2022 Pay Raise
Last week, Congress stopped a government shutdown through passing a continuing resolution to keep federal agencies funded at fiscal 2021 levels until February. This in turn clears the way for President Biden’s pay raise for federal employees to receive the average 2.7% pay raise in 2022, even though there are still logistics that need to be worked out.
As stated in previous articles, Biden proposed giving civilian federal employees a split between a 2.2% across-the-board raise and an average 0.5% increase in locality pay, averaging out to an increase of 2.7% in 2022.
Regardless of various lawmaker’s arguments to have a larger increase of a 3.2% average pay raise, appropriators ended up excluding federal compensation out of their funding bills, therefore endorsing the president’s plan.
The president has until the end of the year to issue an executive order finalizing the alternative pay plan.
Once the executive order is finalized, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is required to publish new pay tables incorporating the pay raise at every level of the General Schedule and for each locality pay area. After this, the pay raise would become actualized and go into effect during the first full pay period of 2022.
New Leave Provisions in Defense Policy Bill
On Tuesday, the House compromised and approved the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, which most notably includes another version of paid leave benefit for all federal employees.
While federal employees have experienced significant success in benefits through defense policy bills, 2022 does not look promising compared to recent years. The 2020 NDAA brought most federal workers paid parental leave for the first time, and the 2021 authorization expanded those benefits to the rest of the workforce.
Federal employees should not expect to see proposals on that scale in the final 2022 bill. Unfortunately, a significant number of federal workforce and oversight provisions are gone from the final agreement.
The bill this year contains a provision that grants up to two weeks per year of paid bereavement leave if a civilian federal employee or member of the military employee’s child dies. This pales in comparison to a two-year-old provision that was added to the fiscal 2020 Defense Authorization Act, granting federal workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave each year in connection with the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child.
House Democrats had hoped to have this 12-week period be the standard precedent, and introduced a similar bill that would have granted federal workers up to 12 weeks of comprehensive paid family leave earlier this year. However, progress towards this goal was stifled when loss of support for this legislation halted due to its price tag, estimating to reach as high as $20 billion by 2027.
Other noteworthy setbacks include a provision making a digital list of political appointees published by congressional oversight committees once every four years, was not included.
Mental health programs for federal wildland firefighters are gone from the final version as well.
Two-year probationary period for defense employees is gone
Lastly, House Democrats successfully repealed the Defense Department’s two-year probationary period for civilian employees.
In the 2016 NDAA, an attempt to seemingly test the idea of a longer trial period for the federal workforce was adopted in Congress as a two-year probationary period for DoD civilian employees.
According to the bill, the update is for defense employees hired on or after Dec. 31st 2022.
Currently, new hires at DoD must spend two years working at the department without interruption until they are allowed to access their rights to appeal a disciplinary action with the Merit Systems Protection Board. Compare this to all other federal employees, who are only subject to a one-year probationary period.
There have subsequently been many attempts by lawmakers to change this 2-year policy, without success until now.
Federal employee groups remain torn towards the topic. On Wednesday, the American Federation of Government Employees released a statement saying that eliminating the two-year probationary period was one of its top priorities, and praised the recent repeal.
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