Members of the government's Senior Executive Service have one more hurdle to clear before a proposed raise that will move some of them into the six-figure salary category becomes official.

President Bush has authorized a 3.5 percent January pay raise for most white-collar federal workers. The raise also would go to more than half a million blue-collar (mechanics, carpenters and other skilled craft employees) federal employees unless Congress authorizes a bigger increase. Nearly 400,000 federal workers in the Baltimore-Washington area would get the raise.

But a raise for the 8,000 members of the SES isn't part of the package. Their increase won't be official until the president issues an executive order. That probably won't happen until December.

SES raises are part of an agreement among the White House, Congress and the Senior Executives Association, which represents career members of the elite corps. The package included a pay raise for members of Congress as a trade-off for reducing outside honoraria for Senate and House members. They got a raise in February and are due another in January. Senators, who now are paid $98,400, would get a 9.9 percent raise. House members, who are paid $96,400, are due a 7.9 percent raise next year.

If the SES raises take effect, here are the current and projected salaries for all six executive levels:

ES 1 would go from $71,200 to $87,000; ES 2, from $74,400 to $91,200; ES 3, from $77,600 to $95,300; ES 4, from $79,200 to $100,500; ES 5, from $81,400 to $104,600; ES 6, from $83,600 to $108,300.

Those raises include the 3.5 percent set for other federal workers. Insiders say the SES raises look solid. But it's a good idea not to spend the money until that order is signed.

Playful Touching?

If you work in a very friendly office, that could be a problem should you try to make a sexual harassment complaint against a boss or co-worker. Consider a recent decision from the Merit Systems Protection Board.

The board recently reversed an administrative judge who had ordered a male postal supervisor demoted for getting too friendly with a female letter carrier. The woman said she was sitting in her mail truck when the supervisor approached, put one hand under her leg and the other hand on her shoulder. She says he kissed her twice on the cheek, said he loved her and that only her husband stood in their way. (Witnesses backed up her story. The supervisor said he had "pecked" her on the cheek.)

The incident was reported in a biweekly arbitration update from the Office of Personnel Management. The update is designed to keep labor- management officials in touch with interesting cases. Postal officials initially decided to fire the supervisor. But because there were no other charges and he had a good record, they knocked it down to a demotion. An administrative judge upheld the demotion.

The supervisor appealed to the merit board. It agreed that a demotion was too harsh. It cited his good record and long service, and pointed out that the work environment at that particular office seemed to include "an atmosphere of playful touching."