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NOAA Workforce Management Office

Serving NOAA's Most Valuable Asset - People

NOAA Benefits

Paid Leave Health & Life Insurance Retirement
Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Transit Subsidies Alternative Work Schedules (AWS) & Telework

NOAA offers a competitive benefits package to its employees. These benefits are for the purpose of maintaining our employees’ health, morale and efficiency at a very high level. NOAA offers paid leave, a portable retirement plan, health and wellness services, and subsidized health and life insurance plans.

Paid Leave top

Annual leave is granted for vacations and other personal reasons. Sick leave is available for use when an employee is ill and a limited amount of an employee’s leave can be used when an employee’s family member is ill or needs to visit a doctor, dentist, or other health care provider for examination or treatment, as well as a variety of other circumstances.

Annual Leave Accrual
Annual leave accumulates to an employee’s credit on a graduated basis according to the length of his or her Federal government service (civilian and military). Full-time employees accrue annual leave as follows:

Total Service Every Two Weeks Per Year
0-3 Years 4 Hours 13 Days
3-15 Years 6 Hours 20 Days
15 Years and over 8 Hours 26 Days

SickLeave Accrual
Full-time employees earn sick leave at the rate of 4 hours every two weeks or 13 days a year.

Paid Holidays
The Federal government recognizes ten holidays each year: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

Health and Life Insurance top

One of the major benefits of Federal employment is the opportunity to enroll in the Federal health and life insurance benefits programs. Not only do employees contribute to these programs, but as the employer, the Federal government also pays a significant share.

Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP)
The FEHBP offers all permanent NOAA employees and eligible family members a wide selection of health benefit plans. The cost of FEHB premiums is shared by the enrollees (through payroll deduction) and NOAA. Coverage begins the first pay period after the employee elects the plan and is provided without a medical examination or restrictions due to age, current health, or pre-existing medical condition. These health plans provide catastrophic protection against unusually large medical bills. There is also an annual opportunity, known as “Open Season,” to enroll in a health benefits plan at a later time or, if enrolled, to select another plan. For more information visit

Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI)
All NOAA employees are covered under FEGLI Basic Life Insurance unless waived. The amount of coverage under the Basic Life Insurance is equal to an employee’s annual basic pay (rounded to the next $1,000) plus $2,000 or $10,000, whichever is greater. NOAA pays approximately 1/3 of the premium for the Basic Life Insurance and the remaining 2/3 is withheld from the employee’s salary by payroll deduction. Optional coverage under FEGLI is available. Employees pay all of the premiums for any optional coverage. For more information visit

Retirement top

All employees hired into the executive branch after 1983 are covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). FERS is a three-tiered plan consisting of a basic annuity benefit, the Thrift Savings Plan, and Social Security. Once an employee has worked for the Federal government for five years, he or she becomes eligible for retirement benefits (an annuity to be paid monthly upon eligibility). To retire, the employee must have worked for a certain number of years (service requirement) and have reached a certain age (age requirement). Service and age requirements vary. Upon completion of five years of civilian service, any prior creditable military service can be counted towards the service requirement provided a deposit is made for the military service and, in the case of a retired military serviceman, the waiver of the military retired pension.

Basic Annuity Benefit
A basic annuity benefit is payable when an employee retires from the government and is based strictly on the length of the employee’s Federal service and the average of the highest three years of salary earned. Generally, an employee needs at least five years of Federal civilian employment to qualify for a future basic annuity benefit. If an employee reaches the minimum retirement age (between 55 and 57, depending upon when the employee was born) and has at least 10 years of creditable service, the employee may retire and begin receiving the basic annuity benefit immediately. This benefit is reduced if the employee retires under the age of 62 unless he or she retires: (1) with 20 years of service at age 60, (2) with 30 years of service at the minimum retirement age, or (3) following an involuntary separation through no fault of the employee after completing 25 years of service (or 20 years if at least 50). An employee is also entitled to a basic annuity benefit at any age if approved for disability retirement (some restrictions apply).

Social Security
The Social Security System automatically covers all new employees. An employee may apply for regular Social Security benefits as early as age 62. Disability Social Security benefits are conditionally available at any age.

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)top

TSP is a tax-deferred retirement savings and investment plan similar to many 401(k) plans offered in the private sector. Employees covered by FERS are eligible to contribute any amount up to 15 percent of their salary into the TSP. Unlike regular retirement and Social Security withholdings, income taxes are not paid on TSP contributions when they are made; instead TSP benefits under retirement are fully taxable when withdrawn.

All employees covered by FERS can contribute up to15 percent of their salary into the TSP (IRS deposit maximums apply). Upon becoming eligible to participate, NOAA automatically contributes an amount equal to one percent of the employee’s salary to the TSP, even if the employee chooses to contribute nothing. In addition, NOAA matches each employee contribution dollar for dollar on the first 3 percent contributed and 50 cents on the dollar for the next 2 percent. All contributions to an employee’s TSP account earn interest and may be divided into one or all of five investment funds, including a government securities fund, a common stock index fund, a fixed income index fund, a small capitalization fund, and an international stock fund.

Should an employee leave the government prior to qualifying for immediate retirement, he or she may either (1) ask for a refund of his or her account balance, (2) leave the contributions in his or her account and allow the account to earn interest, or (3) roll over the account balance to an eligible IRA or other qualifying retirement plan. For more information visit

Transit Subsidiestop

NOAA offers a transit-fare subsidy to encourage the use of public mass transportation while commuting to and from work. Qualified employees are provided with a monthly benefit based on their geographic location.

Work and Family Programs
NOAA places a high value on its Workforce Management. The ability to attract and retain highly qualified and productive employees is critical to achieving NOAA’s mission. That value is reflected in the many programs and services offered to employees.

Long Term Care Insurance
Effective October 2002, most Federal employees are eligible for long term care insurance as part of a Federal program sponsored by OPM. The insurance is intended to help employees pay for long term care services in the event of an extended illness or injury or an age-related disease. The insurance provides broad, flexible benefits for nursing home care, care in an assisted living facility, in-home care, adult day care, hospice care, etc. The insurance is also available to certain family members of employees. Additional information on this new benefit is available on the OPM website at:

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
The EAP provides a limited amount of cost-free confidential counseling for employees who may be facing personal or work-related problems.

Alternative Work Schedules (AWS) & Teleworktop

Depending on their position and the NOAA Line Office in which the employee works, certain NOAA employees are allowed to participate in an AWS. These AWS schedules vary among the organizations but most generally allow a variety of flexible and compressed schedules. Telework allows employees meeting participation criteria the opportunity to work at home a portion of the workweek and is subject to organizational/ supervisory approval.

NOAA’s efforts to formally institute a telework program supports both Congress and Executive branch efforts to achieve important public policy goals, namely improving the Government’s ability to recruit and retain a high-quality workforce in a competitive job market; protecting environmental quality and energy conservation by reducing traffic congestion and vehicle emissions; improving employees’ work lives by allowing a better balance of work and family responsibilities; and reducing work-related stress.

Page last edited: July 28, 2016

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