The new year is almost upon us and everyone is asking the big question. You know the one: will there be an annual adjustment to Federal Wage System (FWS) wage schedules this year?
This article covers three basic topics: will there be an annual increase for FWS employees in Fiscal 2015; how much will it be; and when will the annual adjustments occur?
The President answered two of these questions when he issued an Executive Order on Friday, 19 December 2014. This Order confirms that FWS employees will get an adjustment to their wage scales during FWS FY 2015 (the fiscal year runs from 1 October 2014 through 30 September 2015). And it establishes that adjustment will not exceed one percent. A copy of the Order is available at the OPM website contained in compensation policy memorandum CPM 2014-19.
Then you’ll probably want to know: when will the increase start showing up in my paycheck? The article entitled “When Do Wage Grade Employees Get A Pay Increase?” posted on FedSmith on 13 July 2014 noted that FWS employees don’t get their annual adjustments all at one time. While GS employees all get their annual adjustment in the first pay period that begins on or after 1 January, FWS employees in the various wage areas spread across the United States get their annual adjustments once each year but on a variety of dates.
For example, the latest wage schedule for the Baltimore, Maryland, wage area was effective on 1 December 2013, while the latest wage schedule for the Spokane, Washington, wage area was effective on 21 September 2014. As a result the date of the annual adjustment for a FWS employee will vary depending on the wage area in which she or he works, but the effective date will be about one year after the effective date of the last annual adjustment to the wage schedule in each wage area.
Some may remind us that FWS wage adjustments are supposed to be based on the results of wage surveys carried out in the respective wage areas. While those surveys continue to be carried out with the wage data collected and analyzed on schedule, the annual budgets passed by Congress and signed by the President have been superseding the data collected in recent years.
Should the Federal Government’s fiscal situation return to a place that allows the wage survey data to again guide the annual FWS adjustments, the various wage fixing authorities will have the data available and ready to implement. Until then, FWS employees along with other Federal civilian employees will see annual adjustments reflecting the rates set in Congressionally approved budgets.
In summary, Federal Wage System employees can look forward to an adjustment to their wage schedules in Fiscal 2015, and that adjustment should become effective about 12 months after the date the last annual adjustment was made. Based on the budget passed recently by Congress, that increase will not exceed 1 percent. If you are searching for the latest FWS wage schedule for your wage area or want to see the new one once it is released, you can find it at the DOD DCPAS Wage and Salary Division webpage at: http://www.cpms.osd.mil/Subpage/Wage.
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.