When operating normally, agencies are allowed to offer new hires up to 25% of their basic pay if the position being filled is one of ‘critical need.’ The bonus, or premium, can be applicable to their salary for up to four years. Those already employed by the Federal Government can also be incentivized, if they’re considering an offer from the private sector or are needed to move elsewhere. According to OPM, this type of pay premium is known as “3R” incentives- retention, relocation, and recruitment. There is also a group retention incentive that is capped at 10%- which aims to keep certain groups of feds at their post.
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the pressure getting placed on agencies from both directly fighting the impacts of the virus and adjusting to operational shifts from teleworking, OPM gave agencies the ability to offer new hires up to 50% of their basic pay if the position fills a critical need in combating the contagion. For the 3R incentives, agency leaders can exercise discretion when to employ them. For the limitations to be waived, a request must be made to OPM and also be in response to the COVID-19 emergency. There are instructions on OPM’s website for expediting requests. Someone hired at the rate of $100,000 annually could get up to $25,000 on top of that for four years. With the OPM waiver, that amount now has the potential to double.
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