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Facts for Your First Day of Work Boulder, Colorado

The following information will prepare you for your first day of work at NIST. 

ORIENTATIONNIST will be conducting virtual orientation. You will be sent a separate e-mail that includes the date and time of the virtual orientation and instructions regarding how to attend the virtual session.

Reporting for Work

Federal Employees: You will attend a two-hour orientation on your first day at NIST. This is a virtual orientation that you can attend at home or on campus. Your orientation will begin at 9:00 a.m. MT. 

Before orientation begins, you will meet with an HR Assistant and complete the necessary documents to finalize your entry on duty. During orientation, you will be introduced to NIST programs and services, receive an overview of your Federal Benefits, and learn how your contributions will support NIST's mission.


NIST is located on 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80305. View a map of the NIST site and directions


There is ample parking for employees. If you plan to park at the Boulder site, you MUST obtain a parking permit from the Visitor's Center located at the main entrance. You may do this on or after your first day of duty by providing your vehicle registration, proof of insurance, valid driver's license, and the color, make, and model of your vehicle.

Official Hours of Duty

Employees must work with their immediate supervisors to arrange their official work schedule.


The Federal Government issues paychecks on the 2nd Thursday after the close of each biweekly pay period. Thus, you will not receive your first paycheck until 3 to 4 weeks after you have entered on duty. The "pay lag," as it is commonly referred to, is offset by the receipt of a payment 2 weeks following the close of the pay period which covers the date of separation. The Elevations Federal Credit Union, described below, may be able to help new employees with a loan upon approved credit during the period of the pay lag.

Paychecks are electronically transmitted to a financial institution. The U.S. Government will no longer allow employees to receive paychecks at a home address or P.O. Box. Employees receive their paychecks through direct deposit on the 2nd Monday after the close of each biweekly pay period (the "official" pay date is on the 2nd Thursday).

Federal Income Tax

Upon entering on duty, every employee completes a Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Exemption Certificate. The number of exemptions claimed on this certificate will determine the amount of money which will be withheld from pay for Federal Income Tax. Usually, you should claim exactly the number of exemptions to which entitled. Taxes are automatically computed based on current Internal Revenue tables which will cover the taxes due. You may claim fewer exemptions if you have income other than salary from NIST and this income is not taxed. If necessary, in addition to claiming zero exemptions, you may have additional amounts withheld from your paycheck in multiples of $1.

State Income Tax

Colorado does not have an equivalent state form to the Federal W-4. This is because the state income tax is based on the taxpayer's federal taxable income. NIST will use the information from the federal W-4 Form to calculate the state wage withholding amounts.

Occasionally, an employee will have a unique tax situation that requires different W-4 information to be used to accurately determine the amount of Colorado withholding. In this case, please give your servicing HR Assistant a separate W-4 Form with "Colorado Copy" written on top for use in computing the state withholding.


Employees on permanent appointments or temporary appointments of 90 days or more are eligible to earn leave UNLESS they work an intermittent tour. Intermittent employees DO NOT earn annual and sick leave. Part-time employees earn annual and sick leave on a prorated basis, based on the number of hours per pay period they work.

Annual Leave:  For full-time employees, the amount of annual leave earned is based on the length of creditable civilian and/or military service as follows:

Annual Leave Accrual Rates

Length of Service Biweekly Yearly
Up to 3 4 hours 13 days
3 to 15 6 hours 20 days
15 and over 8 hours 26 days

Sick Leave

Sick leave is accrued at the rate of 4 hours per pay period for full-time employees and is prorated for part-time employees based on the number of hours they work per pay period. Former Government employees returning to Federal service, who did not forfeit their sick leave upon reemployment in the Federal Government before December 2, 1994, will be eligible for a re-credit of their sick leave.

View more detailed information about annual, sick, and other types of leave for NIST employees.

Government Employees Health Benefits Program

All full-time and part-time career and career-conditional employees are eligible for health benefits coverage under one of the various approved health plans. These plans provide hospital and medical benefits for you and your family with the Government sharing a part of the cost. If eligible, you will be given an opportunity to select a plan and register after you enter on duty at NIST. There are several plans to choose from, including the traditional fee for service plans to HMO's, and the costs to you vary depending on the plan you choose. Your coverage will begin at the beginning of the next pay period in which you submit your election form. Election to enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program must be made within 60 days of appointment. If you are currently covered by the FEHB program, your previous plan will transfer in with you and continue without any interruption in coverage. Please contact your servicing Benefits Specialist to discuss any matters regarding your benefits. Extensive information regarding your health insurance benefits, including brochures are available on OPM's website.

Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance

All full-time and part-­time employees on appointments not limited to one year or less are automatically covered by basic life insurance (your salary plus $2,000) at low cost without medical examination. If you DO NOT want coverage, you must complete a special waiver form provided by the Office of Human Resources Management. Additional options are also available to employees who elect Basic Life Insurance coverage. If you need additional information concerning life insurance options, you may contact your servicing Benefits Specialist or access Life Insurance information online.


You will be covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). Employee contributions are made through payroll deduction. For additional information concerning your retirement plan, please contact your servicing Benefits Specialist.

Medical Services

A full-time nursing staff is available on site in the David Skaggs Research Center located at the same 325 Broadway site at (303) 497-3801. For on-site emergencies call extension 7777.

Elevations Federal Credit Union

You are eligible to become a member at the Elevations Federal Credit Union, which offers a variety of services to its members. The Elevations Federal Credit Union is at 4760 Baseline Road, Boulder, CO 80303; telephone: (303) 443-4672. Website:

Boulder Laboratories Employee Association (BLEA)

All employees of NIST are eligible to become members of BLEA when they are appointed. BLEA, which is an employee-operated activity, sponsors various welfare, recreation, and entertainment activities throughout the year. See the Weekly Bulletin for schedule of events and additional information.

Cafeterias, Food, and Beverages

Cafeterias are located near the Lobby of NIST Building 1 and in the Garden Level of the David Skaggs Federal Building. Vending machines are located throughout the site.

NIST Office of Human Resources Management

To learn more about the NIST Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM), please visit our home page on the NIST internal website. (Please note: You must be a NIST employee with access to the NIST internal website.)

Created May 31, 2012, Updated October 10, 2023