B-119188, SEPTEMBER 1, 1954, 34 COMP. GEN. 111

B-119188: Sep 1, 1954

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WAS INTERMITTENTLY EMPLOYED AS A LABORER AT RATES LOWER THAN THOSE RECEIVED IN HIS REGULAR POSITION. SHOULD BE CONSIDERED TO HAVE BEEN ABSENT WITHOUT PAY FROM HIS REGULAR POSITION WITHIN THE CONTEMPLATION OF THE CONTINUOUS THREE-YEAR PAID SERVICE REQUIREMENT OF SECTION 25.52 (D) OF THE FEDERAL PERSONNEL MANUAL AND. THE EMPLOYEE IS NOT ENTITLED TO A LONGEVITY STEP-INCREASE UNDER SECTION 703 OF THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1949 UNTIL HE HAS MADE UP ALL SUCH UNPAID ABSENCES IN EXCESS OF SIX WORKWEEKS DURING THE THREE YEAR PERIOD. 1954: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF JULY 13. THE STATED HOURLY RATE IS THE FIRST LONGEVITY STEP RATE IN GS-2. WHEN HE WAS GIVEN HIS FIRST LONGEVITY STEP IN THAT GRADE.

B-119188, SEPTEMBER 1, 1954, 34 COMP. GEN. 111

COMPENSATION - LONGEVITY INCREASES - SEASONAL EMPLOYEES - TEMPORARY BETWEEN-SEASON EMPLOYMENT AT LOWER RATES A FOREST SERVICE FIRE PROTECTION EMPLOYEE WHO, BECAUSE OF THE SEASONAL NATURE OF HIS DUTIES, WAS INTERMITTENTLY EMPLOYED AS A LABORER AT RATES LOWER THAN THOSE RECEIVED IN HIS REGULAR POSITION, SHOULD BE CONSIDERED TO HAVE BEEN ABSENT WITHOUT PAY FROM HIS REGULAR POSITION WITHIN THE CONTEMPLATION OF THE CONTINUOUS THREE-YEAR PAID SERVICE REQUIREMENT OF SECTION 25.52 (D) OF THE FEDERAL PERSONNEL MANUAL AND, THEREFORE, THE EMPLOYEE IS NOT ENTITLED TO A LONGEVITY STEP-INCREASE UNDER SECTION 703 OF THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1949 UNTIL HE HAS MADE UP ALL SUCH UNPAID ABSENCES IN EXCESS OF SIX WORKWEEKS DURING THE THREE YEAR PERIOD.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL KELLER TO W. F. WOLF, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, SEPTEMBER 1, 1954:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF JULY 13, 1954, YOUR REFERENCE A, DISBURSEMENT, VOUCHERS ( ADVANCE DECISIONS), REQUESTING DECISION WHETHER YOU MAY CERTIFY FOR PAYMENT THE VOUCHER THEREWITH TRANSMITTED COVERING COMPENSATION STATED TO BE DUE JOSEPH B. GLATT, FOR THE PERIOD JUNE 20 TO JULY 3, 1954, AT AN HOURLY RATE OF $1.59, TOTALING $127.20, LESS RETIREMENT DEDUCTIONS OF $7.64, OR A NET OF $119.56. THE STATED HOURLY RATE IS THE FIRST LONGEVITY STEP RATE IN GS-2. YOUR DOUBT IN THE MATTER ARISES FROM AN AUDIT EXCEPTION TAKEN BY THE ATLANTA REGIONAL AUDIT OFFICE OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, TO PAYMENTS AT THE LONGEVITY RATE TO THIS EMPLOYEE SINCE SEPTEMBER 14, 1952, WHEN HE WAS GIVEN HIS FIRST LONGEVITY STEP IN THAT GRADE.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT MR. GLATT HAS BEEN EMPLOYED IN THE FOREST SERVICE IN GRADE SP-3 AND ITS EQUIVALENT GS-2 SINCE JULY 1, 1942; THAT HE REACHED THE MAXIMUM SALARY RATE OF HIS GRADE ON AUGUST 21, 1949; THAT ON OCTOBER 23, 1949, HE RECEIVED A POSITION REASSIGNMENT AS FIRE CONTROL AID; AND THAT ON SEPTEMBER 14, 1952, HE WAS GIVEN A LONGEVITY INCREASE. BECAUSE OF THE SEASONAL NATURE OF THE DUTIES OF THE POSITION OF FIRE CONTROL AID, THE EMPLOYEE HAD INTERMITTENT PERIODS OF EMPLOYMENT AS LABORER-1UNALLOCATED, AT RATES OF 75, 80, AND 85 CENTS AN HOUR. FOR INSTANCE, DURING THE YEARS 1950, 1951, AND 1952, THE INTERMITTENT EMPLOYMENT COVERED THE PERIODS MAY 14, 1950, TO SEPTEMBER 30, 1950; JUNE 24, 1951, TO AUGUST 18, 1951; AND APRIL 27, 1952, TO AUGUST 30, 1952. DURING THOSE INTERMITTENT PERIODS HE WAS DEEMED TO HAVE BEEN ON LEAVE WITHOUT PAY FROM HIS POSITION OF FIRE CONTROL AID. THE AUDIT EXCEPTION IS BASED UPON THE FACT THAT THIS EMPLOYEE HAD NOT, ON SEPTEMBER 14, 1952, RENDERED CONTINUOUS SERVICE FOR THREE YEARS AT THE TOP STEP OF GS-2, AND THAT, ACCORDINGLY, HE WAS NOT ENTITLED TO A LONGEVITY INCREASE UNTIL HE HAD MADE UP ALL ABSENCES WITHOUT PAY FROM GS-2 POSITION (OCCASIONED BY HIS INTERMITTENT EMPLOYMENT), IN EXCESS OF SIX WORKWEEKS, DURING THE THREE-YEAR PERIOD.

YOU URGED THAT THE LONGEVITY INCREASE WAS BASED UPON DECISION IN 25 COMP. GEN. 178, BUT THAT CASE MERELY HELD THAT CHANGES IN COMPENSATION OF SEASONAL EMPLOYEES DUE TO TEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT BETWEEN SEASONS AT HIGHER OR LOWER RATES, MAY BE DISREGARDED AS EQUIVALENT INCREASES SO FAR AS WITHIN-GRADE SALARY INCREASES ARE CONCERNED. WHILE MR. GLATT WAS EMPLOYED AT A LOWER CLASSIFICATION BETWEEN PERIODS OF SERVICE IN HIS GS-2 GRADE, THE QUESTION IS NOT AS TO HIS RIGHT TO WITHIN-GRADE SALARY INCREASES BUT TO LONGEVITY INCREASES WHICH ARE GOVERNED BY DIFFERENT PROVISIONS OF LAW AND REGULATIONS. AS YOU ARE AWARE, SECTION 703 OF THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1949, 63 STAT. 968, REQUIRES FOR LONGEVITY PAY PURPOSES THREE YEARS OF CONTINUOUS SERVICE COMPLETED AT THE MAXIMUM RATE OF THE GRADE HELD BY THE EMPLOYEE IN ADDITIONAL TO 10 YEARS OF SERVICE IN THE SAME POSITION. SECTION 25.52 (D), Z1-316.01 FEDERAL PERSONNEL MANUAL, PROVIDES---

LONGEVITY PERIOD IS THREE YEARS, OF THE AGGREGATE PERIOD, OF CONTINUOUS SERVICE AT THE MAXIMUM SCHEDULE RATE OF THE EMPLOYEE'S GRADE, * * *. THE LONGEVITY PERIOD SHALL BE EXTENDED FOR A SUFFICIENT AMOUNT OF PAID SERVICE TO MAKE UP UNPAID ABSENCES IN EXCESS OF A TOTAL OF SIX WORKWEEKS DURING SUCH PERIOD.

MR. GLATT'S SERVICE IN GS-2 GRADE SINCE AUGUST 21, 1949, WAS BROKEN BY SERVICE AS LABORER--- CONSIDERED AS "UNPAID ABSENCES" FROM GS-2--- SHOWN BY THE SCHEDULE ENCLOSED BY YOU AS AMOUNTING TO 646 HOURS DURING THE CALENDAR YEAR 1950, 160 HOURS IN THE CALENDAR YEAR 1951, AND 712 HOURS DURING THE CALENDAR YEAR 1952, ALL PRIOR TO SEPTEMBER 14, 1952 (THE DATE THE LONGEVITY STEP INCREASE WAS GRANTED). THOSE ABSENCES TOTAL 1518 HOURS, OR 189 DAYS 6 HOURS. WITH RESPECT TO THE REPORTED ADMINISTRATIVE OPINION THAT ABSENCES FROM EMPLOYMENT ON A WAE BASIS SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED "LEAVE WITHOUT PAY" OR "FURLOUGH" BUT COUNTED AS CREDITABLE SERVICE, YOU MAY BE INFORMED THAT IF NOT CONSIDERED AS "UNPAID ABSENCES" UNDER THE ABOVE QUOTED REGULATION, SUCH ABSENCES WOULD CONSTITUTE BREAKS IN THE REQUIRED THREE YEARS OF CONTINUOUS SERVICE AND NECESSITATE A NEW THREE-YEAR PERIOD TO START AFTER EACH OF SUCH ABSENCES. AS THE ABOVE REGULATION PERMITS COUNTING AS SERVICE ABSENCES WITHOUT PAY FROM GS-2 FOR ONLY SIX WORKWEEKS OR 30 DAYS IT IS EVIDENT FROM THE PRESENT RECORD THAT THE LONGEVITY INCREASE LACKED 159 DAYS 6 HOURS OF CREDITABLE SERVICE IN THE THREE-YEAR PERIOD.

THE PRESENT RECORD DOES NOT DISCLOSE THE SERVICE RENDERED BY THIS EMPLOYEE AFTER SEPTEMBER 14, 1952; HENCE, IT CANNOT BE DETERMINED WHEN, IF EVER, THIS EMPLOYEE BECAME ENTITLED TO A LONGEVITY INCREASE. THE EXCESS SALARY BASED UPON THE LONGEVITY INCREASE OF SEPTEMBER 14, 1952, IS FOR REFUNDING UNTIL SUCH TIME AS HE SHALL HAVE BECOME ENTITLED TO THE LONGEVITY INCREASE.

THE VOUCHER, WHICH IS RETURNED HEREWITH, MAY NOT, UPON THE PRESENT RECORD, BY CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.