President Trump issues executive order to freeze federal pay

On Behalf of | Dec 31, 2018 | Employee Law

In late August, President Trump announced his plan to freeze the pay of federal civilian employees. Now, in the midst of the partial government shutdown, he has finalized that plan. On Dec. 28, he issued an executive order formalizing the 2019 pay freeze. Federal workers had been slated to receive a nominal 1.9 percent increase in 2019.

“This is just pouring salt into the wound,” said the national president of the National Treasury Employees Union. Many federal workers are already missing paychecks and will take an additional economic hit from the pay freeze.

The national president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association pointed to the economic cost to federal workers as well, according to the Federal Times. He added that both the shutdown and the pay freeze “undermine the effectiveness of the work our government does” by damaging its recruitment capability.

“Refusing to provide a nominal raise for our nation’s hardworking federal employees amid a partial government shutdown shows clear contempt for those who carry out public service,” he added.

Congress could counteract the pay freeze if the House passes the 1.9 pay increase already passed by the Senate. However, Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) noted that the process will now be more complicated. Congress might want the pay increase to be applied retroactively to all 2019 wages, but applying a retroactive pay raise could be complicated. Without a legislative fix, the pay freeze will go into effect on the first paychecks of 2019.

The pay freeze affects about two million federal workers. Military personnel are scheduled to receive a 2.6 percent pay increase in 2019.

“There is no economic or budgetary justification for the president’s freeze, and lawmakers agree that federal pay must rise not only as a matter of decency, but also in order to help agencies attract and retain the federal work force that America deserves,” said the national president of the American Federation of Government Employees.

If you are affected by the government shutdown and the pay freeze, there is little you can do at the moment but wait for additional developments. If you believe you have been singled out or affected by a prohibited personnel practice, however, you should discuss your situation with an experienced employment law attorney.