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Here's How Agencies Will Distribute the Retroactive Pay Raise

Memo to agencies also clarifies that a pay freeze on top administration officials is still at least partially in effect.

The Office of Personnel Management on Thursday evening published guidance to agencies and federal payroll processors on how to apply the 1.9 percent pay raise for civilian federal employees retroactively to Jan. 6.

In a memo to agency heads, acting OPM Director Margaret Weichert highlighted that her agency has published all of the new 2019 pay tables to reflect the 1.4 percent across-the-board raise and average 0.5 percent increase in locality pay—and six new locality pay areas—as authorized by Congress last month and in an executive order signed by President Trump Thursday. Previously, the pay tables for this year reflected Trump’s decision to freeze pay.

Weichert also laid out a number of special cases in which agencies may have to do extra work to ensure federal workers receive the pay raise retroactively to the beginning of the year. All within-grade pay increases and promotions must be recalculated to reflect the new pay rates, and agencies must provide back pay to employees who left government between Jan. 6 and now.

“In the case of an employee who separated from federal employment on Jan. 6, 2019, or after, the former employing agency is responsible for processing the retroactive adjustment in pay to ensure that the employee receives the additional pay to which he or she was entitled,” Weichert wrote.

If an employee has transferred between agencies after Jan. 6, his or her former agency will be responsible for providing the pay raise retroactively up until when the person transferred, and the new agency must handle back pay for the time after the transfer. But Weichert said that employees are not entitled to any interest on what they are owed as a result of the retroactive pay raise.

An OPM spokesperson told Government Executive that the agency has been working “proactively” with federal payroll processors to ensure the raise, and retroactive payments, are made as swiftly as possible.

“Now that OPM has issued the new pay tables and guidance, agencies and payroll providers will work quickly to update their systems and process retroactive pay actions,” the spokesperson said. “The exact timing of implementation may vary. Employees should consult their human resource office or payroll providers for further information.”

In a separate memo, Weichert also clarified that the pay freeze has not ended entirely for the vice president, Cabinet secretaries and other senior political appointees. Although they all received the same 1.9 percent pay raise, it is an increase over 2013 pay levels, the last year before the pay freeze was first applied.