The Department of Health and Human Services has postponed its plan to include its 9,000 grade 13, 14 and 15 supervisors and management people in the merit pay raise system beginning next month.

HHS, which would have been the largest department to adopt the merit pay concept, has decided -- probably wisely--to wait another year before it gives out extra large pay raises, or withholds regular increases from mid-managers based on performance.

HHS will institute merit pay ratings from the GS 13 through 15 people, but will not base their 1980 raises on the ratings. Officials determined that there simply isn't time to get the ratings done properly before the regular U.S. raise goes into effect.

A half dozen other agencies still plan to try out merit pay next month. Under merit pay -- part of the President's civil service reform act -- supervisors and managers are guaranteed only half the regular October raise that other workers will get automatically. This year that full raise will be 9.1 percent. Persons under merit pay, however, will have to get good marks from their bosses to get the full amount. Individuals who really excel can get 13 percent or more. Those who come up with bad performance ratings will get half the raise, or perhaps nothing.

Merit pay is voluntary this year, and only a handful of agencies (now that HHS has pulled out) will be making the pay decisions based on merit evaluations. Among them are the Office of Personnel Management and the small Business Administration, along with a few smaller agencies involving about 2,000 supervisors and managers -- who will put people under merit pay this year.

Individuals designated for merit pay will not be allowed to get ingrade (longevity) increases anymore. They are guaranteed only one-half the regular October increase their subordinates get. To get more, they must get good ratings from their bosses.