Flu Shots for Feds, and More

A weekly roundup of pay and benefits news.

Federal officials on Monday encouraged employees to get flu vaccines this fall, an annual tradition of particular importance this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a memo, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Acting Office of Personnel Management Director Michael Rigas encouraged agency heads to stress the importance of federal workers and their families receiving their annual flu vaccines.

“By getting an annual flu vaccine, employees can reduce the spread of flu and reduce stress on the health care system, as well as keep our entire federal workforce—and country—healthier and stronger during COVID-19,” they wrote. “For these reasons, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Office of Personnel Management urge every federal employee to do their part to fight flu and get vaccinated and to encourage family members, friends and coworkers to as well.”

Insurance plans offered as part of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program cover Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-recommended vaccines, including the flu shot, at no cost to participants. Although many federal workers remain in a maximum telework posture, most FEHBP plans cover vaccines at pharmacies, grocery stores and in-network doctors and clinics without copays.

Rigas and Azar encouraged agency heads to promote vaccinations through social media, periodic emails about the importance of the flu vaccine and help employees find locations to get vaccinated using online tools like the Vaccine Finder.

New TSP Contribution Limits

Officials at the federal government’s 401(k)-style retirement savings program on Monday highlighted the Internal Revenue Service’s recent announcement of the 2021 contribution limits for employer-sponsored retirement programs.

Next year, the annual elective deferral limit will be $19,500. That figure refers to the total amount of a participant’s salary that may be contributed to TSP accounts, including both pre-tax and Roth IRA contributions. And for participants aged 50 and over, the 2021 limit on catch-up contributions will be $6,500.

The overall annual addition limit for next year will be $58,000. The annual addition limit constitutes the total amount of all contributions into a retirement account in a calendar year, including traditional and Roth contributions, and the employer match. It does not include catch-up contributions.

“The annual addition limit affects mostly members of the uniformed services who can exceed the annual elective deferral limit,” TSP officials wrote on the agency’s website. “The excess contributions go into the traditional portion of your account from tax-exempt pay earned in a combat zone.”

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