B-133878, NOVEMBER 5, 1957, 37 COMP. GEN. 300

B-133878: Nov 5, 1957

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DOES NOT DEFEAT THE RIGHT OF THE EMPLOYEES TO THE HIGHER RATE OF COMPENSATION ON THE DATE THE 52-WEEK QUALIFYING PERIOD IS COMPLETED. ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION RETROACTIVELY CORRECTING THE ERROR OR OVERSIGHT IS NOT PROHIBITED. WHOSE POSITION IS ALLOCATED UNDER THE ACT TO SALARY LEVEL PFS-10 OR HIGHER. THAT NO SUCH EMPLOYEE IS ELIGIBLE FOR MORE THAN ONE STEP-INCREASE WITHIN THE FIFTY-TWO-WEEK PERIOD SPECIFIED IN SUBSECTION 401 (A). WILL BE MADE BY THE REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR ALL POSTAL FIELD EMPLOYEES UNDER HIS JURISDICTION. (2) THAT THE POSTMASTER OR OTHER OFFICE HEAD WILL INSTITUTE THE INCENTIVE STEP-INCREASE REVIEW ( POD FORM 1762) "NOT LATER THAN 1 MONTH BEFORE THE EXPIRATION OF THE 52-WEEK QUALIFYING PERIOD.'.

B-133878, NOVEMBER 5, 1957, 37 COMP. GEN. 300

POSTAL EMPLOYEES - COMPENSATION - SUPERIOR ACCOMPLISHMENT STEP-INCREASES - DELAY OR OVERSIGHT - RETROACTIVE CORRECTION AN ADMINISTRATIVE DELAY OR OVERSIGHT IN THE PROCESSING OF SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE STEP-INCREASES FOR POSTAL EMPLOYEES IN SALARY LEVEL PFS-10 OR HIGHER LEVELS PURSUANT TO SECTION 401 (B) OF THE POSTAL FIELD SERVICE COMPENSATION ACT OF 1955, 39 U.S.C. 981 (B), AND THE REGULATIONS ISSUED THEREUNDER, DOES NOT DEFEAT THE RIGHT OF THE EMPLOYEES TO THE HIGHER RATE OF COMPENSATION ON THE DATE THE 52-WEEK QUALIFYING PERIOD IS COMPLETED, AND ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION RETROACTIVELY CORRECTING THE ERROR OR OVERSIGHT IS NOT PROHIBITED.

TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, NOVEMBER 5, 1957:

ON SEPTEMBER 23, 1957, YOUR FILE REFERENCE 800, THE ACTING POSTMASTER GENERAL REQUESTED OUR DECISION AS TO THE DATE ON WHICH A STEP-INCREASE FOR SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE UNDER SUBSECTION 401 (B) OF THE ACT OF JUNE 10, 1955, PUBLIC LAW 68, 69 STAT. 122 (39 U.S.C. 981 (B) (, SHOULD BECOME EFFECTIVE IN THE SUBMITTED CASE.

SUBSECTION 401 (B) PROVIDES THAT EACH EMPLOYEE, WHOSE POSITION IS ALLOCATED UNDER THE ACT TO SALARY LEVEL PFS-10 OR HIGHER, SHALL BE ADVANCED TO AND INCLUDING STEP FOUR OF HIS SALARY LEVEL IN THE MANNER PROVIDED IN SUBSECTION 401 (A), 39 U.S.C. 981 (A). HOWEVER, SUBSECTION 401 (B) ALSO PROVIDES SUCH EMPLOYEE'S ADVANCEMENT TO STEPS HIGHER THAN STEP FOUR (EXCLUSIVE OF LONGEVITY STEP-INCREASES UNDER SECTION 404, 39 U.S.C. 984) SHALL BE GRANTED ON THE BASIS OF SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE UNDER REGULATIONS ISSUED BY YOU, BUT THAT NO SUCH EMPLOYEE IS ELIGIBLE FOR MORE THAN ONE STEP-INCREASE WITHIN THE FIFTY-TWO-WEEK PERIOD SPECIFIED IN SUBSECTION 401 (A).

IN THAT RESPECT THE REGULATIONS--- POSTAL BULLETIN NUMBER 19989, OCTOBER 16, 1956; POSTAL MANUAL SECTION 754.152, ( PERSONNEL T.L. 30, APRIL 4, 1957/--- EXPRESSLY PROVIDE (1) THAT THE FINAL DECISION, TO APPROVE OR DENY A RECOMMENDED STEP-INCREASE BASED ON SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE, WILL BE MADE BY THE REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR ALL POSTAL FIELD EMPLOYEES UNDER HIS JURISDICTION, AND (2) THAT THE POSTMASTER OR OTHER OFFICE HEAD WILL INSTITUTE THE INCENTIVE STEP-INCREASE REVIEW ( POD FORM 1762) "NOT LATER THAN 1 MONTH BEFORE THE EXPIRATION OF THE 52-WEEK QUALIFYING PERIOD.' THOSE REGULATIONS FURTHER PRESCRIBE THE PROCEDURE FOR PROCESSING AND FORWARDING OF THE FORM 1762 THROUGH NAMED CHANNELS, TO THE REGIONAL DIRECTOR. WHILE NO LIMITATION IS PLACED UPON THE TIME WITHIN WHICH SUCH REVIEW ACTION MUST BE ACCOMPLISHED, THE REGULATIONS DOUBTLESS CONTEMPLATE THAT THE REVIEW FORM WILL BE HANDLED EXPEDITIOUSLY SO THAT IT WILL BE COMPLETED BEFORE THE END OF THE 52 WEEK QUALIFYING PERIOD.

IT APPEARS THAT THE EMPLOYEE HERE INVOLVED WAS PLACED IN SALARY LEVEL PFS -10, STEP 4 ( LONGEVITY B) ON DECEMBER 3, 1955. APPARENTLY, THE PRESCRIBED REVIEW OF HIS SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE WAS INSTITUTED NOT LATER THAN ONE MONTH PRIOR TO DECEMBER 1, 1956; HOWEVER, THE FORM WITH FAVORABLE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE EMPLOYEE'S SUPERIOR AND OFFICE HEAD THEREON WAS NOT RECEIVED BY THE REGIONAL DIRECTOR UNTIL JANUARY 19, 1957. AT THAT TIME, THE POST OFFICE DISTRICT OPERATIONS MANAGER STATED THAT THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF STEP-INCREASE WERE INADVERTENTLY DELAYED OR OVERLOOKED AND THAT THERE WAS NO ADMINISTRATIVE INTENTION TO DELAY OR WITHHOLD THE EMPLOYEE'S PROMOTION WHICH APPARENTLY WAS OTHERWISE DUE HIM ON DECEMBER 1, 1956. HOWEVER, BECAUSE OF A DEFECT IN THE POSTMASTER'S STATEMENT OF JUSTIFICATION, WHICH HAS TO BE CORRECTED, THE DIRECTOR'S APPROVAL OF THE PROMOTION ALSO WAS DELAYED UNTIL FEBRUARY 18, 1957. AT THAT TIME THE NOTIFICATION OF PERSONNEL ACTION ( POD FORM 50) WAS PREPARED AUTHORIZING THE RECOMMENDED INCENTIVE STEP-INCREASE EFFECTIVE DECEMBER 1, 1956; HOWEVER, PAYMENT AT THE HIGHER STEP RATE WAS MADE ONLY FROM FEBRUARY 24, 1957, THE DATE OF BEGINNING OF THE FIRST PAY PERIOD FOLLOWING THE REGIONAL DIRECTOR'S FINAL ACTION.

YOUR QUESTION CONCERNS THE EMPLOYEE'S ENTITLEMENT TO COMPENSATION AT THE HIGHER STEP ( PFS-10 STEP 5 ( LONG. B) $6,800 P.A.) DURING THE PERIOD DECEMBER 1, 1956, TO FEBRUARY 23, 1957. IN THAT REGARD, THE REGULATIONS PROVIDE THAT STEP-INCREASES BASED UPON SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE WILL BE MADE EFFECTIVE AT THE BEGINNING OF THE FIRST PAY PERIOD FOLLOWING "THE DATE OF ELIGIBILITY, WHICH SHALL BE 52 WEEKS AFTER (1) THE EMPLOYEE'S ASSIGNMENT TO THE SALARY LEVEL OR (2) THE LAST EQUIVALENT INCREASE, WHICHEVER IS LATER.'

THE LIMITATIONS IN SUBSECTION 401 (B) OF THE ACT DO NOT PRECLUDE APPLICATION OF A 52-WEEK ELIGIBILITY FOR STEP-INCREASES BEYOND STEP 4, IF THE OTHER PRESCRIBED FACTORS ARE FOUND TO BE PRESENT IN THE CASES OF EMPLOYEES IN PFS-10 AND HIGHER SALARY LEVELS. AS STATED IN YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 23, ONLY THE REGIONAL DIRECTOR IS EMPOWERED AS TO POSTAL FIELD EMPLOYEES UNDER HIS JURISDICTION TO DENY OR WITHHOLD A STEP INCREASE FOR SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE PURSUANT TO SUBSECTION 401 (B) OF THE ACT. ASSUMING, AS APPEARS IN THIS CASE, THAT THE REGIONAL DIRECTOR DETERMINES IN DUE COURSE THAT THE EMPLOYEE HAS MET THE PRESCRIBED STANDARDS, THE EMPLOYEE BECOMES ELIGIBLE FOR THE STEP-INCREASE AS OF THE COMPLETION OF THE 52-WEEK QUALIFYING PERIOD. THERE IS FOR APPLICATION HERE, THE RULE STATED AT 21 COMP. GEN. 369, 376, TO THE EFFECT THAT AN ADMINISTRATIVE ERROR OR OVERSIGHT DOES NOT DEFEAT OR DELAY THE RIGHT OF AN EMPLOYEE TO THE STEP- INCREASE ON AND AFTER THE DATE HE BECOMES QUALIFIED AND ENTITLED THERETO. ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION RETROACTIVELY CORRECTING SUCH ERROR OR OVERSIGHT IN THIS CASE WILL NOT BE REGARDED BY US AS PROHIBITED UNDER THE GENERAL RULE PROHIBITING RETROACTIVE APPOINTMENTS OR PROMOTIONS.

THE FILE FORWARDED WITH YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 23, IS RETURNED, AS REQUESTED.