A Pay Raise Update, TSP Security, and More

A weekly roundup of pay and benefits news.

The federal government’s largest payroll processor said Tuesday that most federal employees will see the retroactive pay raise authorized earlier this year in their paychecks beginning next week.

The National Finance Center, which is part of the Agriculture Department and handles payroll for dozens of federal agencies, made an announcement via email that it had implemented the average 1.9 percent pay increase for federal civilian employees as of the pay period that began April 7.

That means that for most federal workers, they will see both the pay raise and a lump sum adjusting the salary they received in previous paychecks this year, which were until now subject to a pay freeze at 2018 levels.

But roadblocks remain for some employees. The finance center said that for workers who received within-grade increases or promotions, agency human resources officials must take additional steps to implement the retroactive pay raise fully.

The Thrift Savings Plan this week has begun encouraging participants to make their accounts more secure. In a bulletin to users Monday, TSP officials suggested that participants enable two-factor authentication to access their account on the TSP website.

When two-factor authentication is established, account holders receive an email or text message with a unique code whenever they log into the website. It helps safeguard against unauthorized users gaining access to accounts.

“Enabling two-step authentication helps you protect your account against fraud,” the TSP wrote. “This login process is more secure because it means that online access to your account requires something you know (your account number or username and password) and something you have (the one-time code you receive in your email or on your phone). Someone who tries to log into your account fraudulently won’t be able to gain access without the code.”

On Capitol Hill, Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Va., has introduced another measure aimed at helping federal employees who are furloughed or forced to work without pay during a government shutdown make ends meet.

The Shutdown Guidance for Financial Institutions Act (H.R. 2290) would require federal regulators to issue guidance encouraging financial institutions to “work with” customers and businesses impacted by a lapse in appropriations. In a statement, Wexton said she was inspired to draft the legislation after a constituent federal employee reported that their mortgage application was denied because she was furloughed during the 35-day partial government shutdown.

“I came to Congress to advocate for my constituents,” said Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton. “I heard directly from one who was denied a mortgage due to a government shutdown she couldn’t control—and I knew there were many more stories like hers. Federal workers and contractors are expected to shoulder the financial burdens incurred from a government shutdown they can’t control or predict.”

The bill would encourage banks to modify the terms of existing loans, and extend new credit, for workers and businesses impacted by a shutdown, and to take steps to prevent a lapse in appropriations from negatively affecting someone’s credit score.