An Army lieutenant colonel with the Defense Contract Management Agency runs a staff meeting in DCMA Iraq, on May 17, 2012.
An Army lieutenant colonel with the Defense Contract Management Agency runs a staff meeting in DCMA Iraq, on May 17, 2012. // Randy Harrison/AP

Civilians in Iraq to Get Higher Premium Pay

Civilian federal employees working on stabilization efforts in Iraq are eligible to receive higher premium pay through the end of 2014, according to new guidance from the Office of Personnel Management. 

The July 22 memorandum from OPM Director Katherine Archuleta — released after a May directive from President Obama extended the national emergency in Iraq through May 22, 2015 — allows civilians working in that country on reconstruction to take advantage of a premium pay cap waiver for a longer period. Agencies can continue to apply the waiver authority, which allows eligible employees to earn more in premium pay through Dec. 31, 2014.

Premium pay allowable under the waiver authority increased to $233,000 in 2014; it typically includes additional compensation for overtime, night, Sunday or holiday work. The 2009 National Defense Authorization Act first authorized the waiver of the cap and Congress has continued to extend it during the past few years. Any additional pay employees receive as a result of the higher cap cannot be used to calculate retirement benefits or for lump-sum payments for accumulated and accrued annual leave.

Before Obama announced the continuation of a national emergency in Iraq related to reconstruction and stabilization efforts, OPM issued guidance telling agencies they could not apply the premium pay cap waiver for civilians working there after May 17, 2014 without a presidential extension.

Other employees working overseas in support of military or emergency operations in areas covered by U.S. Central Command as well as those formerly of CENTCOM now under the U.S. Africa Command still are eligible for the waiver through 2014.

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