One group of employees that had to wait a bit longer for the final word on raises is the “special rate” category, where higher rates are paid in positions deemed to be especially in-demand. The Office of Personnel Management has now finished reviewing agency recommendations for special rate pay increases and says that in all but one of the 427 special rate schedules, rates are being increased in tandem with the 3.8 percent across-the-board component of the general schedule raise (the exception is certain Veterans Affairs clerical workers in eastern Massachusetts). Locality payments are not paid on top of special rates; an employee is entitled to the higher of his or her special rate or locality rate of pay, but not both. In most cases, the special rate is higher. Most of the roughly 126,000 special rate employees are in engineering, computing and other technical fields, although in some areas other categories, including secretaries, are included, depending on the government’s recruiting and retention record for the job in a local area.
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