Pay and Benefits
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) manages employee benefits for the Forest Service and other federal agencies. Most of the links on this page send you to the OPM where you'll find more detailed information on these and other federal employee benefits.
The General Schedule (GS) Pay Scale
Most Forest Service employees are paid based on the General Schedule (GS). The Office of Personnel Management publishes federal salary tables online. Pay differs by locality (which city you live in). If your locality isn’t mentioned, then your pay is based on “Rest of the U.S.”
Alternate Work Schedules
There are two categories of Alternate Work Schedules: flexible and compressed. Flexible work schedules enable employees to select and alter their work schedules to better fit personal needs and help balance work, personal, and family responsibilities. Compressed work schedules are fixed, but they enable full-time employees to complete the basic 80-hour biweekly work requirement in less than 10 workdays. [Note: This benefit may not be available in all work areas.]
The Federal Employees Retirement Plan (FERS) provides benefits from three sources: a Basic Benefit Plan, Social Security and the Thrift Savings Plan. The Forest Service withholds the cost of the Basic Benefit Plan and Social Security from your pay as payroll deductions. The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is the federal government’s version of the 401(k) plan. You can make tax-deferred contributions to your TSP account, and the agency will make a matching contribution.
In addition to the 10 paid federal holidays; you accumulate 13 days of sick leave each year and 13 to 26 vacation days (depending on your years of employment).
- Health: The Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program offers federal employees, retirees and their survivors a wide selection of health plans across the country. Options include consumer-driven and high deductible plans, health savings accounts, Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO), Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO) and more. If you enroll, the costs are shared by you and the Forest Service.
- Life: Established in 1954, the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) Program is the largest group life insurance program in the world, covering more than 4 million federal employees and retirees, along with many of their family members. It consists of Basic Life Insurance and three optional plans. You and the government share the costs of the Basic Life Insurance. However, you pay the full cost of the optional plans.
- Long-Term Care: The Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) provides long term care insurance to help pay for costs of care when enrollees need help with activities they perform every day, or you have a severe cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer's disease. Most Federal and U.S. Postal Service employees and annuitants, active and retired members of the uniformed services, and their qualified relatives are eligible to apply for insurance coverage under the FLTCIP.
Telecommuting and Transit
Yes, the federal government allows telecommuting (known as teleworking in the government). Telework.gov is the official website for the federal government’s telework program. The Transit Benefit Program encourages federal government employees to choose commuting options that improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion as opposed to using single-occupant vehicles. [Note: This benefit may not be available in all work areas.]
Employee Assistance Programs
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are voluntary, work-based programs that offer free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees who have personal and/or work-related problems. There is a Health and Wellness component offering a range of services such as education, prevention and screenings. Forest Service employees who choose to participate may be eligible work-time off to participate in wellness activities and/or reimbursement for associated membership fees.