Pay Caps

Aggregate Limitation on Pay

The Aggregate Limitation on Pay is a limit under title 5, United States Code, of the total amount of allowances, differentials, bonuses, awards or other similar payments an employee may receive in a calendar year, when combined with the employee’s basic pay. Payments in excess of the aggregate limitation on pay (other than basic pay) must be deferred and are generally paid as a lump-sum payment at the beginning of the following calendar year.

The aggregate limitation on pay for members of the Senior Executive Service and employees in seniorlevel or scientific or professional positions covered by a certified performance appraisal system is the total annual compensation payable to the Vice President under 3 U.S.C. 104 on the last day of the calendar year.

The aggregate limitation on pay for other covered employees is the rate for level I of the Executive Schedule on the last day of the calendar year. For additional information see OPM’s Fact Sheet: Aggregate Limitation on Pay.

Biweekly Premium Pay Cap

For most Federal employees, overtime pay and other “premium pay” is governed by Title 5 of the U.S. Code and related U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regulations. Premium pay is additional pay provided to employees for working certain types of hours or under certain types of conditions, such as overtime pay, holiday pay, night pay differential, etc.

Section 5547 of Title 5 limits the amount of premium pay that General Schedule (GS) employees may receive. Employees in the United States cannot earn a combination of basic pay and premium pay that exceeds the greater of the biweekly basic pay rate of a GS-15 step 10 or level V of the Executive Schedule, adjusted for locality or special rate supplement. Therefore, the amount of premium pay that employees may earn depends both on their base salary (i.e., their grade and step), and on the location of their official worksite. For additional information see OPM’s web page on Biweekly Pay Caps.

Annual Premium Pay Cap

Generally, the premium pay cap is applied on a biweekly basis conforming to the Federal pay period. However, when an employee performs “work in connection with an emergency,” or “work that is critical to the mission of the agency,” an agency may waive the biweekly cap and instead apply an annual cap.  When that happens, an employee is allowed to exceed the biweekly cap while performing the emergency or mission-critical work, but the employee’s annual earnings are limited by an annual cap equal to the biweekly cap times the number of pay periods in that year. Once the emergency or missioncritical work ends, the biweekly cap should be reinstated, and the employee also remains subject to the annual cap for the rest of the year (See 5 C.F.R. § 550.106(g)). To help manage the annual cap when the biweekly cap is waived, agencies may defer paying premium pay above the biweekly cap until the end of the calendar year (see 5 C.F.R. § 550.106(e)). Agencies may not waive the annual premium pay cap.



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