General schedule employees may be eligible for premium hazardous duty pay of up to 25 percent of basic pay when the hazardous duty or physical hardship has not been taken into account—that is, the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform the duty are not considered in the classification of the position.

The counterpart benefit for wage system employees is environmental differential pay.

Hazards include severe weather or terrain, physiological hazards, working with hazardous chemicals or materials, work in fuel storage tanks, firefighting, underground work, height work and similar dangerous circumstances.

If the hazardous duty has been taken into account in the classification of the position, an agency may authorize payment of hazardous duty pay only when the actual circumstances of the specific hazard or physical hardship have changed from that taken into account and described in the position description; and, when using the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for the position and described in the position description, the employee cannot control the hazard or physical hardship.

Hazardous duty pay only applies to authorized or assigned duties

Hazardous duty pay may be paid only to employees who are assigned hazardous duties or duties involving physical hardship for which a differential is authorized. It may not be paid to an employee who undertakes to perform a hazardous duty on his or her own, without proper authorization, either expressed or implied.

When an employee performs a duty for which a hazard pay differential is authorized, the agency must pay the hazard pay differential for all of the hours in which the employee is in a pay status on the day on which the duty is performed.

Hazardous duty pay is paid only for the hours in which the employee is in a pay status on the day on which the hazardous duty is performed. An employee may receive hazardous duty pay for work during overtime hours because that is considered pay status time. However, the hazardous duty pay is computed on the employee’s hourly rate of basic pay, not his or her hourly overtime rate.

Hazardous Duty Premium Pay and Leave

Hazardous duty pay can be paid during hours of paid leave if a hazardous duty is performed on a day on which paid leave is taken. For example, if an employee performs a hazardous duty for one hour and then takes annual leave for the seven hours remaining in his or her work day, the employee is paid hazardous duty pay for the entire work day. But it may not be paid while an employee is not in a pay status, such as leave without pay.

Hazardous duty pay may not be paid for hours of work for which an employee is paid annual premium pay (for regularly scheduled standby duty or administratively uncontrollable overtime work), or to a criminal investigator receiving availability pay.

The amount of hazardous duty pay is determined by multiplying the percentage rate authorized for the exposure by the employee’s hourly rate of pay. That amount is then multiplied by the number of hazardous duty hours to be paid.

Hazardous duty pay may not be more than 25 percent of the employee’s rate of basic pay. It is not included as part of the employee’s basic rate of pay for computation of overtime, holiday pay, Sunday premium pay, or the amount of retirement, Thrift Savings Plan, and life insurance deductions.