B-156613, MAY 18, 1965, 44 COMP. GEN. 738

B-156613: May 18, 1965

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WHEN THE WAITING PERIOD FOR STEP-INCREASES FOR EMPLOYEES IN STEP 6 WAS REDUCED FROM 104 WEEKS TO 52 WEEKS BECAUSE THE EMPLOYEE AT THE TIME OF CONVERSION TO CAREER POSTMASTER WAS AT THE MAXIMUM STEP OF THE PRIOR POSITION SO THAT THE ONLY POTENTIALLY CREDITABLE SERVICE FOR A STEP INCREASE WAS THAT EARNED IN THE ACTING POSTMASTER POSITION WHICH WAS INSUFFICIENT FOR A STEP -INCREASE AND. THE RATE FIXED AT THE TIME OF CONVERSION IS CONSIDERED AN EQUIVALENT INCREASE IN COMPENSATION AND A NEW WAITING PERIOD FOR A STEP-INCREASE BEGAN AT THAT TIME. SANGER'S SERVICE HISTORY IS SHOWN BY YOUR LETTER TO BE AS FOLLOWS: CHART "12/31/62 APPT. STEP-6 10125" (26 WEEKS OF SERVICE) THE OTHER FACTS PERTINENT TO HIS CLAIM ARE RELATED BY YOU AS FOLLOWS: "ON DECEMBER 31.

B-156613, MAY 18, 1965, 44 COMP. GEN. 738

COMPENSATION - POSTAL SERVICE - POSTMASTERS - CONVERSION FROM ACTING - STEP - INCREASES A POSTAL EMPLOYEE WHO, INCIDENT TO PROMOTION TO ACTING POSTMASTER, RETAINED THE HIGHER SALARY OF HIS PRIOR POSITION (PFS-9, LEVEL 10) AND, THEN UPON CONVERSION TO CAREER POSTMASTER HAD HIS SALARY FIXED (PFS-11, STEP 6) UNDER THE PROMOTION RULE IN SECTION 753.322A (1) OF THE POSTAL MANUAL DID NOT BECOME ENTITLED TO A STEP-INCREASE UNDER SECTION 114 OF THE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES SALARY ACT OF 1964, 39 U.S.C. 3552 (A) (1), WHEN THE WAITING PERIOD FOR STEP-INCREASES FOR EMPLOYEES IN STEP 6 WAS REDUCED FROM 104 WEEKS TO 52 WEEKS BECAUSE THE EMPLOYEE AT THE TIME OF CONVERSION TO CAREER POSTMASTER WAS AT THE MAXIMUM STEP OF THE PRIOR POSITION SO THAT THE ONLY POTENTIALLY CREDITABLE SERVICE FOR A STEP INCREASE WAS THAT EARNED IN THE ACTING POSTMASTER POSITION WHICH WAS INSUFFICIENT FOR A STEP -INCREASE AND, THEREFORE, THE RATE FIXED AT THE TIME OF CONVERSION IS CONSIDERED AN EQUIVALENT INCREASE IN COMPENSATION AND A NEW WAITING PERIOD FOR A STEP-INCREASE BEGAN AT THAT TIME.

TO MR. L. P. AFDEM, POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT, MAY 18, 1965:

YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 22, 1965, REFERENCE AIR:LPA, ENCLOSING A VOUCHER FOR $12.09 IN FAVOR OF MR. F. M. SANGER, POSTMASTER, REPRESENTING ADDITIONAL COMPENSATION CLAIMED BY HIM, ASKS WHETHER THE VOUCHER MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT.

MR. SANGER'S SERVICE HISTORY IS SHOWN BY YOUR LETTER TO BE AS FOLLOWS:

CHART "12/31/62 APPT. ACTING POSTMASTER PFS-11, STEP-1 $8830 (RETAINED)

1) 3/64 CONV. TO CAREER POSTMASTER PFS-11, STEP-6 9370

1) 4/64 P.L. 87-793, SCH. II PFS-11, STEP-6 9810

7) 4/64 P.L. 88-426, SEC. 114 PFS-11, STEP-7 10420

(52 WEEKS OF SERVICE)

1/16/64 (5) STEP INCREASE AMENDED PFS-11, STEP-6 10125"

(26 WEEKS OF SERVICE)

THE OTHER FACTS PERTINENT TO HIS CLAIM ARE RELATED BY YOU AS FOLLOWS:

"ON DECEMBER 31, 1962 MR. SANGER WAS CHANGED FROM SUPERINTENDENT OF MAILS, PFS-9, STEP-10, $8830 TO ACTING POSTMASTER, PFS-11, STEP-1, $8830 AND HIS SALARY WAS SET UNDER SEC. 753.413 OF THE POSTAL MANUAL. SEC. 753.413 PROVIDES THAT A POSTAL EMPLOYEE RETAINS HIS PREVIOUS SALARY IF IT IS HIGHER THAN THE SALARY HE WOULD RECEIVE IN STEP-1 AS ACTING POSTMASTER AND THE PROMOTION RULE DOES NOT APPLY.

"ON JULY 4, 1964 THE WAITING PERIOD FOR STEP INCREASES WAS CHANGED FROM 104 WEEKS TO 52 WEEKS FOR EMPLOYEES IN STEP-6 (SEC. 114, P.L. 88 426) AND MR. SANGER WAS GIVEN STEP-7 ALLOWING CREDIT FROM DECEMBER 31, 1962. HOWEVER, HIS SALARY WAS REVIEWED AND IT WAS DETERMINED THAT HE WAS NOT ENTITLED TO STEP-7 ON JULY 4, 1964, SINCE HE RECEIVED AN EQUIVALENT INCREASE ON JANUARY 3, 1964 AT THE TIME HIS STATUS WAS CHANGED FROM ACTING POSTMASTER TO CAREER POSTMASTER.'

MR. SANGER IS SAID TO BELIEVE THAT HE WAS ENTITLED TO STEP 7 OF LEVEL PFS -11 ON JULY 4, 1964, UNDER THE RULE STATED IN OUR DECISION OF JANUARY 28, 1963, B-150513, WHICH REQUIRED THAT AN EMPLOYEE'S ENTIRE SERVICE HISTORY BE REVIEWED TO DETERMINE HIS APPROPRIATE STEP-IN-LEVEL RATE WHEN HE WAS CONVERTED FROM AN ACTING POSTMASTER TO CAREER POSTMASTER. IN THAT CASE, THE CLAIMANT, MR. WALKER, WAS NEWLY APPOINTED TO THE POSTAL SERVICE AS AN ACTING POSTMASTER, PFS-6, STEP 1, $4,190 PER ANNUM ON FEBRUARY 28, 1957, AND WAS CONVERTED TO A CAREER POSTMASTER ON AUGUST 22, 1958. WE SAID IN EFFECT THAT CREDITABLE SERVICE TOWARD STEP INCREASES AND OTHER FACTORS WHICH POTENTIALLY ACCRUED DURING HIS SERVICE AS ACTING POSTMASTER SHOULD BE CONSIDERED IN FIXING HIS RATE OF COMPENSATION FOLLOWING HIS CONVERSION TO A CAREER POSTMASTER STATUS.

MR. SANGER'S RATE UPON CONVERSION WAS FIXED IN ACCORD WITH THE PRIMARY PROVISION OF SECTION 753.413 OF THE POSTAL MANUAL WHICH READS IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

"* * * AN EMPLOYEE FROM THE POSTAL SERVICE APPOINTED AS ACTING POSTMASTER ON OR AFTER DECEMBER 3, 1955, SHALL RETAIN HIS PREVIOUS BASIC COMPENSATION WHILE SERVING AS ACTING POSTMASTER IF HIS PREVIOUS COMPENSATION IS ABOVE STEP 1 OF THE SALARY LEVEL OF THE POSTMASTER'S POSITION. THE PROMOTION RULE OF 753.322 DOES NOT APPLY TO SUCH APPOINTMENT. IF THEN APPOINTED AS POSTMASTER, THE EMPLOYEE'S APPROPRIATE STEP WILL BE DETERMINED UNDER 753.322 AS APPLIED TO THE BASIC COMPENSATION HE RECEIVED IN THE POSITION HE HELD PRIOR TO APPOINTMENT AS ACTING POSTMASTER, OR, WHERE MORE FAVORABLE, HIS SALARY SHALL BE DETERMINED ON THE BASIS OF SERVICE PERFORMED UNDER THE APPOINTMENT TO THE POSITION OF ACTING POSTMASTER. * *

SINCE MR. SANGER'S POSITION AS POSTMASTER IN PFS-11 WAS NOT MORE THAN TWO LEVELS ABOVE THE LEVEL OF HIS POSITION IN PFS-9, IT APPEARS THAT HIS RATE AS POSTMASTER SHOULD BE FIXED IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 753.322A (1) OF THE POSTAL MANUAL. THAT SUBSECTION READS:

"A. STEP DETERMINATION. WHEN AN EMPLOYEE IS PROMOTED TO A HIGHER LEVEL, HIS STEP IN THE HIGHER LEVEL SHALL BE DETERMINED AS FOLLOWS:

"/1) IF THE HIGHER LEVEL IS NOT MORE THAN TWO LEVELS ABOVE THE LEVEL FROM WHICH PROMOTED, EMPLOYEE'S SALARY IN THE HIGHER LEVEL SHALL BE FIXED AT THE LOWEST STEP WHICH EXCEEDS HIS EXISTING COMPENSATION BY NOT LESS THAN TWO FULL STEP-INCREASES IN THE LEVEL FROM WHICH PROMOTED.'

TWO STEP INCREASES IN LEVEL 9 AMOUNTED TO $450 WHICH PLUS MR. SANGER'S RATE OF COMPENSATION OF $8,830 IN THAT LEVEL EQUALED $9,280. THE LOWEST SCHEDULED STEP WHICH EXCEEDED THAT RATE WAS PFS-11, STEP 6, $9,370, WHICH WAS GRANTED MR. SANGER UPON HIS CONVERSION TO THE POSITION OF CAREER POSTMASTER ON JANUARY 3, 1964. SINCE HE WAS AT THE MAXIMUM STEP OF LEVEL 9, THE ONLY SERVICE WHICH WAS POTENTIALLY CREDITABLE TOWARD A STEP INCREASE AT THE TIME OF HIS CONVERSION WAS THAT WHICH ACCRUED AS ACTING POSTMASTER. THAT SERVICE WAS NOT SUFFICIENT TO ENTITLE HIM TO A STEP INCREASE UPON HIS CONVERSION AND SINCE HE RECEIVED AN EQUIVALENT INCREASE IN COMPENSATION ON JANUARY 3, 1964, A NEW WAITING PERIOD BEGAN ON THAT DATE. THEREFORE, HE WAS NOT ENTITLED TO A STEP INCREASE ON JULY 4, 1964, BY VIRTUE OF SECTION 114 OF PUB.L. 88-426, APPROVED AUGUST 14, 1964, OR OTHERWISE.

IT IS NOT PERCEIVED HOW A MORE FAVORABLE RATE COULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED MR. SANGER HAD HIS RATE BEEN DETERMINED UNDER THE ALTERNATIVE PROVISION OF SECTION 753.413 OF THE POSTAL MANUAL OR UNDER OUR DECISION OF JANUARY 28, 1963, B-150513, UPON WHICH HE APPARENTLY RELIES.

THEREFORE, WE CONCLUDE THE PROPER RATE OF COMPENSATION FOR MR. SANGER BEGINNING JULY 4, 1964, WAS $10,125 PER ANNUM. AT THE BEGINNING OF THE FIRST PAY PERIOD FOLLOWING 52 WEEKS OF SERVICE AS POSTMASTER HE BECAME ENTITLED TO STEP 7 OF HIS LEVEL OR $10,420 PER ANNUM. IF THE PERIOD COVERED BY THE VOUCHER PROPERLY INCLUDES THE STEP INCREASE, IT MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT. HOWEVER, ADJUSTMENT TO THE RATE OF $10,125 MUST BE MADE FOR THE PERIOD BEGINNING ON JULY 4, 1964 (APPARENTLY 26 WEEKS), DURING WHICH HE WAS OVERPAID. THE VOUCHER IS RETURNED HEREWITH.