B-149276, JUL. 26, 1962

B-149276: Jul 26, 1962

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THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY REQUESTED OUR DECISION CONCERNING THE RIGHTS OF FIREFIGHTERS TO RETAIN THEIR SAVED PAY COMPENSATION RATES AFTER PERIODS OF ATTENDANCE AT COURSES IN INSTRUCTIONS AND TRAINING OF FROM ONE TO THREE WEEKS DURING WHICH THEIR ESTABLISHED WORKWEEKS ARE REDUCED FROM 72 TO 40 AND 48 HOURS. THERE IS A REDUCTION IN THE NIGHT AND OVERTIME WORK PERFORMED. THE SPECIFIC QUESTION PRESENTED IS AS FOLLOWS: "A. MAY A SAVED-PAY FIREFIGHTER WHOSE COMPENSATION IS REDUCED TO THE STRAIGHT TIME RATE BECAUSE OF REDUCED HOURS OF DUTY AND STANDBY TIME BY A TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT OF LESS THAN THREE WEEKS TO A COURSE OF INSTRUCTION DIRECTLY RELATED TO HIS PERMANENT DUTY BE RESTORED TO THE SAVED PAY RATE OF HIS POSITION UPON RETURN TO HIS REGULAR WORK ASSIGNMENT?

B-149276, JUL. 26, 1962

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY:

ON JUNE 20, 1962, THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY REQUESTED OUR DECISION CONCERNING THE RIGHTS OF FIREFIGHTERS TO RETAIN THEIR SAVED PAY COMPENSATION RATES AFTER PERIODS OF ATTENDANCE AT COURSES IN INSTRUCTIONS AND TRAINING OF FROM ONE TO THREE WEEKS DURING WHICH THEIR ESTABLISHED WORKWEEKS ARE REDUCED FROM 72 TO 40 AND 48 HOURS, AND THERE IS A REDUCTION IN THE NIGHT AND OVERTIME WORK PERFORMED.

THE SPECIFIC QUESTION PRESENTED IS AS FOLLOWS:

"A. MAY A SAVED-PAY FIREFIGHTER WHOSE COMPENSATION IS REDUCED TO THE STRAIGHT TIME RATE BECAUSE OF REDUCED HOURS OF DUTY AND STANDBY TIME BY A TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT OF LESS THAN THREE WEEKS TO A COURSE OF INSTRUCTION DIRECTLY RELATED TO HIS PERMANENT DUTY BE RESTORED TO THE SAVED PAY RATE OF HIS POSITION UPON RETURN TO HIS REGULAR WORK ASSIGNMENT?

THE EMPLOYEES REFERRED TO ARE COMPENSATED UNDER THE SAVED PAY RATE SYSTEM PURSUANT TO SECTION 208 (B) OF THE ACT OF SEPTEMBER 1, 1954, 68 STAT. 1111, AS FOLLOWS:

"/B) NOTHING CONTAINED IN THIS SECTION SHALL BE CONSTRUED TO DECREASE THE EXISTING AGGREGATE RATE OF COMPENSATION OF ANY PRESENT EMPLOYEE, BUT WHEN THE POSITION OF SUCH EMPLOYEE BECOMES VACANT ANY SUBSEQUENT APPOINTEE THERETO SHALL RECEIVE PREMIUM COMPENSATION PROVIDED FOR SUCH POSITION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THIS SECTION.'

SO FAR AS PERTINENT HERE THE CIVIL SERVICE REGULATIONS (SECTION 25.274 (F) FEDERAL PERSONNEL MANUAL) PROVIDE THAT FIREFIGHTERS ENTITLED TO BE COMPENSATED UNDER SUCH SYSTEM SHALL RETAIN THE SAVED PAY RATE SO LONG AS THEY REMAIN IN THE POSITIONS TO WHICH PREMIUM COMPENSATION ON AN ANNUAL BASIS WOULD OTHERWISE BE APPLICABLE, THEIR TOUR OF DUTY DOES NOT DECREASE IN LENGTH, AND THEY CONTINUE TO PERFORM EQUIVALENT NIGHT, HOLIDAY AND IRREGULAR OVERTIME WORK.

AS STATED IN THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY'S LETTER WE HELD IN B 129965,AUGUST 28, 1957, THAT ONCE THESE CONDITIONS ARE NOT MET--- IRRESPECTIVE OF THE LENGTH OF TIME--- THE SAVED PAY RATE WAS NO LONGER PAYABLE. WE ALSO SAID THAT NEITHER THE STATUTE NOR THE REGULATIONS PROVIDE FOR RESTORATION OF SUCH RATE TO AN EMPLOYEE AT A DATE SUBSEQUENT TO HIS HAVING SERVED IN A POSITION TO WHICH THE SAVED RATE DID NOT APPLY.

IN THAT CASE THERE WAS DEMOTION ACTION AT THE REQUEST OF THE EMPLOYEE WHICH INVOLVED A CHANGE OF POSITION AND A REDUCTION OF HIS WORKWEEK FROM 72 TO 48 HOURS. SUBSEQUENTLY HE WAS REASSIGNED TO A 72 HOUR TOUR OF DUTY. SEE ALSO OUR DECISION TO YOU OF JUNE 11, 1959, B 139240, INVOLVING A TEMPORARY PROMOTION FOLLOWED BY RESTORATION TO THE LOWER GRADE.

WE UNDERSTAND THAT THE EMPLOYEES HERE INVOLVED WILL STILL OCCUPY THE SAME POSITIONS AND THAT THE ONLY PURPOSE SOUGHT IS TO PERMIT REDUCTIONS IN THEIR ASSIGNED 72-HOUR WORKWEEK TO ENABLE THEM TO ATTEND AUTHORIZED INSTRUCTION COURSES AFTER WHICH THEY WILL RESUME THEIR NORMAL TOURS OF DUTY.

PROVISIONS FOR TRAINING PROGRAMS FOR CIVILIAN OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE GOVERNMENT WITH RESPECT TO THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR OFFICIAL DUTIES WERE MADE IN THE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES TRAINING ACT, 72 STAT. 327. THE STATED PURPOSE OF THE ACT IS TO PROMOTE EFFICIENCY AND ECONOMY IN THE OPERATION OF THE GOVERNMENT, AND TO PROVIDE MEANS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF MAXIMUM PROFICIENCY IN THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL DUTIES BY ITS OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES. THUS THE PRIMARY BENEFITS OF THE INSTRUCTION AND TRAINING COURSES ACCRUE TO THE GOVERNMENT.

THE PURPOSE OF SECTION 208 (B) QUOTED HEREIN WAS TO PRESERVE THE AGGREGATE SALARY RATE OF AN EMPLOYEE WHO OTHERWISE MIGHT SUFFER A LOSS UNDER THE NEW FORMULA. OUR VIEW IS THAT AN EMPLOYEE WHO, WITHOUT CHANGE IN POSITION AND AT THE REQUEST OF THE GOVERNMENT, ACCEPTS A TEMPORARY REDUCTION IN THE NUMBER OF HOURS IN HIS ASSIGNED WORKWEEK IN ORDER TO PARTICIPATE IN A BRIEF COURSE OF INSTRUCTION OR TRAINING AUTHORIZED UNDER THE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES TRAINING ACT DOES NOT FOREGO HIS RIGHTS UNDER SECTION 208 (B) AND THE IMPLEMENTING REGULATIONS UPON RETURN TO HIS REGULAR WORK ASSIGNMENT.