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OPM Issues Guidance on Advancing Pay Equality in Government

Building on a 2013 Presidential memorandum and a 2014 report, in late July Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Acting Director Beth Cobert issued additional guidance to top agency human resources personnel on pay equality in the government.

In a governmentwide study of the gender pay gap in government, OPM found that some agencies were requiring the use or consideration of a job candidate’s existing salary when setting pay for new General Schedule employees.

“Reliance on existing salary to set pay could potentially adversely affect a candidate who is returning to the workplace after having taken extended time off from his or her career or for whom an existing rate of pay is not reflective of the candidate’s current qualifications or existing labor market conditions,” Cobert states.

To remind agencies that existing salary is but one factor an agency may use in pay-setting, OPM revised its fact sheet on General Schedule superior qualifications and special needs pay-setting authority.

OPM recommended that agencies conduct their own gender data analysis, which can:

  1. Identify areas where potential gender-related pay disparities exist within an agency;
  2. Determine if there are identifiable, and statistically significant, reasons for those disparities; and
  3. Provide a basis for the development of targeted strategies to reduce gender-related pay disparities, to the extent possible.

OPM also recommended that agencies develop a plan for conducting ongoing data analysis related to gender pay equality on a regular and recurring basis, and provided a guide to assist agencies in that effort.

Janet Kopenhaver, Washington Representative for Federally Employed Women (FEW), lauded OPM’s efforts on addressing the gender pay gap in government, but hoped for requirements rather than recommendations.

“FEW definitely supports any initiatives to help close the gender pay gap in the federal government (which I believe it about 7-11 cents). In reading the OPM memorandum, we see good approaches that OPM is recommending to agencies in developing analysis, but we were a little disappointed that these are only ‘recommendations’ and not ‘requirements.’ We also would request that this analysis be made available to the public in a true transparency effort. Agencies will not improve their respective gaps if no one is aware of which agencies actually have the biggest gaps,” Kopenhaver told FEDmanager.  

Posted in General News

Tags: OPM, federal pay

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