GS grade step increases made simple
June 23, 2011
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - Within-grade increases or step increases are periodic increases in a GS 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. Each General Schedule grade has 10 steps.
Employees who occupy permanent positions earn within-grade increases 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 or higher).
* 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.
Employees with ratings of record below the Fully Successful level (or equivalent) are not eligible for within-grade increases.
Within-grade increases apply only to GS employees occupying permanent positions. Permanent position means 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 required waiting periods established by law for employees with a scheduled tour of duty to advance to the next higher step may be found on the website for the Office of Personnel Management.
Leadership is responsible for implementing this statutory and regulatory requirement.
The payment of within-grade increases should never be viewed as automatic or routine.
Managers at all levels should work closely with their human resources staff to review the performance management and pay policies and practices to ensure within-grade increases are paid in accordance with the law and regulations and to take any appropriate corrective actions that may be needed.
Additional information on within-grade increase eligibility and payment requirements can be found through the OPM link under "related links" at the top of this page.
For more information, call the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center at 301-677-6526.