New Hire Onboarding Guide | Phase 2: Official Job Offer
This second phase of onboarding may take 30 days or longer if you are moving, before you start your new job.
You will receive the Official Job Offer, usually by email, from a Human Resources case manager. This notice will confirm your position title, series, pay grade, duty station, and salary. It will include your effective date designating the beginning of your appointment to the Forest Service, the date you report to work, which we call entry on duty (EOD), and your supervisor’s name and contact information.
The Official Job Offer will also include instructions for tasks and forms you must complete before you can begin your new job. Pay close attention to the deadlines to avoid delays starting your new job.
Refer to your Official Job Offer for your reporting date and supervisor contact information. If you have not received instructions on where to report to work at least one week before your first day, please contact your supervisor. If you are unable to reach your supervisor, contact your case manager or the New Hire Help Desk.
Approximately two weeks before your first day, we'll contact you to share information on personal identity verification cards (PIV). A PIV card can allow you to access certain federal buildings and systems. Not all employees need one. Permanent employees receive a PIV card we call a LincPass. Temporary employees who need a PIV card receive one we call an AltLinc. Watch your inbox for an email from HSPD12Admin@usaccess.gsa.gov with a subject line "USAccess - Sponsorship Complete" for information to complete the enrollment application. Speak to your supervisor or case manager if you have questions.
We have onboarding videos available on AgLearn and Vimeo to help you understand the benefits below. You can also attend a regularly scheduled live Q&A sessions for more information. Find the session dates at the bottom of the video list is AgLearn.
Once onboarded, you will receive helpful information from the New Employee Experience team to help you through your onboarding journey. Within your first month, you will attend an onboarding webinar that will cover helpful information such as benefits, pay, leave, agency values and organization.
Helpful Resources and Potential Requirements
Effective Date: Your Effective Date is usually the first day of a two-week pay period which falls on Sunday.
Entry on Duty Date (EOD): The EOD, also referred to as the reporting date, is your first day on the job and is often a Monday. For new employees who transfer from another Federal agency with government-funded travel to the new job, your report date may be several days after the effective date.
Service Computation Date (SCD): The SCD is the first date of Federal employment or creditable military service. The SCD is used to calculate your retirement eligibility and available benefits.
Beginning a New Job During a Pandemic
Quite likely, your first days on the job will be different than what you expect. You may not physically report to the office, and instead you may work from home. If you have a position that requires you to be in the office, your interactions with your supervisor and new colleagues may be mostly virtual. Especially as a new employee, you may find it challenging to connect and engage. We understand this, and we want to work with you to make sure your onboarding goes smoothly and that you feel welcomed and valued.
Listen to one Forest Service employee who shares virtual work habits that enable him to continue to be productive and connected with his colleagues.
What hasn’t changed is our commitment to the safety and wellness of our employees. Please take time to talk with your supervisor about safety and wellness so you can become familiar with the culture that shapes the core values of our organization.
Work Environment and Performance Office (WEPO)
The WEPO office (internal link) focuses on efforts to improve and sustain a culture in which all employees feel safe, secure, valued, respected, and supported for delivering the priority work of the agency. The staff seeks to diagnose and address the root causes and culture barriers to emotional and physical safety, security, diversity, and inclusion in the work environment. It manages employee training and development, including leadership and supervisor training and development programs, and mentoring and coaching programs; the conflict management and prevention program to help employees address workplace conflict and facilitate interpersonal communications; and the anti-harassment program, to prevent and address all forms of workplace harassment, including sexual harassment.
Computer and IT Equipment
Your supervisor will figure out which IT equipment you need for your job and will make requests for your computer access and proper devices. If you also need assistive technology, you must discuss this with your supervisor or case manager so that we can order equipment.
Pay Grades and Ladders
The following links will take you to information provided by the Office of Personnel Management. Your Official Job Offer includes your pay grade and step. It's common for your pay rate to change a little based on your location. This is called Locality Pay and is to help with a high cost of living by certain areas. Most employees use the rates in the General Schedule and Locality Pay tables.
You may notice two or more pay grades in your Official Job Offer. This usually means that you have a career ladder position. The grades show how you may advance to reach the full-performance level, or top grade of the career ladder, of a particular occupation. For example, a GS-5 target GS-7 means that you begin the job at grade GS-5 and can receive a promotion to GS-7 when you meet requirements for the next grade, typically after a year with satisfactory performance and after you meet any specialized experience requirements. Some jobs may have promotions at one-grade intervals such as GS-5 to GS-6, while others at two-grade intervals like a GS-5 to GS-7.
Your Official Job Offer will outline which programs apply to your position. Some benefits will depend on whether you are permanent or temporary employee and if you're on a full time, part time, or intermittent work schedule. Start learning now so you’ll be prepared for enrollment decisions that you’ll need to make within 60 days after you start your new job.
Permanent Employees: May be able to enroll to receive benefits such as health, dental, vision, life insurance, flexible spending accounts, and long-term care insurance. You may also have sick leave and annual leave, paid holidays, uniform and boot allowances, government quarters, transit subsidy, flexible work schedules, and access to the Employee Assistance Program.
Temporary Employees: Your benefits may include health insurance, flexible spending accounts, long-term care insurance, sick leave and annual leave, holiday pay, uniform and boot allowances, government quarters, transit subsidy, flexible work schedules, and access to the Employee Assistance Program. You pay into social security and Medicare programs but are not eligible for the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).
You can find information about many of these programs on the New and Prospective Employees webpage.
The Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHB) offers health insurance plans for eligible employees, their spouse, and any children under the age of twenty-six. Read more about Health Insurance and check out the FEHB video. You have 60 days to enroll once you're hired. You can also enroll, cancel, or change coverage during the annual open season in November.
Dental and Vision Insurance
The Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) is a voluntary, enrollee-pay-all dental and vision insurance program available to employees and family members. Learn more about dental and vision plans.
Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
With a FSA, you set aside and use pre-tax dollars to pay for qualified out-of-pocket health care expenses. A Health Care Flexible Spending Account (HCFSA) and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA) are pre-tax benefit accounts for eligible medical, dental, and vision care expenses not covered by your health care plan or elsewhere. With a FSA, you set aside and use pre-tax dollars to pay for qualified out-of-pocket health care expenses. Learn more at FSAFeds.com.
The Federal Employee Group Life Insurance Program (FEGLI) is a benefit available to any employee covered by a retirement system. There is no regular open season for life insurance coverage. If you miss the 60-day enrollment period, you must wait until you experience a "qualifying life event" such as marriage, divorce, or birth of a child. The amount of your coverage varies based on your choice and on your salary. You can use the FEGLI Calculator at OPM to compare costs. Visit the Office of Personnel Management Life Insurance webpage for eligibility, enrollment, and beneficiary information. You can also check out the Life Insurance video.
Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS)
FERS is a retirement plan that generates benefits from three sources:
The Basic Benefit Plan,
Social Security, and
The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).
The cost of the Basic Benefit and Social Security will automatically come out of each paycheck, and the Forest Service will pay the agency part. Two of the three parts of FERS, Social Security and the TSP, can go with you to your next job if you leave the Federal Government before retirement. After you retire, you could receive annuity payments each month for the rest of your life plus potential income from your TSP investments.
Thrift Savings Plan
The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a retirement savings and investment plan like a 401K. If you are a FERS employee who began Federal service after July 31, 2010, we will automatically enroll you. Three percent of your basic pay comes out of your paycheck each pay period and goes in the traditional balance of your TSP account unless you choose to change or stop your contributions. You can start, change, and stop your TSP contributions. Learn more on the TSP website or check out the TSP video.
Transferring Benefits from Another Federal Agency
FEHB, FEGLI, and TSP elections normally transfer automatically. Be sure to verify proper deductions on your Forest Service earnings and leave statement. Transferring is not a qualifying life event to change health enrollment unless you move, and your HMO benefits are not available in the new area. If you are enrolled in any of the following, you must contact the provider to transfer these benefits to the Forest Service (Payroll Office Number: 12400001).
Dental or Vision Plan
Long-term Care Insurance
Flexible Spending Account
You can earn paid annual and sick leave. Visit these links to learn more:
New Year's Day (January 1
Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Third Monday in January)
Washington's Birthday (Third Monday in February)
Memorial Day (Last Monday in May)
Juneteenth (June 19th)
Independence Day (July 4)
Labor Day (First Monday in September)
Columbus Day (Second Monday in October)
Veterans Day (November 11)
Thanksgiving Day (Fourth Thursday in November)
Christmas Day (December 25)
The Office of Personnel Management Federal Holidays Fact Sheet gives more information on the 11 paid holidays.
Flexible Work Schedules and Locations
Some positions are eligible for flexible work schedules. Your position may also accommodate a flexible place of work or telework. Visit with your supervisor to figure out whether your position allows for flexibility to the set schedule or to a set office location.
Wellness and Employee Assistance
Work-life programs are critical management tools for the Federal community as we strive to support an excellent, engaged workforce. Key work-life programs offered to federal employees include worksite health and wellness, Employee Assistance Programs, workplace flexibilities, telework, and dependent care. Wellness programs vary by location and position; check with your supervisor to learn what may be available to you. We contract with a private organization to supply a variety of counseling services. You can learn more about the program Visit the Employee Assistance Progrram webpage to learn more.
Commuting and Transit Subsidies
A subsidy for mass transit costs associated with your commute to work is available at some duty locations. Find out if a transit subsidy is authorized for your location and how to apply for a subsidy.
Uniform and Safety Boot Allowances
Check with your supervisor to figure out if your position qualifies you for a uniform allowance or a safety boot allowance. If you qualify for a boot allowance, you must submit your reimbursement request within 45 days of the purchase of your safety boots.
Acceptance Incentive and Transfer of Station Allowances
If your Official Job Offer includes an Acceptance Incentive or a Transfer of Station (TOS) offer, a TOS counselor will contact you within 72 hours of the Official Confirmation Letter. Coordinate closely with them to make sure you have permission to incur costs and understand how to track your expenses.
Government Quarters (Housing)
Ask your supervisor if Forest Service housing is available for you in your area. If so, and you accept the options, your supervisor will send a request to human resources to start payroll deductions and explain your housing contract responsibilities for occupancy.
Help Is Available: New Hire Help Desk
Available weekdays from 8:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Mountain Time.