Last month, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced that it is raising the minimum wage for civilian employees of the federal government to $15.00 an hour. The increase affects some 67,000 people who work in the U.S. across multiple agencies and departments.
The hourly wage for anyone who was earning less than $15.00 is required to be adjusted “on the first day of the first applicable pay period commencing on or after January 30, 2022,” according to the OPM’s memo.
Departments most impacted
The vast majority of the people who will be seeing larger paychecks are civilian employees of the Department of Defense – over 45,000. Nearly 10,000 people who work for the Department of Veterans Affairs also are getting a raise. VA Secretary Denis McDonough noted that the employees in his agency who will see an hourly rate increase “include VA food service workers and housekeeping personnel. They are critical front-line employees, central to patient safety and improved outcomes for Veterans….”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture came in third with almost 2,000 employees affected by the increase. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack highlighted the diversity of jobs his employees have. He said, “Whether they are on the front lines of our food industry, in the fight against climate change, protecting farms from invasive species or our communities from devastating wildfires, each of USDA’s employees deserve to be fairly compensated for their talents….”
Firefighters, custodial workers, and people in a wide variety of other jobs will also see their hourly wages go up. The increase also applies to hourly contract workers.
Staying competitive with the private sector
Shortly after he took office just over a year ago, President Joe Biden ordered the OPM to study and issue a report on raising the minimum wage to $15.00. OPM Director Kiran Ahuja noted, “As the largest employer in the country, how the federal government treats its workforce has real impact…. Raising pay rates across the federal government to a minimum of $15 per hour reflects our appreciation for the federal workforce and our values as a nation.” She also noted that it will help keep the federal government competitive with private employers.
No matter where you work or in what kind of occupation, it’s crucial to know your rights when it comes to being paid fairly for the work you do. If an employer is violating those rights, find out what your options really are.