B-139737, AUG. 12, 1959

B-139737: Aug 12, 1959

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THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY REQUESTED OUR DECISION WHETHER EMPLOYEES WHO ARE PLACED BY LAW IN THE FIRST LONGEVITY STEP OF A GRADE PRIOR TO COMPLETING THE TIME NORMALLY REQUIRED FOR THE FIRST LONGEVITY STEP INCREASE UNDER FACTS SIMILAR TO THOSE CONSIDERED IN 31 COMP. APPARENTLY THE FACTS CONCERNING THE EMPLOYEES UPON WHICH A DECISION IS REQUESTED ARE SIMILAR TO THOSE STATED BY QUESTION 10 IN 31 COMP. THOSE FACTS ARE QUOTED AS FOLLOWS: "10. IS RECEIVING A RATE WHICH FALLS BETWEEN THE MAXIMUM SCHEDULED RATE AND THE FIRST LONGEVITY STEP FOR THE GRADE OF HIS POSITION. HE IS MOVED TO THE FIRST LONGEVITY RATE AND THEN GRANTED THE INCREASE AT THAT RATE. IS HE STILL REQUIRED TO SERVE THREE YEARS FROM THE DATE HE WAS ADVANCED TO THE FIRST LONGEVITY RATE EVEN THOUGH HE DID NOT RECEIVE A FULL STEP INCREASE?

B-139737, AUG. 12, 1959

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY:

ON MAY 25, 1959, THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY REQUESTED OUR DECISION WHETHER EMPLOYEES WHO ARE PLACED BY LAW IN THE FIRST LONGEVITY STEP OF A GRADE PRIOR TO COMPLETING THE TIME NORMALLY REQUIRED FOR THE FIRST LONGEVITY STEP INCREASE UNDER FACTS SIMILAR TO THOSE CONSIDERED IN 31 COMP. GEN. 166, MAY INCLUDE TIME SPENT IN A SAVED RATE OF COMPENSATION BETWEEN THE MAXIMUM SCHEDULED RATE OF THEIR GRADE WITH THE TIME SPENT IN THE FIRST LONGEVITY STEP OF SUCH GRADE FOR THE PURPOSE OF ESTABLISHING ENTITLEMENT FOR A SECOND LONGEVITY STEP INCREASE. HIS DOUBT IN THE MATTER APPEARS TO BE BASED UPON THE CONCLUSIONS STATED IN OUR DECISION 34 COMP. GEN. 691.

APPARENTLY THE FACTS CONCERNING THE EMPLOYEES UPON WHICH A DECISION IS REQUESTED ARE SIMILAR TO THOSE STATED BY QUESTION 10 IN 31 COMP. GEN. 166. THOSE FACTS ARE QUOTED AS FOLLOWS:

"10. AS THE RESULT OF A SAVINGS CLAUSE IN THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1949 AS EMPLOYEE, FOR EXAMPLE, IN GS-5, IS RECEIVING A RATE WHICH FALLS BETWEEN THE MAXIMUM SCHEDULED RATE AND THE FIRST LONGEVITY STEP FOR THE GRADE OF HIS POSITION. UNDER SECTION 1 (B) (2) (A) OF THE NEW ACT, HE IS MOVED TO THE FIRST LONGEVITY RATE AND THEN GRANTED THE INCREASE AT THAT RATE. DOES HE BEGIN A NEW LONGEVITY PERIOD ON THAT DATE? (THE LAW REQUIRES THAT EACH THREE-YEAR LONGEVITY PERIOD BE SERVED AT A LONGEVITY RATE FOR THAT GRADE.) FOR EXAMPLE, IF THIS EMPLOYEE HAD SERVED TWO YEARS TOWARD A LONGEVITY STEP INCREASE AT THE IN-BETWEEN RATE, UNDER FORMER LAW AND CURRENT REGULATIONS, IS HE STILL REQUIRED TO SERVE THREE YEARS FROM THE DATE HE WAS ADVANCED TO THE FIRST LONGEVITY RATE EVEN THOUGH HE DID NOT RECEIVE A FULL STEP INCREASE? (SEE SEC. 25.52 (B) AND SEC. 25.54 OF THE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES PAY REGULATIONS.)"

IN ANSWER TO THE ABOVE QUESTION WE SAID THAT UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 702 (A) OF THE CLASSIFICATION ACT OF 1949 ONE OF THE CONDITIONS TO ELIGIBILITY FOR LONGEVITY STEP INCREASES IS THAT THE EMPLOYEE MUST HAVE COMPLETED THREE YEARS OF CONTINUOUS SERVICE AT THE MAXIMUM SCHEDULED RATE OF HIS GRADE OR AT ONE OF THE PRESCRIBED LONGEVITY STEPS. SINCE BY INITIAL ADJUSTMENT REQUIRED BY THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 1 (B) (2) (A) OF PUBLIC LAW 201, THE EMPLOYEE IN QUESTION MOVED TO THE FIRST LONGEVITY RATE AS OF THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE ACT, IT FOLLOWS THAT HE MUST COMPLETE THREE YEARS OF CONTINUOUS SERVICE AT SUCH RATE BEFORE HE IS ELIGIBLE FOR ADVANCEMENT TO THE SECOND LONGEVITY RATE.

OUR DECISION 34 COMP. GEN. 691 CONCERNED THE RIGHTS OF EMPLOYEES TO PERIODIC AND LONGEVITY STEP-INCREASES UPON CONVERSION OF THEIR CPC POSITIONS TO GS POSITIONS UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 106 OF THE ACT OF SEPTEMBER 1, 1954, 68 STAT. 1105. THAT SECTION PRESCRIBED THE BEGINNING AND ENDING DATES OF THE PERIOD DURING WHICH THE CONVERSION OF THE CPC POSITIONS TO GS POSITIONS WAS TO BE MADE AS WELL AS THE BASIS FOR THE INITIAL ADJUSTMENTS OF RATES UPON CONVERSION. IN CONSTRUING THE 1954 ACT WE HELD THAT TIME SPENT AT THE MAXIMUM SCHEDULED RATE OF THE CPC POSITION AND IN THE LONGEVITY STEP OF THE GS POSITION COULD BE COMBINED TOWARDS THE NEXT LONGEVITY STEP INCREASE. HOWEVER, WE WERE CAREFUL TO POINT OUT THAT SECTION 25.54 OF THE FEDERAL PERSONNEL MANUAL APPEARED TO HAVE NO APPLICATION TO THIS SITUATION SINCE THE EMPLOYEE CONCERNED WAS NOT RECEIVING A RATE OF BASIC COMPENSATION IN EXCESS OF THE SCHEDULED RATE FOR THE GRADE AS A RESULT OF A SAVING PROVISION. THEREFORE, THIS DECISION WAS LIMITED TO THE CPC POSITIONS WHICH WERE CONVERTED TO GS POSITIONS UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE 1954 ACT.

SINCE THE SPECIFIC FACTS CONCERNING THE SAVED RATE OF COMPENSATION FOR THE NAVY EMPLOYEES IN QUESTION WERE NOT PRESENTED TO US IN THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY'S LETTER, OTHER THAN THAT THE FACTS ARE SIMILAR TO THOSE CONSIDERED BY US IN 31 COMP. GEN. 166, WE MUST ASSUME THAT OUR ANSWER TO QUESTION 10, AS QUOTED ABOVE, APPLIES TO THE FACTS IN THEIR CASES. THEREFORE, UPON THE BASIS OF THIS ASSUMPTION, WE MUST CONCLUDE THAT THE NAVY EMPLOYEES CONCERNED MUST COMPLETE THREE YEARS OF CONTINUOUS SERVICE AT THEIR ADJUSTED RATE BEFORE THEY ARE ELIGIBLE FOR ADVANCEMENT TO THE NEXT LONGEVITY RATE.