to work fewer than 10 days in a 2-week period.
Leave Sharing Programs: Allows coworkers to voluntarily transfer some of their annual (vacation) leave to specific coworkers or to a leave bank to assist coworkers in dealing with a personal or family medical emergency.
Telecommuting: Subject to supervisory discretion and depending on the type of job, this allows employees to work at home or at another approved location away from the regular office.
Part-Time Employment and Job Sharing: Flexibilities are available with Federal employment that may help balance an employee's work and family responsibilities.
Family and Medical Leave Act: Ensures that up to 12 weeks per year of unpaid family and medical leave are available on a gender-neutral basis and mandates job security for employees who take such leave.
Paid Leave: For family care and related purposes - sick leave can be used to care for family members, to arrange for or attend funeral services of family members, and for absences related to adopting a child. Federal employees can receive additional paid leave to serve as bone marrow or organ donors.
Childcare Services: On-site child development centers - as well as childcare and elder care referral services are provided in certain locations.
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Employee Assistance Programs
These programs provide a variety of confidential services, including counseling and referrals, to employees who are experiencing personal problems such as work and family pressures, substance abuse, and financial problems which can adversely affect performance, reliability, and personal health.
The Forest Service may pay for part of an employee's commuting costs to encourage the use of public transportation.
Forest Service may pay for training and education to improve an employee's performance of his or her official duties. With this authority, the Forest Service may pay all or part of the necessary expenses of training, including the costs of college tuition.
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Federal Employees Retirement Systems (FERS): FERS provides retirement and survivor benefits with as little as 10 years of service at age 55-57 (depending on your birth year). FERS also provides disability benefits after 18 months of service. These benefits grow with length of service. You are required to pay .8% of your salary for this benefit.
Thrift Savings Plan (TSP): TSP is a tax deferred retirement savings plan; this means that no income tax is due on the monies employees chose to contribute (and their earnings) until they are withdrawn at retirement time. The amount you can contribute changes annually (set by the Internal Revenue Service). You may elect to contribute any dollar or percentage of basic pay after the first six months to a year. After the first 6 months to a year, the Forest Service contributes 1 percent of your salary to your account and we will match dollar for dollar the first three percent you contribute and fifty cents on the dollar for the next two percent. You have a choice of ten different funds for your investment. For more specific information on the TSP, go to www.tsp.gov.
Social Security: The Forest Service withholds Social Security and Medicare taxes from your paycheck, sends those taxes to the Internal Revenue Service and reports your earnings to the Social Security Administration. As you work and pay taxes, you earn "credits" that count toward eligibility for future Social Security benefits. You can earn a maximum of four credits each year. You will need 40 credits to qualify for benefits. For more specific information regarding your Social Security, click here. www.ssa.gov/pubs/
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Most full-time and part-time employees are automatically enrolled in basic life insurance equal to their salary, rounded to the next $1000, plus $2000. No physical is required - employees do not have to prove insurability. The Forest Service pays one-third of the cost of this group term insurance. Basic coverage includes double benefits for accidental death and benefits for loss of limb(s) or eyesight. Employees can also purchase optional insurance at their own expense. Optional coverage includes additional insurance on the employee's life, as well as coverage for the employee's spouse and eligible children, if any.
Accelerated death benefits are available to terminally ill enrollees so that they can receive life insurance proceeds while they are living.
Many large organizations are cutting life insurance benefits to retirees. This is not true in the Federal Government, which allows life insurance to be continued into retirement. It can also be converted to private coverage upon termination, without proof of insurability.
In addition to offering the life insurance program, Federal agencies can pay up to $10,000 to the personal representatives of employees who die from injuries sustained in the line of duty.
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A recently enacted law provides Federal agencies with the option of using available funds to reimburse law enforcement officers and managers for up to one-half of the cost of professional liability insurance, protecting them from potential liability and attorneys' fees for actions arising out of their official duties.
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A recently enacted law provides for a Federally sponsored long-term care insurance program. This program assists in paying the costs associated with chronic, long-term care that may develop due to an illness, accident, or the normal aging process. Newly hired or newly eligible employees and their spouses will be eligible to apply for this insurance with abbreviated underwriting for 60 days from the date of becoming eligible. The Federal program offers many choices to employees concerning different types of plans, waiting periods, and benefit amounts at www.opm.gov/insure/ltc/.
Some Forest Service locations make funds available to support employee membership in private sector health club/fitness programs.
Very generous coverage if you are injured on the job as a Federal employee.
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To keep our employees at the top of their profession, we provide world-class training supported by the latest technologies. Career development is ensured through continuing training and career-related education opportunities, both within our organization and through external educational institutions.
e-Learning - The Forest Service is piloting e-learning, using the Internet to meet the needs of our geographically dispersed workforce 24 hours a day. Geographically dispersed employees can meet their career development needs without travel time or expense by using the Internet, 24 hours a day. Training will include the SkillSoft library of over 300 courses and NETg online curriculum of over 600 courses in computer skills for beginners and for information technology professionals.
Technical Training - Many opportunities exist for professional career development, including formal professional certification programs such as silviculture (the agriculture of growing trees, e.g., maximizing tree growth and return, manipulating tree species to meet objectives in timber management); bridge design in engineering; contracting; appraisals in lands; and other areas. Forest Service offers courses that are not available anywhere else in the world, such as the minerals and geology program which trains employees to be minerals examiners, or oil and gas administrators. An employee can become an expert witness for the Federal Government on minerals court cases, or a Federal representative on active oil and gas exploration and production sites. Opportunities to further employee careers may be found in technical training designed, developed and provided by the Forest Service or in partnership with other agencies. Specific information on technical training programs in firefighting may be accessed on the Forest Service website at www.fs.fed.us/fire.
Leadership Training - Our Web-based Leader Resource Center will offer assessment tools, links to e-learning resources, links to classroom training opportunities and materials, access to articles and best practices in leadership, and a supervisor's reference guide with basic facts on human resource management, ethics, and safety topics. A 40-hour classroom course will be provided to all new supervisors and will include training in cultural awareness, communication and interpersonal skills, teambuilding, conflict management, problem solving, and human resource management. Another 40-hour classroom course will add training in strategic thinking, and partnering and collaboration (along with continuing skill development in interpersonal skills, cultural awareness, and teambuilding). Employees may compete to enroll in specially tailored leadership programs designed to build upon professional and technical skill sets to develop future managers and leaders in the Forest Service.
Balance Your Love of the Outdoors with a Dynamic Career
A career with the Forest Service is a great way to combine your love and knowledge of natural resources with dynamic, challenging opportunities. But working for the Forest Service isn't easy. Harsh climates, remote locations and hard physical work add up to a challenging career. That's why it's important to us that our employees maintain a healthy work-life balance. And our culture not only allows it, we encourage it.
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