A-83354, FEBRUARY 3, 1937, 16 COMP. GEN. 721

A-83354: Feb 3, 1937

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

IS AS FOLLOWS: A QUESTION HAS ARISEN IN THE GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE AS TO THE INTERPRETATION AND APPLICATION OF SECTION 23 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 28. WHICH IS SET BY WAGE BOARDS OR OTHER WAGE-FIXING AUTHORITIES. THESE REGULATIONS HAVE BEEN CONTINUED IN SLIGHTLY MODIFIED FORM AND COPIES OF THE LATEST ARE ATTACHED HERETO. THE QUESTION IS WHETHER THE SAID REGULATIONS GOVERNING UP AND DOWN RATES ARE IN CONFLICT WITH THE ABOVE STATUTE. SINCE DURING THE 3 1/2 HOURS THE EMPLOYEE IS PERFORMING THE HIGHER GRADE WORK. - HE IS GETTING LESS FOR THE JOB THAN IT PAID JUNE 1. THERE IS ALSO FOR CONSIDERATION THE QUESTION AS TO WHETHER THE PUBLIC PRINTER HAS THE AUTHORITY TO SHORTEN OR LENGTHEN THE PERIOD OF TIME WHICH MUST BE SPENT ON THE HIGHER OR LOWER GRADE OF WORK BEFORE ANY CHANGE IN PAY IS MADE.

A-83354, FEBRUARY 3, 1937, 16 COMP. GEN. 721

FORTY-HOUR WEEK - WAGE SCHEDULE ADJUSTMENTS - GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE WAGE SCHEDULES IN FORCE IN THE GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE ON JUNE 1, 1932, WHICH PROVIDED, IN ADDITION TO CERTAIN WAGE RATES FOR DIFFERENT GRADES OF WORK, FOR UP AND DOWN RATINGS FOR SPECIFIED PERIODS OF TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT TO GRADES OF WORK OTHER THAN THE REGULAR ASSIGNMENT OF THE EMPLOYEES CONCERNED, MAY NOT, BECAUSE OF THE PROHIBITION IN THE ACT OF MARCH 28, 1934, 48 STAT. 522, BE ALTERED BY INCREASING THE MINIMUM PERIOD FOR UP-RATING OR REDUCING THE MINIMUM PERIOD FOR DOWN-RATING SO AS TO OPERATE AS A REDUCTION IN THE FULL WEEKLY EARNINGS POSSIBLE DURING LIKE PERIODS FOR THE SAME GRADES OF WORK ON OR BEFORE JUNE 1, 1932, BUT THE REDUCING OF THE MINIMUM PERIOD FOR UP-RATING, OR THE INCREASING OF THE MINIMUM PERIOD FOR DOWN-RATING, WOULD NOT BE PROHIBITED BY SAID STATUTE.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE PUBLIC PRINTER, FEBRUARY 3, 1937:

YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 26, 1937, IS AS FOLLOWS:

A QUESTION HAS ARISEN IN THE GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE AS TO THE INTERPRETATION AND APPLICATION OF SECTION 23 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 28, 1934 (PUBLIC 141, 73D CONGRESS), SAID ACT READING IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

"THE WEEKLY COMPENSATION, MINUS ANY GENERAL PERCENTAGE REDUCTION WHICH MAY BE PRESCRIBED BY ACT OF CONGRESS, FOR THE SEVERAL TRADES AND OCCUPATIONS, WHICH IS SET BY WAGE BOARDS OR OTHER WAGE-FIXING AUTHORITIES, SHALL BE REESTABLISHED AND MAINTAINED AT RATES NOT LOWER THAN NECESSARY TO RESTORE THE FULL WEEKLY EARNINGS OF SUCH EMPLOYEES IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FULL-TIME WEEKLY EARNINGS UNDER THE RESPECTIVE WAGE SCHEDULES IN EFFECT ON JUNE 1, 1932. * * *"

ON JUNE 1, 1932, THE OFFICIAL REGULATIONS OF THE GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE PROVIDED THAT AN EMPLOYEE TEMPORARILY DETAILED TO WORK CARRYING A HIGHER RATE OF PAY HAD TO WORK 3 1/2 OR MORE CONTINUOUS HOURS IN ONE DAY IN ORDER TO RECEIVE THE HIGHER RATE OR 8 OR MORE CONTINUOUS HOURS IN ONE DAY BEFORE HE COULD BE REDUCED TO A LOWER RATE OF PAY. THESE REGULATIONS HAVE BEEN CONTINUED IN SLIGHTLY MODIFIED FORM AND COPIES OF THE LATEST ARE ATTACHED HERETO.

THE QUESTION IS WHETHER THE SAID REGULATIONS GOVERNING UP AND DOWN RATES ARE IN CONFLICT WITH THE ABOVE STATUTE, SINCE DURING THE 3 1/2 HOURS THE EMPLOYEE IS PERFORMING THE HIGHER GRADE WORK--- WITHOUT AN INCREASE--- HE IS GETTING LESS FOR THE JOB THAN IT PAID JUNE 1, 1932. THERE IS ALSO FOR CONSIDERATION THE QUESTION AS TO WHETHER THE PUBLIC PRINTER HAS THE AUTHORITY TO SHORTEN OR LENGTHEN THE PERIOD OF TIME WHICH MUST BE SPENT ON THE HIGHER OR LOWER GRADE OF WORK BEFORE ANY CHANGE IN PAY IS MADE.

IN CONSIDERING THE ABOVE IT IS TO BE BORNE IN MIND THAT THE RATES OF PAY WHICH WERE IN EFFECT ON JUNE 1, 1932, FOR THE VARIOUS TYPES OF WORK IN THE GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE HAD BEEN ESTABLISHED BY THE PUBLIC PRINTER UNDER THE ACT OF JUNE 7, 1924, AFTER PRELIMINARY CONFERENCES WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF CERTAIN GROUPS OF EMPLOYEES AND WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE JOINT COMMITTEE ON PRINTING, AS REQUIRED BY THE SAID ACT, AND THAT SUCH RATES OF PAY, SUBJECT ONLY TO SUCH CHANGES AS HAVE BEEN MADE BY LAW, ARE STILL IN EFFECT.

IT IS BELIEVED THAT THE PURPOSE AND INTENT OF THE ACT OF MARCH 28, 1934, WAS TO GUARANTEE TO THE EMPLOYEE THAT HE WOULD NOT RECEIVE A WAGE CUT AS A RESULT OF THE SHORTENING OF HIS HOURS FROM 44 TO 40. IF THIS IS CORRECT, THEN IT WOULD APPARENTLY FOLLOW THAT TEMPORARY DETAILS WITHOUT TEMPORARY CHANGES IN PAY COULD BE MADE AND THAT, THEREFORE, THE PRESENT REGULATIONS PERMITTING TEMPORARY DETAILS TO A HIGHER PAID JOB FOR 3 1/2 HOURS WITHOUT CHANGE IN RATE ARE WITHIN THE LAW. IN OTHER WORDS IT IS BELIEVED THAT THE PUBLIC PRINTER HAS THE AUTHORITY TO MAKE SUCH TEMPORARY DETAILS WITHOUT CHANGE IN PAY AND HAS THE AUTHORITY TO LENGTHEN OR SHORTEN THE PERIODS FOR WHICH SUCH CHANGES MAY BE MADE, WHENEVER, IN HIS OPINION, IT IS TO THE BEST INTEREST OF ALL CONCERNED TO DO SO.

HOWEVER, IN ORDER THAT THERE MAY BE NO QUESTION RAISED IN CONNECTION WITH THE PRESENT PROCEDURE OR IN CONNECTION WITH ANY CHANGES WHICH THE PUBLIC PRINTER MAY DESIRE TO MAKE IN THE SAME, AND THAT ALL POSSIBILITY OF SUBSEQUENT PAY-ROLL ADJUSTMENTS MAY BE ELIMINATED, YOUR DECISION ON THE POINTS RAISED HEREIN, AT THE EARLIEST PRACTICABLE DATE, WOULD BE APPRECIATED.

THE 40-HOUR WEEK STATUTORY PROVISION REQUIRES THAT THERE BE MAINTAINED SUCH WAGE SCHEDULES AS WILL ENABLE EMPLOYEES TO RECEIVE FULL WEEKLY EARNINGS NOT LESS THAN COULD HAVE BEEN EARNED UNDER THE WAGE SCHEDULES IN EFFECT ON JUNE 1, 1932. IT IS UNDERSTOOD THE WAGE SCHEDULES THEN INFORCE IN THE GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE PROVIDED NOT ONLY CERTAIN WAGE RATES FOR SPECIFIED GRADES OF WORK BUT, ALSO, A CONDITION OF EMPLOYMENT FOR UP AND DOWN RATINGS FOR SPECIFIED PERIODS OF TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENTS TO GRADES OF WORK OTHER THAN REGULAR ASSIGNMENTS PAYING HIGHER OR LOWER WAGE RATES, WHICH ATTACHED TO AND WERE A PART OF THE SCHEDULES. THERE IS NO ADMINISTRATIVE AUTHORITY TO MODIFY THE SCHEDULES, EITHER AS TO THE RATES OR AS TO THE CONDITIONS INCIDENT THERETO CONTROLLING PAYMENTS OF WAGES, SO AS TO PERMIT A REDUCTION IN THE FULL WEEKLY EARNINGS OF THE EMPLOYEES WHICH THEY COULD HAVE RECEIVED FOR PERFORMANCE OF THE SAME GRADES OF WORK ON JUNE 1, 1932.

CONSEQUENTLY, IF AN EMPLOYEE WITHIN THE TERMS OF THE 40-HOUR WEEK STATUTORY PROVISION WAS ENTITLED TO AN UP-RATING WHEN HE WAS ASSIGNED TO A HIGHER GRADE OF WORK FOR A PERIOD OF 3 1/2 OR MORE CONSECUTIVE HOURS, A CHANGE IN THE REGULATION OR SCHEDULE TO PROVIDE THAT THE EMPLOYEE MAY BE ASSIGNED TO THE HIGHER GRADE WORK FOR 3 1/2 OR MORE CONSECUTIVE HOURS WITHOUT ANY INCREASE IN WAGE, OR THAT THE INCREASE RATE WOULD NOT BE PAID UNLESS HE WORKED, FOR EXAMPLE, 8 OR MORE CONSECUTIVE HOURS, WOULD CAUSE A REDUCTION IN THE FULL WEEKLY EARNINGS HE COULD HAVE RECEIVED DURING THE SAME PERIODS FOR THE SAME GRADES OF WORK ON AND BEFORE JUNE 1, 1932, AND WOULD BE IN CONTRAVENTION OF THE STATUTE. LIKEWISE, A SHORTENING OF THE PERIOD FOR A DOWN-RATING WOULD CAUSE A REDUCTION IN THE FULL WEEKLY EARNINGS AN EMPLOYEE COULD HAVE RECEIVED DURING THE SAME PERIODS FOR THE SAME GRADES OF WORK ON AND BEFORE JUNE 1, 1932, AND WOULD BE IN CONTRAVENTION OF THE STATUTE. OF COURSE, THE REDUCING OF THE MINIMUM PERIOD FOR UP-RATING PERIOD, OR THE INCREASING OF THE MINIMUM PERIOD FOR DOWN-RATING WOULD NOT CONTRAVENE THE 40-HOUR PROVISION.