Sunday Premium Pay:

Millions of Dollars in Sunday Premium Pay Are Paid to Employees on Leave

GGD-95-144: Published: May 19, 1995. Publicly Released: May 19, 1995.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed federal agencies' payment of premium pay to employees on leave, focusing on: (1) the agencies that paid the most Sunday premium pay; (2) the total amounts of Sunday premium pay paid to employees on leave; (3) whether employees at selected agencies increased their leave usage after the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued premium pay guidance; and (4) the amount the agencies spent on overtime, night differential, and holiday premium pay for fiscal year (FY) 1994.

GAO found that: (1) a 1993 court decision required federal agencies to pay premium pay to employees regularly scheduled to work on Sunday even if they were on leave; (2) Congress subsequently prohibited Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees in such circumstances from receiving premium pay, which saved about $6 million; (3) in FY 1993, the Departments of Defense (DOD), Justice (DOJ), and Veterans Affairs, and FAA paid $178 million in Sunday premium pay which comprised about 86 percent of the premium pay paid by all executive branch agencies during that year; (4) in FY 1994, the four agencies and the Customs Service paid $146.1 million in Sunday premium pay, of which $17.9 million went to employees on leave; (5) after OPM issued its premium pay guidance, leave usage on Sundays at three of the agencies increased from 0.5 to 2.7 percent whereas DOD Sunday leave usage decreased 2.3 percent; (6) there was not enough information available to determine DOJ leave trends; and (7) for FY 1994, the five agencies reviewed paid $760 million, $5.94 billion, and $419.2 million in night differential, overtime, and holiday premium pay, respectively.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Members of the House Subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service, and General Government decided not to implement this matter for consideration.

    Matter: To preclude federal employees from receiving Sunday premium pay while on leave and to reduce governmentwide employment costs, Congress may wish to consider requiring that employees must actually work on Sunday to receive Sunday premium pay.


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