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Frequently Asked Questions Pay & Leave

Pay Administration

  • Agencies should specify the beginning date of the service requirement in the job candidate’s or employee’s service agreement.  The service requirement begins at the time specified in the service agreement, but may begin no earlier than the date the service agreement is signed or earlier than the date the individual begins serving in the position for which he or she was recruited (when student loan repayment benefits are approved to recruit a job candidate to fill an agency position).
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  • The types of academic degrees and/or levels covered by the program are not specified in law.  Agencies are encouraged to tailor their plans to recruit highly qualified candidates and/or retain highly qualified employees in their current positions.  Therefore, an agency may specify the types of degrees and levels necessary to attain this goal.
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  • Hazardous duty pay is additional pay for the performance of hazardous duty or duty involving physical hardship. Hazardous duty pay is payable to General Schedule (GS) employees covered by chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of title 5, United States Code. Prevailing rate (wage) employees are eligible to receive environmental differential pay in certain circumstances under a separate statutory provision (5 U.S.C. 5343(c)(4)).
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  • If an employee is already under grade or pay retention prior to transferring to another agency, the gaining agency must continue the employee's grade or pay retention entitlement, absent the occurrence of one of the terminating events set forth in law and regulation, such as a break in service of 1 workday or more or reduction in grade at the employee's request. (See 5 U.S.C. 5362(d) and 5 CFR 536.208 regarding termination of grade retention and 5 U.S.C. 5363(c) and 5 CFR 536.308 regarding termination of pay retention. See also question 3, below.)
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  • The statute authorizing this program states that this incentive is to be used for employees of a given agency who have outstanding student loans.  Thus, if the employee has a PLUS loan for his or her child, the loan would qualify for repayment.  However, if a PLUS loan is held by an employee’s parent, the employee is not eligible for loan repayment benefits for the parent’s PLUS loan.  While a PLUS loan an employee has previously taken out to help pay for his or her child's education is a qualifying student loan under 5 U.S.C. 5379(a)(1)(B) and 5 CFR 537.102, an agency may specify in its agency loan repayment plan that it will not offer to repay PLUS loans under its student loan repayment program.
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  • When 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 employee’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, of the 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 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.If the employee’s temporary promotion was for more than 1 year, 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. Under the maximum payable rate rule, an agency 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. Whatever method is used, the resulting rate is the basis for any subsequent promotion action.
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  • Hazardous duty pay differentials are established under 5 CFR 550, appendix A to subpart I. You can find the Code of Federal Regulations on our web site at www.opm.gov/cfr/. Additional information about hazardous duty pay for GS employees can be found at www.opm.gov/oca/pay/html/hazduty.htm. Pay administration rules for environmental differentials are found in 5 CFR 532.511. Environmental differential pay categories are listed in appendix A to subpart E of 5 CFR part 532. Additional information about environmental differentials for prevailing rate employees can be found at www.opm.gov/oca/wage/APPFUND/.
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  • Yes.  All “highly qualified” personnel, regardless of job series, including Senior Executive Service members, Federal Wage System employees, and employees covered by administratively determined pay systems, are eligible unless specifically excluded by law or regulation.
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  • See the credit hours fact sheet at – http://www.opm.gov/oca/WORKSCH/HTML/Cred_hrs.asp
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  • 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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