OPM Issues COVID-19 Relocation Incentive Waiver Notice

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management issued a fact sheet to federal agencies on submitting waivers for payment limits on relocation benefit incentives for employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has informed federal agencies to submit requests to waive the limits on payments for recruitment, relocation, and retention incentives in order to meet the objectives of the agency during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. OPM issued the “OPM Fact Sheet – Recruitment, Relocation, and Retention Incentive Waiver Requests for COVID-19 Pandemic Health Crisis” on 6 April outlining the process for federal agencies to seek a waiver.

Examples of employees who would be eligible for the increased incentives, according to the fact sheet, are those involved in programs and projects related the declaration of a national emergency.

Without approval from OPM, a federal agency has the authority to increase the relocation incentive of a transferee by a maximum of 25% of their base salary for each year of employment. For employees who have been employed for four or more years, the maximum benefit is 100% of their annual wages. The same rules apply to recruitment, the salary for the position, and retention incentives.

Under the OPM notice, federal agencies can request a waiver for one or multiple increases in payment limits for individual employees or groups of employees. With OPM approval, federal agencies can increase the incentives to 50% of the base salary for each year of employment to a maximum 100% increase.

OPM advises federal agencies to use the Relocation Incentive Waiver Template for consideration of a waiver. OPM also outlines in the fact sheet several recommendations to agencies as they complete the template in order to expedite the process. All other requirements on relocation benefits and eligibility still apply.

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How This Impacts Mobility

Relocation management firms and suppliers support the transfers of federal employees. According to officials with the Government Services Administration (GSA), the federal government continues to relocate essential personnel during the pandemic albeit at approximately 40% of its usual level. The increases in incentive payment limits will help facilitate the relocation of federal employees who are essential to the operations of federal agencies during this national health emergency.

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