Good news, sort of, for white-collar feds: You may not be hit with a pay cut until you get a pay raise.

A strong bipartisan effort is in the works to delay until January use of a new bookkeeping method designed to go in effect next month, chopping the take-home pay of more than a million U.S. workers worldwide.

Because of the bookkeeping change, approved quietly last year by Congress in an effort to trim payroll costs, the paycheck of the average civil servant will shrink by about $3.20 starting next month. That new system will be in effect through 1985 and will save the government (and cost employes) $240 million.

It calls for Uncle Sam to calculate pay rates for white-collar workers using a work year of 2,087 hours, rather than the current 2,080-hour year. That seemingly innocent bit of math will bite into most people's checks.

If a compromise can be worked out, the October pay cut could be held off until January. That is when workers are supposed to get a raise. The proposed increase, of between 3 1/2 and 4 percent, will add about $40 to the paycheck of the average employe.

The Office of Personnel Management, working with Democrats and Republicans on the House Post Office-Civil Service Committee, yesterday asked the administration to okay legislation that would delay the cut until January. OPM says it has the support of committee chairman Bill Ford (D-Mich.), ranking minority member Gene Taylor (R-Mo.) and Rep. William E. Dannemeyer (R-Calif.). Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) has also promised to work in the Senate to get the delay.

What all this means is that the skids are pretty well greased.

Congress gets back next week. It could move quickly to defer the bookkeeping change, and pay cut, until January. But until it is official, agency payroll offices must prepare to make the bookkeeping change effective with the first pay period beginning on or after Oct. 1.