Agency ELR Specialists (Agency Role)

Background Question

“What is the role of the agency ELR Specialists?  What is their education level? What is their grade level ?”


Agency ELR Specialists are specialized human resources personnel with a primary, if not only, specialization in the subjects of employee and labor relations (ELR). They very often also specialize in EEO these days. In many cases they possess academic credentials supporting their specialities. In most agencies, Agency ELR Specialists coordinate with local agency counsel on (at least) adverse actions and other significant matters.

The primary role of agency ELR Specialists is to provide expert consultative and transactional services to agency supervisors, managers, and executives concerning federal sector employee and labor relations.  Sometimes, these specialists are even further sub-categorized as to specialties.  For example, they may be an LMR Specialist (Labor Management Relations) or ER Specialist (Employee Relations).  The LMR Specialist would specialize/ deal with labor issues dealing with the union whereas the ER Specialist would specialize/ deal with employee relations issues such as discipline and adverse actions (not all inclusive). However, such specific designations are becoming very rare except for agency headquarters advisory groups.

It is our general experience senior level ELR/LMR/ER Specialists typically have a Masters Degree directly related to their field of practice- though not a requirement of the position.  SME’s (Subject Matter Expert) who advise senior managers will in most cases have at least a Masters Degree.  While not a requirement to apply for the position, it is our experience that without a Masters Degree, a person would have a hard time getting selected for any position at GS-12 level or higher.

Grade levels can vary slightly by agency.  However, ELR/LMR/ER specialists are typically GS-13 at the full performance level in most agencies.  Supervisors of these work groups are generally at the GS-14 level.  It is worth noting the Department of Veterans Affairs remains one of the few federal agencies artificially suppressing the grades of employee and labor relations specialists despite the significant complexity of their specific occupations.


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