Problems of the Federal Wage System Schedule - FederalPay.org
The Federal Government is slow, inefficient, and full of bureaucratic hoops. It is not surprising that the way the government pays its employees is complicated as well. Federal government salary and wage scales are public but the information is difficult to find and understand. The information is scattered across numerous websites, hidden behind unexplained acronyms, buried in long, ambiguous policies, and wrought with missing and contradictory information.
There are several different pay scales that the federal government uses. Federal Blue-collar jobs – craft, trade, and laborious jobs – are paid using the Federal Wage System Schedule (FWS). Unlike other salary based scales, the FWS is wage based meaning employees are paid hourly. The FWS system is especially confusing and convoluted, even by standards of the federal government. FWS is the second most widely used pay scale within the federal government and is used to calculate pay of over 10 million Americans every year.
The system is well intended and designed to ensure federal blue-collar workers are paid a fair wage that is equivalent to similar jobs in the private sector. Biannual surveys are conducted to determine fair wages based on the location and type of work. However, the system is outdated and overly complex. As a result many FWS jobs are paid too much or too little. The FWS location boundaries were drawn in the 1970’s and can no longer be used to fairly determine pay of all FWS workers today.
The Biannual wage surveys are used to determine what fair wages for the different types of blue collar jobs that the federal government has. This system works for jobs such as plumbers and electricians where there are plenty of private sector jobs to survey. However, the wage survey system is impossible to implement for jobs where the federal government is the main or the only employer within a certain area. For instance, the government cannot conduct surveys of private sector Airplane Mechanic jobs in an area where there are no private airports. This leads to workers being grouped with dissimilar jobs resulting in unfair pay.
There has been some good news for employees in the FWS schedule in recent years. President Obama signed an executive order mandating a $10.10 minimum wage for all federal employees and contractors. However these patchwork efforts to correct problems with the FWS schedule not enough.
The FWS system has been modified, tweaked, exceptions added, and rules changed so many times that it is nearly impossible for the average person to figure out the system. Because the information is so poorly represented on the government’s public websites many federal wage employees may not know what they will be paid until after committing to a job.
Blue-collar employees, some of the most vulnerable employees in the federal government, would significantly benefit from a more modern pay system similar to the GS Schedule. Blue-collar workers should be paid more fairly and predictable and the Federal Wage System Schedule in its current for is not capable of effectively meeting these needs.
Is this article incomplete or outdated? Help improve this article by contacting us with your suggestions.