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Advances of pay

What Is It

The head of an operating unit or one to whom authority has been delegated may advance up to two pay periods of basic pay to an individual who is newly appointed, appointed after a 90-day break in service, or appointed after a 90-day period of leave without pay following termination of a Student Career Experience Program appointment. In every case, the employee must have a scheduled tour of duty and be serving under an appointment not limited to six months or less.

"Newly appointed" means the first appointment, regardless of tenure, as an employee of the Federal Government; a new appointment following a break in service of at least 90 days; or a permanent appointment in the competitive service following termination of employment in an internship Program provided the individual was separated from the service, in a nonpay status or a combination of both during the entire 90-day period immediately before the permanent appointment and has fully repaid any former advance in payment under 5 CFR 550.205.

"Basic pay" for this purpose means the rate of pay fixed by law for the position plus any annual premium pay attached to the position; night differential for prevailing rate employees; special rate, or locality rate; and any special rate or special pay rate adjustment for law enforcement officers under 403, 404, or 405 of the FEPCA.

Per the Department's Office of Financial Management, imprest funds may not be used to pay an advance of pay. 

Maximum Advance

The maximum amount of pay that may be advanced shall be the rate to which the employee is entitled reduced by the amount of any applicable allotments or deductions from pay. An advance of pay under this authority may be made in one or more installments; however, the whole amount must be advanced within two pay periods.

An advance may not be authorized before the date on which the employee takes the oath of office or later than 60 days after appointment. If an employee will be advanced pay under 5 U.S.C. 5927 (assignment to a post in a foreign area) within two pay periods of appointment, pay may not be advanced under this authority. 

Adjudicating Requests

Requests for advances of pay will be adjudicated based on evidence of financial or other hardship acceptable to the approving official and the employee's first and second level supervisors. Examples of hardship might include costs associated with maintaining two residences; relocating a household to a totally different climate; purchasing or renting housing in a new commuting area. A written finding of hardship must be filed in the employee's electronic Official Personnel Folder (e-OPF). 

Agreement for Payroll Deduction

A repayment agreement establishing a payment schedule, the total amount of the advance in pay, the total number of pay periods for repayment of the advance, and the amount that will be deducted by payroll deduction each pay period, must be executed for approval of an advance in pay. The agreement, signed by the employee and the approving official, must be filed in the employee's e-OPF. 

Recovery of Advances of Pay

An advance of pay must be recovered by payroll deduction within 14 pay periods of the date of the employee's appointment. However, an employee may repay the outstanding balance by check made out to the Department any time before payments are due. The check should be submitted to the servicing human resources manager who will forward it to the payroll office.

If an employee transfers to another agency, or the employee's appointment is terminated for any reason, the entire unpaid balance is due before the employee leaves the Department. If the transferring employee fails to pay, the balance will be recovered by salary offset in the gaining agency. When employment is terminated, recovery will be from the employee's final salary or lump sum leave settlement or both. If neither of these is productive, and the employee is again employed by the Federal government, procedures can be instituted to recover the payment by salary offset. (See 15 CFR 22, Salary Offset.) 

Waiver of Repayment

Repayment of an advance in pay may be waived in unusual circumstances, e.g., involuntary separation --- not for cause. 


5 U.S.C. § 5524a
5 CFR Part 550

Reviewed and updated November 12, 2019