This material provides guidance for the administration of premium pay for Foreign Service employees abroad. It reiterates guidance found in Volume 3 of the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) that pertains to commissioned Foreign Service Officers (pay plans FO and FE). Inasmuch as 5 U.S.C. § 5541 prohibits Senior Foreign Service employees (pay plan FE) and Commissioned Foreign Service Officers (pay plan FO) from earning compensatory time, the authorities cited here are the only authorities under which some of them may be authorized premium pay or compensatory time.
Emergency Authorization Of Premium Pay
In emergencies, a supervisor who is not an authorizing official may order an employee to perform up to 8 hours of overtime per pay period. The order must be reviewed and signed by an authorizing official as soon thereafter as possible. A supervisor who finds it necessary to order overtime work on a continuing basis should arrange for a delegation of authority to approve such overtime within limits established by the authorizing official.
"Duty overtime," an informal term, refers to hours outside the basic workweek which a Foreign Service employee is required to spend at the office periodically as the duty officer for the day, such as every fourth Saturday morning. Duty overtime is considered regularly scheduled if it is scheduled in advance of the administrative workweek as part of an employee's regularly scheduled administrative workweek. If not scheduled in advance, duty overtime is treated as irregular or occasional overtime.
Compensatory Time Off Earned Under 5 CFR Part 550 - Irregular Or Occasional Overtime
General. Except as modified by the conditions outlined in the following paragraphs, overtime and compensatory time for foreign service employees overseas will be administered in accordance with guidance outlined in the "Premium Pay" sections of this web site.
Time limits and liquidation rules. Compensatory time earned abroad shall be used within 26 weeks of the end of the pay period in which it was earned or, absent a condition beyond the employee's control, the time and payment for it will forfeited. Any compensatory time which is over 26 weeks old and which the employee is entitled to retain will be liquidated at the employee's overtime rate. (An employee shall be entitled to retain or be paid the overtime rate for compensatory time which was scheduled for use within the 26-week time but which could not be used because of an exigency of the service or cancellation by the supervisor without an alternative date's being established by the supervisor.)
Consistent with standard agency practice, compensatory time which an employee is entitled to retain will be liquidated at the overtime rate when an employee transfers to another agency, including agencies of the Department of Commerce. However, when a U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service (US&FCS) employee is reassigned or promoted within US&FCS with a change in post, that employee shall be paid by the losing organization for unused compensatory time which he or she is entitled to retain unless the chief of the gaining organization has agreed to the time's being transferred.
This fact must be communicated in writing to the US&FCS Human Resources Officer before the transfer is effected to ensure proper handling of the employee's leave record. The hours of overtime which the employee worked will be certified on the Time and Attendance Report by the authorizing official at the post which the employee is leaving.
Documentation. Employees may request the use of compensatory time off earned under 5 CFR 550 by submitting Form SF-7l, Application for Leave. Supervisors will ensure that all compensatory time off requested by employees is scheduled and granted within the prescribed time limits. if feasible. If it is necessary to disapprove a request, a copy of the SF-71 showing the disapproval must be provided to the timekeeper to support a payment for the overtime if the compensatory time off is not subsequently rescheduled or used during the remainder of the 26-week period.
Using compensatory time on home leave. If an employee has credit for unused compensatory time off at the time of departure from the post on home leave orders, such compensatory time off may be granted in lieu of annual leave. This must be communicated to US&FCS/OFSP to ensure the integrity of the employee's leave records. As a general rule, the period of combined leave and compensatory time off will not exceed 45 days (see 3 FAM 454 for exceptions).
Special Compensatory Time Off At Certain Designated Posts In Foreign Areas Under 5 U.S.C. 5926
"Special compensatory time off under 5 U.S.C. 5926" means time off from work during the employee's basic workweek, including a regularly scheduled overtime period, in return for an equal amount of regularly scheduled overtime work while stationed at certain designated posts. Chapter 800 of the Standardized Regulations for Government Civilians, Foreign Areas, which implements 5 U.S.C. § 5926, designates the posts where special compensatory time off under this authority may be authorized.
Eligibility. Any individual employed in the civilian service of the foreign affairs agencies who is a citizen of the United States; officially stationed in a foreign area on a full-time, part-time, or temporary duty status; and receiving basic compensation is eligible for special compensatory time off under 5 U.S.C. 5926. Thus FE, FO, and FP employees may receive special compensatory time off under this authority at their request.
Limitations. Special compensatory time earned under 5 U.S.C. 5926 is not true compensatory time since it amounts to a rescheduling of the 40-hour basic workweek to accommodate local customs, e.g., in countries where stores are open only a few days each week and where it is more beneficial to employees to have an afternoon off to obtain the week's groceries than stand in queues for hours every Saturday morning. Overtime pay is not warranted and special compensatory time under this authority may not be liquidated for cash.
Use. Special compensatory time off earned under 5 U.S.C. 5926 must be used while the employee is assigned to the post where it is earned and must be used during the pay period in which it is earned. Any special compensatory time off not used at the time the employee is reassigned to another post is forfeited.
Authorizing official. The official authorized to approve overtime at each post abroad approves the scheduling of workweeks involving the use of special compensatory time off under 5 U.S.C. § 5926 and has responsibility for ensuring its scheduling and use so that it is not forfeited.
Exemption from maximum limitation. There is no ceiling on the amount of special compensatory time off that may be credited to an employee under 5 U.S.C. § 5926 since it amounts to alternative workweek scheduling rather than true compensatory time. The biweekly limitation on premium pay does not apply.
Time and attendance records. Timekeepers will maintain a record of special compensatory time off earned and taken under 5 U.S.C. § 5926 separately from the normal time and attendance recording and reporting process. Data will not be entered into the payroll system. The administration of special compensatory time under this section shall be the responsibility of the post; however, the approval and certification required for normal time and attendance records shall be required on special compensatory time off records.
Special Compensatory Time Off Under Section 412 Of The Foreign Service Act of 1988
Definition. "Special Compensatory time off under Section 4128 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (22 U.S.C. 3972)" refers to the exception to 5 U.S.C. § 5541 under Section 4128 of the Foreign Service Act whereby Senior Foreign Service Officers (meaning those in pay plan FE) and Commissioned Foreign Service Officers (pay plan FO), who are otherwise prohibited from earning premium pay or compensatory time, may be granted time off from work during the basic workweek whether stationed in the United States or abroad in exchange for an equal amount of regular or irregular or occasional overtime work or holiday work which is officially ordered or approved.
Limitation. An employee who is authorized the special allowance for regular overtime work in substantial excess of normal hours under 3 FAM 238 may not earn special compensatory time off under 5 U.S.C. § 5926 or special compensatory time off under Section 412 of the Foreign Service Act while authorized to receive the special allowance, even if the overtime hours worked are in excess of those required to meet the minimum criteria for the special allowance.
Maximum limitation. Special compensatory time off under Section 4128 may be earned only to the extent that, if the work performed were compensable under Title 5, the additional overtime payment would not cause the total of the employee's basic pay and premium pay to exceed the biweekly maximum payable rate for GS-15.
Dual compensation prohibited. Special compensatory time off under Section 412 may not be authorized if the employee has been credited with another type of special compensatory time off, e.g., compensatory time under 5 U.S.C. § 5926 or compensatory time off for religious observance.
Limitation on use. Special compensatory time under Section 412 is forfeited if not used within 26 weeks following the pay period in which the overtime was performed. It may not be converted to salary.
Transfers and home leave. Special compensatory time off that is still available for use because the 26-week limit has not expired transfers automatically with the employee to the next post or assignment in the same manner as annual or sick leave. If an employee has credit for unused special compensatory time off under this paragraph at the time of departure from the post on leave orders, such compensatory time off may be granted in addition to home leave to extend the employee's stay in the United States. This must be communicated with US&FCS/OFSP. As a general rule, the period of combined leave and special compensatory time off will not exceed 45 days (see 3 FAM 454 for exceptions.)
Scheduling. Special compensatory time off under Section 412 of the Foreign Service Act must be requested on CD-81, "Authorization for Paid Overtime, and/or Holiday Work, and for Compensatory Overtime". Both management and the FO employee are responsible for the planning and effective scheduling of special compensatory time off to avoid forfeiture. Special compensatory time off earned under this heading must be recorded on the Time and Attendance Report.
Holiday Pay For Foreign Service Employees
FO and FE employees are not eligible for holiday premium pay but are eligible for compensatory time under section 412 of the Foreign Service Act for work on a holiday. Holiday premium pay may not be paid for work performed on local holidays.
Annual Premium Pay At Posts Overseas
United States citizen members of the Foreign Service assigned abroad, other than FO's and FE's, are eligible for premium pay on an annual basis when there is a requirement.
Premium Pay To Non-U.S. Citizen Employees Overseas
Premium pay is paid to non-U.S. citizen employees at overseas posts on the same basis and to the same extent as is authorized locally by the Department of State for non-U.S. citizen personnel in its employ in the same area (Foreign Affairs Manual, Volume 3, Section 935).
Volume 3 Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM)
5 U.S.C. §§ 5541 - 5550
5 U.S.C. § 5926
5 CFR Part 550
5 CFR Part 551 (Fair Labor Standards Act, FLSA)
Section 412 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980
Reviewed and updated November 13, 2019