As mentioned in an earlier article on night pay provisions For Federal Wage System (FWS) employees are different from those that apply to General Schedule (GS) employees. Thus, in this article we’ll look at the FWS rules for deciding what qualifies as night work, how much night pay will be, and any conditions that may impact receipt of night pay for a WG, WL or WS employee assigned to a shift that includes night hours.
When is it night work?
Night work is regularly scheduled non-overtime work performed by a FWS employee. But the statute establishing FWS night differential divided the night hours into two periods. One period is the regularly scheduled non-overtime hours between 3 p.m. and midnight. The other period is the regularly scheduled non-overtime hours between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. Remember, to be regularly scheduled the hours must be added to the employee’s schedule before the beginning of the administrative workweek. In most Executive Branch agencies this means the night work must be scheduled prior to the start of the seven day workweek that begins on Sunday.
What is the night pay rate?
To go along with two sets of night hours the statute also created two rates of night differential pay. This means that when the majority of regularly scheduled hours occur between 3 p.m. and midnight, the FWS employee is paid a night differential at the rate of 7.5 percent of his or her rate of basic pay. Alternatively, if the majority of the FWS employee’s scheduled hours fall between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m., then the night differential is paid at a rate of 10 percent of his or her rate of basic pay. An employee assigned to work a night shift will receive the same rate of night pay for the entire shift; there is no authority to permit splitting of a night differential. Remember that the phrase majority of regularly scheduled hours means a number of whole hours greater than one-half (including meal breaks), e.g., 5 hours of a scheduled 8 hour shift. If an FWS employee is eligible for other kinds of premium pay such as overtime, Sunday or holiday pay, the night differential pay is included when calculating the other forms of premium pay.
Do the Rules Change When Temporarily Assigned to a Different Shift?
There is one other kind of work that qualifies as night work for FWS employees even though it was not scheduled prior to the beginning of the regularly scheduled workweek. This happens when the supervisor temporarily assigns the FWS employee to a different daily tour of duty that includes night work. If this happens during the course of the regular workweek and the hours are not overtime, then the work will qualify as night work as long as it falls between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. Again, this work must be a temporary reassignment that replaces the employee’s daily tour of duty, NOT irregular or occasional overtime. An example of this would be Joe who starts the week working 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Tuesday his supervisor tells Joe that the evening shift is shorthanded, and changes Joe’s work schedule for the remainder of the week to 4 p.m. to midnight. This change in Joe’s regularly scheduled workweek qualifies Joe for night pay for the hours from 6 p.m. to midnight for that workweek.
What about those on Flexible Schedules?
Some FWS employees work a flexible schedule and are able to establish some of the hours they will work. Such flexible hours the employee sets and that fall within the night hours are NOT eligible for night pay.
What happens on a holiday or on official travel?
An FWS employee who is excused from night work on a holiday continues to receive night pay for the scheduled night hours even though she or he is excused from work. Similarly, an FWS employee on official travel during his or her regularly scheduled night duty hours continues to receive night pay whether or not she or he performs actual duty.
Will I get night pay when I take paid leave?
The answer is a bit complicated because it depends on whether you regularly work a night shift or only work night shifts some of the time. If you are regularly assigned to a night shift then you will receive night pay when you take paid leave. Similarly, if you regularly work a day shift but you are temporarily assigned to a night shift or you rotate night and day shifts at regular intervals you will receive night pay during paid leave if the leave is taken when you are scheduled to work night hours. However, if you are assigned to night and day shifts at irregular intervals then you will receive night shift differential during leave with pay only if you receive a night shift differential for the last shift you worked just before going on leave.
Will I earn night pay during training?
The short answer is maybe. The regulations identify a limited number of conditions when you may receive night differential and other forms of premium pay while in training. If the training you are attending matches one of the exceptions then you receive night differential for the training that occurs during regularly scheduled night hours. For example, if you are working a regularly scheduled night shift, and a four hour block of training is provided during that shift, you will continue to receive the night differential.
To summarize: night pay at 10 percent of the FWS employee’s basic rate is paid only for regularly scheduled hours that fall between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. This includes time when a FWS employee’s basic tour of duty is changed during the workweek from all day hours to a schedule with night hours, but it does not include irregular or occasional overtime. Keep in mind that the requirements for night pay for Federal Wage System employees are different from those discussed in this article. If you would like to see an article on night pay for FWS employees, let me know at the e-mail address below.
Wayne Coleman is a federal pay expert available to help your agency avoid premium pay claims through on-site training. Contact him for more information.