Federal Pay Raise: 4 Things You Need to Know
During the first few weeks of the shutdown, many Feds were disappointed by news of an executive order to freeze pay for Civilian Federal Employees in 2019. Then, in an unexpected turn, Congress passed a federal pay raise in a funding bill on February 15, effectively overturning the freeze. On March 28, President Trump signed an executive order officially implementing the change. In case you’re confused by the complicated discussions around federal pay, here are four things you need to know about the raise:
1) The raise is retroactive:
The raise is retroactive to January 6, although it may be longer before Feds see the backpay and increase. Now that OPM has issued new pay tables, payroll providers and agencies need to update their systems and process the retroactive pay that is due.
2) The percentages vary:
This raise includes a 1.4 percent increase across all agencies, and an average 0.5 percent increase in locality pay.(1) If you’re part of the six new locality pay areas(2) established last year (Birmingham, Alabama; Burlington, Vermont; Corpus Christi, Texas; Omaha, Nebraska; San Antonio, Texas; and Virginia Beach/Norfolk, Virginia), remember that your pay will be adjusted based on your locality, unlike areas grouped with the GS pay scale.
3) If you’ve recently changed jobs or retired:
Calculating the back pay for this raise will be more complicated for employees who have recently changed jobs, transferred, or retired. This also applies to those who earned premium or overtime pay since January 6. As such, it may take longer for you to see the money. OPM has indicated that agencies will need to adjust lump sum payments for annual leave for Civilian Federal Employees who left public service (in a job change or retirement) in late 2018 or early 2019.(3) You can use OPM’s back pay calculator to see the distribution you’re owed.
4) If your pay is not based on the General Schedule (GS) Pay Scale:
Members of the Senior Executive Service and those on the Executive Schedule will receive a 1.4 percent pay raise. Employees under these classifications generally do not see locality increases. Federal Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) pay tables and Special Rate Tables have also been updated for 2019.
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This article is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.