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Frequently Asked Questions Pay & Leave

Recruitment, Relocation and Retention Incentives

  • For the purpose of paying a recruitment incentive, newly appointed refers to —
    • The first appointment, regardless of tenure, as an employee of the Federal Government;
    • An appointment of a former employee of the Federal Government following a break in service of at least 90 days; or
    • An appointment of an individual in the Federal Government when his is her Federal service during the 90-day period immediately preceding the appointment was limited to one or more of the following:
      • A time-limited appointment in the competitive or excepted service;
      • A non-permanent appointment (excluding a Schedule C appointment under 5 CFR part 213) in the competitive or excepted service;
      • Employment with the government of the District of Columbia (DC) when the candidate was first appointed by the DC government on or after October 1, 1987;
      • An appointment as an expert or consultant under 5 U.S.C. 3109 and 5 CFR part 304;
      • Employment under a provisional appointment designated under 5 CFR 316.403; or
      • Employment under the Student Career Experience Program under 5 CFR 213.3202(b).
    (See the definition of newly appointed in 5 CFR 575.102.)
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  • A position is considered to be in a different geographic area if the worksite of the new position is 50 or more miles from the worksite of the position held immediately before the move. If the worksite of the new position is less than 50 miles from the worksite of the position held immediately before the move, but the employee must relocate (i.e., establish a new residence) to accept the position, an authorized agency official may waive the 50-mile requirement and pay the employee a relocation incentive. (See 5 CFR 575.205(b).)
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  • By March 31 in each of the years 2006 through 2010, each agency must submit a written report to OPM on the use of the recruitment and relocation incentive authorities within the agency during the previous calendar year for use in compiling an OPM report to Congress, as required by section 101(c) of Public Law 108-411. Each agency report must include—
    • A description of how the authority to pay recruitment and relocation incentives was used by the agency during the previous calendar year;
    • The number and dollar amount of recruitment and relocation incentives paid during the previous calendar year by occupational series and grade, pay level, or other pay classification; and
    • Other information, records, reports, and data as OPM may require.
    (See 5 CFR 575.113(b) and 575.213(b).)
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  • For each determination to pay a retention incentive, the agency must document in writing—
    • The basis for determining the agency has a special need for the employee’s (or group of employees‘) services that makes it essential to retain the employee(s), based on the agency‘s mission needs and the employee’s (or group of employees‘) competencies, during a period of time before the closure or relocation of the employee’s (or group of employees‘) office, facility, activity, or organization;
    • The basis for determining, in the absence of a retention incentive, the employee (or a significant number of employees in the group) would be likely to leave for a different position in the Federal service; and
    • The basis for determining the amount and timing of the incentive payments and the length of the service period.
    (See 5 CFR 575.315(d)(1).)
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  • Yes. Under 5 CFR 575.105(b), agencies may target groups of positions that have been difficult to fill in the past or that may be difficult to fill in the future and may make the required written determination to offer a recruitment incentive on a group basis (excluding positions covered by 5 CFR 575.103(a)(2), (a)(3), or (a)(5) or in similar categories approved by OPM). All requirements in the regulations and the agency's recruitment incentive plan must be met in order to pay a recruitment incentive to an individual employee in the covered group. For example, agencies may authorize a recruitment incentive of up to 25 percent of the annual rate of basic pay of the employee at the beginning of the service period multiplied by the number of years (including fractions of a year) in the service period (not to exceed 4 years), and the employee must be newly appointed in the Federal Government and must sign a service agreement of at least 6 months with the appointing agency.
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  • No. Under 5 CFR 575.102, newly appointed is defined as the first appointment as an employee of the Federal Government. All three branches are part of the Federal Government for this purpose.
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  • Under 5 CFR 575.309(e)(2), waiver requests must include—
    • A description of the employee’s work requirements and responsibilities or, if requesting a group retention incentive, a description of the group or category of employees and the number of employees to be covered by the proposed retention incentive;
    • A description of the critical agency need the proposed retention incentive would address;
    • The written documentation required by 5 CFR 575.308;
    • The proposed retention incentive percentage rate and a justification for that percentage;
    • The timing and method of making the retention incentive payments;
    • The service period required; and
    • Any other information pertinent to the case at hand.
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  • By March 31 in each of the years 2006 through 2010, each agency must submit a written report to OPM on the use of the retention incentive authority within the agency during the previous calendar year for use in compiling an OPM report to Congress, as required by section 101(c) of Public Law 108-411. Each agency report must include—
    • A description of how the authority to pay retention incentives was used by the agency during the previous calendar year;
    • The number and dollar amount of retention incentives paid during the previous calendar year by occupational series and grade, pay level, or other pay classification; and
    • Other information, records, reports, and data as OPM may require.
    (See 5 CFR 575.313(b).)
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  • Before paying a retention incentive, an agency must establish a plan for using the authority. (See 5 CFR 575.307 and 575.315(c).) The plan must include the designation of officials with authority to review and approve payment of retention incentives, the categories of employees who are prohibited from receiving retention incentives, required documentation for determining that an employee would be likely to leave the Federal service or would be likely to leave for a different position in the Federal service, any requirements for determining the amount of a retention incentive, the payment methods that may be authorized, requirements governing service agreements (including the criteria for determining the length of a service period, the conditions for terminating a service agreement, and the obligations of the agency if it terminates a service agreement), the conditions for terminating retention incentive payments when no service agreement is required, and documentation and recordkeeping requirements.
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  • An agency may unilaterally terminate a recruitment or relocation incentive service agreement based solely on the management needs of the agency.  For example, an agency may terminate a service agreement when the employee’s position is affected by a reduction in force, when there are insufficient funds to continue the planned incentive payments, or when the agency assigns the employee to a different position (if the different position is not within the terms of the service agreement). In such cases, the employee is entitled to all incentive payments attributable to completed service and to retain any portion of an incentive payment already received that is attributable to uncompleted service. An agency must notify an employee in writing when it terminates a recruitment or relocation incentive service agreement. (See 5 CFR 575.111 and 575.211.)
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