B-128814, SEPTEMBER 17, 1956, 36 COMP. GEN. 217

B-128814: Sep 17, 1956

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COMPENSATION - SIMULTANEOUS SALARY CHANGES - PRECEDENCE EMPLOYEES WHO ARE ELIGIBLE FOR TWO SALARY CHANGES EFFECTIVE ON THE SAME DAY MAY HAVE THE CHANGES PROCESSED IN THE ORDER WHICH WILL GIVE THE EMPLOYEES THE MAXIMUM BENEFIT. THE SALARY RATE OF AN EMPLOYEE WHICH IS THE SAME AS THE RATE ESTABLISHED AS THE NEW MINIMUM RATE OF THE GRADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 803 OF THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1949. WILL NOT BE AFFECTED. THAT CONCLUSION WAS BASED ON THE THOUGHT THAT WHERE AN EMPLOYEE BECOMES SIMULTANEOUSLY ENTITLED TO TWO BENEFITS THEY SHOULD BE SO PROCESSED AS TO GIVE HIM THE MAXIMUM BENEFIT WHICH MIGHT BE DERIVED THEREFROM. THERE WAS NO INTENTION OF ESTABLISHING THAT ORDER OF PROCEDURE AS MANDATORY WHEN IT WOULD HAVE THE EFFECT OF DEPRIVING THE EMPLOYEE OF AN EARNED BENEFIT.

B-128814, SEPTEMBER 17, 1956, 36 COMP. GEN. 217

COMPENSATION - SIMULTANEOUS SALARY CHANGES - PRECEDENCE EMPLOYEES WHO ARE ELIGIBLE FOR TWO SALARY CHANGES EFFECTIVE ON THE SAME DAY MAY HAVE THE CHANGES PROCESSED IN THE ORDER WHICH WILL GIVE THE EMPLOYEES THE MAXIMUM BENEFIT.

TO THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE, SEPTEMBER 17, 1956:

BY LETTER OF JULY 31, 1956, THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR ADMINISTRATION REQUESTS DECISION AS TO THE ORDER IN WHICH SALARY CHANGES SHOULD BE PROCESSED IN CASES WHERE A PERIODIC STEP INCREASE AND THE NEW MINIMUM RATE FOR A PARTICULAR GRADE, ESTABLISHED UNDER SECTION 803 OF THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1949, 5 U.S.C. 1132 NOTE, BOTH BECOME EFFECTIVE ON THE SAME DAY. DOUBT APPEARS TO ARISE FROM THE PUBLISHED DECISIONS IN 31 COMP. GEN. 62, 207, AND 33 ID. 49, WHICH HELD, IN EFFECT THAT WHERE A PERIODIC INCREASE AND A PROMOTION, REALLOCATION, OR DEMOTION, BECOME EFFECTIVE SIMULTANEOUSLY THE PERIODIC WITHIN GRADE INCREASE SHOULD BE PROCESSED FIRST THUS ENABLING THE EMPLOYEE TO RECEIVE A HIGHER RATE OF COMPENSATION IN THE HIGHER OR LOWER GRADE AS THE CASE MAY BE.

UNDER SECTION 25.105 (E) OF THE REGULATIONS OF THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, CONTAINED IN CHAPTER Z 1-319 OF THE FEDERAL PERSONNEL MANUAL, THE SALARY RATE OF AN EMPLOYEE WHICH IS THE SAME AS THE RATE ESTABLISHED AS THE NEW MINIMUM RATE OF THE GRADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 803 OF THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1949, AS AMENDED, WILL NOT BE AFFECTED. ACCORDINGLY, SHOULD THE PERIODIC INCREASE BE FIRST PROCESSED MAKING THE EMPLOYEE'S COMPENSATION EQUAL TO THE MINIMUM RATE ESTABLISHED FOR THAT GRADE OR CLASS, THE EMPLOYEE WOULD RECEIVE NO BENEFIT FROM THE PERIODIC INCREASE. WE FIND NO LAW REQUIRING THE NEW NEW MINIMUM RATES SO ESTABLISHED BY THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION TO TAKE EFFECT AT ANY PARTICULAR TIME OTHER THAN THE DATE FIXED BY THE COMMISSION. WHILE THE PUBLISHED CASES REFERRED TO HELD THAT THE PERIODIC INCREASE SHOULD BE PROCESSED FIRST, THAT CONCLUSION WAS BASED ON THE THOUGHT THAT WHERE AN EMPLOYEE BECOMES SIMULTANEOUSLY ENTITLED TO TWO BENEFITS THEY SHOULD BE SO PROCESSED AS TO GIVE HIM THE MAXIMUM BENEFIT WHICH MIGHT BE DERIVED THEREFROM. THERE WAS NO INTENTION OF ESTABLISHING THAT ORDER OF PROCEDURE AS MANDATORY WHEN IT WOULD HAVE THE EFFECT OF DEPRIVING THE EMPLOYEE OF AN EARNED BENEFIT.

ACCORDINGLY, UNDER THE RELATED CIRCUMSTANCES OUR OFFICE WOULD NOT BE REQUIRED TO OBJECT TO FIRST INCREASING THE EMPLOYEE'S SALARY TO THE NEW MINIMUM RATE OF THE GRADE AND IMMEDIATELY THEREAFTER PROCESSING A WITHIN GRADE SALARY INCREASE. THE CITED REGULATION PROVIDES THAT ANY INCREASE NECESSARY TO BRING THE EMPLOYEE'S SALARY RATE UP TO THE MINIMUM RATE SO ESTABLISHED WILL NOT BE CONSTRUED AS AN EQUIVALENT INCREASE SUCH AS WOULD BAR A STEP INCREASE. THE QUESTION IS ANSWERED ACCORDINGLY.