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Glossary of Federal Terms

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PAY ADJUSTMENT — Any increase or decrease in an employee’s rate of basic pay when there is no change in the duties or responsibilities of the employee’s position. A pay adjustment may include a change in the step at which the employee is paid. A change in the pay system under which the employee is paid is also a pay adjustment.

PAY PLAN — The pay system or pay schedule under which the employee’s rate of basic pay is determined, e.g., General Schedule (GS), Executive Schedule (EX), and Leader under the Federal Wage System (WL).

PAY RETENTION ENTITLEMENT — The right of an employee to retain, under certain circumstances, a rate of basic pay higher than the maximum rate of the grade for the position occupied.

PENSION — Money paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs for disability that is not necessarily service-connected.

PERSONNEL ACTION — The process necessary to appoint, separate, or make other personnel changes.

PERSONNEL OFFICE IDENTIFIER (POI) — Identifies the Federal civilian personnel office authorized to appoint and separate the employee, and, to the extent such functions have been delegated, to prepare personnel actions, maintain official personnel records, and administer programs for staff compensation, training and development, benefits and awards, and employee and labor relations.

PLACEMENT — Putting employees into jobs. This may be done by appointment of someone new to government; by promotion, change to lower grade, reassignment, or transfer within an agency or from other agencies of a current employee; and by reinstatement of a former employee.

POSITION CLASSIFICATION — means the analysis and identification of a position and placing it under the position classification plan established by OPM under chapter 51 of title 5, U.S. Code.

PRD (PAY RATE DETERMINANT) — A designation of any special factors that help determine an employee’s rate of basic pay or adjusted basic pay.

PREFERENCE (VETERANS’ PREFERENCE) — is an employee’s category of entitlement to preference in the Federal service based on active military service that was terminated honorably:

  • 5-point preference is the preference granted to a preference-eligible veteran who does not meet the criteria for one of the types of 10-point preferences listed above. 10-point (disability) preference is the preference to which a disabled veteran is entitled.
  • 10-point (compensable disability) preference is the preference to which a disabled veteran is entitled if he or she has a compensable service-connected disability rating of 10-percent or more.
  • 10-point (30% compensable disability) preference is the preference to which a disabled veteran is entitled if he or she is entitled to a 10-point preference due to a compensable service-connected disability of 30 percent or more.
  • 10-point (other) preference is the preference granted to the widow/widower or mother of a deceased veteran or to the spouse or mother of a disabled veteran. It is called “derived preference” because it is derived from the military service of someone else – a veteran who is not using it for preference. When the disabled veteran does use the service for preference, then the spouse or mother is no longer entitled to preference.

PREFERENCE ELIGIBLE — means veterans, spouses, widows, or mothers who meet the definition of “preference eligible” in 5 U.S.C. 2108. Preference eligibles are entitled to have 5 or 10 points added to their earned score on a civil service examination (see 5 U.S.C. 3309). They are also accorded a higher retention standing in the event of a reduction in force (see 5 U.S.C. 3502). Preference does not apply, however, to in-service placement actions such as promotions.

PREMIUM PAY — Additional pay for overtime, night, holiday, or Sunday work and standby duty or administratively uncontrollable work.

PREVAILING RATE SYSTEM — See FEDERAL WAGE SYSTEM.

PREVIOUS RETIREMENT COVERAGE — An indicator of whether the employee has, at the time of most recent appointment to the Federal service, previously been covered by the Civil Service Retirement System or Federal Employees Retirement System.

PROBATIONARY PERIOD — is the first year of service of employee who is given a career or career-conditional appointment under 5 CFR part 315. During this period, the agency determines the fitness of the employee, and the employee has no appeal rights.

PROMOTION — A nature of action used to document personnel actions that change an employee (1) to a position at a higher grade level within the same job classification system and pay schedule or (2) to position with a higher rate of basic pay in a different job classification system and pay schedule.

PROVISIONAL APPOINTMENT — A temporary appointment to a continuing position when the agency intends later to convert the employee to a non-temporary appointment and has current authority for such conversion.


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