OPM Issues Guidance to Ensure 67,000 Feds Make at Least $15 per Hour

OPM Issues Guidance to Ensure 67,000 Feds Make at Least $15 per Hour

If you’ve been waiting for the guidance on what agencies should ensure all federal workers earn, the wait has now come to an end. Recently, the Office of Personnel Management issued the long-awaited guidance on Friday – it claimed and ensured that all federal workers would make at least $15 per hour in accordance with President Biden’s executive orders. The date allowed for implementation for agencies is until Jan 30.

This good news will be extended to a total of 67,000 federal employees who will enjoy an increment due to this new policy. With a total of 9,700 employees of the Veterans Affairs Department and with having more than 56,000 workers of the Defense Department making less than $15 per hour, can now benefit from this. However, remaining working class such as federal firefighters who recently enjoyed a boost in the form of bonuses and cash awards are the remainder as this brought their pay up to $15 per hour; plant protection technicians at the Agriculture Department, and custodians across government.

The OPM Director Kiran Ahuja in a recent setting said that, “As the largest employer in the country, how the federal government treats its workforce has real impact.” This shows how the Biden-Harris administration had firm belief in the federal workforce and it’s treatment of respect and dignity. As an appreciation token, the pay rates were then increased to a minimum of $15 per hour for the federal workforce.

The guidance mainly relies on Biden’s executive order that claimed a $15 minimum wage for federal contractors – this helped develop special pay rates for the Federal Wage pay scales and General Schedule, both collectively. This helped the administration note that feds could easily decide to jump ship for a better paying job if the order for the raise was not set out for contractors and federal employees.

The guidance follows a simple path –


The new special rate for GS-1, step 1, that is also the lowest pay grade in the General Schedule will be at $31,305 for this year.

GS-2 to GS-4

GS-2 will have a 2% increase on the overall pay grade below them – this is GS-1 Step 1 $31,931 per year. GS-3 step 1, $32,570; and GS-4, $33,221.

Moreover, OPM agreed to approve all agency requests for special pay rates as long as they ensure that each employee makes at least $15 per hour. Likewise, the Defense Department will be given the leverage of establishing its own similar special pay rate for Federal Wage Service employees – all being done under the OPM’s approval.

These new pay rates will be effective from Jan 30 – this means that Federal workers would see an increment by late February. In case any agency fails to follow this deadline i.e., Jan 30, they will be asked to make pay raises to $15 minimum wage retroactive to that date. Any agency that falls out of OPM’s statutory authority will not be following this such as the U.S. Postal Service and the Postal Regulatory Commission do not have to follow the guidance.

This has been a victory for the federal unions that have been fighting for over a decade to stop from cutting their pay.

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