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Frequently Asked Questions Employment

  • For white-collar employees, basic pay is usually set under the General Schedule (GS), which is adjusted annually. Employees in GS positions in the continental United States also receive locality pay (there are 32 defined locality pay areas). Employees outside the continental United States in non-foreign areas (i.e., Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) do not receive locality rates, but rather receive cost-of-living allowances. Vacancy announcements include pay ranges for the advertised positions. The current salary tables for the GS and locality pay areas are available at http://www.opm.gov/oca/06tables/index.asp. For blue-collar employees, basic pay is set under the Federal Wage System (FWS). There are 132 appropriated fund and 125 non-appropriated fund local wage areas. For current FWS rates, please visit http://www.opm.gov/oca/wage/Wagesch.asp and select a state and county for the corresponding wage schedule. White-collar and blue-collar employees in certain occupations and/or geographic areas may receive special rates. Special rates are higher rates of pay than GS and locality rates. Some agencies have statutory authority to administer their own pay systems. Employees in these agencies are compensated through alternative pay systems established by their employing agency.
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  • No. Time-in-grade restrictions apply only to competitive service positions. See 5 CFR § 300.603).
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  • If you have questions regarding a position to which you are applying or to find out the status of your application, please speak to the point-of-contact listed for each job opportunity announcement  (JOA).  The contact information can be found at the lower portion of the JOA and also on the floating menu located on the right hand side.  If the JOA has closed and no longer appears on the USAJOBS® website, you can contact the human resources office of the hiring agency for additional information and assistance. If you are looking for a way to contact the agency headquarters, please visit http://www.usa.gov/Agencies/Federal/All_Agencies/index.shtml.  
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  • OPM has delegated most of its examining authority for competitive service positions to agencies. This authority includes making qualification determinations for agency jobs. The hiring agency evaluates your application against OPM-issued minimum qualification requirements (e.g., related work experience, education, licensure, if required) to determine your eligibility for the advertised position.
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  • The area of consideration describes the individuals from whom the agency will accept applications to compete for the position. It may be a broad or a limited group of individuals. The area of consideration may also be referred to as “Who May Apply” within the vacancy announcement. If you are not within the area of consideration and you are not eligible for a non-competitive or special hiring authority, the agency will not consider your application.
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  • OPM expanded the types of entities from which an agency may accept proof of disability and certification of an applicant's job readiness. Agencies may accept proof and certification from a licensed medical professional (e.g., a physician or other medical professional duly certified by a State, the District of Columbia, or a U.S. territory, to practice medicine); a licensed vocational rehabilitation specialist (i.e., state or private); or any Federal agency; State agency, or agency of the District of Columbia or a U.S. territory that issues or provides disability benefits.
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  • Applicants with disabilities must have an intellectual disability, a severe physical disability or a psychiatric disability; have proof of the disability; and meet all required qualifications for the position.
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  • Special appointment authorities may be used by agencies to appoint specific groups of individuals who meet the respective eligibility requirements to positions in the Federal Government. The following are a few examples where special appointment authorities may be used. Federal hiring officials are authorized to use a special appointment authority when considering certain people with disabilities (e.g., those with intellectual disabilities, severe physical disabilitie, or psychiatric disabilities). Use of this authority is at the discretion of each agency. Individuals may contact agency Special Placement Program Coordinators (SPPC) to inquire about opportunities under this authority. SPPC contact information can be found by visiting: http://apps.opm.gov/sppc_directory/. For more information on Federal employment for people with disabilities, please visit: http://www.opm.gov/disability/appempl.asp. Veterans Recruitment Appointment (formerly known as the Veterans Readjustment Appointment or VRA): the VRA is an excepted appointment, made without competition, to positions otherwise in the competitive service. Use of the authority is entirely discretionary, and no one is entitled to a VRA. This special authority allows agencies to non-competitively appoint a qualified covered veteran to any position for which he or she is qualified up to a GS-11 or equivalent. Upon completion of two years of satisfactory service, the covered veteran is converted to the competitive service. For more information on the VRA, including eligibility requirements, please visit: http://www.usajobs.opm.gov/EI4.asp. 30% Disabled Veterans: Federal agencies have the authority, by law, to give a non-competitive temporary or term appointment of not less than 60 days to any veteran who has a compensable service-connected disability of 30% or more and who meets the qualification requirements of the position. Like the VRA, this authority is discretionary with the agency. To be eligible, the individual must be a disabled veteran who has a compensable service-connected disability of 30% or more officially documented by the Department of Defense or the Department of Veterans Affairs. For more information on this hiring authority, please visit: http://www.opm.gov/veterans/html/vetsinfo.asp.
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  • Students are classified to an appropriate GS or Wage Grade (WG) series and grade and paid according to that classification. See 5 CFR § 213.2302(a)(11).
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  • Reasonable accommodation is any change to a job, the work environment, or the way things are usually done that allows an individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform job functions, or enjoy equal access to benefits available to other individuals in the workplace. Agencies are required by law to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with disabilities, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship to the agencies. In addition, Executive Order 13164 requires Federal agencies to develop written procedures for providing reasonable accommodation. For more information on reasonable accommodation, refer to the reasonable accommodation policy for your particular agency, the Reasonable Accommodation section in the HR Professionals chapter of this website, and the EEOC.
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