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Frequently Asked Questions Pay & Leave

Pay Administration

  • Under the law, an employee does not necessarily have to have 52 consecutive weeks at the grade held immediately before being downgraded in order to retain that grade under the grade retention provisions. Under 5 U.S.C. 5362(a), any employee who is placed as a result of reduction-in-force (RIF) procedures into a lower grade and who has served for 52 consecutive weeks or more in "one or more positions . . . at a grade or grades higher than that of the new position, is entitled to have the grade of the position held immediately before such placement" as the retained grade. [Emphasis added.] See also 5 CFR 536.203(a) and (c).

    Thus, for example, assume an employee has 2 years of service at GS-12 and 10 weeks of service at GS-13 immediately prior to being downgraded to GS-11 as a result of RIF procedures. Even though he or she has only 10 weeks of service at the GS-13 level, the GS-12 service plus the GS-13 service gives the employee more than 52 consecutive weeks at one or more grades higher than that of the position to which the employee is being reduced (i.e., GS-11). Thus, the employee meets the 52 consecutive week requirement and is entitled to retain the grade of GS-13.

    In contrast, if this employee were being reduced to a GS-12 position rather than a GS-11 position, the employee would not meet the 52 consecutive week requirement and could not retain the GS-13.

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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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  • Appendix A of 5 CFR part 550, subpart I (as provided by 5 CFR 550.903(a)).
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  • Hazardous duty is duty performed under circumstances in which an accident could result in serious injury or death. Duty involving a physical hardship is duty that may not in itself be hazardous, but causes extreme physical discomfort or distress and is not adequately alleviated by protective or mechanical devices.
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  • 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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  • The minimum service requirement is established in statute and may not be prorated.
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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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  • No. When an employee performs a duty for which a hazard pay differential is authorized, the agency must pay the hazard pay differential for all of the hours in which the employee is in a pay status on the day on which the duty is performed. (5 CFR 550.905)
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  • Some title 38 employees are not covered by chapter 51 and are classified under the title 38 qualification-based grading system. Such employees are not covered by the hazardous duty pay authority.
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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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