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Frequently Asked Questions Pay & Leave

What is considered an "equivalent increase" for non-GS employees who move to the GS pay system?

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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