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Frequently Asked Questions Pay & Leave

  • Agencies should use the alternate method when an employee is covered by different pay schedules before and after promotion if the alternate method produces a higher payable rate upon promotion than the standard method. See Promotion Examples 3 and 5.Agencies also may use the alternate method even if the alternate method produces a lower payable rate than the standard method. Under this circumstance, the agency must determine under 5 CFR 531.214(d)(2)(iii) that it would be inappropriate to use the standard method based on a finding that the higher pay for the position before promotion is not sufficiently related to the knowledge and skills required for the position after promotion.
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  • For an employee who performs service under a non-GS Federal pay system which is potentially creditable towards a within-grade increase waiting period, an equivalent increase is considered to occur at the time of any of the following personnel actions in the non-GS pay system:
    • A promotion to a higher grade or work level within the non-GS pay system (unless the promotion is cancelled and the employee's rate of basic pay is redetermined as if the promotion had not occurred); or
    • An opportunity to receive a within-level or within-range increase that results in forward movement in the applicable range of rates of basic pay (including an increase granted immediately upon movement to the non-GS pay system from another pay system-e.g., to account for the value of accrued within-grade increases under the former pay system or to provide a promotion-equivalent increase), where "forward movement in the applicable range" means any kind of increase in the employee's rate of basic pay other than an increase that is directly and exclusively linked to (1) a general structural increase in the employee's basic pay schedule or rate range (including the adjustment of a range minimum or maximum) or (2) the employee's placement under a new basic pay schedule within the same pay system, when such placement results in a nondiscretionary basic pay increase to account for occupational pay differences.
    A non-GS pay system is one that does not meet the definition of "General Schedule" or "GS" in 5 CFR 531.403. The personnel actions above must have occurred within the same pay system. That is, even if an employee receives an increase in pay moving between pay systems, that "promotion" or other pay increase is not considered an equivalent increase. See Note 1.For example, the DoD NSPS pay system is a non-GS pay system. The following NSPS pay events would be considered equivalent increases under 5 CFR 531.407(b):
    1. A promotion to a higher band under 5 CFR 9901.354, excluding a temporary or probationary promotion that is later cancelled;
    2. Any within-band increase other than a general salary increase under 5 CFR 9901.323, which would include the following:
      • A performance pay increase under 5 CFR 9901.342;
      • A special within-band increase under 5 CFR 9901.344;
      • A developmental pay increase under 5 CFR 9901.345;
      • A pay adjustment upon placement in an NSPS position under 5 CFR 9901.351(c)(a WGI adjustment equivalent) (See Note 1);
      • A reassignment increase under 5 CFR 9901.353 upon reassignment to a position within the same band, including such a reassignment increase granted immediately upon movement from a non-NSPS position (i.e., excluding reassignment to a comparable band, since that band is in a different NSPS pay schedule with its own basic pay schedule);
      • An increase (if any) under 5 CFR 9901.355 provided after a reduction in band in the same pay schedule, including such an increase provided immediately upon movement from a non-NSPS position (i.e., excluding movement to a lower band in a different pay schedule); or
      • A one-time pay adjustment upon conversion to NSPS under 5 CFR 9901.371(j) (e.g., a WGI adjustment) (See Note 1);
      • A noncompetitive promotion equivalent increase provided to eligible employees during the first 12 months following conversion under 5 CFR 9901.371(l).
    3. A zero increase at the time of an opportunity for an increase, which would include the following:
      • A zero performance pay increase under 5 CFR 9901.342, excluding employees who do not have an opportunity for an increase because their rate equals or exceeds a range maximum (See Note 1);
      • A zero developmental pay increase under 5 CFR 9901.345, if there is a fixed schedule for receiving such an increase;
      • A zero pay adjustment (WGI adjustment) upon conversion to NSPS under 9901.371(j), if the zero adjustment was based on the employee being rated below an acceptable level of competence (as defined in 5 CFR part 531, subpart D), as required by NSPS 5 CFR 9901.371(j)(6); or
      • A zero pay adjustment (WGI adjustment equivalent) upon placement in an NSPS position and application of 5 CFR 990.351(c), if the zero adjustment was based on the employee being rated below an acceptable level of competence.
    Note 1: OPM has a general policy that a pay increase resulting from a change in pay system does not count as an equivalent increase. However, the NSPS WGI adjustment and WGI adjustment equivalent are pay adjustments made under the NSPS system after conversion or placement (although effective on the same date). Under the NSPS regulations, employees are converted with no change in pay. The WGI adjustment under 5 CFR 9901.371(j) is a mandatory adjustment following that conversion. The WGI adjustment equivalent under 5 CFR 9901.351(c)(1) also is a mandatory adjustment, and the WGI adjustment equivalent under 5 CFR 9901(c)(2) is a discretionary adjustment, both made following placement in an NSPS position.Note 2: To the extent that DoD establishes any control point that serves as a maximum rate for all positions within a defined subcategory within a band based on labor market factors (without regard to performance rating), a pay increase denied solely because of such control point would not be considered to be an opportunity for an increase and thus would not be considered to be an equivalent increase.Note 3: Consistent with 5 CFR 531.407(c), a local market supplement adjustment under NSPS would not be considered an equivalent increase. Also, an adjustment resulting from being placed in a subcategory of positions to which a higher supplement applies would not be an equivalent increase.
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  • Under 5 CFR 537.103, each agency must establish a plan that designates the officials who are authorized to review and approve offers of student loan repayment benefits.  Agencies may use approval delegations similar to those used for other recruitment, relocation, and retention incentives.
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  • WGIs apply only to GS employees occupying permanent positions. "Permanent position" is defined in 5 CFR 531.403 as a position filled by an employee whose appointment is not designated as temporary and does not have a definite time limitation of 1 year or less. "Permanent position" includes a position to which an employee is promoted on a temporary or term basis for at least 1 year. The term does not include a position filled by an employee whose appointment is limited to 1 year or less and subsequently extended so that the total time of the appointment exceeds 1 year.
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  •  If an employee is reduced in grade or pay in conjunction with a transfer to another agency, there is no mandatory entitlement to grade or pay retention. However, the gaining agency may grant grade or pay retention under its optional authority (5 CFR 536.202 or 536.302), as long as the employee is otherwise qualified.One of the eligibility conditions is that the reduction in grade or pay not be "at the employee's request" (5 CFR 536.102(b)(1)). If the transfer is initiated by the employee for his or her benefit, convenience, or personal advantage (including a transfer to avoid adverse action based on personal cause), it would be considered to be at the employee's request, thus barring grade or pay retention. However, if the transfer was directly caused or influenced by a management action (not based on personal cause), then even though the transfer appeared to be voluntary, it would not be "at the employee's request." (See definitions ofmanagement action and reduced in grade or pay at the employee's request in 5 CFR 536.103.)For purposes of providing optional grade retention to a transferring employee, the management action must be either a specific RIF notice or a written announcement of a reorganization or reclassification that might result in reduction of the employee's grade. For purposes of optional pay retention, the management action must be an action that would result in a pay reduction (after the application of any applicable geographic conversion under 5 CFR 536.303(a) and in the absence of pay retention).Note: A movement between subcomponents of an Executive department or other Executive agency cannot be considered a transfer. Under the law, the term "agency" includes Executive departments and certain other agencies. (See 5 U.S.C. 101-105, 5102(a), and 5361(2).) Thus, it is possible for mandatory grade and pay retention to apply to an employee who moves between subcomponents of an Executive department or other Executive agency--e.g., if the employee is placed in a lower-graded position at management initiative as a result of reduction-in-force procedures.
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  • The types of academic degrees and/or levels covered by the program are not specified in law.  Agencies are encouraged to tailor their plans to recruit highly qualified candidates and/or retain highly qualified employees in their current positions.  Therefore, an agency may specify the types of degrees and levels necessary to attain this goal.
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  • 5 U.S.C. 5545(d) provides that if an employee is covered by chapter 51 (Classification) and subchapter III of chapter 53 (General Schedule Pay Rates) of title 5, United States Code, then he or she may be eligible to receive hazardous duty pay. To receive hazardous duty pay, a General Schedule (GS) employee must also meet the requirements in 5 CFR 550.904.(Note: Prevailing rate (wage) employees may be eligible to receive environmental differential pay under the separate provisions of 5 U.S.C. 5343(c)(4).)
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  • No. An employee is entitled to the greater of his civilian or military pay, not both. Under 5 U.S.C. 5519, the military pay received by an individual who has been activated in support of civil authorities or a contingency operation must be credited (less any travel, transportation, or other per diem allowances) against any Federal civilian pay the employee received during the 22 workdays of military leave. An agency may calculate the amount of military pay (less any travel, transportation, or per diem allowances) an employee will receive for the time period that corresponds to the 22 workdays of military leave and reduce the employee's civilian pay by that amount during the 22 workdays of military leave. In contrast, many agencies choose to continue to pay the employee his or her full civilian pay during the 22 workdays of military leave. At the end of the 22-day period of military leave, the agency requires the employee to refund to the agency an amount equal to the amount of military pay received (less any travel, transportation, or per diem allowances) up to the amount of his or her civilian pay for the time period that corresponds to the 22 workdays of military leave.
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  • The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) entitles covered Federal employees to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave (leave without pay) during any 12-month period for certain family and medical needs, including the birth and care of a newborn. An employee may elect to substitute paid leave (e.g., annual or sick leave) for the unpaid FMLA leave, but only to the extent such paid leave is permitted under current law and regulations. If an employee chooses to invoke his or her entitlement to FMLA leave to care for a healthy newborn, he or she may only substitute annual leave for the unpaid leave, as there is no authority to use sick leave to care for a healthy child. An employee's entitlement to FMLA leave expires on the first anniversary of the child's birth.
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  • Agencies should specify the beginning date of the service requirement in the job candidate’s or employee’s service agreement.  The service requirement begins at the time specified in the service agreement, but may begin no earlier than the date the service agreement is signed or earlier than the date the individual begins serving in the position for which he or she was recruited (when student loan repayment benefits are approved to recruit a job candidate to fill an agency position).
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