Was this page helpful?

Hazard pay


GS employees may earn hazard pay. All others are ineligible.


The head of an operating unit or a designee shall pay an appropriate differential to an employee who performs a duty specified in a Appendix A to 5 CFR 550.901 provided the physical hardship or duty has not been considered in the classification of the position. An employee who receives annual premium pay for standby duty or administratively uncontrollable overtime work may not receive hazardous duty pay. 


Physical hardship means duty involving physical hardship which may not in itself be hazardous but which causes extreme physical discomfort and distress and which is not adequately alleviated by protective or mechanical devices; e.g., duty requiring exposure to extreme temperatures for a long period of time; duty involving arduous physical exertion when it is performed in cramped conditions; and duty involving exposure to fumes, dust, or noise which causes nausea or skin, eye, ear, or nose irritation. 

Hazardous duty means duty performed under circumstances in which an accident could result in serious injury or death, such as a duty performed on a high structure where protective facilities are not used, or on an open structure where adverse conditions such as darkness, lightning, steady rain, or high wind velocity exist. 

Hazard pay differential means additional pay for performing hazardous duty or work involving physical hardship.

Considered in the classification means (1) that the hazardous duty or a duty involving physical hardship found in Appendix A constitutes an element considered in establishing the grade of the position, i.e., the skills, knowledge and abilities required to perform the duty have been considered in the classification of the position.

Waiver Authority

The head of an operating unit or a designee shall waive the criteria and pay the differential when the actual circumstances surrounding the hazard or duty involving physical hardship have changed since the position description was written; or, employing the skills, knowledge, and abilities described in the position description, the employee still cannot control the hazard and, therefore, cannot reduce the hazard or physical hardship to an insignificant level. 

Schedule of Rates 

A schedule of conditions and rates of pay for hazardous duty can be found in Appendix A, 5 CFR 550.901. Regardless of the number of hazards encountered in a day, total hazard pay for any day may not exceed 25 percent of the employee's rate of basic pay for that day. 

Hours to which Hazard Pay Rates Apply 

Hazard pay is computed on the basis of hours in a pay status. Any amount of actual exposure during a calendar day entitles the employee to hazard pay for all compensable hours that day. If a tour spans a two-day period, all hours of work will be considered to have been performed on the day the work began.

Recording Entitlement 

Hazard pay must be coded for payment on the Time and Attendance Report. Hazard pay shall be discontinued when one or more of the conditions requisite for such payment cease to exist or when safety precautions or protective or mechanical devices have alleviated the discomfort or reduced the risk to a less than significant level consistent with Occupational Health and Safety standards.

Additions to the Schedule of Hazard Pay Rates 

Amendments to Appendix A shall be submitted with appropriate documentation to OPM through the Director for Human Resources Management via the Principal Human Resources Officer. Justification supporting a request for amendment of Appendix A must explain the: 

  • Nature of the duty; 
  • Degree to which the employee is exposed to physical hardship or hazard; 
  • Length of time during which the duty will continue to exist; 
  • Degree to which control may be exercised over the physical hardship or hazard;
  • Rate of hazard pay differential considered appropriate for approval by OPM; and 
  • Estimated cost to the agency if the proposed amendment to Appendix A is approved. 

Relationship to Pay Under Other Statutes 

Hazard pay under 5 U.S.C. 5545 is in addition to pay and allowances payable under other statutes. It is not basic pay for purposes of computing additional pay or allowances payable under other statutes. Hazard pay is not subject to the biweekly maximum limitation on premium pay as defined in Section 5 of this Handbook. It is subject to the aggregate compensation limitation under 5 U.S.C. 5307.