Dual Employment in the Federal Government

Dual Employment for Active Employees

Generally, federal employees are prohibited from receiving pay from more than one federal government source. The laws on dual employment apply to agencies in the executive, legislative and judicial branches, corporations owned or controlled by the government, and nonappropriated fund organizations under the jurisdiction of the armed forces.

In some limited situations, employees can hold more than one federal job. An individual may have more than one federal appointment, but may receive pay from more than one civilian job only when: the jobs total no more than 40 hours of work a week, Sunday to Saturday (excluding overtime); or there is an authorized exception. This means an employee on leave without pay from one position may be paid for another position. Paid leave, however, counts toward the 40-hour-per week limitation unless there is an authorized exception.

Authorized exceptions to the limitation on pay for more than 40 hours a week include:

  • exceptions in law, such as with agency approval federal employees can work for the U.S. Postal Service;
  • emergency services relating to health, safety, protection of life or property, or national emergency;
  • expert and consultant jobs when working different hours as an intermittent employee; and
  • fees paid on other than a time basis (lump-sum pay for a report, research product or service not based on the number of hours or days worked).

Also, in unusual circumstances, federal agencies can make exceptions to obtain required personal services when they cannot be readily obtained otherwise.

Federal employees may not engage in outside employment or activities that conflict with official duties and responsibilities. Many federal agencies have written policies that allow outside employment, especially when it is not related to the federal work and will not result in, or create the appearance of, a conflict of interest.

Agency policies may require employees to receive prior approval for outside employment even when co-workers have similar outside jobs. Ask your supervisor, agency ethics official, and agency personnel office for further information.

Note: OMB Memo 18-26 encouraged agencies to allow their employees to take temporary second jobs associated with the 2020 Census, although such jobs “must not interfere with employees’ responsibilities or performance in their primary positions.” Such positions further do not count toward retirement or other benefits.

Dual Employment Considerations for Federal Retirees

Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) annuitants and Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) annuitants who are reemployed in federal civilian jobs, including the U.S. Postal Service, will have their pay reduced unless there is an authorized exception. If an offset applies, annuitants receive their full annuity, but their pay is reduced by the amount of the annuity they receive while employed.

A reemployed annuitant may become eligible for a supplemental annuity or a redetermined annuity. A supplemental annuity is one that is tacked onto the annuity and is typically paid after at least one but fewer than five years of reemployment. A redetermined annuity, which applies after five years of such work, replaces the original annuity. Employment under a salary offset waiver as described below typically doesn’t provide entitlement to a supplemental or redetermined annuity, nor may new investments be made in the Thrift Savings Plan. Policies vary, however; check with the employing personnel office.

Rehired annuitants accumulate leave under standard policies but are considered to be “at will” employees who do not benefit from standard layoff protections. However, they do have reinstatement rights if their reemployment is interrupted by an injury or illness that is compensable under the Federal Employees Compensation Act.

You may be able to receive both your full annuity and your full salary if you are hired into a position for which the Office of Personnel Management determines, on an agency request, that:

  • there is exceptional difficulty in recruiting or retaining a qualified employee;
  • there is a direct threat to life or property; or
  • there are other unusual circumstances such as the need to meet a new or expanded mission requirement by a certain date or the need to appoint an individual with necessary clearances to perform critical work when no other employee could obtain that clearance within a reasonable time.

Such waivers typically are granted only for limited periods and purposes. In addition, waivers of the offset requirement may apply under various other limited authorities; check with the hiring office for details.