OPM

General Schedule Step Increase Timeline

The civilian federal workers receive a salary based on their General Schedule Pay Grade and step within that pay grade. The step increases are based on an acceptable level of performance and longevity—according to the Office of Personnel Management. There is a lot that goes into it than just that though.

To get a step increase, your supervisor must sign off on it. If your supervisor doesn’t, you won’t get it. But for the most part, here is how many years you’re going to wait for a step increase.

StepsTimeline
Step 1 to 31 year
Step 4 to 62 years
Step 7 to 93 years

Although the above is very accurate when it comes to the timeline, the worker’s acceptable level of performance is one of the key points that determine whether someone is worth the step increase or not. That said, performance is what matters the most. If it weren’t, it would take roughly 18 years for a civilian worker to go from Step 1 to 10.

Financial Awards Based on Performance

Even if you don’t get a step increase based on your acceptable level of performance, there are surely some financial benefits you can get. There are plenty of financial awards and bonuses where civilian federal workers can get up to 25% of their monthly salary in bonuses. They will also have the option to take day-offs instead of cash awards.

That said, if you’re a federal worker who’s about to get an award, speak to your supervisor if you want to take time-off award instead of cash bonuses.

Increased Financial Awards in 2021

Recently, the White House proposed a 1% pay increase for the federal civilian workers. This is a significantly lower pay increase rate compared to the previous year. However, the White House promised an increase in the number of available financial awards and cash bonuses.

Given these will be based on performance, those with a high level of acceptable performance can actually get way more than 1% in total during the course of the Fiscal Year. This can make up the 1.6% pay increase difference from 2019 to 2020.

As for the locality payments, no word has been spoken from the White House but it is likely to be the same as last year—0.6%. As soon we have more information on the General Schedule pay increase in 2021, we will keep you updated. In the meantime, see how the GS Pay Scale 2021 would be with the 1% increase.

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