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Pay & Leave Pay Administration

Fact Sheet: Night Shift Differential for Federal Wage System Employees

Description

Night shift differential means the differential paid for work performed when the majority of a prevailing rate employee's regularly scheduled nonovertime hours fall between 3 p.m. and 8 a.m. It is computed as a percentage of the employee's rate of basic pay.

Employee Coverage

An individual who meets the definition of "prevailing rate employee" in 5 U.S.C. 5342(a)(2) is covered by the night shift differential provisions.

Note: General Schedule employees are covered by a separate night pay authority. (See 5 U.S.C. 5545(a) and How to Compute FLSA Overtime Pay.)

Regularly Scheduled Work

Night shift differential is paid for regularly scheduled work performed at night. This generally means work scheduled before the beginning of the administrative workweek. Overtime hours do not count toward an employee's entitlement to receive a night shift differential.

Night Work Hours

A prevailing rate employee is entitled to a night shift differential when the majority of hours worked during a regularly scheduled nonovertime shift occur in either of these two shifts:

Shift HoursNight Shift Differential
3 p.m to midnight 7½ percent differential
11 p.m. to 8 a.m. 10 percent differential

"Majority of hours" means a number of whole hours greater than one-half (including meal breaks), e.g., 5 hours of a scheduled 8 hour shift.

The night shift differential is paid for the entire shift when the majority of hours fall within the specified periods.

Relationship to Basic Pay

Night shift differential is a part basic pay.

Relationship to Other Premium Pay

Night shift differential is included in the rates of basic pay for prevailing rate employees and is used as a basis for computing overtime pay, Sunday pay, holiday pay, and amounts of deductions for retirement and group life insurance.

Relationship to Leave

A prevailing rate employee regularly assigned to a night shift will receive a night shift differential during periods of leave with pay.

A prevailing rate employee regularly assigned to a day shift who is temporarily assigned to a night shift will be paid a night shift differential for any leave with pay taken when scheduled to work night shifts.

A prevailing rate employee assigned to a regular rotating schedule involving work on both day and night shifts will be paid a night shift differential for any leave with pay taken when scheduled to work night shifts.

A prevailing rate employee who is not regularly assigned to a day shift or a night shift but whose shift is changed at irregular intervals will be paid a night shift differential during leave with pay if the employee received a night shift differential for the last shift worked preceding the leave with pay.

Absence on Holidays or in Travel Status

A prevailing rate employee is entitled to the night shift differential for periods of excused absence on a holiday, while in official travel status during the hours of the employee's regular night shift, or on court leave.

Temporary Assignment to a Different Tour of Duty

  • A prevailing rate employee regularly assigned to a night shift who is temporarily assigned to another night shift with a higher differential will receive the higher differential when the majority of the employee's regularly scheduled nonovertime hours of work fall within the shift having the higher differential.
  • A prevailing rate employee regularly assigned to a day shift is entitled to a night shift differential for any period during which the employee is temporarily assigned to work a regular shift for which a night shift differential is otherwise payable.
  • A prevailing rate employee regularly assigned to a night shift will continue to receive his or her regular night shift differential during a temporary assignment to the day shift or to another night shift with a lower differential.

Part-time and Intermittent Employees

A prevailing rate employee who works on a regularly scheduled shift of less than 8 hours duration (such as a part-time or intermittent employee) is entitled to a night shift differential if a majority of the employee's hours are worked during a period in which a night shift differential is payable.

Split Shifts

There is no authority to permit a splitting of the night shift differential. An employee will either receive a 7½ percent differential for an entire shift or a 10 percent differential for an entire shift if a majority of hours worked occur during the hours authorized for a night shift differential.

Meal Breaks

Meal breaks of 1 hour or less that occur when a night shift differential is authorized should be included for purposes of determining a prevailing rate employee's entitlement to a night shift differential. Thus, when an employee works from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., with a meal break from 3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., the 30-minute meal break is included to determine that a majority of hours of work occur during the second shift and a 7½ percent night shift differential is payable.

Flexible Work Schedules

Night shift differential will not be paid solely because a prevailing rate employee elects to work credit hours, or elects a time of arrival or departure at a time of day when night shift differential is otherwise authorized, except that prevailing rate employees are entitled to night shift differential for regularly scheduled nonovertime work when a majority of the hours of a flexible work schedule for a daily tour of duty occur during the night.

References

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