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New Hire Onboarding Guide | Phase 4: Orientation & Beyond

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In the months after you start work with the Forest Service, you’ll need to make your benefits selections, learn how to access workforce tools and resources, and get acquainted with the employee support services. You'll continue with some orientation activities and training programs. And, you'll also learn the intricacies of your new job and begin making important contributions to your team's accomplishments.

  1. Enroll in Federal benefits programs within your first 60 days. If you are new to Federal service, you have 60 days from your Entrance of Duty (EOD) to enroll in benefits like health and life insurance, flexible spending account, and vision and dental care. If you miss the 60-day enrollment window, you will have to wait for a qualifying life event such as a marriage, divorce, birth, or death, to enroll. You can make changes to many of your enrollment decisions during the annual Federal Benefits Open Season.
  2. Designate your beneficiaries. If eligible, this is also a good time to complete your beneficiary designations for life insurance, retirement funds, Thrift Savings Plan, and unpaid compensation. Beneficiaries are those people you identify to receive the monetary value of your benefits if you die.
  3. If you are transferring from another Federal agency, monitor your Leave and Earnings statement to make sure any automatic deductions you were previously enrolled in continue, such as retirement contributions, BENEFEDS enrollments, or flexible spending account deductions. Call the Human Resources Help Desk and ask to create a benefits case if these deductions do not appear in your paycheck.

Benefit enrollment forms will be provided by your human resources (HR) case manager with your official job offer notice. You can also find more information through the links below.

Helpful Resources and Potential Requirements

Refer to the in-depth description of potential Federal benefits that may be available to you. Ask questions of your supervisor and your new colleagues, through the New Hire Help Desk, and during the New Hire Onboarding question and answer session to ensure you are well informed and prepared to make timely decisions. Enrollments for many of the most important benefits are time sensitive.

A Designation of Beneficiary ensures you identify the person whom you want to receive funds from your benefits if you die. These benefits include any unpaid salary (SF-1152), Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI SF-2823), retirement contributions (SF-3102 for FERSSF-2808 for CSRS), and Thrift Savings Plan funds (TSP-3). It is important to update your Designation of Beneficiary forms regularly to avoid giving the funds to someone you no longer wish to receive them.

The WEPO focuses on efforts to improve and sustain a culture in which all employees feel safe, secure, valued, respected, and supported for as they conduct the priority work of the agency. Resources include This Is Who We Are, a guide to our agency core values and code of commitments, as well as organizational learning and the Conflict Management and Prevention Center. 

If you are a new supervisor, you will be required to begin supervisor training within 90 days of your effective date. New supervisor training must be completed within the first year. Refer to the WEPO Training & Employee Development New Supervisor Training webpage for more information.  

If you work in an office that is different from the organization to which you are assigned, you may be considered “hosted” by the local unit. Examples of this could be a Human Resources Management (HRM) employee who works for the nationally centralized HRM organization but physically works in a local forest or district office.  Ask your supervisor if you need to complete a hosted employee agreement and follow the local unit’s check in procedures.

If your job requires travel, you will need to apply for a Government Travel Charge Card and request access to the Travel System. Staff members on the Travel Help Desk, 877-372-7248, option #3, can provide support as you learn to use the travel authorization online tools.

Your supervisor can approve your access following instructions on the Financial Systems Access page. Systems you may need access to include: 

  • FMMI (Financial Accounting System)
  • IBS (Incident Business System)
  • eCollections (Point of Sales Systems)
  • FPFS (Forest Product Financial System)
  • ASR (All Service Receipt), CIS (Claims Information System – CFO Staff only)
  • TSARC (Timber Sale Accounting Reporting Center) 
  • Transfer of Station  Transfer of Station 

Visit Financial Systems Access for information and instructions to request access if required for your job. For assistance, call the New Hire Help Desk.

Your supervisor will determine if your new position requires that a Government Purchase Card be issued to you. If required, you will be provided with the Local Agency Program Coordinator (LAPC) contact. The Purchase Card Program is managed by Acquisition Management (AQM). The AQM LAPC contact list and training is available on the WO AQM GPC website.

Your supervisor will tell you if your position is included in a union bargaining unit under the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the National Association of Government Employees (NAGE), or the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE).  

  • Forest Service labor relations information, including the forms for union dues payroll withholding, can be found on the Human Resources Management intranet page: HRM Labor Relations - Union Info 
  • FS-NFFE Master Agreement is the official agreement between the Union and the Agency. Article 13 covers Orientation of Employees.

Your supervisor will provide you a written performance plan within 30 days after you report for duty. More information is available on the Human Resources Management intranet page: HRM Performance.  

Your supervisor will notify you of Eligibility to Telework and initiate a telework agreement if it is appropriate for your location and position. See guidance and FSM 6161.1 Exhibit 1 at Work Schedules and Telework Information. Links are internal to the FSweb.

You will need to sign into AgLearn through ConnectHR and verify that mandatory initial training has been loaded in your profile. Mandatory training must be completed in the established timeframes. Contact the New Hire Help Desk if you do not see mandatory training listed in your AgLearn account. Then, remember to check your AgLearn account occasionally throughout the year as additional, mandatory training is automatically uploaded. AgLearn is a valuable resource to explore a wide variety of optional training courses to expand your skills. Take time to explore the many learning opportunities that are available to you at no cost.  

The Human Resources Management Personnel Actions Request (PAR) staff will establish and maintain your Electronic Official Personnel Folder (eOPF). Access your eOPF via the ConnectHR to view your Notification of Personnel Action (SF 50) for your appointment to Federal service, promotions and job changes, annual pay adjustments, and other personnel records. You should download and keep a copy of your latest SF 50 for your records, and you will need it to apply for other Federal jobs. 

Check your SF 50 to ensure you understand your appointment type, tenure, salary, retirement plan, effective date, and other details. Be sure to review your eOPF periodically to confirm your annual pay adjustments, changes made to your health or life insurance, within grade increases, and position changes. 

You may call the New Hire Help Desk if you have questions about your SF 50 records or find any errors that need to be corrected. The onboarding webinars cover personnel records. You can learn more about PAR actions in this short video: PAR.

Your supervisor will determine if you will be a Custodian or Accountable Property Officer of government personal property. If required, a property management specialist will help you initiate paperwork and discuss roles and responsibilities as defined by Forest Service Manual 6414 and WO AQM Property website.

There are variables that can affect your pay rate. To learn more about how factors such as overtime, hazardous work conditions, or work on a Sunday or holiday might affect your pay, visit the "Guidance, Policy, and Reference" section under the Pay & Leave Training Guides on this website. More importantly, visit with your supervisor to understand these variables along with how to use "credit hours" and "compensatory time."

Help Is Available: New Hire Help Desk

877-372-7248, Option 4

HRM_contact_center@usda.gov

Available weekdays from 8:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Mountain Time.

Offboarding Considerations for Temporary Employees

If you are a temporary employee, you may be eligible to return next year with non-competitive rehire status. Individuals in a 1039 appointment may be non-competitively rehired for the same position or a position with the same series, grade, and basic duties if the break in service is less than three years from the date of separation. You can learn more about this and many other aspects of temporary hiring including Veterans' preference, by reading the HRM Hiring Guide. This guide is posted on the FS intranet and may not be accessible unless you have access to a Forest Service computer. Your supervisor can print a copy for you. 

As a temporary employee, you may also be eligible to compete for permanent jobs under "merit promotion" in the future, through the Land Management Workforce Flexibility Act (LMWFA). Two key qualifications you must meet are that you work for 24 months in 1039 appointments, and you are applying within two years of your last temporary appointment.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/working-with-us/employee-welcome/permanent-employees/employee-phase4