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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

|

NOVEMBER 2016

55

AFSA NEWS

Agreement Reached on 2013 MSI Remedies

AFSA is pleased to announce

that it has reached an agree-

ment with the State Depart-

ment that will result in the

expeditious implementation

of the Foreign Service Griev-

ance Board (FSGB) decision

regarding the 2013 Meritori-

ous Service Increases (MSIs).

Under this agreement, we

anticipate that the process-

ing of MSIs and the payment

of awards for the vast major-

ity of these individuals will

have been completed before

the end of October 2016.

As many of our members

are aware, due to the govern-

ment sequester in 2013, the

department decided not

to pay the monetary com-

ponent of the 2013 MSIs.

AFSA filed an implementa-

tion dispute with the FSGB.

The FSGB ruled in AFSA’s

favor and the department

appealed. The Foreign Ser-

vice Labor Relations Board

denied the Department’s

appeal in April 2016. For a full history of the case, see AFSA News December 2015.

The FSGB had ordered

the department to pay

retroactive MSIs to all those

employees (approximately

554 employees) ranked but

not reached for promotion

(up to the 10-percent cap in

the Precepts) by the 2013

Promotion Boards, retroac-

tive to November 3, 2013,

with interest. As the process-

ing of retroactive MSIs would

have taken an extraordinary

amount of time (because

SF50s and corrected SF50s

dating back to November

3, 2013, would have to be

processed for each employee

and back pay computed for

each pay period since then),

the department and AFSA

agreed to a more expedited

process.

Under this process, the

majority of employees should

have received a prospec-

tive MSI effective October 2,

2016. They also should have

received a lump-sum award

payment in their October

13, 2016, paychecks (with

an SF50 effective date of

September 18, 2016) that

corresponds to the value of

the MSI had it been pro-

cessed effective November

3, 2013. The award pay-

ment incorporates interest

(calculated under the Back

Pay Act) and takes into

account all rate-affected pay

components such as allow-

ances and differentials. The

award payments are subject

to withholding for federal

tax, state tax (if applicable),

Social Security, and Medicare

in the year in which they were

received.

For employees who have

resigned or retired or will

be resigning or retiring in

2016, the department will

process an MSI retroactive

to November 3, 2013, and will

pay back pay and interest in

accordance with the Back

Pay Act. For these groups,

the MSI will be part of the

employees’ basic salary in

the high-3 for their annuity

calculation. The department

will also process retroactive

MSIs for those who were

subsequently promoted into

the Senior Foreign Service, so

that Senior Foreign Service

salary computations take

into account the 2013 MSI.

Employees receiving the pro-

spective MSI and lump-sum

award payment (discussed

in paragraph 4, above) who

retire in the next three years

will have the opportunity to

have the MSI factored into

their annuity calculations.

Not all employees recom-

mended but not reached

for promotion by the 2013

Promotion Boards (up to the

10-percent cap in the 2013

Precepts) will be eligible

for an MSI. Under the 2013

Precepts, some employees

are eligible only for a $2,500

cash award and related

interest payments in lieu of

an MSI (i.e., those employ-

ees who were at the high-

est steps of grades FS-06

through FS-02 [step 14] or

who were at the FS-01 [step

10 and higher] as of Novem-

ber 3, 2013). The depart-

ment has already paid these

$2,500 cash awards with

interest. In addition, a small

number of employees are not

eligible for an MSI because

they retired or resigned

before the effective date of

the MSI (i.e., November 3,

2013), they were actually

promoted in 2013, or they

were otherwise granted an

MSI in the previous 52 weeks

of November 3, 2013.

All MSI or cash award

recipients should receive

an email providing further

details regarding their spe-

cific remedy by December 1,

2016. Employees who believe

they should have received a

2013 MSI but who have not

receive an individual email

by this date, should con-

tact the Bureau of Human

Resources Office of Perfor-

mance Evaluation by email

to HR-PEquestions

@state.gov.

n

—Sharon Papp,

AFSA General Counsel

Under this agreement, we anticipate that the processing

of MSIs and the payment of awards for the vast majority

of these individuals will have been completed before the

end of October 2016.