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Benefits of Federal Employment


  • Most Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) employees are covered under the General Schedule (GS) pay scale, which is comprised of grades 1 though 15, with 10 steps within each grade.  The GS salaries are based on locality pay tables as published by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. 
  • New employees to the Federal Government are normally hired at the first step within the grade level.
  • Employees who have not reached the highest step within each grade are generally authorized a within-grade increase after completion of the required waiting period - provided that the employee has demonstrated an acceptable level of competence.  The waiting periods are:
    • Steps 1 through 4 - 52 weeks
    • Steps 4 through 7 - 104 weeks
    • Steps 7 through 10 - 156 weeks
  • Some hard-to-fill positions operate under a special salary rate.  The largest categories of coverage under a special salary rate are for clerical and engineering positions at various grade levels. 
  • FRA employees in the Senior Executive Service (SES), and the Senior-Level (SL) and Scientific and Professional (ST) positions are covered under pay for performance. 


There are several categories of leave for Federal employees -- the most common is annual and sick leave.  Other leave categories include:

  • Military Leave
  • Court Leave
  • Family and Medical Leave
  • Voluntary Leave Transfer Program
  • Leave Without Pay

Sick Leave - All Federal employees accrue 13 days/104 hours of sick leave a year.  There is no ceiling on the amount of sick leave that may be carried over from year to year.  

Annual Leave – Annual leave is accrued based upon an employee’s length of creditable service.  Employees can carry over up to 240 hours (30 days) of annual leave from one leave year to the next. 

  • 0 to 3 years - Earn 4 hours of annual leave a pay period or 13 days/104 hours a year.
  • 3 to 15 years - Earn 6 hours of annual leave a pay period or 20 days/160 hours a year.
  • Over 15 years  - Earn 8 hours of annual leave a pay period or 26 days/208 hours a year. 


Federal employees are entitled to 10 paid holidays each year.  The holidays are:  New Years Day, Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. 

Alternate Work Schedules

FRA employees may participate in Flexible Work Schedule and Compressed Work Schedule programs.  Participation in these programs is subject to supervisory approval.

  • Flexible Work Schedules refer to work schedules whereby employees can vary starting times and ending times within flexible time bands.  
  • Compressed Work Schedules enable full-time employees to complete the basic work requirements of 80 hours in fewer than 10 full work days.  For example, Compressed Work Schedules refer to fixed work schedules that allow employees to work 4 10-hour days a week (4-10 work schedule) or allow employees to work eight nine-hour days and one eight-hour day during a biweekly pay period (5/4-9 work schedule).  


FRA employees may telework from their home, a satellite work center, or any other approved work site on a permanent or ad hoc basis as determined by the supervisor. 

Health Insurance

  • Federal employees can enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program for themselves and their families at reasonable rates. 
  • Employees can choose among managed fee-for-service plans, health maintenance organizations, and point-of-service plans.  
  • There is an annual open season during which employees can change their enrollment.  
  • Eligible Federal employees can automatically continue FEHB coverage after retirement, if they retire on an immediate annuity and had coverage for the 5 years of service immediately preceding retirement or for all Federal Service since the first opportunity to enroll.  
  • Additional information on the FEHB Program can be obtained at:

Supplemental Dental/Vision Program (FEDVIP)

The FEDVIP is a new program, separate and different from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB).  Employees are eligible to enroll in the FEDVIP if they are eligible to enroll in the FEHB Program.  It does not matter if they are enrolled in FEHB or not.  Premiums are paid on a pre-tax basis. 

Life Insurance

  • Most Federal employees, including part-time employees, are eligible to enroll in the Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) Program.
  • Participation is entirely voluntary.  Employees do not have to prove insurability; and no physical examination is required.  
  • There are several choices in selecting the level of life insurance that's right for you.  
  • The Government pays one-third of the cost of an employee's Basic life insurance.  Employees pay 100% of the cost of Optional insurance.  
  • Eligible Federal employees can automatically continue FEGLI after retirement, if they retire on an immediate annuity and had coverage for the 5 years of service immediately preceding retirement or for all Federal Service since the first opportunity to enroll.
  • Additional information on the FEGLI Program can be obtained at:

Long Tern Care Insurance

The Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) provides long term care insurance for you and your parents, parents-in-law, stepparents, spouses, and adult children.  Additional information on FLTCIP can be obtained at

Flexible Spending Accounts Program (FSAFEDS)

- The Flexible Spending Accounts Program is a program for Federal employees that will save you money on health and dependent care expenses by allowing you to set aside pre-tax funds to pay for a wide range of common out-of-pocket expenses.  Additional information on FSAFEDS can be obtained at

Retirement Systems

The Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) became effective January 1, 1987.  Almost all new employees hired after December 31, 1983, are automatically covered by FERS.  Certain other Federal employees not covered by FERS have the option to transfer into the plan.  FERS is a 3-tiered retirement plan.  The three components are:  Social Security Benefits, Basic Benefit Plan, and Thrift Savings Plan.  Employees pay full Social Security taxes and a small contribution to the Basic Benefit Plan and are fully vested after 5 years of service and, for disability benefits, after just 18 months.  In addition, the agency puts an amount equal to 1% of basic pay each pay period into the employee's Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) account.  Employees are able to make tax-deferred contributions to the TSP and a portion is matched by the Government.

The Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) was the only major retirement system for Federal employees prior to January 1, 1984.  Federal employees who were eligible for retirement coverage were covered by the CSRS.  By law, Federal employees covered by CSRS were excluded from Social Security coverage and taxes.  

Civil Service Retirement System Offset - Typically, CSRS Offset retirement applies to employees who had a break in service that exceeded 1 year and ended after 1983, and had 5 years of creditable civilian service on January 1, 1987.  CSRS Offset retirement coverage also applies to employees hired before January 1, 1984, who acquired CSRS coverage for the first time after that date, and had at least 5 years of creditable service by January 1, 1987.  Offset employees pay full Social Security deductions and reduced CSRS deductions.  Additional information on FERS, CSRS and CSRS Offset can be found at:

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)

The TSP is a retirement savings and investment plan for Federal employees.  The purpose of the TSP is to provide retirement income.  TSP benefits are in addition to FERS or CSRS annuity.  If you are a FERS employee, the TSP is an integral part of your retirement package, along with your FERS Basic Annuity and Social Security.  If you are a CSRS employee, the TSP is a supplement to your CSRS annuity.  A new employee can start contributing to TSP right away, but there is a waiting period for receiving the agency automatic 1% contribution and matching contributions if they are an employee covered under FERS.  Once the waiting period is completed, FERS employees start receiving an agency automatic 1% contribution whether they contribute to TSP or not.  If a FERS employee does contribute to TSP there is an agency matching contribution.  The first three percent of pay that you contribute will be matched dollar-for-dollar, and the next two percent will be matched at 50 cents on the dollar.  If you are a CSRS employee you do not receive any agency contributions.  

TSP contributions are tax-deferred, which means no income tax is due on these contributions until the employee withdraws these funds from the TSP account.  Employees have several investments choices and should refer to the TSP Summary Booklet at for additional information on these investment choices.  For further information on TSP visit

Subsidized Transportation

The Department of Transportation pays some or part of its employees' commuting costs to encourage the use of public transportation in certain areas, e.g., the Washington, DC Metropolitan area.  

Child Care Tuition Assistance Program

This program permits Federal agencies to use appropriated funds to assist lower income employees with child care costs.  If employees meet the eligibility criteria, their child care tuition costs may be reduced under the Program.

Training and Career Development Programs

The FRA's Office of Human Resources works with employees and managers to identify training needs and provide training opportunities to individuals.  The FRA may pay tuition costs or other costs associated with skills and career development goals.  

Awards and Recognition

FRA employees may be eligible to earn any number of honorary and cash awards for superior achievement of performance.  

Employee Assistance Programs

This program is designed to help employees with personal or work problems before they interfere with productivity and affect attitudes.  The program is free, voluntary, and confidential, and is designed to help government employees effectively address and overcome problems such as alcohol and drug abuse, financial problems, work and family pressures, and job stress.  

The Employee Assistance Program is staffed by professional counselors who will help employees address personal and job-related problems.  When counseling or assistance outside of the Employee Assistance program is recommended, some costs may be covered by an individual's health benefit plan.