5 CFR 531.212 - Superior qualifications and special needs pay-setting authority.

§ 531.212 Superior qualifications and special needs pay-setting authority.
(a) Agency authority.
(1) An agency may use the superior qualifications and special needs pay-setting authority in 5 U.S.C. 5333 to set the payable rate of basic pay for an employee above the minimum rate of the highest applicable rate range for the employee's position of record. The superior qualifications and special needs pay-setting authority may be used for—
(i) A first appointment (regardless of tenure) as a civilian employee of the Federal Government; or
(ii) A reappointment that is considered a new appointment under 5 U.S.C. 5333 because it meets the conditions prescribed in paragraph (a)(2) and (3) of this section.
(2) An agency may use the superior qualifications and special needs pay-setting authority for a reappointment only when the employee has had a break in service of at least 90 days from the last period of civilian employment with the Federal Government, except as provided in paragraph (a)(3) of this section.
(3) An agency may use the superior qualifications and special needs pay-setting authority for a reappointment without requiring a 90-day break in service if the candidate's civilian employment with the Federal Government during the 90-day period immediately preceding the appointment was limited to one or more of the following:
(i) Employment under a time-limited appointment in the competitive or excepted service;
(ii) Employment under an appointment as an expert or consultant under 5 U.S.C. 3109 and 5 CFR part 304;
(iii) Employment under a provisional appointment designated under 5 CFR 316.403;
(iv) Employment under a non-permanent appointment (excluding a Schedule C appointment under 5 CFR part 213) in the competitive or excepted service; or
(v) Employment under an Internship Program appointment under § 213.3402(a) of this chapter.
(4) Service as an employee of a nonappropriated fund instrumentality (NAFI) of the Department of Defense or Coast Guard is not considered employment by the Federal Government under this section except for employees covered by § 531.216 upon appointment or reappointment (i.e., employees who move from NAFI position to GS position with a break in service of 3 days or less and without a change in agency). Employees covered by § 531.216 upon appointment or reappointment to a GS position are not eligible to have pay set under the superior qualifications or special needs authority, since their NAFI employment is considered employment by the Federal Government. Otherwise, NAFI employment does not block application of this section.
(b) Superior qualifications or special needs determination. An agency may set the payable rate of basic pay of a newly appointed employee above the minimum rate of the grade under this section if the candidate meets one of the following criteria:
(1) The candidate has superior qualifications. An agency may determine that a candidate has superior qualifications based on the level, type, or quality of the candidate's skills or competencies demonstrated or obtained through experience and/or education, the quality of the candidate's accomplishments compared to others in the field, or other factors that support a superior qualifications determination. The candidate's skills, competencies, experience, education, and/or accomplishments must be relevant to the requirements of the position to be filled. These qualities must be significantly higher than that needed to be minimally required for the position and/or be of a more specialized quality compared to other candidates; or
(2) The candidate fills a special agency need. An agency may determine that a candidate fills a special agency need if the type, level, or quality of skills and competencies or other qualities and experiences possessed by the candidate are relevant to the requirements of the position and are essential to accomplishing an important agency mission, goal, or program activity. A candidate also may meet the special needs criteria by meeting agency workforce needs, as documented in the agency's strategic human capital plan.
(c) Pay rate determination. An agency may consider one or more of the following factors, as applicable in the case at hand, to determine the step at which to set an employee's payable rate of basic pay using the superior qualifications and special needs pay-setting authority:
(1) The level, type, or quality of the candidate's skills or competencies;
(2) The candidate's existing salary, recent salary history, or salary documented in a competing job offer (taking into account the location where the salary was or would be earned and comparing the salary to payable rates of basic pay in the same location);
(3) Significant disparities between Federal and non-Federal salaries for the skills and competencies required in the position to be filled;
(4) Existing labor market conditions and employment trends, including the availability and quality of candidates for the same or similar positions;
(5) The success of recent efforts to recruit candidates for the same or similar positions;
(6) Recent turnover in the same or similar positions;
(7) The importance/criticality of the position to be filled and the effect on the agency if it is not filled or if there is a delay in filling it;
(8) The desirability of the geographic location, duties, and/or work environment associated with the position;
(9) Agency workforce needs, as documented in the agency's strategic human capital plan; or
(10) Other relevant factors.
(d) Consideration of recruitment incentive. In determining whether to use the superior qualifications and special needs pay-setting authority and the level at which the employee's payable rate of basic pay should be set, an agency must consider the possibility of authorizing a recruitment incentive under 5 CFR part 575, subpart A.
(e) Approval and documentation requirements.
(1) An agency must approve each determination to use the superior qualifications and special needs pay-setting authority prior to the candidate entering on duty. Each determination must be made in writing and reviewed and approved by an official of the agency who is at least one level higher than the employee's supervisor, unless there is no official at a higher level in the agency.
(2) An agency must document all of the following for each determination to use the superior qualifications and special needs pay-setting authority sufficient to allow reconstruction of the action taken in each case:
(i) The superior qualifications of the candidate under paragraph (b)(1) of this section or the special agency need for the candidate's services under paragraph (b)(2) of this section which justifies a higher than minimum rate;
(ii) An explanation of the factor(s) and supporting documentation under paragraph (c) of this section which were used to justify the rate at which the employee's pay is set. The written documentation must explain how the factors directly relate to the rate approved; and
(iii) The reasons for authorizing a higher than minimum rate instead of or in addition to a recruitment incentive under 5 CFR part 575, subpart A.
(f) Ensuring compliance. An agency must establish appropriate internal guidelines and evaluation procedures to ensure compliance with the law, this section of OPM regulations, and agency policies.
[70 FR 31291, May 31, 2005, as amended at 73 FR 66152, Nov. 7, 2008; 77 FR 28222, May 11, 2012]

Title 5 published on 2014-01-01

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