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A Pay Raise Update, TSP to Require Two-Step Sign Ins and More

A weekly roundup of pay and benefits news.

There are four weeks remaining in 2019, and just two weeks before another government funding deadline, but Congress still has not reached consensus on a 2020 pay raise for federal civilian employees.

Although lawmakers hold out hope that appropriators will reach agreement on government spending before Dec. 20, some have begun to speculate that at least some agencies will proceed into 2020 under another continuing resolution. It is unclear whether the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill that typically includes pay provisions for civilian federal employees would be among those pushed off until next year. 

The House-passed version of the bill includes an average 3.1% pay raise for federal civilians, which includes a 2.6% across-the-board raise and an average 0.5% increase in locality pay. The Senate, by contrast, did not include any language on compensation in its iteration of the measure, effectively endorsing President Trump’s alternative pay plan to provide a 2.6% across-the-board raise but no increase in locality pay.

If Congress does not act on its own to override Trump’s plan, he still will need to issue an executive order finalizing the 2.6% across the board raise by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the Thrift Savings Plan announced Wednesday that a previously optional tool to keep participants’ TSP.gov accounts secure will soon become mandatory.

Participants who use the TSP’s online My Account service have until the end of 2019 to log in, validate their contact information, and set up two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication is a security measure by which users must confirm their identity across multiple platforms—the website, and their email address or phone number—during the log-in process.

“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),” officials wrote. “Someone who tries to log into your account fraudulently won’t be able to gain access without the code.”

The Office of Personnel Management last week clarified that for most feds on the lower end of the General Schedule pay scale, upcoming increases to the minimum wage on the local level will not produce additional pay raises beyond what the president and Congress authorize each year.

If a state or local minimum wage rises above the GS-1 salary—$9.13 in base pay, and $10.56 in the lowest locality pay area—federal agencies would not be in violation of the law, as the Fair Labor Standards Act is a federal law that supersedes the local measures.

On the other hand, blue collar workers paid under the Federal Wage System would see their pay increase, since regulations covering their positions state that the government should compensate employees based on the “highest minimum wage” in a given jurisdiction.