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Frequently Asked Questions Pay & Leave

Pay Administration

  • Yes. As long as the employee is converted to a permanent position without returning to the lower grade, the time spent on a temporary promotion is considered creditable service in the calculation of the employee's next WGI. The employee received an "equivalent increase" upon the temporary promotion. Processing a permanent promotion without moving the employee back to the lower graded position does not change the date of the "equivalent increase." Therefore, the waiting period starts on the date of the temporary promotion.
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  • The following Federal holidays are established by law (5 U.S.C. 6103):
    • New Year's Day (January 1).
    • Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Third Monday in January).
    • Washington's Birthday (Third Monday in February).
    • Memorial Day (Last Monday in May).
    • Independence Day (July 4).
    • Labor Day (First Monday in September).
    • Columbus Day (Second Monday in October).
    • Veterans Day (November 11).
    • Thanksgiving Day (Fourth Thursday in November).
    • Christmas Day (December 25).
    For information on the observation of these holidays within Federal employee work schedules, please see the Federal holidays fact sheet at http://www.opm.gov/oca/WORKSCH/HTML/HOLIDAY.asp.
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  • Employees holding VRAs are not eligible for grade or pay retention upon reduction in grade or pay, or to severance pay upon involuntary separation (not for cause).By law, grade and pay retention apply only to employees whose employment is on other than a temporary or term basis. (See the definition of employee in 5 U.S.C. 5361(1).) The grade and pay retention regulations define employed on a temporary or term basis as employment under an appointment having a definite time limitation or designated as temporary or term. (See 5 CFR 536.103.)Similarly, the severance pay law does not apply to an employee serving under an appointment with a definite time limitation, unless the time-limited appointment is made effective within 3 calendar days after separation from a qualifying appointment without time limitation. (See the definition of employee in 5 U.S.C. 5595(a)(2)(ii) and the definition of non-qualifying appointment in 5 CFR 550.703.)Under 5 CFR part 307, a VRA is limited to 2 years. Although employees are entitled to convert to a career or career-conditional appointment upon completion of the 2 years, this conversion right is contingent upon meeting the terms of the VRA--i.e., employees must satisfactorily complete (1) 2 years of substantially continuous service and (2) any education and training required under the VRA program. If employees do not complete these requirements, they are not converted to career or a career-conditional appointment, and their VRA ends. Therefore, for the purposes of grade and pay retention and severance pay, the VRA must be viewed as having a definite 2-year limitation. Because the VRA is time-limited, employees holding such appointments are not eligible for grade and pay retention or severance pay.
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  • If a temporary promotion is made permanent immediately after the temporary promotion ends, the employee is not returned to the lower grade in order to process the permanent promotion. See 5 CFR 531.214(e). The agency must convert the temployee's temporary promotion to a permanent promotion without a change in pay. The appropriate action is to process the promotion (nature of action code 702) showing the higher grade as the grade before and after promotion. (See rules 5 and 6, Table 14-B, chapter 14, Office of Personnel Management's Guide to Processing Personnel Actions.) In effect, the promotion increase granted at the time of the temporary promotion is ratified and made permanent by the removal of the not-to-exceed-date limitation on the temporary promotion.If there is any period of time between the end of a temporary promotion and the beginning of a permanent promotion, the employee must be returned to the lower grade. As required by 5 CFR 531.215(c), the agency must recompute the employee's rate of basic pay for the lower grade as if the employee had never been temporarily promoted. Also, the agency may choose, at its discretion, to apply the maximum payable rate rule in 5 CFR 531.221 if that would yield a higher rate. Whatever method is used, the resulting rate is the basis for any subsequent promotion. With respect to the "maximum pay rate" rule, please note that an employee's highest previous rate may not be based on a rate received in a position to which the employee was temporarily promoted for less than 1 year, except upon permanent placement in a position at the same or higher grade. (See 5 CFR 531.223(b).) If an agency chooses to apply the maximum payable rate rule, it may set pay at any step equal to or less than the maximum payable rate, but not less than the rate to which the employee is entitled under the normal pay-setting rules.
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  • Employees generally are not entitled to holiday premium pay for the time they spend in work-related travel during holiday hours of their tours of duty, unless it meets one of the travel conditions listed below. Holiday premium pay is paid only to employees who perform work on a holiday. (See 5 U.S.C. 5546(b).) The Comptroller General has ruled that the criteria in 5 U.S.C. 5542(b)(2) must be used to determine whether travel time is hours of work for holiday premium pay purposes. (These are the same criteria that are used to determine travel time as hours of work for title 5 overtime pay purposes. The criteria are also found in 5 CFR 550.112(g).) Time spent in a travel status is not hours of work for the purpose of paying premium pay, including holiday premium pay, unless it meets one of the criteria in 5 U.S.C. 5542(b)(2)(B) for crediting irregular or occasional hours of work for travel. The criteria state that time spent in a travel status away from the official duty station is not hours of employment unless the travel--
    • involves the performance of work while traveling (such as employment as a truck driver);
    • is incident to travel that involves the performance of work while traveling (such as "deadhead" travel performed by a truck driver to return an empty truck after unloading);
    • is carried out under arduous and unusual conditions (e.g., on unpaved roads); or
    • results from an event which could not be scheduled or controlled administratively by any individual or agency in the executive branch of the Government (such as training scheduled solely by a private firm or a job-related court appearance required by a court subpoena).
    (See Comptroller General opinions B-82637, March 28, 1949; B-168726, January 28, 1970; and 50 Comp. Gen. 519 (1971).) Note that this guidance applies to both Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) exempt and nonexempt employees. The provisions on travel time as hours of work for FLSA overtime pay purposes under 5 CFR 551.422 do not apply to the payment of holiday premium pay. Although most employees do not receive holiday premium pay for time spent traveling on a holiday, they continue to be entitled to pay for the holiday in the same manner as if the travel were not required. Note: Under 5 U.S.C. 5542(b)(2)(A), time spent traveling away from the official duty station is also hours of employment if the time spent is within the days and hours of an employee's regularly scheduled administrative workweek. However, this does not apply to travel time on a holiday for holiday premium pay purposes because an employee's regularly scheduled administrative workweek includes only periods of time in which an employee is regularly scheduled to work. The Comptroller General has ruled that travel time during holiday hours (whether driving or riding) is not work time and, therefore, does not fall within an employee's regularly scheduled administrative workweek. (See Comptroller General opinion B-160094, October 12, 1966, and the definition of "regularly scheduled administrative workweek" in 5 CFR 610.102.) Questions and Answers on Compensatory Time Off for Travel
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  • Agencies may not offer to repay a student loan for an employee who is likely to leave for any position in any branch of the Federal Government. (See 5 CFR 537.105(a)(2)(ii).)
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  • After an agency has set an employee's pay, the agency must go back the length of the waiting period in the employee's work history to determine the date of the last equivalent increase. For example, a WJ-11 employee is hired into a GS-13 position and pay is set at step 1. The waiting period at step 1 is 52 weeks. If the employee did not receive an equivalent increase in the prevailing rate pay system during that time period, the employee is entitled to a WGI to step 2 upon movement to the GS position.
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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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  • See the night shift differential for Federal Wage System employees fact sheet at - http://www.opm.gov/oca/pay/HTML/NIGHT_WG.asp
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  • If an employee voluntarily separates from Federal service before completing the period of service required in the applicable service agreement or violates any other condition that specifically triggers a reimbursement requirement under the agreement, he or she is obligated to reimburse the paying agency for the full amount of the loan repayment benefits provided (gross before any tax deductions from the loan payment).  For example, if an employee’s agreement states that he or she will receive $10,000 per year for 3 years, and the employee leaves with 6 months remaining on the service agreement after receiving $25,000 in loan repayment benefits, the employee must reimburse the paying agency for $25,000.
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