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Frequently Asked Questions Pay & Leave

Within-Grade Increases

  • For the purpose of determining the number of years in a service period, divide the total number of calendar days in the service period by 365 and round the result to two decimal places. For example, a service period covering 39 biweekly pay period equals 546 days, and 546 days divided by 365 days equals 1.50 years. (See 5 CFR 575.109(b)(3) and 575.209(b)(3).)
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  • No.  DOD and Coast Guard NAFI employees must have a 90-day break-in-service to be eligible for a recruitment incentive upon movement to a position listed in 5 CFR 575.103 (unless one of the remaining exclusions in the definition of “newly appointed” applies).
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  • Agencies are not required to make loan payments in one lump sum.  In fact, making a loan payment in one lump sum to the loan holder on behalf of the employee accelerates the employee’s tax liability and may increase the resulting tax burden.  (See Questions and Answers on Tax Liability.)
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  • Agencies are responsible for making their own determination regarding what this term means.  In doing so, agencies should take into account consistency, fairness, and the cost to taxpayers of recovering monies owed to the Government.
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  • No.  An agency has discretionary authority to repay certain types of Federally made, insured, or guaranteed student loans as a recruitment or retention incentive for highly qualified candidates or current employees.
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  • No. Periods of leave without pay, or other periods during which an employee is not in a pay status, do not count toward completion of the required service period. However, as provided by 5 CFR 353.107, absence because of uniformed service or compensable injury is considered creditable toward the required service period upon reemployment.  (See 5 CFR 537.107(b).)
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  • Yes. An agency may pay a recruitment incentive to an employee who has not yet entered on duty if the individual has accepted a written offer of employment and has signed a service agreement. (See 5 CFR 575.109(d).)
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  • Yes. However, an agency may not include in a group retention incentive authorization an employee in a senior-level (SL), scientific or professional (ST), Senior Executive Service (SES), Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Administration (FBI/DEA) SES, or Executive Schedule (EX) position or similar categories of positions for which the payment of a retention incentive has been approved by OPM. (See 5 CFR 575.305(c) and 575.315(a)(2).) Retention incentives for employees in such positions must be approved on an individual, case-by-case basis.
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  • 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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