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Pay & Leave Recruitment, Relocation & Retention Incentives

Fact Sheet: Retention Incentives (likely to leave for a different Federal position)

Description

An agency may pay a retention incentive to a current employee if the agency determines-

  • Given the agency's mission requirements and the employee's competencies, 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.*

Agencies may approve a retention incentive under this circumstance for a group or category of employees. See the Group Retention Incentives (likely to leave for a different Federal position) fact sheet for additional information.

* See the Retention Incentives (likely to leave the Federal service) fact sheet if an employee affected by a facility closure or relocation would be likely to leave the Federal service in the absence of an incentive.

Eligibility

A retention incentive may be paid to an employee who would be likely to leave for a different position in the Federal service when-

  • The employee is in a covered position (see "Covered Positions" below);
  • The employee's rating of record under an official performance appraisal or evaluation system is at least "Fully Successful" or equivalent; and
  • The agency has provided a general or specific written notice to the employee that his or her position may or would be affected by the closure or relocation of the employee's office, facility, activity, or organization (e.g., the employee's position may or would move to a new geographic location or the employee's position may or would be eliminated).

Covered Positions

A retention incentive may be paid to an eligible individual in a General Schedule (GS), senior-level (SL), scientific or professional (ST), Senior Executive Service (SES), Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Administration (FBI/DEA) SES, Executive Schedule (EX), law enforcement officer, or prevailing rate position. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) may approve other categories for coverage upon written request from the head of an executive agency.

Excluded Positions

Retention incentives may not be paid to Presidential appointees (except career SES appointees); noncareer appointees in the SES; those in positions excepted from the competitive service by reason of their confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating natures; agency heads; those expected to receive an appointment as an agency head; or SES limited term appointees or SES limited emergency appointees when the appointment must be cleared through the White House Office of Presidential Personnel.

Agency Plan

Before paying a retention incentive to an employee who would be likely to leave for a different position in the Federal service before the closure or relocation of the employee's office, facility, activity, or organization, an agency must establish a retention incentive plan or include in its existing retention incentive plan the conditions and requirements governing the use of this authority. The plan must include the designation of officials with authority to review and approve the payment of these retention incentives. (See 5 CFR 575.307(a) for additional requirements for retention incentive plans.)

Approval Criteria

For each retention incentive authorized for an employee who would be likely to leave for a different position in the Federal service before the closure or relocation of the employee's office, facility, activity, or organization, an agency must document in writing-

  • The basis for determining the agency has a special need for the employee's services that makes it essential to retain the employee, based on the agency's mission needs and the employee's competencies, during a period of time before the closure or relocation of the employee's office, facility, activity, or organization;
  • The basis for determining, in the absence of a retention incentive, the employee would be likely to leave for a different position in the Federal service; and
  • The basis for determining the amount and timing of the incentive payments and the length of the service period.

An agency must address the factors listed in 5 CFR 575.315(d)(2) when making such written determinations.

Payment

An agency must establish a single retention incentive rate for an employee who would be likely to leave for a different position in the Federal service before the closure or relocation of the employee's office, facility, activity, or organization, not to exceed 25 percent (or not to exceed 50 percent with OPM's approval based on a critical agency need). Other provisions for computing and paying retention incentives under 5 CFR 575.309 generally apply to retention incentives authorized for such an employee. However, an agency may not pay a retention incentive in biweekly installments at the full retention incentive percentage rate.

See the Retention Incentive Payment and Termination Calculations fact sheet for additional information on computing and paying retention incentives.

Aggregate Pay Limitation

Payment of a retention incentive is subject to the aggregate limitation on pay under 5 CFR part 530, subpart B.

Service Agreement

Before receiving a retention incentive, an employee who would be likely to leave for a different position in the Federal service before the closure or relocation of the employee's office, facility, activity, or organization must sign a written agreement to complete a specified period of service with the agency. Requirements for service agreements are found in 5 CFR 575.315(f).

Annual Review

An agency must review each determination to pay a retention incentive to an employee who would be likely to leave for a different position in the Federal service before the closure or relocation of the employee's office, facility, activity, or organization at least annually to determine if payment is still warranted.

Termination of Retention Incentives

The service agreement termination provisions in 5 CFR 575.311 apply to retention incentives authorized for an employee who would be likely to leave for a different position in the Federal service before the closure or relocation of the employee's office, facility, activity, or organization. In addition, an agency must terminate a service agreement for such an employee if-

  • The closure or relocation is cancelled or no longer affects the employee's position;
  • The employee moves to another position not affected by the closure or relocation (including another position within the same agency); or
  • The employee moves to a different position in the same office, facility, activity, or organization subject to closure or relocation that is not covered by the employee's service agreement. In this situation, the agency may authorize a new retention incentive for the employee, as appropriate.

An agency must review the determination to pay a retention incentive at least annually to determine whether payment is still warranted and certify this determination in writing.

See 5 CFR 575.315(g) for information on employee entitlements and agency obligations upon termination of retention incentive service agreements for employees who would be likely to leave for a different position in the Federal service before the closure or relocation of the employee's office, facility, activity, or organization.

Reporting Requirements

Agencies must submit a report to OPM by March 31 each year on the use of retention incentives for employees who would be likely to leave for a different position in the Federal service before the closure or relocation of the employee's office, facility, activity, or organization. Each report must include-

  • A description of how this authority to pay retention incentives was used in the agency during the previous calendar year;
  • The number and dollar amount of such retention incentives paid during the previous calendar year to individuals by occupational series and grade, pay level, or other pay classification;
  • The agency to which each employee would be likely to leave in the absence of a retention incentive;
  • Each employee's official worksite and the geographic location of the agency to which each employee would be likely to leave in the absence of a retention incentive; and
  • Other information, records, reports, and data as OPM may require.

References

  • 5 U.S.C. 5754
  • 5 CFR 575.314

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