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Salary & Benefits


The pay range for SL/ST positions has a minimum rate of basic pay equal to 120 percent of the basic pay rate for GS-15, step 1, and a maximum rate of basic pay equal to the rate payable for level III of the Executive Schedule (EX-III). The aggregate limitation on pay is Executive Level I (EX-I).

However, for any agency with a performance appraisal system that is certified under 5 U.S.C. 5307(d) as making, in its design and application, meaningful distinctions based on relative performance, the maximum rate of basic pay is the rate payable for level II of the Executive Schedule (EX-II) and the higher aggregate limitation on pay applies—up to the Vice President's salary.


SL/ST employees are eligible to receive cash, honorary, informal recognition, or time-off awards consistent with chapter 45 of title 5, United States Code, and 5 CFR part 451 on the basis of—

  • a suggestion, invention, superior accomplishment, productivity gain, or other personal effort that contributes to the efficiency, economy, or other improvement of Government operations, or achieves a significant reduction in paperwork;
  • a special act or service in the public interest in connection with or related to official employment; or
  • performance as reflected in the SL/ST employee's most recent rating of record (as defined in 5 CFR 430.203 of this chapter), provided that the rating of record is at the Fully Successful level (or equivalent) or above.

Each agency head may authorize the payment of a cash award (performance award or individual contribution award) for SL/ST employees up to $10,000. Contribution awards over $10,000 are quite rare. If an employee’s performance or specific contribution is significant enough to warrant a cash award over $10,000, the agency must submit a request for approval to the Director of OPM prior to paying any amount over $10,000. (The Department of Defense, Internal Revenue Service, and Department of Veterans Affairs are authorized to give awards up to $25,000 without OPM approval.) The Director of OPM may approve an award for an individual employee up to $25,000 for a highly exceptional and unusually outstanding contribution, made either as an individual or as a member of a group, or for performance over an entire appraisal period. In rare circumstances, cash awards above $25,000 may be given but only with White House approval.

Career SL/ST employees can also be nominated for Presidential Rank Awards to recognize sustained (Meritorious Rank) and sustained extraordinary (Distinguished Rank) accomplishment. Recipients of the Distinguished Rank are entitled to a lump sum payment of 35% of annual basic pay, while Meritorious Rank recipients are entitled to a lump sum payment of 20% of annual basic pay.


Employees in SL/ST positions are entitled to accrue annual leave at the rate of 8 hours per biweekly pay period regardless of the length of their Federal service and can accumulate a total of up to 90 days (720 hours) of annual leave. All Federal employees including SL/ST members earn 13 days of sick leave each year. There is no ceiling on the amount of sick leave that may be carried over from year to year.


SL and ST employees qualify for retirement, health, and life insurance benefits generally available to Federal employees and under the same eligibility requirements. Additional information can be found at Healthcare (, Life Insurance (, and Retirement Services -

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