Federal workers would get more generous annual raises, pay smaller health insurance premiums and get more paid time off under a catch-up-with-industry scenario from the influential Congressional Budget Office.
The CBO, which has presented Congress with various "total compensation" alternatives to make the civil service more businesslike, says government employes would have to retire later, take smaller pensions and give up one of their twice-yearly cost-of-living annuity adjustments if they want to be treated like most other American workers.
Both Congress and the Carter administration are looking at a "total compensation" concept for government.It would compare not only pay, but leave, retirement and other fringes to arrive at true "comparability" between the public and private sectors.
CBO has given Congress four options, which it could legislate to make government and industry total compensation package more alike.
Contrary to the myth that government workers have the best leave plan, the CBO says that the average white collar civil servant takes 29.7 days per year for vacation and holiday. This compares to 31.8 days for the average in private industry.
The big differences are "special" holidays (such as birthdays) in industry, and observance of local or state holidays, which the government does not give its 1.4 million white collar civil servants, its half-million blue collar workers or postal employes.
Also, the CBO points out, the standard government work week is 40 hours compared to just over 39 hours in private industry.
Arriving at true comparability between government and industry via the total compensation route would, CBO says, require the government to improve some of its benefits, follow industry pay, and also force government employes to trade off some items, namely a portion of their outstanding retirement system.
One of the CBO options would eliminate early retirement programs for most of the government, and stretch out the time for receiving deferred annuities from five to 10 years.
It also would cut back military service time for computing total federal service, and force government workers to give up a major benefit in which they can apply unused sick leave toward service time for retirement. Much of industry still has a use-it-or-lose-it sick-leave policy.
One of the CBO options would require the government to raise its contribution to health insurance premiums to the average level in industry. That in itself would give government workers a boost in take-home pay.
If the true total compensation package is adopted, presidents would be required to abide by the current law, which says government workers should get annual pay raises to keep them on a level with industry. President Carter "capped" federal-military pay at 5.5 percent last year and intends to do the same this October. If those caps were removed, federal workers would get higher annual increases based on industry gains.
A lot will have to happen before any of the CBO options are adopted, but the fact that this in-depth study has been made will provide significant data for government compensation planners.