Job Terminology Glossary

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Name Term description
Probationary Period

In general, a period of employment during which an employee’s performance and qualifications are evaluated prior to an appointment becoming permanent. It is the first year of service of an employee who is given a career or career-conditional appointment and was appointed from a competitive list of eligibles. Prior to successful completion of such a period, employees have limited appeal rights. In some contexts, this period is referred to as a trial period. (5 CFR 315.801 and 806)

Preference Eligible

A veteran, spouse, widow, mother or father, who meets the definition provided in 5 USC 2108. Preference eligibles shall be listed ahead of individuals who are not preference eligible within each quality category established in a category rating system. Qualified preference eligibles who have a compensable service-connected disability of 10 percent or more shall be listed in the highest quality category for positions other than scientific and professional at GS–9 of the General Schedule (equivalent or higher). Preference does not apply, however, to in-service placement actions, such as promotions. (Vet Guide5 USC 2108 and 3319)

Postdoctoral Fellow

A trainee who participates in laboratory-based or population-based biomedical research for the purpose of obtaining advanced training under the direction of a senior member of the scientific staff. Such trainees are not NIH employees and must have not more than five years of relevant research experience since their actual degree. The duration of a training award is limited to five years. (NIH OITE)

Physician's Comparability Allowance (PCA)

A supplementary pay system established to facilitate the recruitment and retention of civilian physicians. NIH is authorized to use PCA to attract and retain physicians in order to alleviate recruitment and retention problems that result from pay disparities with the private sector. PCA is only offered to employees in eligible positions (Medical Officer, GS-602) filled under one of the appointment/pay authorities specified in HHS Instruction 595-1, Exhibit B and designated under one of the NIH approved categories in medical research and Health and Medical Program Administration. (5 USC 5948 and NIH Policy Manual)

Pay plan

A particular table or array of pay rates prescribed by law or other authoritative source that establishes the basic pay rates for certain employees. The term "pay plan" is intended to include other terms such as pay system, pay schedule, pay scale, pay rates, basic pay schedule, statutory pay system, wage schedule, wage system, wage schedules and rates, regular wage schedule, and special wage schedule and rates. Pay plan codes are used to identify important information about an employee's pay system and the authority governing the pay of an employee's position. "GS" is the pay plan covering most white-collar employees. Other common examples are "EX" (Executive Schedule), "ES" (Senior Executive Service), and "WG" (wage grade employees). (OPM Pay & Leave)

Pay Period

A two week period that begins on a Sunday and ends on a Saturday. There are usually 26 pay periods in the calendar year. (5 USC 5504)

Pathways Programs at NIH

The NIH is seeking to recruit highly motivated and talented individuals to fill entry level positions. (NIH Pathway Program)

Pathways Programs

On December 27, 2010, President Obama issued an Executive order on recruiting and hiring students and recent graduates into the federal government. The Pathways Programs authorized under Executive Order 13562 consist of the following three Programs: 
(1) The Internship Program; 
(2) The Recent Graduates Program; and 
(3) The Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program. 
(5 CFR 362.101)

Part-Time Employees

Or “part-time career employment” means part-time employment of 16 to 32 hours a week (or 32 to 64 hours during a biweekly pay period in the case of a flexible or compressed work schedule), but does not include employment on a temporary or intermittent basis. (5 USC 3401 and 5 CFR 340)