Fedweek

Pay parity is a practice that has often—but not always—been followed in past years to bring the federal employee amount up to the amount proposed for military personnel.

Ten House Democrats have asked leaders there to specify a 3 percent federal employee raise in January in the name of pay parity with military personnel, who would be in line for that amount under bills moving in Congress.

“We feel strongly that federal employees have demonstrated they are invaluable to this nation and that they deserve parity with respect to pay increases provided by the federal government . . . This year, in particular, our federal civilian workforce has served this nation at the time when services were most needed,” they said.

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The call came just after a House subcommittee approved a spending bill that doesn’t specify an increase for federal employees but that leaves room for one—following a strategy often used in recent years of effectively endorsing the administration’s recommendation on a raise without explicitly saying so. Under federal pay law, if Congress does not specify a figure for the following year by the end of one year, the President’s recommendation take effect by default.

In this case, President Trump earlier this year recommended a 1 percent federal employee raise—to be paid across the board with no differences by locality—and also at the same time issued a statement that if Congress does not legislate a figure, he would impose that amount as the default raise. That was a departure from past practice, in which such statements typically are issued in late August, just ahead of a deadline in the law for making such a statement.

Allowing a default raise would in effect mean that 1 percent would be the upper limit for a federal employee raise. Meanwhile defense budget bills advancing in Congress would provide 3 percent for the military as Trump recommended.

The subcommittee’ action was just the first of many steps toward deciding on a raise for January. The Senate has not started writing its own version of the bill.

Pay parity is a practice that has often—but not always—been followed in past years to bring the federal employee amount up to the amount proposed for military personnel.

Earlier, some members of Congress and federal employee organizations had advocated for a 3.5 percent federal employee raise but that figure now seems to be off the table given the 3 percent raise in the works for the military. There has been no recent year in which the federal raise exceeded the military raise.

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