Recruitment and Retention Incentives

I-2021-34


Effective Date: Expiration Date: Chapters:
Sept. 20, 2021 When Superseded 9   10   11  

Overview

As the District government strives to offer the greatest services to our residents, we use specific incentives to attract the best talent for positions that require specialized skillsets. This issuance provides instructions to management officials for identifying and leveraging available District financial incentives.


Recruitment and Retention Incentives

In the District government’s efforts to provide the best government services, we understand that agencies may need additional tools to aggressively compete with other employers in recruiting highly and especially skilled individuals for some positions. In such cases, the District, when approved by the Director of the D.C. Department of Human Resources (DCHR), offers agencies the use of recruitment and retention incentives, which may aid agencies in acquiring and retaining talent for hard to fill positions.  

In general, agencies may use incentives to attract and retain critical talent when:

  1. An incentive category such as pre-employment travel expenses, additional income allowance (AIA) or hiring bonus is available for the given need and position;
  2. The position occupied by the employee qualifies as “hard to fill”;
  3. The Director approves the proposed incentive; and
  4. The employee signs a continuation of service agreement that covers a period no less than 12 months.

Available Incentives

When agencies need assistance in aggressively competing for highly and especially skilled individuals, they may use recruitment and retention incentives. These incentives promote and increase successful hiring by offering potential reimbursement for pre-employment travel and relocation expenses, temporary housing allowances, hiring bonuses and additional income allowances.

When competing with other employers for a limited talent pool, agencies may consider the following incentives:

Pre-Employment Travel Expenses, Relocation Expenses, and Temporary Housing Allowances

These are reimbursable expenses incurred for pre-employment interviews held for the purpose of learning about an individuals’ qualifications for a position; individuals moving from outside the Greater Washington Metropolitan Area to the District of Columbia; and temporary lodging for no more than 60 days for a new employee and their immediate family, respectively.

Pre-Employment Travel Expenses

An agency may reimburse an individual, who is interviewing for an Executive Service position or a hard to fill position in the Excepted, Career, Legal, or Management Supervisory Services, pre-employment travel expenses.

For Executive Service employees:

  • An agency may pay an individual reasonable travel expenses, up to a maximum of $5,000.

For Excepted Service employees:

  • An agency may pay an individual reasonable pre-employment travel expenses when that individual is interviewing for a position at Excepted Service grade 5 or above. In no event, however, may the amount to pay for pre-employment travel expenses, relocation expenses and a temporary housing allowance exceed $10,000 or 10% of the individual's salary, whichever is less.

For Career, Legal, and Management Supervisory Service employees:

  • An agency may pay actual travel expense incurred incidental to pre-employment interviews.

Relocation Expenses

An agency may also pay the actual relocation expenses of an appointee to an Executive Service position or to a hard to fill position in the Excepted, Career, Legal, or Management Supervisory Services. Payment of relocation expenses may only be made after the selectee or appointee signs a notarized continuation of service agreement to remain in the District government service for 12 months after their appointment unless separated for reasons beyond their control which are acceptable to the Mayor, in the case of an Executive Service employees, or the agency head, in the case of all other employees.

For Executive Service employees:

  • An agency may pay reasonable relocation expenses for the individual and their immediate family when the individual is relocating to the District from outside the Greater Washington Metropolitan Area.

For Excepted Service employees:

  • An agency may pay an individual reasonable relocation expenses for an individual and their immediate family when that individual is selected for or appointed to an Excepted Service grade five position, or above, and is relocating to the District from outside the Greater Washington Metropolitan Area. Additionally, in no event can the amount to pay for relocation expenses, pre-employment travel expenses, and a temporary housing allowance exceed $10,000 or 10% of the individual's salary, whichever is less.

For Career, Legal, and Management Supervisory Service employees:

  • An agency may pay relocation expenses to the first post of duty for a new employee appointed to a position in the District government.

Temporary Housing Allowance

A temporary housing allowance may be paid to appointees who occupy Executive Services positions and hard to fill Excepted Service positions at grade 5 and above. An agency may pay a reasonable temporary housing allowance for a period not to exceed 60 days for the individual and their immediate family; however, in the case of Excepted Service employees, in no event can the amount to pay for a temporary housing allowance, pre-employment travel expenses and relocation expenses exceed $10,000 or 10% of the individual's salary, whichever is less. Additionally, payment of a temporary housing allowance may only be made after the selectee or appointee signs a notarized continuation of service agreement to remain in the District government service for 12 months after their appointment, unless separated for reasons beyond their control which are acceptable to the Mayor, in the case of Executive Service employees, or the agency head, in the case of Excepted Service employees.

Hiring Bonus

A hiring bonus is a one-time supplemental payment where the minimum amount necessary to address a recruitment and retention problem is paid; however, such payment may not exceed 15% of the maximum rate payable for the grade held by the employee. Hiring bonuses are in addition to basic pay and shall not constitute an increase to an employee's basic pay or rate of basic pay. Hiring bonuses are only available to Career, Legal, and Management Supervisory Service employees who occupy hard to fill positions. In addition, after an agency’s request to pay a hiring bonus has been granted by DCHR, the appointee must execute a continuation of service agreement for a period of no less than one year, but no more than two years.

Additional Income Allowance (AIA)

An AIA is additional compensation, not considered basic pay, paid in addition to an appointee’s salary and in the same manner and timing as basic pay. The additional compensation must be a minimum amount necessary to address the recruitment and retention problem, but such compensation may not exceed 15% of the maximum rate payable for the grade held by the employee. Payment of an AIA may not begin during a period of employment covered under a continuation of service agreement required for payment of a hiring bonus. AIAs are only available to Career, Legal, and Management Supervisory Service employees who occupy hard to fill positions. Further, a continuation of service agreement for a period of no less than one year, but no more than two years, must be executed between an agency and an applicant or employee after an agency’s request to pay an AIA has been granted by DCHR.

NOTE: Currently, agencies subject to CA’s Order 2016-1 “Restriction on Certain Personnel Actions; Travel and Training Reporting Requirement” must receive a waiver to offer Recruitment and Retention Incentives.

Hiring Bonus and AIA Exclusions

The following positions are ineligible to receive hiring bonuses or AIAs:

  • Positions that require less than 20 working hours per week;
  • Positions with intermittent designations; and
  • Positions where a significant recruitment and retention (i.e., hard to fill) problem does not exist.

Additionally, positions filled by candidates who return to District government employment with less than three years separation are ineligible to receive a hiring bonus.


Hard to Fill Positions

DCHR considers a position “hard to fill” when the District or an individual agency needs assistance in competing to attract or retain sufficiently qualified persons. Before recruitment and retention incentives can be utilized for Excepted, Career, Legal, or Management Supervisory Services positions, DCHR must first approve a position’s designation as hard to fill. For Excepted Service positions, DCHR can designate such positions as hard-to-fill positions on the basis of demonstrated recruitment and retention problems inherent in the positions due to the uniqueness of the duties and responsibilities and the unusual combination of highly specialized qualification requirements for the positions. For Career Service, Legal Service and Management Supervisory Service positions related to pre-employment travel expenses and relocation expenses, the positions must be determined by DCHR to be unique, that is, characterized by an unusual combination of duties, responsibilities, and qualification requirements, or to be in a shortage category.

For Career Service, Legal Service and Management Supervisory Service positions related to hiring bonuses and AIAs, agencies are required to submit a justification memorandum that explains why a position should be designated as hard to fill. Agencies can demonstrate that a position is hard to fill by documenting all of the following:

  • The agency’s inability to recruit and retain enough qualified employees for the position by showing the:
    • Existence of multiple vacant positions;
    • Significant length of time a vacancy has remained unfilled; and
    • Resignation of multiple employees in the position, particularly when it can be shown that employees are resigning for higher paying jobs;
  • The qualification requirements being used as a basis for considering candidates for a vacant position do not exceed the qualifications that are actually necessary for successful performance of the work of the position;
  • The agency’s efforts to recruit qualified candidates for a position by showing the:
    • Number of vacancies compared to hires and offers made;
    • Number of employees offered relevant nonpaid solutions like establishing training programs or improving working conditions; and
  • The number of existing vacancies attracting reduced numbers of qualified candidates because of the pay rate.

Notwithstanding the conditions outlined immediately above, DCHR may authorize an AIA to retain an employee(s) whose services, based upon a written determination, are of a special need essential to an agency's mission.


Approval Process

As an initial step, agencies subject to City Administrator’s Order 2016-1, “Restriction on Certain Personnel Actions; Travel and Training Reporting Requirement,” must receive a waiver from the City Administrator before offering individuals and appointees recruitment and retention incentives, regardless of the service type of the position. There is a freeze on using recruitment and retention incentives, so agencies should consult the City Administrator's Order and the Office of the City Administrator (OCA) to determine how to obtain a waiver.

Furthermore, for non-Executive Service positions, agencies must acquire approval from DCHR that a position is hard to fill before utilizing pre-employment travel expenses, relocation expenses, and temporary housing allowances. Once a waiver is acquired from the City Administrator and, if applicable, a hard to fill position designation is granted by DCHR, agencies must ensure that appointees sign a continuation of service agreement if they utilize relocation expenses and/or temporary housing allowances. For pre-employment travel expenses, a continuation of service agreement is not required.

When hiring bonuses and AIAs are necessary, the hiring agency must complete a Recruitment and Retention Incentive Request form. Agency directors must submit the Recruitment and Retention Incentive Request form to the Director of DCHR, recruitment@dc.gov, and copy the DCHR agency HR Specialist.

The Recruitment and Retention Incentive Request form must include:

  1. The name of the position for which a significant recruitment and retention problem exists;
  2. An attached hard to fill position justification memorandum and supporting documents (as noted in the “Hard to Fill” Positions section above);
  3. A waiver by the City Administrator granting the agency the use of recruitment and retention incentives, if applicable;
  4. The proposed incentives and corresponding amounts, which shall be the minimum necessary to attract or retain the needed talent; and
  5. Concurrence from the Agency Fiscal Officer (AFO).

After the Recruitment and Retention Incentive Request form is submitted, DCHR will review the hiring bonus or AIA request for approval, denial, or modification.

If the agency receives approval from DCHR, an agency must, then, enter into a continuation of service agreement with the appointee.


Continuation of Service Agreements

Approval of the use of recruitment and retention incentives, not including pre-employment travel expenses, authorizes the employing agency to enter into a continuation of service agreement with the applicant or employee. This agreement names the incentive, corresponding funds and duration of time as well as the terms and conditions associated. If a continuation of service agreement is broken, there are instances where the employee must refund the incentive payments.

Relocation and Temporary Housing Expenses

An appointee is required to sign a service commitment of no less than one year, unless separated for reasons beyond their control which are acceptable to the agency head concerned, or in the case of an Executive Service employee, the Mayor.

Hiring Bonus and Additional Income Allowance

An appointee is required to sign a service commitment for a period of no less than one year, but no more than two years.

Hiring Bonus

A service commitment for a hiring bonus must provide the amount of the bonus and the requirement that the appointee refund the bonus.

AIA

A service commitment for an AIA must provide the specified period of service in return for the allowance, the amount of the allowance, the terms under which the agreement may be terminated and the requirement that the appointee refund the allowance.

Refunding Relocation Expenses and Temporary Housing Allowances

When an employee violates the continuation of service agreement, and is not separated for reasons beyond their control that are acceptable to the Mayor or the agency head concerned, the money paid by the District government for relocation expenses and/or a temporary housing allowance will become a debt due to the District government and shall be recoverable by set-off against accrued pay or any other amount due the employee.

Refunding Hiring Bonuses and AIAs

When an employee separates from a position for which they received a hiring bonus or AIA during the effective period of their continuation of service agreement, the employee shall refund the incentive payments they received to the District government, with some exceptions. An employee’s obligation to refund the District includes:

  • Demotions
  • Resignations (except as noted below)
  • Retirement (except as noted below)
  • Separation, including separation for cause, failure to comply with residency laws, and unsatisfactory performance during a probationary period

Exceptions to Refund Requirement

Employees are not required to refund the hiring bonuses and/or AIAs they receive if the payments are waived in whole or in part under the provisions of Chapter 29 of the District Personnel Manual.

Specifically related to AIAs, the amount an employee is obligated to refund cannot exceed the amount paid to an employee for a period of 26 weeks.

Furthermore, employees are not required to refund the hiring bonuses and/or AIAs they receive if they resign or retire for acceptable reasons, which include:

  • Disability which prevents an employee from returning to duty or prompts the employee’s resignation or retirement.
  • Reductions in force which lead to the separation, resignation, or retirement of an employee.

Renewal and Termination of an AIA

An agency head may offer an employee the opportunity to renew an AIA for which a continuation of service agreement has expired or is about to expire, subject to the execution by the employee of a new continuation of service agreement. Further, an agency head, upon providing a notice to the employee of at least 15 calendar days, may terminate an AIA and the employee's continuation of service agreement pertaining to the AIA.

Discontinuance of an AIA

An employee shall cease to receive an AIA if one of the following conditions applies:

  • The employee’s position is determined to no longer be one to which relevant factors, such as the location, grade, level of difficulty, and working conditions, apply;
  • The employee’s services are no longer of a special need essential to an agency’s mission;
  • The employee no longer occupies the position for which the allowance was authorized; or
  • The continuation of service agreement expires.

Taxes and Withholdings

Any recruitment and retention incentives are subject to state and federal tax withholdings, as well as any court ordered garnishment.


Grievances and Appeals

A termination of an AIA or failure by an agency head to offer an AIA or hiring bonus to an applicant or employee shall not be grievable or appealable.


Applicability

This issuance applies to those District government agencies subordinate to the Mayor’s personnel authority. Executive branch agencies subject to CA’s Order 2016-1 “Restriction on Certain Personnel Actions; Travel and Training Reporting Requirement” must receive a waiver from the City Administrator to offer any recruitment and retention incentives.

The provisions of a collective bargaining agreement shall take precedence over the provisions of this issuance for those employees covered by the agreement, to the extent that there is a conflict.


Additional Information

For additional information and restrictions on Recruitment and Retention Incentives, please refer to the following E-DPM sections and City Administrator’s Order:  


Attachments

  1. Incentive Request Form
  2. Continuation of Service Agreement

Issued by Director Ventris C. Gibson, D.C. Department of Human Resources on Sept. 20, 2021, 2:05 p.m.