Night Differential and Change in Shift for FWS Employees

Housekeeping aides received night differential pay, but the payroll office disagreed with paying the differential. What are your thoughts?

Q:  In the past, Housekeeping Aides (WG) who regularly work night shifts have been changed to a day shift to ensure coverage on a holiday.  In posting this to the time and attendance system I have showed them working their night shift, but added remarks listing the hours during which the work was actually performed.  I did this to maintain their night shift differential for the temporary assignment to a day shift.

While I was on vacation during the pay period in which the October 13th holiday occurred my alternate timekeeper asked our Payroll Office for guidance and was told to change their tour to the hours they worked, a day shift tour. Thus, they were not paid their night shift differential in computing pay for work on the Holiday.  I questioned my Payroll Office about this instruction and was told that I was wrong and in the future to change the tour for these night shift WG personnel to the day tour they worked on the holiday for coverage.

A:  I am surprised that your Payroll Office said that your FWS Housekeeping Aids who regularly work a night shift would lose their night shift differentials when moved temporarily to a day shift.  The regulations are very clear that a WG employee continues to receive his or her night differential when temporarily changed to another shift, including a day shift.  See the regulations at 5 C.F.R. § 532.505(d); see also the Handbook for Appropriated Fund FWS employees at Subchapter 8, paragraph 8-4c(3).

Also I note that your agency’s handbook on pay administration indicates that FWS employees will have their night shift differential computed following the guidance in paragraph 8-4c of the FWS appropriated fund handbook, the link to which is in the preceding paragraph.  I hope that if you show these guidelines to your Payroll Office that it will clear up the confusion about to compute pay for an FWS employee who regularly works a night shift but is temporarily assigned to a day shift.

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.

About the Author

Wayne Coleman is a compensation consultant whose career at various Federal agencies and in private practice spans almost 40 years. During this time he has written about and provided training on overtime and premium pay, on the principles of FLSA coverage and exemption, and on related Federal compensation issues. Wayne is available to help your agency avoid premium pay claims through consulting services and training. You can contact him at