Some federal employees may face a long additional wait before receiving the back pay from the retroactive raise, even as some already have received it and some have been promised they will see it in the next distribution.
Almost all federal employees received late last week or early this week the pay distribution for the biweekly pay period that ended April 13. That was the first full pay period after an executive order was issued March 28 setting new pay tables by locality reflecting an average 1.9 percent raise—ranging from 1.66 to 2.27 percent by locality—retroactive to January 6.
Employees from various agencies report a mix of results. In some cases, the most recent distribution reflected the new pay rate, with that rate now being applied moving forward, and also contained the back pay. Others say that their pay now reflects their new rate but the distribution did not include back pay. Some add that that they were told to expect the back pay with the distribution covering the biweekly period ending Saturday (April 27), which is to be paid out about a week later.
Others say they received neither the new rates nor the back pay and were told to look for both in the upcoming distribution. Still others say they have been not to expect the back pay in the next distribution, with no indication of when they will receive it. The law granting the raise was signed February 15 and the patience of many employees wore thin long ago.
While payroll is distributed in almost all cases not by individual agencies but through one of the four central payroll providers agencies use—run by Defense, Interior, Agriculture and GSA—there has not been a consistent pattern of results even by those providers.
The back pay element is proving to be complicated, as expected, especially for employees who had a change in pay rates since January 6 for any of a variety of reasons—a within-grade raise, a promotion, a change to a different locality—or who earned special forms of pay such as premium pay or overtime. Agencies further must recalculate any forms of award or incentive—such as a retention incentive—paid on a percentage of salary basis and adjust those, as well. The National Treasury Employees Union has told its members in the IRS that the agency informed it that back pay may not be fully squared up for as long as four months.
Under OPM policy, employees are not entitled to interest on the back pay.