I work in an office that is beginning to be hit with a wave of retirements. Over the last couple of weeks, we have lost four employees: one to transfer and three to retirement. At full strength, my office is about 40 people. We have an additional three vacancies due to people transferring to other jobs over the last six months, for a total of at least 15% of the office.
Two of the jobs to be filled involve shift work, which is hard to get people in their forties and fifties to do. Because the job is supposed to be half shift work and half office work, one makes only about 10% in shift differential and holiday pay, which results in a lot of disruption for not that much extra pay. Still, the remaining people who work shift have seen their percentage of shift work increase from 50% to about 67%. What makes this job difficult, which I hold, is having to manage projects while working on shift because I am not allowed to work overtime, and when I have to cover an extra shift for someone, that time is taken out of my office time. One thing that management is resisting is formally documenting requests for compensatory time, which is probably an FSLA violation. I do not trust what I call “trust me” comp time, where we work extra time and take time off the next pay period, because sometimes that can’t be done, and the fact taht we worked the hours is undocumented. Having to work nights and weekends makes it difficult to meet with my counterparts. At 50% shift work, I had estimated that I am only 60% as available to people working a normal schedule.
I have to be curious about the percentage of jobs that Dude and New Wave Princess failed to get that simply were not filled. I’ve written before about how in federal government, jobs now are graded at least one grade lower, which has a $10-15K impact on the salary. Another impact is the slowness of filling even existing job openings. we had one of our crew leave in September. The recruitment closed in November, and there has been no decision made concering whether to hire someone or cancel the recruitment as of today. They are paying for people to relocate, as they must, because southeastern Colorado is not a popular place to live.
One can argue that working for the federal government is different, and it is. We are staffed to have 11 engineers on shift, and have only nine of those positions filled in any way. If we don’t hire people, the money gets turned back to the Treasury. It is not as if this money is available to be distributed among the staff as bonuses. We are going to a new compensation system where the bonus pool has to be “at least 2% of salary”, and given the three-year pay freeze that recently ended, and the 1% pay increases that we have gotten in 2013 and 2014, I don’t expect it to be any higher. To put it into context, a federal employee gets an average pay increase of 1.5% annually due to longevity increases. These go away under the new compensation system, though we would still get whatever general pay increase that Congress approves.