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Compassionate Reassignment For Civilian Employees Pay

Military Humanitarian or Compassionate Assignments

Requesting Assignments for Extreme Family Problems

It's an unfortunate truth that sometimes during a military career, a member may experience a severe family hardship which requires his/her presence to resolve, with circumstances which make resolving it with emergency leave impractical.

To help military members in such situations, each of the services has developed a program which allows military members to be re-assigned, or temporarily deferred from assignment, if they have a severe family hardship which absolutely requires their presence to resolve.

The Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard call this program Humanitarian Assignments. The Army calls their program Compassionate Assignments.

Exceptional Family Member Program

While not a component of Humanitarian/Compassionate Assignments, the Exceptional Family Member Program or EFMP warrants special mention. EFMP was developed to make sure military family members (dependents) with special needs (medical, educational, etc.), receive the special attention they require. A small part of this program is integrated into the military assignments system.

When a military member has dependents (spouse, son, daughter, step-son, step-daughter, etc.) with special needs, they are enrolled in EFMP. If the member is selected for an accompanied assignment, one of the first things that happen is the EFMP folks at the losing base contact the EFMP folks at the projected gaining base to determine if the dependent's special needs can be adequately addressed at the new location.

If not, the assignment is canceled. This ensures that military dependents are not forced to move to locations where their special needs cannot be adequately addressed, either by the military installation or in the local community.

EFMP does not restrict a member from doing his/her share of unaccompanied assignments, however, so they can still deploy.

The program merely makes sure that members aren't selected for an accompanied assignment to areas where their dependents would not get the special attention they require.

Humanitarian/Compassionate Reassignments

A Humanitarian Assignment is a special assignment authorized to alleviate a hardship so severe an emergency leave cannot fully resolve it. While each of the services has different procedures, there are some requirements which are common to all the branches.

To qualify for a Humanitarian Assignment consideration, a military member must have a documented and substantiated problem involving a family member, which is significantly more severe than other military members experience. "Family Member" is generally defined as spouse, child, father, mother, father-in-law, mother-in-law, person in loco parentis or other persons residing in the household who are dependent for over half of their financial support. In the Coast Guard, father-in-law, and mother-in-law do not qualify as family members for the purposes of Humanitarian Assignments.

The problem must be able to be resolved within a specific time-frame (six months to two years, depending on the branch of service). Military members are expected to be available for worldwide assignment, at all times, according to the needs of the service.

That's a large part of why they get a paycheck. For those who have a permanent or prolonged family problem which prevents reassignment, humanitarian discharge is generally the appropriate action.

The Comptroller General has ruled that the military services cannot fund an assignment relocation for humanitarian reasons only. That means there must be a valid slot at the gaining base for the person's rank and job. For example, the Air Force would not be able to reassign an F-15 Fighter Aircraft Mechanic to a base that does not have slots for F-15 Fighter Aircraft Mechanics. However, sometimes a service will allow a member to re-train into a different job, in order to fill a required slot at the Humanitarian Assignment Location.

Army Compassionate Action Requests

The Army calls their Humanitarian Assignment Program "Compassionate Action Requests." Compassionate actions are requests from individual soldiers when personal problems exist.

The two types of compassionate requests are when personal problems are:

  • Temporary (resolvable within a year).
  • Not expected to be resolved within a year.

A reassignment may be authorized when there are extreme family problems and the soldier's presence is needed. A soldier may get a deletion or deferment from an overseas assignment if the problem requires them to stay in the U.S. for a short time.

If the problem is chronic or can't be resolved in a short amount of time, a compassionate discharge procedure is generally the most appropriate action. Consideration for reassignment may be given in cases of extreme family problems that are not expected to be resolved within a year if it meets the needs of the Army.

Requests are made on DA Form 3739, Application for Assignment/Deletion/Deferment for Extreme Family Problems submitted through the chain of command. This must be done by the soldier.  Commanders can disapprove compassionate requests when they clearly do not meet the prerequisites. The Army Personnel Command has approval authority for compassionate reassignment. 

Criteria for Compassionate Action

  • The soldier needs to be present to resolve the problem, and it can't be done with leave.
  • The problem cannot have been foreseen when the soldier last entered active duty.
  • A family member includes spouse, child, parent, minor brother or sister, person in loco parentis, or the only living blood relative of the soldier. If not one of those people, they must be documented as a dependent or, in the case of parents-in-law, no other member of the spouse's family can help.
  • For reassignment, a job (MOS) of the correct rank must be available at the requested installation.
  • A pending assignment may be deferred until the request is decided. However, soldiers in basic training will not be deferred from AIT pending the results.
  • The problem must be temporary and resolvable within one year, although longer deferments are sometimes approved.

Examples of Requests That Are Normally Approved

  • Death, rape, or severe psychotic episode of your spouse or minor child.
  • Terminal illness of an immediate family member whose doctor documents they are expected to pass within 12 months.
  • Major surgery for spouse or minor child which will have 12 months or less of recovery time.
  • If you were separated from your family due to military service (not negligence or misconduct) and your children are being placed in foster care.
  • Adoption if the child is being placed within 90 days and the adoption was initiated before notification of reassignment.
  • Soldiers en route from an accompanied OCONUS tour to an unaccompanied OCONUS tour may be deferred for up to 30 days. The deferment is for settlement of family when the soldier's presence is required for unforeseen problems.
  • A recent death of other family members with extenuating circumstances.

Examples of Requests That Are Normally Not Approved

  • You want to move to a new area.
  • Divorce or separation and legal actions relating to it, including child custody.
  • Gaining child custody in a divorce.
  • Sole parenthood.
  • Spouse's difficult pregnancy.
  • Family member's allergies.
  • Housing problems.
  • Financial problems.
  • Chronic problems relating to parents or parents-in-law.

If a compassionate action request is disapproved, a soldier may only request reconsideration for the same family emergency one time. If that is disapproved, there will be no further reconsideration.

For complete details about the Army's Compassionate Assignments Program, see Army Regulation 614-200, Enlisted Assignments and Utilization Management, paragraph 5-8.

More Humanitarian Assignments

Follow the procedures outlined below and discuss your desires with your supervisor and human resources staff. They can guide you through the process. There is no guarantee that the agency will be able to approve your request. Agencies have to evaluate their organizational needs prior to approving any transfer.

Even if the agency can't approve your request immediately, they may, as situations change, be able to accommodate your requests at a later date. Another option for relocation is to apply for open positions at the new location that are advertised under Merit Promotion Program (MPP) job announcements. For those who wish to improve their potential for future promotions and to expand their opportunities consider developing a comprehensive Individual Development Plan (IDP). Target positions at the location you wish to relocate.

Employee Transfer Menu

Internal Placement 

Under certain conditions federal government employees may request reassignment from one organization or geographic location to another. This is a considerable benefit to the employee and it can also benefit the agency as well. If you desire to transfer to a larger office that has more developmental and career advancement opportunities or simply to relocate to a more desirable area you can use the Internal Placement Process (IPP). Some agencies call the program Employee Requested Reassignment (ERR). Every Department has their own internal program however they all follow similar guidelines as outlined here.

Consideration shall be given to IPP requests according to the needs of the Agency. This means that if you are in a critical federal government job and the position you now occupy is understaffed, you may have to wait until staffing improves at that location before the agency will approve your request. The location you choose must also have positions available or projected vacancies in the job series and grade that you request consideration for. It’s also important to realize that the government may not fund your Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move since the move will be at your personal request. However, the agency may fund the PCS if funds are available and if the move is determined to be beneficial to the government.

Career and career-conditional employees located in the continental United States may request reassignment at any time to any other Agency position for which they are qualified. Employees occupying excepted positions may request reassignment only to other excepted positions, unless they are eligible to apply for positions in the competitive service because of having previously acquired civil service status.

Internal IPP Requests

Your organizational unit (an area office, systems management office, or district office for example) may include a number of field offices located throughout a large geographic area. If you wish to initiate an IPP request to another location within the same organizational unit you must submit your written request through your immediate supervisor to your organizational unit’s manager (area office, systems management office, or district office manager). Consideration shall be given in accordance with the reassignment practices of the program area involved.

Transfer Eligibility & Application Process

A career or career-conditional employee of one agency may transfer, without a break in service of a single workday, to a competitive service position in another agency without competing in a civil service examination open to the public. A transfer eligible may apply under vacancy announcements open to status candidates. An employee may transfer to a position at the same, higher, or lower grade level.

The key to successfully transferring to another position is professionally packaging your federal style resume. You must tailor your work histories and KSAs to the job announcement or position's required duties and qualifications  that you are targeting. Use the all new 10th edition of The Book of U.S. Government Jobs to take you step-by-step through analyzing the job announcement to writing your work histories and KSAs. You can also hire a professional resume writing service to assist you if desired.

Transfer Eligibility

  • Federal employees who are serving in the competitive service under a career or career-conditional appointment have eligibility for transfer to a position in the competitive service.
  • To transfer, you must meet the qualification requirements for the position. Written tests are not common but if one is required, arrangements will be made for you to take it.
  • Employees must be found suitable for employment in competitive service positions. If your current appointment is subject to a suitability investigation, that condition continues after you transfer.
  • Generally with a transfer, a career employee remains a career employee, and a career-conditional employee remains a career-conditional employee.

Applying For Transfer

To apply for a transfer you must first conduct your own job search. Individuals usually apply to agencies in response to vacancies announced under the merit promotion program. Some agencies accept applications only when they have an appropriate open merit promotion announcement, while others accept applications at any time. If you are seeking a higher grade or a position with more promotion potential than you have previously held, generally you must apply under a merit promotion announcement and rank among the best-qualified applicants to be selected. Status applicants include individuals who are eligible for transfer.

Also, transfer eligibility does not guarantee you a job offer. Hiring agencies have the discretion to determine the sources of applicants they will consider.


Finding Agency Merit Promotion Announcements

Merit Promotion announcements are posted on USAJOBS and individual agency web sites when jobs are announced outside of an agency's own workforce. Agency recruiting sites provide worldwide job vacancy information, employment fact sheets, job applications and forms, and have on-line resume development and electronic transmission capabilities. In many instances, job seekers can apply for positions on-line.

On the web site, job seekers can access worldwide current job vacancies, employment information fact sheets, applications and forms, and in some instances, apply for jobs online. Complete job announcements can be retrieved from the web site. You will also find various Online Resume Builder features. Using the resume builder, job seekers can create online resumes specifically designed for applying for Federal jobs. I recommend writing your federal style resume off line first and then copy and paste into the online resume builders. Resumes created on the online resume builders can be printed from the system for faxing or mailing to employers; and saved and edited for future use. For many of the vacancies listed on the site, job seekers can submit resumes created through these resume builders however you should be aware that there are differences between agency resume builders. A comprehensive listing of 141 agency world wide recruiting web sites for jobs and employment information, may be accessed at www.federaljobs.net/federal.htm.

Probationary Period

An employee is not required by the civil service rules and regulations to serve a new probationary period after transfer. However, the employee continues to serve the remainder of any probationary period which he/she was serving at the time of transfer. In most cases, an employee must wait at least three months after his/her latest non-temporary competitive appointment before he/she may be considered for transfer to a position in a different line of work, at a higher grade, or to a different geographical area. OPM may waive the restriction against movement to a different geographical area when it is satisfied that the waiver is consistent with the principles of open competition.

Positions Restricted to Veterans

Some positions in the competitive service such as guard, messenger, elevator operator, and custodian have been restricted by law to persons entitled to preference under the veteran preference laws. Generally, a non-veteran employee cannot be transferred to such positions if there are veterans available for appointment to them. This restriction does not apply to the filling of such positions by the transfer of a non-veteran already serving in a federal agency in a position covered by the same generic title. For example, a non-veteran who is serving in the position of guard may be considered for transfer to the position of patrolman, guard, fireman, guard-laborer, etc.

Hardship Transfers

Hardship transfers can be requested by employees that are experiencing personal problems at their current duty station. There are many reasons that people request hardship transfers; to care for sick parents; lack of medical facilities at your location for specific treatments for you or your family members; to get closer to your children after a divorce when your ex spouse has custody; and any number of other reasons that create an undue hardship on you or your family.

The key to successfully transferring to another position is professionally packaging your federal style resume. You must tailor your work histories and KSAs to the job announcement or position's required duties and qualifications  that you are targeting. Use the all new 11th edition of The Book of U.S. Government Jobs to take you step-by-step through analyzing the job announcement to writing your work histories and KSAs. You can also hire a professional resume writing service to assist you if desired.

The procedure is similar to the IPP process except that you must describe the hardship in your cover letter. Prepare a cover letter requesting the hardship transfer along with an application (federal resume) and give it to your immediate supervisor. Include the desired duty location in the cover letter, job series and grade of the position at the new location, and a copy of your training history. Your supervisor will forward it to the next level of management with his/her recommendation.

There must be a position available or an anticipated vacancy at the new location for the request to be considered. Check with your Human Resource department for your agency’s hardship transfer procedures. Each agency has written policies that describe the process in detail.

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