General Schedule (GS) and Foreign Personnel (FP) employees are eligible.
Federal Wage System employees are covered by a separate night shift differential authority (5 U.S.C. 5343) and addressed in the pay policy titled “Federal Wage System Employees.”
Senior Executive Service, Senior Foreign Service, and Foreign Service Officer employees are ineligible.
Definition and Variation
Nightwork (for GS and FP employees) is regularly scheduled work between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. local time, including regularly scheduled overtime. "Regularly scheduled" means the work or overtime is scheduled in advance of the administrative workweek in which it is performed (5 Code of Federal Regulations § 550.121(a)).
The head of an operating unit or a designee may designate a time after 6 p.m. and before 6 a.m. as the beginning and end, respectively, of nightwork for the purpose of paying night pay differential at a post outside the United States where the customary hours of business extend into the hours of nightwork. Times so designated as the beginning or end of nightwork must correspond reasonably with the beginning and end of the customary hours of business in the locality (5 CFR.121(b)).
An employee is not entitled to night pay differential while engaged in training, except as provided in 5 CFR 410.402 (5 CFR.121(b)).
Rate for Night Work
An employee who performs nightwork is entitled to pay for that work at their rate of basic pay plus a night pay differential amounting to 10 percent of their rate of basic pay (5 CFR 550.121(a)). Rate of basic pay for this purpose includes any applicable special pay adjustment for law enforcement officers under section 302 or 404 of the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act of 1990 or locality-based comparability payment under 5 U.S.C. 5304, before any deductions and exclusive of additional pay of any kind.
Recording Hours for Which Night Pay Differential is Payable
Night pay differential is credited in 15-minute increments rounded up to the nearest full quarter hour; 8 or more minutes must be rounded up to the next quarter hour, and less than 8 minutes will be considered part of the previous quarter hour.
Full-time/part-time employees. A full-time or part-time employee is entitled to night pay differential if they are normally scheduled for nightwork.
Temporary assignment. An employee is entitled to a night pay differential when they are temporarily assigned during the administrative workweek to a daily tour of duty that includes nightwork. This temporary change in a daily tour of duty within the employee's regularly scheduled administrative workweek is distinguished from a period of irregular or occasional overtime work in addition to the employee's regularly scheduled administrative workweek (5 CFR 550.122(d)).
Intermittent employees. An intermittent employee is not eligible for night pay differential unless substituting for an employee who was scheduled to work nights.
Flexible work schedules. If a flexible work schedule includes 8 or more hours available for work between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., the employee is not entitled to night pay for voluntarily working flexible hours between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., including while earning credit hours. An employee is entitled to night pay for those hours that must be worked between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. to complete an 8-hour daily tour of duty. An employee is entitled to night pay for any non-overtime work performed between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. during designated core hours.
First 40-hour employees. First 40-hour employees are eligible for night pay differential. Nightwork is considered regularly scheduled work, and therefore eligible, for employees whose basic workweek consists of the first 40 hours of work on 6 of 7 days of the administrative workweek if the nightwork is performed on one of the 6 days.
Note: When it is impracticable to prescribe a regular schedule of definite hours of duty for each workday of a regularly scheduled administrative workweek, the head of an agency may establish the first 40 hours of duty performed within a period of not more than 6 days of the administrative workweek as the basic workweek. A first 40-hour tour of duty is the basic workweek without the requirement for specific days and hours within the administrative workweek. All work performed by an employee within the first 40 hours is considered regularly scheduled work for premium pay and hours of duty purposes. Any additional hours of officially ordered or approved work within the administrative workweek are overtime work (5 CFR 610.111).
Expert/consultant. An expert/consultant is ineligible for night pay differential unless it is provided for in the contract.
Absence and Leave
Excused Absence and Travel Status. An employee is entitled to a night pay differential for night hours of their tour of duty while they are in an official travel status, whether performing actual duty or not (5 CFR 550.122(a)).
Effect of Absence and Leave. An employee is entitled to a night pay differential for a period of paid leave only when the total amount of that leave in a bi-weekly pay period, including both night and day hours, is less than 8 hours (5 CFR 550.122(b)).
Night pay differential continues when an employee is absent for jury service, during a period of continuation of pay following a work-related traumatic injury, or during a period of approved military leave.
Relationship to Other Pay and Compensatory Time
Regular Overtime, Sunday and Holiday Pay. Night pay differential is in addition to overtime, Sunday, or holiday pay and it is not included in the rate of basic pay used to compute the overtime, Sunday, or holiday pay (5 CFR.122(c)).
An employee is entitled to a night pay differential for a period when they are excused from nightwork on a holiday or other non-workday (5 CFR 550.122(a)).
Relation to Compensatory Time. With the exception of employees working a flexible alternative work schedule, compensatory time with night pay differential may not be authorized since compensatory time off is in lieu of payment for irregular overtime and night pay differential is premium pay for regularly scheduled hours.
Reviewed by OHRM, August 2020.
References: 5 CFR 550.121-122; OPM Fact Sheet, “Night Pay for General Schedule Employees”