FAA boosts payband ceilings after three-year freeze

For the first time in three years, pay-capped employees at the Federal Aviation Administration will receive a salary boost.

FAA administrator Marion Blakey announced Thursday that the upper limit on all of the agency's paybands will increase 2.1 percent this year. The agency switched from the General Schedule to a paybanding system in 2000. Employees in the top band now can earn up to $165,200, including locality pay.

Blakey credited the move to a compensation study, which showed that salaries for some bands did not measure up to the market.

"This was particularly true for some of our lower paybands," Blakey wrote in an announcement to FAA employees. "I am very concerned that we be fair to all of our employees."

A group of about 2,000 workers at the top of their paybands have sued the FAA claiming age discrimination, among other things, because of their ineligibility for raises. Many of the pay-capped employees are older workers whose experience placed them at the top of their paybands.

"There is a very small percentage of FAA employees who have reached the top of their paybands, and in lieu of getting their pay-for-performance increase, any monetary reward they get is in their lump-sum payment," said Ventris Gibson, FAA assistant administrator for human resources management, in a November interview with Government Executive.

Cash bonuses are not permanent and do not factor into retirement calculations. Employees still exceeding their pay cap after the boost in the ceiling will receive a lump-sum payment for the remainder of the raise.

Blakey also announced a 3.1 percent pay raise for employees, coupled with a 1 percent locality increase. Employees who meet minimum performance standards will receive this raise, dubbed an "Organizational Success Increase."

She praised her employees for reaching the goals outlined in the agency's "Flight Plan."

"The real credit for this goes to you who delivered an outstanding performance under the Flight Plan," Blakey said.

Both the pay raise and the payband increase will take effect on Jan. 8, the same day General Schedule employees will receive their pay hike.

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