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WITHIN GRADE INCREASE (WG/GS)

Within-grade increases (WGIs), or step increases, are periodic increases in a General Schedule (GS) or Wage Grade (WG) employee’s rate of basic pay from one step of the grade of his or her position to the next higher step of that grade.

Employees who occupy permanent positions earn WGIs upon meeting the following three requirements established by law:

  • The employee’s performance must be at an acceptable level of competence. To meet this requirement, an employee’s most recent performance rating of record must be at least Level 3 ("Fully Successful" or equivalent). In most agencies, this eligibility requires a rating of fully successful or equivalent. Depending on the nature of an agency's performance management system, it is not unusual for an employee to be above the unacceptable level but below the level required for a within-grade increase.
  • The employee must have completed the required waiting period for advancement to the next higher step.
  • The employee must not have received an "equivalent increase" in pay during the waiting period. (See 5 CFR 531.407.)

A WGI waiting period begins upon (1) first appointment in the Federal service, (2) receiving an "equivalent increase," or (3) after a period of nonpay status and/or a break in service in excess of 52 calendar weeks.

Required waiting periods for step increases

GENERAL SCHEDULE (GS)

Advancement from...

Requires...

step 1 to step 2

1 year of creditable service at step 1

step 2 to step 3

1 year of creditable service at step 2

step 3 to step 4

1 year of creditable service in step 3

step 4 to step 5

2 year of creditable service in step 4

step 5 to step 6

2 year of creditable service in step 5

step 6 to step 7

2 year of creditable service in step 6

step 7 to step 8

3 year of creditable service in step 7

step 8 to step 9

3 year of creditable service in step 8

step 9 to step 10

3 year of creditable service in step 9

WAGE GRADE (WG)

Advancement from...

Requires...

step 1 to step 2

6 months of creditable service at step 1

step 2 to step 3

18 months of creditable service at step 2

step 3 to step 4

2 years of creditable service in step 3

step 4 to step 5

2 years of creditable service in step 4

 

   A WGI is effective on the first day of the first pay period beginning on or after the completion of the required waiting period. (5 U.S.C. 5335 and 5 CFR 531.412.)

Once a within-grade increase has been denied, a supervisor has the flexibility to approve a within-grade increase at any time thereafter once the employee is determined to be performing at an acceptable level of competence, but the agency must consider the employee's performance at least every 52 weeks after the denial.


 FAQ's about WGI's

1. What is a quality step increase (QSI) and how does it affect a within-grade increase?

A QSI is a faster-than-normal WGI used to reward employees at any GS grade level who display high quality performance. To be eligible for a QSI, employees must:

  • be below step 10 of their grade level;
  • have received the highest rating available under their performance appraisal system;
  • have demonstrated sustained performance of high quality; and
  • have not received a QSI within the preceding 52 consecutive calendar weeks.

A QSI does not affect the timing of an employee's next regular WGI unless the QSI places the employee in step 4 or step 7 of his or her grade. In these cases, the employee becomes subject to the full waiting period for the new step--i.e., 104 weeks or 156 weeks, respectively--and the time an employee has already waited counts towards the next increase. The employee receives the full benefit of receiving a WGI at an earlier date and has not lost any time creditable towards his or her next WGI.See 5 U.S.C. 5336, 5 CFR part 531, subpart E, and http://www.opm.gov/perform/articles/1999/apr99-7.asp for additional information on QSIs.

2. Are employees in temporary and permanent positions eligible to receive WGIs?

WGIs apply only to GS employees occupying permanent positions. "Permanent position" is defined in 5 CFR 531.403 as a position filled by an employee whose appointment is not designated as temporary and does not have a definite time limitation of 1 year or less. "Permanent position" includes a position to which an employee is promoted on a temporary or term basis for at least 1 year. The term does not include a position filled by an employee whose appointment is limited to 1 year or less and subsequently extended so that the total time of the appointment exceeds 1 year.

3. A GS employee is temporarily promoted and is later permanently promoted to the same grade held during the temp promotion without first being returned to the employee's lower graded position of record. Does the time spent in the temporary promotion count towards creditable service for the employee's next WGI?

Yes. As long as the employee is converted to a permanent position without returning to the lower grade, the time spent on a temporary promotion is considered creditable service in the calculation of the employee's next WGI. The employee received an "equivalent increase" upon the temporary promotion. Processing a permanent promotion without moving the employee back to the lower graded position does not change the date of the "equivalent increase." Therefore, the waiting period starts on the date of the temporary promotion.

4. A GS employee is temporarily promoted and is then returned to their permanent lower graded position. They are then permanently promoted to the grade they held under the temp promotion. Does the time spent in the temporary promotion count towards creditable service for the employee's next WGI?

No. An employee who is returned from a temporary promotion to his or her regular grade and step and is subsequently promoted to the same grade held during the temporary promotion receives an "equivalent increase" upon the permanent promotion and begins a new waiting period on the date of the permanent promotion. The time spent in the temporary grade and step is not creditable service towards the completion of a waiting period when the employee is permanently promoted.NOTE: If a temporary promotion is made permanent immediately after the temporary promotion ends, the agency may not return the employee to the lower grade. The agency must convert the employee's temporary promotion to a permanent promotion without a change in pay. See 5 CFR 531.214(e).
 

5.  If someone uses the Family and Medical Leave Act beyond the 80 hours leave-without-pay duration, will it delay their within-grade increase date? 

It may. Here are the rules:

For General Schedule WGIs the waiting period and allowable LWOP time before delaying Within-Grade Increases are as follows:

* For steps 02 through 04, the waiting period is one year, with up to two workweeks or 80 hours of nonpay time.

* For steps 05 through 07, the waiting period is two years with up to four workweeks or 160 hours of nonpay time.

* For steps 08 through 10, the waiting period is three years with up to six workweeks or 240 hours of nonpay time.

Excess LWOP beyond these limitations will extend the within-grade increase. For example, if the employee is in a two-year waiting period and has 161 to 239 hours of LWOP, the within-grade will be extended one pay period. If the employee has 240 to 319 hours of LWOP, the within-grade will be extended two pay periods.

 

 

 
 
© NYS DMNA: Technician Resources - WITHIN GRADE INCREASE (WG/GS)
URL: http://www.dmna.state.ny.us/hro/tech/?page=1276788156
Page Last Modified: 18 Sep 14
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