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Limitations of Premium Pay


This Section applies as follows: GS and FP FLSA EXEMPT employees are subject to a biweekly limitation on premium pay. FWS employees are not subject to the limitation. Law enforcement officers have a separate limitation. A NONEXEMPT GS/FP employee's overtime pay is not subject to the limitation but all other premium pay is covered. ES and FE employees do not earn premium pay. FO employees, see Section 23.

Biweekly Maximum Limitation on Pay - General Rule

Generally, the total of premium pay and basic pay that a GS or FP EXEMPT employee (excluding law enforcement officers under sections 8331(20) and 8401(17) of Title 5) may receive in any biweekly pay period is limited to the greater of the biweekly rate of pay for GS-15/10 (in effect on the last day of the calendar year in which the pay was earned per 5 U.S.C. 5547) or the rate payable for level V of the Executive Schedule.

NOTE: If the employee is being paid a special rate under 5 U.S.C. 5305 or a locality-based comparability payment under 5 U.S.C. 5304, the rate for GS-15/10 will be similarly extended, i.e., it will be taken from the same salary table chart as the employee's base rate.

Non-Exempt GS and FP Overtime Pay Not Subject to the Biweekly Limitation

The overtime pay of any NONEXEMPT GS and FP employee is excluded from the biweekly maximum limitation because it is paid under FLSA rather than Title 5. However, the total of basic pay and other forms of premium pay paid to NONEXEMPT GS and FP employees in any biweekly pay period is limited to the maximum rate of GS-15.

Separate Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) Biweekly Limitation

The total of basic pay and premium pay in any pay period paid to an EXEMPT LEO covered by sections 8331(20) and 8401(17) of Title 5, is limited to the lesser of:

  • 150 percent of the minimum rate for GS-15 (including a locality-comparability adjustment under Section 5304 of 5 U.S.C. or special law enforcement adjustment under Section 302 or 403 of the FEPCA of 1990, and any special rate under Section 5305 of 5 U.S.C., respectively), rounded to the nearest whole cent, counting one-half cent and over as a full cent), or
  • The rate payable for Executive Level V.

FWS Employees (Exempt or Non-Exempt) Not Subject to the Biweekly Maximum Pay Limitation

Since FWS employees are excluded from coverage of 5 U.S.C. 5547, they are not subject to the biweekly maximum limitation.

Exceptions to the Biweekly Maximum Earnings Limitation for Emergencies

Heads of operating units or their designees may approve premium pay under the annual limitation, i.e., grant an exception from the biweekly maximum earnings limitation, for employees performing work directly connected with resolving or coping with an emergency or its aftermath. "Emergency" is defined as a temporary condition posing a direct threat to human life and property, e.g., natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, forest fires, etc. "Emergency" as used in the context of this paragraph does not apply to the regular duties of law enforcement officers.

Pay Projection Required

Managers authorized to approve premium pay under the annual limitation are responsible for projecting the affected employee's pay to ensure that the greater of the annual rate for GS-15/10 or Level V of the Executive Schedule in effect on the last day of the last pay period of the calendar year is not exceeded.

Calendar Year Limitation

An employee who is authorized premium pay under the annual limitation may not exceed the greater of the annual rate of basic pay of a GS-15/10 or Level V of the Executive Schedule limitation on a calendar year basis under any circumstances and is subject to the biweekly limitation for all pay periods in which an emergency exception has not been granted.

Effective Date of Exception

The effective date of an exception is the first day of the pay period in which the emergency begins.

Expert and Consultant Limitation on Maximum Earnings

Unless specifically authorized by statute other than 5 U.S.C. 3109, the daily or biweekly earnings of an expert or consultant appointed under 5 U.S.C. 3109, including base pay, premium pay, and locality pay may not aggregate in excess of the rate for GS-15, step 10, on the nationwide General Schedule. An expert or consultant paid a daily rate (as opposed to an hourly rate) is not entitled to overtime pay in any case.

Updated October 21, 2008