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Frequently Asked Questions Performance Management

  • Yes.  The individual critical element must describe performance that is reasonably measured and controlled at the individual employee's level.  Such performance includes individual contributions to the team, but does not include team performance.
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  • The agency is accountable for ensuring that the referral bonus program does not violate the merit principles or EEO legal requirements including broad public awareness of job openings; recruitment from appropriate sources to seek a work force drawn from all segments of society; and hiring selections based solely on relative ability, knowledge, and skills after a fair and open competition that assures equal opportunity to all candidates.
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  • Agencies may present such certificates and vouchers if they are being used as informal recognition awards. Merchant gift certificates should not be confused with cash surrogates (which are vouchers or checks that can be easily and widely redeemable for cash, not merchandise). Gift certificates usually are given when the intent is to give something but let the recipient make the final choice. Merchandise certificates cannot meet a cash surrogate's criterion of being easily negotiable because of limitations on where, how, and for what they may be redeemed. Gift certificates fail to meet the criteria for honorary awards because they convey a clear monetary value and cannot be characterized as symbolizing the employer-employee relationship. Consequently, the only circumstance where a gift certificate may be used to recognize an employee contribution is as an informal recognition award, which may not exceed nominal value. Agencies also need to be aware that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers gift certificates to be taxable fringe benefits that must be taxed on their fair market value. The face value of a gift certificate would be considered its fair market value. Further questions on taxable fringe benefits should be directed to the IRS.
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  • If an employee has fewer than three ratings of record during the last four years, the actual rating(s) of record available would serve as the sole basis of the employee's credit (no assumed ratings would be used). Consequently, if an employee has received only two actual ratings of record during this period, the value assigned to each rating would be added together and divided by two to determine the amount of additional retention service credit. If an employee has only one actual rating of record, the value assigned to that rating would be used. If, however, the employee has no ratings of record during the last four years, the modal rating for the appraisal program that covers the employee's position of record at the time of the reduction in force is used to grant performance credit.
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  • No, the regulations require that agencies look at the situation and make a determination on what, if anything, should be done regarding the credit assigned for ratings of record when there is a mix of rating patterns among the ratings of record being credited for reduction in force. If the agency decides that the best course of action is to still use the 12/16/20 assignment of credit, they may do so.
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  • An agency program must specify the length of its minimum period and that minimum must fall within any limits established by the agency appraisal system.  When an agency decides to use the minimum period as the length of the opportunity period, the minimum period is one of the program features that may be subject to third-party review.  Agencies are advised to be careful in determining the time limits to be used and avoid setting minimum periods that might be judged unreasonably short.
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  • No. Case law establishes that performance elements and standards are nonnegotiable based on management's rights to direct employees and assign work through the establishment of performance plans.
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  • Only cash and time-off awards must be reported to the Enterprise Human Resources Integration (EHRI). However, if an agency grants a cash stipend or honorarium with an honorary award, it should report that cash payment to the EHRI. For additional information on how to report cash awards to the EHRI and refer to Guide to Processing Personnel Actions.
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  • Yes, for excepted service positions only. OPM has the authority to exclude positions not in the competitive service from the requirements when requested by the head of the agency.
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  • No, the prohibitions contained in the criminal code do not bar agencies from providing referral bonuses to employees who have referred potential job applicants. An opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice, states that the prohibitions in the criminal code seek to prevent candidates for federal employment from having to pay influence-peddlers or employment agencies to obtain government positions (13 Op. Off. Legal Counsel 277, 1989).
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