Legislation Would Provide Pay Parity for Wage Grade Federal Employees

Recently introduced legislation aims to provide pay parity between any raises given to General Schedule and Wage Grade federal employees.

Legislation recently introduced in the House aims to help boost any potential pay increase given to Wage Grade employees.

The Wage Grade Employee Parity Act (H.R. 1594) was introduced by Congressman Matt Cartwright (D-PA). It would guarantee that the percentage increase in rates of basic pay for Wage Grade, or hourly, employees is equivalent to the percentage increase received by General Schedule, or salaried, federal employees.

The bill was also previously introduced in the past two sessions of Congress by Cartwright. Language from the bill was included in FY 2015 and FY 2016 spending bills that were signed into law.

“The inconsistency [between Wage Grade and General Schedule pay raises] is unacceptable,” said Cartwright. “Federal employees have been underappreciated and undervalued for far too long. Blue-collar workers deserve the same pay increase that white-collar workers receive. In addition, this bill will help retain key personnel.”

Determining the annual pay raise for Wage Grade employees can be a complex process.

FedSmith.com author Wayne Coleman is senior consultant with an expertise on the federal pay system. He wrote recently about the 2017 pay raises for Federal Wage System employees:

To many people it seems like the process to determine the wage increase for prevailing rate employees should not be complicated. After all, FWS wage adjustments, by statute, are to be based on the results of annual wage surveys carried out in the respective wage areas. The finding of the wage surveys are to be used to calculate an appropriate adjustment to ensure Federal prevailing rate employees earn comparable wages with non-Federal employees doing similar work in the immediate wage area.

For many years, however, the annual budgets passed by Congress and signed by the President have been superseding the data collected in the annual wage surveys. This year the process is affected by two statutes: Division E of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016; and the Further Continuing and Security Assistance Appropriations Act, 2017, which extends into FY 2017 the two provisions of the FY 2016 Act.

He goes on to say that the two statutes establish two different guidelines for agencies on providing pay adjustments. “This creates an interesting dilemma in a few cases because GS locality pay areas and FWS wage areas are not identical in the geographic areas that they cover. Thus, FWS employees in one wage area may be paid at different rates depending on where their official duty stations are located,” Coleman says.

For more details on the process for determining the 2017 pay increase for Federal Wage System employees, see How Much of a Pay Raise Will FWS Employees Get in 2017?

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.