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Frequently Asked Questions Pay & Leave

  • 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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  • You may be required to provide advance leave notice and medical certification. Ordinarily, you must provide 30 days advance notice when the need for leave is foreseeable. If the need for leave is not foreseeable, e.g., because of a medical emergency, you must provide notice within a reasonable period of time appropriate to the circumstances involved. An agency may require medical certification to support a request for leave because of a serious health condition and may require second or third opinions (at the employer's expense).

    If you cannot provide the required medical certification before FMLA leave is to begin, you must be provided provisional leave. Once this leave has commenced and you fail to provide the medical certification, the agency may charge you as absent without leave (AWOL) or may allow you to request that the provisional leave be charged as leave without pay or to your appropriate leave account.

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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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  • The correct amount of income tax withholding is calculated by taking a flat 25 percent of the supplemental wages. Social security tax and Medicare tax withholding are calculated at the usual rates and are in addition to the 25 percent income tax withholding.

    This answer was provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). For further guidance/clarification on this issue, agency representatives may contact IRS (Federal, State and Local Governments) at (202) 283-9665.
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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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  • Loans made or insured under the Higher Education Act of 1965 include the following:

    Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL)

    • Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans
    • Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans
    • Federal PLUS Loans
    • Federal Consolidation Loans

    William D. Ford Direct Loan Program (Direct Loans)

    • Direct Subsidized Stafford Loans
    • Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans
    • Direct PLUS Loans
    • Direct Subsidized Consolidation Loans
    • Direct Unsubsidized Consolidation Loans

    Federal Perkins Loan Program

    • National Defense Student Loans (made before July 1, 1972)
    • National Direct Student Loans (made between July 1, 1972, and July 1, 1987)
    • Perkins Loans (made after July 1, 1987)

    Loans made or insured under the Public Health Service Act include the following:

    • Loans for Disadvantaged Students (LDS)
    • Primary Care Loans (PCL)
    • Nursing Student Loans (NSL)
    • Health Professions Student Loans (HPSL)
    • Health Education Assistance Loans (HEAL)
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  • Agencies have several options for easing the tax liability on their employees.  (See 5 CFR 537.106(a)(6) and Questions and Answers on Tax Liability.)
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  • See the Sunday premium pay fact sheet at - http://www.opm.gov/oca/WORKSCH/HTML/sunday.htm
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  • A retention incentive is an incentive an agency may pay to a current employee if--
    • The agency determines that the unusually high or unique qualifications of the employee or a special need of the agency for the employee’s services makes it essential to retain the employee and the employee would be likely to leave the Federal service in the absence of a retention incentive, or
    • 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.

    (See 5 CFR 575.301, 575.315(a)(1), the Retention Incentives (likely to leave the Federal service) fact sheet, and the Retention Incentives (likely to leave for a different Federal position) fact sheet.)

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  • Heads of executive departments and agencies have authority to excuse employees from work without charge to leave or loss of pay to donate blood. Typically, agencies grant up to 4 hours of excused absence to employees who wish to donate blood.
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