Pay and Benefits Watch: Just a little pay-tience

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They say good things come to those who wait. If that's true, federal employees have a lot of good things coming their way. But patience among federal workers is wearing thin on some of the issues listed below.

Special Pay Rates

Seventeen years ago, the National Treasury Employees Union filed suit for more generous pay raises for up to 100,000 federal employees who worked under special pay rates from 1982 to 1988. Several appeals later, NTEU and the government are finally cooking up a back pay settlement for the workers. NTEU now maintains a Web site with regular updates on the case at www.nteu.org/specrates.html. But there's still no target date for a final settlement.

Windfalls and Offsets

Many federal retirees see a gaping hole in the middle of their Social Security benefits, thanks to the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset. The two provisions of Social Security law limit benefits for federal retirees who spent part of their careers in the Civil Service Retirement System, as well as their spouses' benefits. Some lawmakers want to eliminate, or at least reduce the effects of, the two provisions, particularly for lower income retirees. Bills to plug the holes include H.R. 742, H.R. 860, H.R. 1217, and S. 717.

Long-Term Care

Everyone seems to agree that long-term care insurance should be offered to federal employees. President Clinton renewed his call for the government to be a model employer in providing long-term care insurance to employees this week. But there's little consensus yet on how big the program should be and what should be included. Three different versions of long-term care insurance legislation have been introduced by members of the House Government Reform Committee Subcommittee on the Civil Service: H.R. 110, H.R. 602, and H.R. 1111.

Overtime Pay

Managers in the private sector who work overtime don't typically get overtime pay. But some federal managers, who do get overtime pay, want more. A statutory cap on overtime pay limits managers' overtime pay-but not most front-line workers' overtime pay-to one and a half times the rate of pay for GS-10, Step 1 employees. That means some managers end up making less than their employees during overtime hours. Managers would like a little more gravy to make those extra hours at the office more worthwhile. The Office of Personnel Management supports an increase in the cap. Four bills have been introduced to raise the cap: H.R. 582, H.R. 1770, H.R. 2696, and S. 1885.

Retirement Corrections

About 18,000 federal employees have been waiting for several years for Congress to pass a bill correcting retirement errors made after the Civil Service Retirement System was phased out and the Federal Employees Retirement System was created. But the House and Senate have very different ideas about how to fix them. See H.R. 416 and S. 1232.

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