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Tony Reardon, President of the National Treasury Employees Union, provides updates on the payroll tax deferral and explains potential issues regarding paid parental leave

Some federal employees have started taking home bigger paychecks, but they’ll get smaller checks at the start of next year. Nominee for deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget Michael Rigas explained on “Government Matters” Sunday how the mandatory payroll tax deferrals will work.

The payroll tax deferrals have not been met with entirely positive reception, however. Tony Reardon, President of the National Treasury Employees Union, said on the show Tuesday, “I think it’s outrageous that this was forced on federal employees.” He believes employees should have been given an option to opt out.

He also said there has been confusion about the deferrals. “What’s been communicated” is that employees were only subject to the deferral if they make less than $3,999 per pay period. He said some were getting the deferral even though they were making more money than that, “so they were asking the logical question – what the heck’s going on?”

Reardon found out this morning the number is actually calculated by subtracting pre-tax FEHB premiums, supplemental dental and vision premiums, and FSA and HSA deductions from gross salary. “I think this just proves my point, that why is it that today, after people got paid, they’re finding out about this,” Reardon said.

There are also a number of unanswered questions Reardon said need to be answered, including what will happen if someone retires this year, and when will the money have to be paid back. “You can certainly at least get people information so they know kind of where they go from here,” he said.

Another issue Reardon has concerns about is paid parental leave. He argued that, in contrast to what Michael Rigas said, the Trump Administration did not support the paid parental leave program. “It only became law when Democrats in Congress insisted that the only way that the White House would get their Space Force was to include paid parental leave for federal employees in the defense bill.”

The NTEU expressed concern to the Office of Personnel Management that their proposed rule for paid parental leave is unnecessarily restrictive. Reardon said there “could be a problem for those whose baby arrives earlier than expected” or for employees with serious health conditions who will have to “jump through additional hoops” getting extra documentation.

The NTEU put their comments in writing to OPM recently. Reardon also provided questions regarding the payroll tax deferral in a letter to OMB director Russ Vought.

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