Gov Careers

By Phil Piemonte

Blog archive

That nasty old pay issue

If nothing else, the Merit Systems Protection Board has exquisite timing.

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that MSPB each month has been explaining one of the nine merit principles that serve as the standards governing the management of the federal workforce.

The Merit System Principle for March, which focuses on equal pay, likely will set a few readers’ teeth on edge, especially as Congress wrangles over cutting just about everything under the sun.

It goes like this: “Equal pay should be provided for work of equal value, with appropriate consideration of both national and local rates paid by employers in the private sector, and appropriate incentives and recognition should be provided for excellence in performance.”

The reasoning behind this principle is that decent salaries—and rewards for performance—will attract and retain the best workforce. Painfully simple, right?

But it may seem like an unattainable principle in a job market in which the prevailing sentiments range from “do more with less” to “just count yourself lucky to have a job.”

Nonetheless, this third Merit System Principle—like the others—is described in detail by MSPB—and more importantly, is codified in the U.S. Code at 5 USC § 2301. It carries the force of law.

You may have doubts about how well the principle of equal pay is followed, but you might want to take a look at it anyway.

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Mar 15, 2011 at 12:13 PM


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