Federal workers have a better retirement program and longer vacations than their counterparts in private industry. But when it comes to paid life and health insurance and holidays, Uncle Sam is behind the private sector.

Those assumptions will become multi-million-dollar factors if the government shifts to a "total compensation" system to match the value of federal wages and fringe benefits against inudstry.

The yardstick to be used will be based on an estimated scale of values of pay fringes worked up by the Carter administration. It is part of the plan to "reform" federal pay fixing, which is now based strictly on salary match-ups.

Carter has asked Congress to approve "reform" in time to determine this October's pay raise for a million white-collar federal civilians, 300,000 of them here. Under the reform plan, employes would get a 6.2 percent raise instead of the estimated 10-plus percent it would take to bring their salaries up to the level of private industry.

Under the tentative total compensation profile, these are the values assigned various benefits:

Federal pay, 64.5 percent compared with 68.5 percent in industry.

Retirement, 18.6 percent in government; 14.2 percent (including social security) in industry.

Health insurance, 1.5 percent in government: 2.9 percent outside.

Life insurance, .2 percent in government; 1.4 percent in industry.

Holidays, 3.4 percent in government; 3.5 percent for industry.

Sick leave, 3.6 percent for both government and industry.

Vacations, 8.2 percent in government; 5.3 percent in industry. Also .6 percent in industry for long-term disability benefits.

Many federal unions disagree with the high value assigned government retirement benefits under the "total compensation" model. But the model, or something very much like it, will be used to factor out the value of government catch-up-with-industry pay raises if Congress okays the president's reform plan.