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OPM Variation on Paying a Recruitment Bonus

U.S. Office of Personnel Management 
Variations to Pay and Leave Regulations

Notice No: 987
Washington, DC 20415
Date: February 2, 1998

Notice of OPM Variations

AGENCIES: THIS NOTICE PROVIDES INFORMATION RELATIVE TO VARIATION REQUESTS. Section 5.1 of civil service rule V requires the Office of Personnel Management to inform agencies about variations which it grants under that rule.

Heads of Departments and Independent Establishments: Variation of the Requirement to Make a Prior Written Determination to Pay a Recruitment Bonus

This notice describes a variation that was granted to the Department of Justice to ratify retroactively the payment of a recruitment bonus to an employee who entered on duty before the written determination to pay the bonus. Under 5 CFR 575.104(c)(1), an approving official's determination to pay a recruitment bonus “shall be made before the employee actually enters on duty.”

This case involves the payment of a recruitment bonus to a physician who was given a career conditional appointment on June 22, 1997, as a medical officer at a Federal Correctional Institution (FCI). After experiencing considerable difficulty in recruiting highly qualified candidates, FCI offered the medical officer position to the selected candidate with the understanding that his salary package would include a superior qualifications appointment, a physicians' comparability allowance, and a 10percent recruitment bonus. The physician accepted the position and signed a 24month recruitment bonus service agreement on May 7, 1997. FCI sent a well documented request for authority to pay the recruitment bonus to the Federal Bureau of Prisons headquarters on May 28, 1997. For reasons unrelated to the merits of paying the bonus, Bureau headquarters failed to act on the bonus request prior to the physician's entrance on duty.

This variation was approved because Department of Justice management established its intent to pay and offered the employee the bonus before the employee entered on duty, and a determination was made that the position would be difficult to fill without the bonus.

This variation is similar to a variation to pay a relocation bonus approved by OPM for a position in the Environmental Protection Agency. (See OPM Provisional Notice No. 5752 of May 25, 1994.)

Section 5.1 of civil service rule V requires that variations be granted in like circumstances. Therefore, if any agency believes it has a case that parallels the one described in this bulletin, it may request a variation. A variation is appropriate, however, only when no other authority exists to remedy the hardship. Agencies do not have the authority to approve variations.

Requests for variations should be sent through the headquarters of the agency involved and transmitted to the Office of Personnel Management.


Janice R. Lachance

Distribution: Former Basic FPM
Inquiries: Workforce Compensation and Performance Service
Office of Compensation Administration
Pay and Leave Administration Division
(202) 606-0830

Page created 10 February 1998


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