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Key developments in the world of federal employee benefits: health, pay, and much more.

All TSP Funds Grow in April, and More

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All of the portfolios in the federal government’s 401(k)-style retirement savings program made gains last month, continuing a positive trend.

Leading the way were the common stocks of the Thrift Savings Plan’s C Fund, which grew 4.05 percent in April. So far this year, the C Fund has increased 18.25 percent. The S Fund, which is made up of small- and mid-size businesses, increased 3.69 percent last month, bringing its 2019 gains to 20.27 percent.

The international stocks of the I Fund also continued their upward trajectory, growing by 2.92 percent in April and 13.31 percent so far this year.

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The worst performance among TSP portfolios in April belonged to the fixed income bonds in the F Fund, which only increased 0.02 percent last month. The fund's gains for 2019 now sit at 2.97 percent. The G Fund, which is made up of government securities, grew 0.21 percent last month, bringing its 2019 total up to 0.88 percent.

All of the program’s lifecycle (L) funds, which shift investments to more stable portfolios as participants get closer to retirement, gained ground in April. The L Income fund, for those who have already begun making withdrawals, increased 0.89 percent; L 2020, 1.16 percent; L 2030, 2.23 percent; L 2040, 2.62 percent; and L 2050, 2.96 percent.

So far this year, the L Income Fund has grown 4.10 percent; L 2020, 5.46 percent; L 2030, 10.36 percent; L 2040, 12.27 percent; and L 2050, 13.93 percent.

Meanwhile, the Office of Personnel Management on Monday finalized new rules to allow federal workers to take paid time off for religious holidays, provided they make up the time they missed.

According to the new regulations, federal employees may be paid for absences related to religious observances if they request the time off in advance, and if they work extra hours to cover the absence in a roughly one-year window surrounding the holiday.

The regulations stipulate that overtime work used toward covering time off related to a religious observance must be paid at an employee's normal rate of pay, not time-and-a-half premium pay.

When OPM first proposed the regulations in 2013, it suggested a two-year window—26 pay periods before and after a religious observance—for workers to accumulate overtime hours to cover their absence. But they reduced that window to the 13 pay periods before and after a holiday after a federal agency complained the original window was too lenient.

Erich Wagner is a staff correspondent covering pay, benefits and other federal workforce issues. He joined Government Executive in the spring of 2017 after extensive experience writing about state and local issues in Maryland and Virginia, most recently as editor-in-chief of the Alexandria Times. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.

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