Federal Raise and New Annual Leave Policy Solidified for 2021

1% Federal Raise is Official 

An executive order solidifying a 1 percent across the board pay raise was officiated on Thursday, for federal employees in 2021. 

The raise is effective starting with the pay period of January 3-16, the first full pay period of the year.  Federal employees should see this reflected in their pay when the distribution for that pay period is made, usually taking about a week for most workers.  

The General Schedule pay cap is rising from $170,800 to $172,500. 

The order also increases the pay caps for career Senior Executive Service (SES), who are paid within a certain range and will receive performance-based raises. The minimum-maximum will range from $132,552-$199,300.  

Wage grade, or the policy of limiting raises for federal wage system, is set to continue for employees who are in the GS pay category. 

OPM Finalizes New Annual Leave Policy

Federal employees will now be able to use lost vacation time from 2020 because of a new policy in the annual defense authorization law. 

On Tuesday, The Office of Personnel Management released an in-depth guide that covers the new annual leave policy and also instructed agencies to implement it. 

Currently, most federal employees can carry over up to 240 hours, or 30 days of leave. Typically, federal employees must forfeit any accrued leave that exceeds the statutory limit. 

However, a provision in the current annual defense policy bill, known as “section 1111,” set a new cap on the number of hours federal employees can carry over from 2020 for use in 2021. 

For most employees, the cap for 2021 is 300 hours or 37.5 days of annual leave, Michael Rigas, OPM’s acting director, said Tuesday in a memo to agency heads. 

For federal workers who had more than 30 unused days of leave at the end of 2020, the new policy allows them to hold on to more vacation days to use exclusively in 2021. 

According to the OPM guidance, this extension applies to federal employees at the U.S. Postal Service, Postal Regulatory Commission, healthcare professionals at the Veterans Health Administration, Transportation Security Administration and Federal Aviation Administration. 

Now that the 2021 NDAA is official law, OPM can begin to truly implement the new annual leave policy. 

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