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Frequently Asked Questions Pay & Leave

Recruitment, Relocation and Retention Incentives

  • Before the employee enters on duty in the position for which recruited, or in the position in the new geographic area, the agency must determine that, in the absence of a recruitment or relocation incentive (as applicable), the agency would encounter difficulty in filling the position. An agency may determine that a position is likely to be difficult to fill if the agency is likely to have difficulty recruiting candidates with the competencies required for the position in the absence of a recruitment or relocation incentive based on the fact that OPM has approved the use of a direct-hire authority applicable to the position or on a consideration of the following factors:
    • The availability and quality of candidates possessing the competencies required for the position, including the success of recent efforts to recruit candidates for similar positions using indicators such as offer acceptance rates, the proportion of positions filled, and the length of time required to fill similar positions;
    • The salaries typically paid outside the Federal Government for similar positions;
    • Recent turnover in similar positions;
    • Employment trends and labor-market factors that may affect the agency's ability to recruit candidates for similar positions;
    • Special or unique competencies required for the position;
    • Agency efforts to use non-pay authorities, such as special training and work scheduling flexibilities, to resolve difficulties, alone or in combination with a recruitment or relocation incentive;
    • The desirability of the duties, work or organizational environment, or geographic location of the position; and
    • Other supporting factors.
    (See 5 CFR 575.106 and 575.206.)
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  • No, in most situations.  However, under 5 CFR 575.205(e), an agency may commence a relocation incentive service agreement during a period of employment established under a service agreement for a previously authorized retention incentive or for which an employee is receiving previously authorized retention incentive payments without a service agreement.
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  • In addition to the information listed in 5 CFR 575.310, the service agreement must also include-
    • The conditions under which the agency must terminate the service agreement under 5 CFR 575.315(g), including the conditions under which the agency will pay an additional retention incentive payment for partially completed service under 5 CFR 575.311; and
    • A notification to the employee that the agency will review the determination to pay the retention incentive at least annually to determine whether payment is still warranted.
    (See 5 CFR 575.315(f).)
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  • Under 5 CFR 575.310(e), agencies may address the extent to which periods of time in a nonpay status (excluding military leave without pay) or in a paid leave status (or paid time off status) are creditable toward the completion of a retention incentive service period. An employee who is absent because of uniformed service is generally entitled upon reemployment to be treated as though he or she had never left. (See 5 CFR 353.107.) This means that a person who is reemployed following uniformed service receives credit for the entire period of the absence for the purpose of rights and benefits based upon seniority and length of service, including within-grade increases, career tenure, completion of probation, leave rate accrual, and severance pay. Therefore, the period of military LWOP is creditable toward the completion of a retention service period.
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  • A retention incentive is an incentive an agency may pay to a current employee if--
    • The agency determines that the unusually high or unique qualifications of the employee or a special need of the agency for the employee’s services makes it essential to retain the employee and the employee would be likely to leave the Federal service in the absence of a retention incentive, or
    • The agency has a special need for the employee’s services that makes it essential to retain the employee in his or her current position during a period of time before the closure or relocation of the employee’s office, facility, activity, or organization and the employee would be likely to leave for a different position in the Federal service in the absence of a retention incentive.
    (See 5 CFR 575.301, 575.315(a)(1), the Retention Incentives (likely to leave the Federal service) fact sheet, and the Retention Incentives (likely to leave for a different Federal position) fact sheet.)
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  • Under 5 CFR 575.310(b), a service period must begin on the first day of a pay period and end on the last day of a pay period.
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  • See the retention incentives fact sheet at – http://www.opm.gov/3rs/fact/RETINCFED.asp
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  • Waiver requests must include a description of the critical agency need the proposed incentive would address, the documentation required for the agency's written determination to authorize a recruitment incentive under 5 CFR 575.108 or a relocation incentive under 5 CFR 575.208, the proposed incentive payment amount and a justification for that amount, the timing and method of making the incentive payments, the service period required, and any other information pertinent to the case at hand. (See 5 CFR 575.109(c)(2) and 575.209(c)(2).)
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  • See the recruitment incentives fact sheet at – http://www.opm.gov/3rs/fact/RECBONFS.asp
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  • It is up to the agency to decide how long to set the service period for retention incentives. Since the reason for the incentive is to encourage an employee to remain with the agency, the agency should consider what service period length would best help achieve this objective, i.e., what the agency believes to be a reasonable period of service for the amount of incentive it is willing to pay.  A service period under a service agreement for an employee likely to leave for a different Federal position may not extend past the date on which the employee’s position is actually affected by the relocation or closure of the employee’s office, facility, activity, or organization (e.g., the date the employee’s position moves to a new geographic location or the date the employee’s position is eliminated.)
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