OPM Issues Memo: No Automatic Federal Step Salary Increases

On June 8, Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director John Berry issued a memorandum to agency heads reminding leadership that within-grade step increases should not be given to employees with performance ratings below "fully successful" or the equivalent.

The memo comes at a time when lawmakers are focused on step increases as a loophole in the two-year pay freeze for federal workers and after a report in March indicated that only 737 out of 1.2 million federal employees were denied a step increase in 2009 because of poor performance.

Each grade under the General Schedule has 10 steps and employees are eligible for a step increase and accompanying pay raise every one, two or three years. Within-grade increases range between 2.6 percent and 3.3 percent of an employee's pay.

John Palguta, vice president for policy at the Partnership for Public Service, said the memo reminds managers that it is their job to hold poor performers accountable. "Employees tend to think of [step increases] as pretty much automatic," said Palguta. "Hopefully some managers would take this as a reminder that they cannot let people float."

"The payment of within-grade increases should never be viewed as automatic or routine," said Berry in the memo.

Berry's memo restates government policy, but most likely federal employees will not see a great change. However, OPM's hope is that it will push some managers to be more rigorous in holding poor performers accountable.

Click here to view additional information on within-grade increase eligibility and payment requirements.

Posted in General News

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