Timekeeping in today's world has made it imperative that timekeepers are aware of the rules and regulations governing the various aspects of the timekeeping function.
It's not an easy job. We know it takes time, knowledge, computer savvy, and documented resources to do a good job. Resources you should have available are:
For quick reference we have compiled a number of frequently asked questions about the various aspects of timekeeping which hopefully will aid you in working through the intricacies of keeping time and attendance records for your office.
For easier access and future updates, we are placing this tool on our web site at the NOAA Workforce Management Office Website, under Pay & Leave.
1Q. Why are corrections to time cards necessary?
A. Generally, when time has not been recorded properly on a T&A, a corrected T&A should be completed. For example when:
2Q. What is the process for doing a corrected T&A?
A. The instructions for doing a corrected T&A starts on page XI-2 in the Time and Attendance Manual.
3Q. When is the corrected T&A processed by the NFC?
A. NFC processes corrected T&As after the current pay period data is processed but during the same pay run.
4Q. How soon can an employee use leave that has been entered or adjusted on a corrected T&A.
A. An employee cannot use leave, credit hours, or compensatory time which has not been entered into the NFC database at the time the T&A is processed. So you must consider the sequence of T&A report processing before an employee may use the leave.
For example, if an employee earned compensatory time in pay period 26 (which was not recorded on the original pay period 26 T&A) and you are now in pay period 02, the employee may not use the compensatory time since it is not in the NFC database. If you submit a corrected pay period 26 T&A in pay period 02, the compensatory time will not be available for use until the corrected pay period 26 T&A processes.
Remember, since corrections process after the current pay period T&A, the compensatory time will not be available in the NFC database until after the pay period 02 processes. So the employee may not use the compensatory leave until pay period 03.
The same is true if the employee tries to use annual leave, sick leave, or credit hours when he/she has a very low balance and a prior pay period correction is made in the current pay period.
5Q. Can I submit a corrected T&A to a current pay period?
A. Yes. In fact, if you have certified your current pay period T&As and find that a correction needs to be done, you are best to do it right away. Simply create a new record for the current pay period, code it as a correction, and enter all the correct data. Certify the T&A and include it in the main Build process. The NFC will receive two T&As for the same pay period and will replace the original T&A with the correction. However, after the Build process, the T&A software will drop the correction, so you must remember to access the original T&A and enter the correct leave balances on the original T&A (if leave was the reason for the correction)!
6Q. How many pay periods can I do a corrected T&A for?
A. The NFC maintains T&A data for the current pay period plus the previous 25 pay periods so you may correct 26 pay periods of T&A data. However, you should never submit more than three pay periods of corrections at any one time.
1Q. What is a leave error report?
A. A leave error report is automatically generated by the NFC whenever annual leave, sick leave, restored annual leave, compensatory time, or part-time carry over balances in the NFC database do not match the leave balances in the T&A software.
2Q. When should I receive a leave error report?
A. Leave error reports are sent to T&A contact points every odd pay period. T&A contact points, in turn, should distribute the report to timekeepers immediately upon receipt.
3Q. When should I do a leave audit?
A. You should do a leave audit the same pay period you receive the leave error report. You will continue to receive a leave error report until the leave error is corrected. It is much easier to audit T&As for a pay period or two rather than trying to find the problem after you've done additional T&As and possible corrections which may complicate the original error.
4Q. What causes leave errors?
A. The most common reason for a leave error is when the current pay period leave balances are not adjusted based on corrections to prior pay period T&As. The T&A software does not automatically adjust current leave balances to reflect changes because of corrections, so you must manually make the change(s).
For example, an employee's current sick leave balance on a pay period 04 T&A is 40 hours and you are transmitting a corrected T&A for pay period 02 charging the employee 8 hours of sick leave which had not been previously reported.
Once you report the 8 hours of sick leave on the corrected pay period 02 T&A, you must manually calculate the changes to the sick leave balances for the pay period 03 and 04 T&As. You may then make pen and ink changes to the certified pay period 03 T&A, and then adjust the pay period 04 brought forward balance in the T&A software (prior to certification). If you do not take these steps, your T&A sick leave balances for pay period 04 will not reflect the correct balances.
Other leave errors are caused by not updating the part-time unapplied hours when correcting a T&A for leave for a part-time employee, prematurely adjusting leave balances in the T&A software to reflect annual leave donations or annual leave restorations before the Workforce Management Office (WFM) Office has notified you to do so, and delays in changes to annual leave earning categories.
5Q. Why does the leave error report still reflect a leave error even though I've followed the instructions and adjusted the brought forward balance for the current pay period after completing a prior pay period correction?
A. Remember the NFC processes prior pay period corrections after the current pay period processes, so for one pay period the balances in the T&A software and the NFC database will not match; it takes one pay period for the NFC to catch up! If you have adjusted your balances properly, the error will disappear after the next pay period.
6Q. What happens if I don't correct leave balances timely?
A. Not correcting a leave balance in a timely manner may cause an employee loss of pay. For example, if you record 40 hours of compensatory time used on a pay period 01 T&A and at the same time, do a corrected T&A for pay period 26 indicating that the employee just earned the compensatory time, the pay period 01 T&A will reject because the correction has not processed and the compensatory time is not yet available for use in the NFC database.
The NFC will change the pay period 01 T&A to reflect annual leave used (if available) in lieu of the compensatory time. If there is not enough annual leave, the NFC will charge the difference to LWOP. So now you've compounded your problem and the employee's annual leave in the NFC database is out of balance with the T&A system, and the employee's salary payment will be reduced by the 40 hours of LWOP.
The NFC will generate a leave error report for annual leave and you will be required to complete a leave audit and corrected T&A! A delay in correcting leave errors can also adversely affect employees in the Leave Transfer Program, those authorized to buy back leave under the Workers' Compensation Program, those approved for disability retirement, and delay lump sum payments.
7Q. What does it mean to have the hours or leave TINQ'd into the NFC data base?
A. The WFM office supporting your organization has access to the NFC database, and when they do an adjustment to leave in the database, it is referred to as TINQing. The WFM staff uses this system to make adjustments to employees' leave balances under certain conditions.
For example, when the leave balances in the NFC database are not in agreement with your T&A software and a leave audit shows that the NFC database is in error, the NFC database is TINQed for correction. Another example may be that both systems (i.e., the NFC and the T&A software) are incorrect and the error is over 26 pay periods so you can't do a corrected T&A through your system to adjust the balances.
8Q. Are the leave error report totals always correct?
A. Never presume that the NFC balances are correct. If a discrepancy in leave is reported, you must audit the T&As to determine when and where the error occurred. If you were in balance (the employee did not appear on the prior report) you may presume that the leave discrepancy is recent so you know where to start looking.
If you have not been receiving the report or paying attention to them, you should e-mail (WFMO.Pay@noaa.gov) the payroll time keeping office and ask them to help you determine where to start. For instance, they can verify that the balance at the beginning of the year in the NFC is the same as the balance you have recorded on the T&A.
9Q. What is a leave audit?
A. A leave audit is a manual or computerized recording of the leave earned and used by pay period for an employee. The Leave Audit Form, CD-527, is available to perform the audit manually. There are also automated leave audit packages available. An audit must be done before adjustment to leave balances may be done. The audit must be reviewed and signed by the leave approving official prior to the adjustment being made. Audits must be filed with the certified T&As and kept for six years for both current and former employees. WFM offices require a signed audit before they will TINQ the NFC database to adjust balances.
10Q. What do I do, if after I do the leave audit, I find that balances in the T&A software are in error?
A. If the balances in the T&A software are incorrect, you should adjust the brought forward balance for the current pay period. Prior pay period certified T&As should be adjusted via pen and ink unless a corrected T&A needs to be processed.
11Q. What do I do, if after I do the leave audit, I find the NFC database is in error?
A. Follow the instructions provided by your servicing WFM office.
1Q. How do I determine how much leave should be accrued each pay period?
A. It depends on the employee's work schedule and his/her length of service. Accruals are based on the Service Computation Date (SCD) for Leave established by the WFM office in the NFC database as follows:
|FULL TIME||0-3 Years of Service||3-5 Years of Service||15+ Years of Service|
|Annual Leave||4 Hours||6 Hours||8 Hours|
|Sick Leave||4 Hours||4 Hours||4 Hours|
|PART TIME||0-3 Years of Service||3-5 Years of Service||15+ Years of Service|
|Annual Leave||1hr accrual/20hrs worked||1hr accrual/13hrs worked||1hr accrual/10hrs worked|
|Sick Leave||1hr accrual/20hrs worked||1hr accrual/20hrs worked||1hr accrual/20hrs worked|
Note: Intermittent employees are not entitled to accrue annual or sick leave.
Note: Full time employees in the 6-hour annual leave accrual category are entitled to an extra 4 hours of leave in the last full pay period of the leave year. Both the NFC and the T&A software make this adjustment automatically. You do not have to make a manual change.
2Q. What happens if the employee needs to use annual or sick leave but doesn't have enough available?
A. Employees may be advanced annual and/or sick leave by their supervisor when the action is warranted. Supervisors have the authority to advance annual leave but no more leave than will be accrued up to the end of the current leave year.
For example, if the employee (in a 6-hour leave category) needs 40 hours of advanced annual leave in pay period 23, the supervisor would only be able to advance the employee 22 hours of leave - - 6 hours for pay period 24, 10 hours (6 + the extra 4 all category 6 employees receive) for pay period 25, and 6 hours for pay period 26. The other 18 hours would have to be covered under Leave-Without-Pay (LWOP).
Supervisors must also take into consideration the fact that if the employee has a LWOP balance or is requesting LWOP along with the annual leave, he/she would not be earning leave for any pay period when the total LWOP (including AWOL, suspension, or furlough hours) equals an equivalent of 80 hours (e.g., 80, 160, 240, etc.), and must not advance leave based on the expectation of a leave accrual for that pay period.
Employees can be advanced up to 240 hours of sick leave for serious illness. There are certain restrictions and documentation required before the supervisor can advance sick leave. The Handbook on Hours of Duty and Leave Administration, Section 5, page 7 has details on the requirements.
3Q. How does non-pay status (LWOP, AWOL, suspension, or furlough) affect leave accruals?
A. When a full time employee accumulates 80 hours or an increment of 80 hours (e.g., 160, 240, 320, etc.) in a non-pay status, they lose entitlement to leave accruals for that pay period. (Also see question and answer above.) Note that this rule does not apply to part-time employees.
4Q. What hours are used in the leave accrual computation for part time employees?
A. All hours the employee is in a pay status including overtime and leave hours, up to a maximum of 40 or 80 hours, depending on the work schedule that the employee is on. Compensatory time earned, compensatory time earned for religious purposes, holiday worked, and credit hours earned are not included in the computation.
5Q. Will the T&A software automatically increase the hour accrual when the employee changes leave categories?
A. No. When an employee reaches a new milestone, e.g. three years of service, the NFC automatically changes the accrual rate in the database at the beginning of the pay period after the anniversary date has been met. Since the T&A software does not automatically make this adjustment, timekeepers must manually change the accrual rate or category in the T&A software during the same pay period. The NFC sends out a "tickler" to contact points notifying them of the upcoming change.
6Q. We have employees in our group who at times earn large amounts of compensatory time. Is this compensatory time available for use immediately?
A. Yes, compensatory time may be earned and used in the same pay period. However, supervisors should be cautious to approve the use of compensatory time if there is any doubt that the employee's salary may be capped (explanation of capped is in the miscellaneous question section) and not able to claim credit of all of the compensatory time worked.
7Q. What is the maximum number of hours of compensatory time an employee working in NOAA can carry over from one pay period to another?
A. NOAA policy limits the number to 80 hours, with the exception of employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement with a provision to the contrary.
8Q. Does a new employee always accrue annual and sick leave the first pay period on duty?
A. No. A new employee must work an entire pay period in order to accrue leave. Therefore, he/she must enter on duty the first Monday of the pay period. EXCEPTION: If the first Monday of the pay period is a holiday and the employee reports on the first Tuesday and works the rest of the pay period, he/she is entitled to accrue leave.
9Q. What is the maximum number of annual leave hours that can be carried over into the new leave year?
A. Normally, an employee is allowed to carry over 240 hours of annual leave. However, there are exceptions. Employees in the Senior Executive Service (SES) have a ceiling of 720 hours. SES employees who had higher balances before October 16, 1994, may retain whatever higher ceiling they have at the end of the leave year but not more than the ceiling they had on October 15, 1994. If the employee's personal ceiling was 1000 last year but at the end of this year their leave balance is 900 hours, then the new personal ceiling is 900 hours. He/she may never carry over more than 900 hours again. Employees who work overseas and in American territories who are entitled to home leave can carry 360 hours. When they return to the states, they may keep the higher personal ceiling. This ceiling remains in effect until the employee carries over a smaller amount (into a new leave year), at which time the smaller amount becomes the new leave ceiling. The same rule regarding a reduction in carryover ceilings also applies to members of the SES.
10Q. If an employee has leave restored, how long does he/she have before it is no longer available?
A. Restored annual leave must be used within two years after the year in which it is restored, e.g., leave is lost in 1998, restored in 1999, then must be used by the end of the leave year 2001.
11Q. Does an employee who is leaving the Federal service always earn leave in the last pay period he/she works?
A. No. If the employee terminates before the end of the pay period, he/she does not earn leave. EXCEPTION: If the last Friday of the pay period is a holiday and the employee works the rest of the pay period, then he/she is entitled to accrue leave.
12Q. Can an employee be on leave the last day of employment?
A. No, this is known as terminal leave, and is prohibited. Terminal leave is annual leave taken immediately before separation or retirement and after the employee has performed his or her last day of active duty.
1Q. What is military leave?
A. Employees who serve in the Armed Forces Reserves or the National Guard are required to spend at least two weeks on active duty each year. Military leave provides an entitlement to allow time off with pay to perform this task.
2Q. How much time may the reservist have?
A. At the beginning of every fiscal year (October 1) reservists/National Guard members are entitled to 15 days of military leave which may be used during the fiscal year to leave their job and spend time on active duty. A reservist who does not use the whole 15 days may carry over as many as 15 unused days to the new fiscal year. The maximum number of days available in any fiscal year is 30 days.
3Q. Where is "military leave available" recorded?
A. Military leave does not have an "available balance" in the T&A software as do many of the other leave categories (e.g., annual leave, sick leave, compensatory time, etc.). When an employee uses military leave, the timekeeper must enter it on the T&A via transaction code 65 and then ALSO enter the actual number of days used in the Leave Balance Screen of the T&A software.
After the Build process, the actual days used will be reflected in the forward column of the T&A software. Since this amount ONLY reflects what the employee has used and NOT the employee's "available balance", you should record the total number of days available in the remarks section of the T&A or keep a separate record of the military leave. You should do this at the beginning of the fiscal year (i.e. 15 days of Mil Lv available). Whenever military time is used, be sure to subtract the number of days from the balance indicated.
4Q. How do you record military leave when it is used?
A. The instructions for coding regular military leave used are found in the T&A Manual, Appendix A, page 33, under Transaction Code 65.
1Q. What does it mean if an employee's wages are "capped"?
A. Most employees (General Schedule and CAPS) may not earn more than the regular biweekly locality salary of a GS-15, step 10. This includes base pay and premium pays. This is also known as the biweekly salary cap.
If the biweekly salary (regular pay plus premium pay) exceeds this limit, then the salary is cut back to the maximum allowable salary. The first premium pay to be cut is compensatory time. So if an employee is a GS-14, step 10, and claims 20 hours of compensatory time, the NFC system will automatically reduce the number of hours of compensatory time which when paid would exceed the cap.
So presuming that 15 ½ hours of compensatory time would put him/her at the cap, then the NFC would adjust the compensatory time balance by 4 ½ hours. The timekeeper would then receive notice from the NFC that this had occurred and the T&A compensatory balances in the T&A software must be reduced to match the NFC database. If the compensatory times balances are not reduced to match the NFC database, a leave error will be generated.
Also, the extra compensatory hours (i.e., those that were cut-back) may not be compensated in any way. The employee has no entitlement to more pay, the time may not be spread over several pay periods, nor may the employee be given unofficial time to make up the difference.
2Q. Are non-pay status leave (LWOP, AWOL, Suspension, and Furlough) balances carried over into the new leave year?
A. No. The leave balances are zeroed out at the beginning of the leave year. Calendar Year End Procedures are found in the T&A Manual in Chapter X. You should review these instructions in December each year to refresh your memory.
3Q. When should I deduct annual leave from the leave balance after the leave has been donated under the Leave Transfer Program?
A. Annual leave should not be deducted from the donor's leave balance until instructed to do so by your WFM office. The WFM office must first deduct the leave from the NFC database and then the timekeeper must reduce the annual leave forward balance in the same pay period or the leave will be out of balance which will create a leave error. So coordinating the effort is essential!
4Q. Who can earn credit hours?
A. Employees on certain flexible alternative work schedules (AWS) whose approved AWS plan includes the availability of credit hours may accrue and use credit hours. Although SES members may be on flexible schedules, they may never accrue or use credit hours.
5Q. What is the maximum number of credit hours that can be carried over from one pay period to the next?
A. Full-time employees may carry over 24 hours from one pay period to the next. Part-time employees may carry over an amount equal to 1/4 of their biweekly basic work requirement.
For example, if a part-time employee's biweekly work requirement is 40 hours, the employee may carry over 10 credit hours from one pay period to the next. However, there is no limit, with supervisor's approval, as to the amount an employee can earn and use in the same pay period.
6Q. What should I do with T&As for employees who are reassigned to another office or leave the Federal service?
A. You must keep T&As for six years even if the employee leaves the Federal service. If an employee is reassigned to another office within NOAA or another bureau within Commerce, all of the T&As transfer to the new timekeeper for safekeeping.
Page last edited: February 07, 2012