Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) says he will ask Congress to defer a pending pay cut for white-collar federal workers until January when he expects they will get a 4 percent pay raise that will more than offset the reduction.

Stevens is the Senate's assistant majority leader and a key member of the Governmental Affairs Committee that handles federal employe matters.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that the nation's 1.4 million white-collar civil servants will be hit with a pay cut--ranging from 60 cents to $8.80 per paycheck, depending on salary--this October when a bookkeeping change Congress ordered last year goes into effect.

Congress approved the change in the way hourly pay rates for workers are computed. The change is scheduled to be in effect for two years and will save an estimated $240 million. Under the revised system, pay rates for employes are to be computed on the basis of a work year of 2,087 hours. Currently, pay is computed on a 2,080-hour work year. The change does not mean employes will have to work longer, but it will reduce their salaries slightly.

An aide to Stevens said yesterday the senator will ask the Governmental Affairs Committee to put language in the budget reconciliation bill to defer the bookkeeping change until January. The Senate and House have tentatively agreed to a 4 percent pay raise for white-collar federal workers that would go into effect Jan. 1. Such a raise would amount to about $42 per pay period for the average worker, more than offsetting the average $3.20 loss per pay period from the bookkeeping change.

A federal union leader said yesterday the pay cut "caught all of us flatfooted. We knew that some bookkeeping change had been made, but nobody knew how it would work out.

"We've had more calls on this today Tuesday from members than we have on anything else--pay caps, retirement, you name it. It is such a petty thing to do to people . . . they are really upset about it."