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Frequently Asked Questions Pay & Leave

  • Previously, each employing agency was responsible for establishing an order of precedence for applying deductions from the gross pay of its civilian employees when gross pay was not sufficient to cover all authorized deductions.A memorandum dated July 30, 2008, to agency Human Resources Directors and payroll offices provides policy guidance to standardize the order of precedence when gross pay is not sufficient to permit all deductions. This guidance is part of the e-Payroll standardization initiative managed by the Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and helps ensure consistency among payroll providers in the processing activities involved in ordering deductions when pay is insufficient to permit all deductions. The memorandum is on OPM's website at the link below.http://www.chcoc.gov/Transmittals/TransmittalDetails.aspx?TransmittalID=1477
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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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  • If service with the agency (for a recruitment incentive) or at the new duty station (for a relocation incentive) does not begin on the first day of a pay period, the agency must delay the service period commencement date so that a required service period begins on the first day of the first pay period beginning on or after the commencement of service in the agency or at the new duty station. An agency also may delay a service agreement commencement date until after an employee completes an initial period of formal training or a required probationary period when continued employment in the position is contingent on successful completion of the formal training or probationary period. The agency must make the determination to pay an incentive before the employee enters on duty in the position for which recruited or to which relocated. However, the service agreement must specify that if the employee does not successfully complete the training or probationary period before the service period commences, the agency is not obligated to pay any portion of the incentive to the employee. (See 5 CFR 575.110(b) and 575.210(b).)
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  • Yes, provided all other requirements are met. For example, a temporary appointment must be for at least 6 months to meet the minimum period of employment required by 5 CFR 575.110(a) for a service agreement.
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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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  • Severance pay liability rests with the agency employing the employee at the time of the involuntary separation that triggers the severance pay entitlement. In the scenario set forth in the question, the agency employing the employee in the time-limited job will be responsible for making severance payments when the time-limited appointment ends. Any severance pay entitlement that an employee may have based on an involuntary separation from a permanent appointment is immediately terminated (not suspended) when the employee receives a qualifying temporary appointment. (See 5 CFR 550.711.) Severance pay for an employee in a qualifying temporary appointment is triggered by the involuntary separation from that appointment (including expiration of the appointment as provided in the definition of "involuntary separation" in 5 CFR 550.703) and is computed using the rate of basic pay at the time of separation from that temporary job. (See 5 CFR 550.709(b).) Thus, the agency employing the individual in a time-limited job is liable for any severance payments. In contrast, if a temporary appointment is not qualifying for severance pay because the employee is hired 4 or more days after involuntary separation from a qualifying permanent appointment, the severance pay liability rests with the agency in which the employee had a permanent appointment. Severance payments by that agency are merely suspended during the temporary appointment.
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  • 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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  • Under 5 CFR 575.110(f) and 575.210(f), agencies may address the extent to which periods of time in a nonpay status or in a paid leave status (or paid time off status) are creditable toward the completion of an incentive service period and to determine whether recruitment or relocation incentive installment payments will continue as scheduled while an employee is in a non-pay status or paid leave status, with the exception of an employee who is on military leave without pay. 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 recruitment or relocation incentive service period, and scheduled recruitment or relocation installment payments specified in the service agreement must continue during the period of military LWOP.
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  • The applicable statute authorizes severance pay for employees who are "involuntarily separated from the service, not by removal for cause on charges of misconduct, delinquency, or inefficiency." (See 5 U.S.S. 5595(b).) A medical inability to perform one's duties is neither "misconduct" nor "delinquency;" therefore, the precise question is whether removal for such inability constitutes "inefficiency" for severance pay purposes. The legislative history of the severance pay statute suggests at least two guidelines for interpreting its provisions. First, severance pay is intended to help individuals who lose their Federal jobs through no fault of their own. Second, severance pay benefits should be construed liberally in favor of the employee. Accordingly, an employee who is removed for inability to perform his or her duties may receive severance pay if the inability is caused by a medical condition that is beyond the employee's control. This determination should be made by the employing agency based on acceptable medical documentation provided by the employee.
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  • Since a reduction in grade at the employee's request is a terminating event, a determination as to whether such a reduction occurred must be made at the time an employee under grade or pay retention is transferred. This determination must be made based on the actual grade of the employee's position rather than the employee's retained grade. For example, if the true grade of the employee's position is GS-12 and his or her retained grade is GS-13, then acceptance of a GS-12 position upon transfer to another agency is not considered a reduction in grade at the employee's request.In addition, the term reduced in grade or pay at the employee's request is defined in 5 CFR 536.103 to exclude any reduction in grade that is directly "caused or influenced by a management action." Thus, while a reduction in grade resulting from transfer to another agency may appear to be a voluntary movement, if that transfer was directly caused or influenced by a management action at the losing agency, the gaining agency must continue the employee's grade or pay retention.
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