Raleigh, N.C. — Most state employees are expected to receive a bonus of at least $1,000 in their paychecks before Christmas, with another lump sum coming in January.
The boosts were part of the state budget lawmakers passed last month. Most state employees should see the initial bonuses in their Dec. 21 paychecks, the head of the Office of State Budget and Management said Tuesday.
Teachers across the state may get their bonuses at different times because of the interplay between the state and local school systems, but State Budget Director Charlie Perusse said officials are working to get the money out quickly.
The bonuses are tiered, and state employees making less than $75,000 will get $1,500. Employees making more than that are expected to receive $1,000.
The additional lump sum in January will cover back pay for the six months of last year when employees missed out on raises included in the new budget, which is retroactive to July 1. Most state employees got a raise of 2.5 percent, so they should expect a one-time payment equal to 2.5 percent of half their 2021 salary.
All of this, including the bonuses, is taxable, so the take-home amounts will be less.
“There’s a long period of time between the December paycheck, which always comes a little early, and then that January paycheck that comes at the end of January. So, this will make a difference,” said Ardis Watkins, executive director of the State Employees Association of North Carolina. “State employees love this month.”
The situation’s a little more complicated for teachers. State raises for them also average 2.5 percent, but because the salary step schedule doesn’t include annual pay increases after a teacher’s 15th year, not all teachers will get the same increase. Teachers can expect the one-time payout, though, to make up for the last six months.
Teachers are also eligible for bonuses beyond the $1,500, taking them up as high as $2,800. Timing for these payments will depend, in part, on local school systems.
Perusse said Gov. Roy Cooper pressed his office to get as much bonus money as possible out before Christmas.
“We’re very pleased to get this money out quickly,” Perusse said.
Retirees will also get their one-time 2 percent bonus in their pension check on Dec. 22.
“We are looking to move the pay of state employees up,” Watkins said. “So, the goal coming into next year is we’re going to try to get more raises for current state employees, and we’re going to try to get a real cost-of-living adjustment for retirees because their costs are going up just the same as the employees.”
The News & Observer was first to report the timing on bonus pay.
WRAL Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie contributed to this report.