United States Code
USC most recently checked for updates: Mar 30, 2023
Special pay authority
Whenever the Office of Personnel Management finds that the Government’s recruitment or retention efforts with respect to 1 or more occupations in 1 or more areas or locations are, or are likely to become, significantly handicapped due to any of the circumstances described in subsection (b), the Office may establish for the areas or locations involved, with respect to individuals in positions paid under any of the pay systems referred to in subsection (c), higher minimum rates of pay for 1 or more grades or levels, occupational groups, series, classes, or subdivisions thereof, and may make corresponding increases in all rates of the pay range for each such grade or level. However, a minimum rate so established may not exceed the maximum rate of basic pay (excluding any locality-based comparability payment under section 5304 or similar provision of law) for the grade or level by more than 30 percent, and no rate may be established under this section in excess of the rate of basic pay payable for level IV of the Executive Schedule. In the case of individuals not subject to the provisions of this title governing appointment in the competitive service, the President may designate another agency to authorize special rates under this section.
The head of an agency may determine that a category of employees of the agency will not be covered by a special rate authorization established under this section. The head of an agency shall provide written notice to the Office of Personnel Management (or other agency designated by the President to authorize special rates under the last sentence of paragraph (1)) which identifies the specific category or categories of employees that will not be covered by special rates authorized under this section. If the head of an agency removes a category of employees from coverage under a special rate authorization after that authorization takes effect, the loss of coverage will take effect on the first day of the first pay period after the date of the notice.
The circumstances referred to in subsection (a) are—
rates of pay offered by non-Federal employers being significantly higher than those payable by the Government within the area, location, occupational group, or other class of positions under the pay system involved;
the remoteness of the area or location involved;
the undesirability of the working conditions or the nature of the work involved (including exposure to toxic substances or other occupational hazards); or
any other circumstances which the Office of Personnel Management (or such other agency as the President may under the last sentence of subsection (a)(1) designate) considers appropriate.
Authority under subsection (a) may be exercised with respect to positions paid under—
a statutory pay system; or
any other pay system established by or under Federal statute for civilian positions within the executive branch.
Within the limitations applicable under the preceding provisions of this section, rates of pay established under this section may be revised from time to time by the Office of Personnel Management (or by such other agency as the President may designate under the last sentence of subsection (a)(1)). The actions and revisions have the force and effect of statute.
An increase in a rate of pay established under this section is not an equivalent increase in pay within the meaning of section 5335.
When a schedule of special rates established under this section is adjusted under subsection (d), a covered employee’s special rate will be adjusted in accordance with conversion rules prescribed by the Office of Personnel Management (or by such other agency as the President may under the last sentence of subsection (a)(1) designate).
Payments under this subsection may not be made if, or to the extent that, when added to basic pay otherwise payable, such payments would cause the total to exceed the rate of basic pay payable for level IV of the Executive Schedule.
An employee shall not for any purpose be considered to be entitled to a rate of pay established under this section with respect to any period for which such employee is entitled to a higher rate of basic pay under any other provision of law. For purposes of this subsection, the term “basic pay” includes any applicable locality-based comparability payment under section 5304 or similar provision of law.
If an employee who is receiving a rate of pay under this section becomes subject, by virtue of moving to a new official duty station, to a different pay schedule, such employee’s new rate of pay shall be initially established under conversion rules prescribed by the Office of Personnel Management (or such other agency as the President may under the last sentence of subsection (a)(1) designate) in conformance with the following:
First, determine the rate of pay to which such employee would be entitled at the new official duty station based on such employee’s position, grade, and step (or relative position in the rate range) before the move.
Then, if (in addition to the change in pay schedule) the move also involves any personnel action or other change requiring a rate adjustment under any other provision of law, rule, or regulation, apply the applicable rate adjustment provisions, treating the rate determined under paragraph (1) as if it were the rate last received by the employee before the rate adjustment.
A rate determined under a schedule of special rates established under this section shall be considered to be part of basic pay for purposes of subchapter III of chapter 83, chapter 84, chapter 87, subchapter V of chapter 55, and section 5941, and for such other purposes as may be expressly provided for by law or as the Office of Personnel Management may by regulation prescribe.
(Added Pub. L. 91–656, § 3(a),
Jan. 8, 1971, 84 Stat. 1946; amended Pub. L. 94–82, title II, § 202(c), Aug. 9, 1975, 89 Stat. 420; Pub. L. 101–509, title V, § 529 [title I, § 101(a)(1)], Nov. 5, 1990, 104 Stat. 1427, 1436; Pub. L. 108–411, title III, § 301(a)(2), Oct. 30, 2004, 118 Stat. 2313.)
cite as: 5 USC 5305