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A Pay Raise Update, and More

A weekly roundup of pay and benefits news.

The House this week is slated to approve its first minibus appropriations bill, which would endorse President Biden’s proposal to increase civilian federal employee pay by an average of 2.7% in 2022.

The bill as advanced by the House Appropriations Committee makes no mention of a 2022 pay raise for federal workers, allowing the president to move ahead with the pay raise plan as included in the White House’s fiscal 2022 budget proposal.

Biden’s plan does not specify how the average 2.7% figure would be split between across-the-board increases to basic pay and an average boost to locality pay, although traditionally 0.5% has been reserved for locality pay. In 2021, federal employees received a 1.0% across-the-board increase and no adjustment to locality pay.

Some Democrats and federal employee unions have urged lawmakers to adopt a more generous raise, such as the one proposed by Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va. Connolly’s bill would grant feds a 3.2% average raise next year, split between a 2.2% across the board increase and a 1% average increase in locality pay.

Before the House began debate on the first minibus legislation, the House Rules Committee reviewed more than 200 proposed amendments from members. But none of those amendments addressed federal employees’ wages, all but guaranteeing that the final House version of the bill, which will be voted on Thursday or Friday, will endorse Biden’s pay raise plan.

Post-Pandemic Telework

The Office of Personnel Management last week issued new guidance encouraging agencies to revise their telework policies once they reopen following the COVID-19 pandemic, with an eye to expanding its use, better managing performance of teleworkers, and opening up the possibility of permanent remote work for some positions.

The guidance comes following news that the U.S. Government Publishing Office will offer full-time telework, including remote work for employees outside the Washington, D.C., area once it reopens. GPO officials said they found that the agency’s maximum telework stance during the pandemic improved productivity and employee engagement, and expanding its use could improve performance and retention, and attract new employees from across the country.

OPM’s guidance stressed that telework policies should incorporate considerations regarding how it might improve agencies’ ability to recruit and retain workers, and suggested offering remote work to employees on a case-by-case basis. Under remote work, employees could live outside the commuting area of their agency—earning locality pay based on where they live.

OPM also urged agencies to rethink policies that bar federal employees from teleworking while caring for a dependent child, and instead offer teleworking parents “maxiflex” schedules that allow employees to juggle work and home responsibilities without taking leave.

“In many instances, these policies assume a rigid adherence to specific work hours,” the guidance stated. “Agencies may want to consider offering teleworking employees with dependent care responsibilities a maxiflex work schedule, which is a type of flexible work schedule that, when combined with telework, provides the most flexibility to employees who need to address the dual demands of work and caregiving, as well as other personal responsibilities.”

The federal government’s HR agency said that additional guidance on telework, and a detailed guide to developing remote work policies, would be published in the coming weeks.