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NOAA Workforce Management Office

Serving NOAA's Most Valuable Asset - People


NOAA Supervisory Resource Guide
How and When Do I Use the Recruitment, Relocation, and Retention (3Rs) Incentives?
Typical Scenarios:

Principle: Recruiting and retaining highly qualified employees is critical to meeting your mission and goals. The 3Rs can help you deal with the "supply & demand" challenges in the Federal job market. In other words, you could offer one of the "Rs" as a monetary incentive, if in doing so, you persuade an applicant to work for NOAA, or keep a NOAA employee from leaving.

Where Do I Start? First, you determine your need, and then you find out whether your organization has the budget to fund a recruitment, relocation or retention incentive. Next, you contact your servicing Workforce Management Office Advisor who can help you document your request.

Rules and Flexibilities:

Recruitment and Relocation Incentives may be paid when, in the absence of the incentive, it would be difficult to fill a position with a highly qualified employee. These incentives may not exceed 25% of the employees annual rate of basic pay in effect at the beginning of the service period multiplied by the number of years (including fractions of a year) in the service period (not to exceed 4 years). (With OPM approval, this cap may be increased to 50% based on a critical agency need, as long as the total incentive does not exceed 100% of the employees annual rate of basic pay at the beginning of the service period.) The incentives may be paid as an initial lump-sum payment at the beginning of the service period, in installments throughout the service period, as a final lump-sum payment upon completion of the service period, or a combination of these methods. A determination to pay a recruitment or relocation incentive is based on such factors as:

Service agreements: Before receiving an incentive, an employee must sign a written agreement to complete a specified period of employment. The required service period may not be less than 6 months or longer than 4 years. For a recruitment incentive, the commencement of the service period must begin upon the commencement of service with the agency and end on the last day of a pay period. For a relocation incentive, the service period must begin upon the commencement of service at the new duty station and end on the last day of a pay period. Before a relocation incentive may be paid, the employee must establish a residence in the new geographic area.

Retention Incentives may be paid to a current employee if it is determined that the unusually high or unique qualifications of the employee or a special need of the agency for the employees services makes it essential to retain the employee and that the employee would be likely to leave the Federal service in the absence of a retention incentive. A retention incentive may also be paid to a current employee who would be likely to leave for a different federal position when the agency determines:

Agencies must establish a single retention incentive rate for the employee, expressed as a percentage of the employees rate of basic pay. A retention incentive rate may not exceed 25% for an individual employee or 10% for a group or category of employees. (With OPM approval, this cap may be increased to 50% based on a critical agency need). A retention incentive may not be paid as an initial lump-sum payment at the start of a service period or in advance of fulfilling the service period for which the retention incentive is received. A retention incentive installment payment may be computed at the full retention incentive percentage rate or at a reduced rate with the excess deferred for payment at the end of the full service period.

The basic criteria that must be met before an employee is approved for a retention incentive are:

Other criteria include:

Service agreement: Before receiving a retention incentive, an employee must sign a written agreement to complete a specified period of service with the agency. The service period must begin on the first day of a pay period and end on the last day of a pay period.

Basic Steps: Once you have established that your organization has the funding for an incentive you must justify your request in writing. Your servicing WFM Advisor will provide advice for preparing your request. The written request must come from the manager in your organization who has the authority to approve the funding for the incentive.

Approval Authority:

For positions covered by the Commerce Alternative Personnel System, managers who have been delegated authority through their Line or Staff Office Operating Personnel Management Board, have the authority to approve recruitment and relocation incentives up to $10,000. Requests that are approved by the authorized management official must be submitted to the servicing Workforce Management Office along with the service agreement signed by the employee and any other required documentation (e.g., SF-52, Request for Personnel Action). The servicing Workforce Management Office will review the request to ensure it meets the requirements of the regulations and will process the action.

For all other positions, requests for recruitment and relocation incentives up to $10,000 are submitted to your servicing Workforce Management Office for approval by the NOAA WFMO Director, Client Services Office.

All requests for recruitment and relocation incentives beyond $10,000 and all retention incentives must be submitted to the servicing WFMO for review to ensure the request meets the requirements of the regulation. The servicing WFMO will submit the request to the Department of Commerce, Office of Human Resources Management for approval. In all cases, no commitment may be made to a candidate or employee until the incentive has been approved. The process may be done electronically to expedite approval. Once approved, the manager must complete the service agreement, obtain the employees signature and provide the agreement to the service Workforce Management Office for processing the request along with any other required documentation (e.g., SF-52, Request for Personnel Action).

Good Management Practices: Be sure that your justification is related to organizational needs.

Checklist:

Please also see the Recruitment, Relocation, and Retention Incentive Comparison Chart.

REFERENCES:
5 USC 5753 and 5754
5 CFR Part 575

Page last edited: March 13, 2018

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