B-160625, JAN. 23, 1967

B-160625: Jan 23, 1967

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IN WHICH YOU REQUEST THAT WE REEXAMINE THE PRACTICE OF THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT IN OFFSETTING WORK TIME DEFICIENCIES AGAINST ACCUMULATED OVERTIME WORK IN THE CASE OF EMPLOYEES OF THE POSTAL TRANSPORTATION SERVICE AND MOTOR VEHICLE SERVICE WHO ARE ASSIGNED TO ROAD DUTY. THE STATUTORY AUTHORITY FOR THE PAYMENT OF OVERTIME COMPENSATION TO THE CLASSES OF EMPLOYEES INVOLVED IS CONTAINED IN 39 U.S.C. 3581 READING AS FOLLOWS: "/A) THE POSTMASTER GENERAL SHALL ORGANIZE THE WORK OF EMPLOYEES IN THE POSTAL TRANSPORTATION SERVICE AND THE MOTOR VEHICLE SERVICE WHO ARE ASSIGNED TO ROAD DUTY INTO REGULARLY SCHEDULED TOURS OF DUTY. WHO ARE REQUIRED TO PERFORM WORK IN EXCESS OF THE SCHEDULED TIME OF THEIR REGULAR TOURS OF DUTY AS ESTABLISHED BY THE POSTMASTER GENERAL SHALL BE PAID AT THE RATE OF 150 PERCENTUM OF THEIR HOURLY BASIC COMPENSATION FOR OVERTIME WORK.

B-160625, JAN. 23, 1967

TO MR. MICHAEL P. OMELINA:

WE REFER TO YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 27, 1966, IN WHICH YOU REQUEST THAT WE REEXAMINE THE PRACTICE OF THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT IN OFFSETTING WORK TIME DEFICIENCIES AGAINST ACCUMULATED OVERTIME WORK IN THE CASE OF EMPLOYEES OF THE POSTAL TRANSPORTATION SERVICE AND MOTOR VEHICLE SERVICE WHO ARE ASSIGNED TO ROAD DUTY.

THE STATUTORY AUTHORITY FOR THE PAYMENT OF OVERTIME COMPENSATION TO THE CLASSES OF EMPLOYEES INVOLVED IS CONTAINED IN 39 U.S.C. 3581 READING AS FOLLOWS:

"/A) THE POSTMASTER GENERAL SHALL ORGANIZE THE WORK OF EMPLOYEES IN THE POSTAL TRANSPORTATION SERVICE AND THE MOTOR VEHICLE SERVICE WHO ARE ASSIGNED TO ROAD DUTY INTO REGULARLY SCHEDULED TOURS OF DUTY. THE TOURS OF DUTY SHALL AGGREGATE AN AVERAGE OF NOT MORE THAN EIGHT HOURS A DAY FOR TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY-TWO DAYS A YEAR, INCLUDING AN ALLOWANCE OF ONE HOUR AND THIRTY-FIVE MINUTES FOR WORK TO BE PERFORMED ON LAYOFF PERIODS. MAY NOT GRANT ALLOWANCES OF TIME FOR WORK PERFORMED ON LAYOFF PERIODS TO EMPLOYEES OTHER THAN EMPLOYEES ENGAGED IN THE DISTRIBUTION OF MAIL.

"/B) EMPLOYEES IN THE POSTAL TRANSPORTATION SERVICE AND THE MOTOR VEHICLE SERVICE ASSIGNED TO ROAD DUTY, EXCEPT SUBSTITUTE EMPLOYEES, WHO ARE REQUIRED TO PERFORM WORK IN EXCESS OF THE SCHEDULED TIME OF THEIR REGULAR TOURS OF DUTY AS ESTABLISHED BY THE POSTMASTER GENERAL SHALL BE PAID AT THE RATE OF 150 PERCENTUM OF THEIR HOURLY BASIC COMPENSATION FOR OVERTIME WORK. IN ARRIVING AT THE AMOUNT OF OVERTIME TO BE PAID AT ANY TIME DURING THE CALENDAR YEAR, ANY DEFICIENCIES ACCRUED UP TO THAT TIME DURING THE SAME CALENDAR YEAR SHALL BE OFFSET AGAINST ANY OVERTIME WORK BY THE EMPLOYEE.'

UNDER THE SPECIFIC WORDING OF THE QUOTED STATUTES, BEFORE OVERTIME COMPENSATION IS PAYABLE THERE FIRST MUST BE DEDUCTED FROM THE OVERTIME WORK ANY DEFICIENCIES ACCRUED DURING THE CURRENT CALENDAR YEAR. AFTER THE OVERTIME WORK HAS BEEN SO REDUCED BY THE AMOUNT OF THE ACCRUED DEFICIENCIES, THEN, THE PORTION REMAINING IS COMPENSABLE AT 1 1/2 TIMES THE RATE OF BASIC COMPENSATION.

THE REGULATIONS OF THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT WHICH CLOSELY FOLLOW THE WORDING OF THE STATUTES ARE AS FOLLOWS (SECTION 755.212 OF THE POSTAL MANUAL):

"OVERTIME.EMPLOYEES WHOSE HOURS OF WORK ARE SCHEDULED UNDER 755.211 AND WHO ARE REQUIRED TO PERFORM WORK IN EXCESS OF THE SCHEDULED TIME OF THEIR REGULAR TOURS OF DUTY SHALL BE PAID FOR OVERTIME WORK AT THE RATE OF 150 PERCENT OF THEIR HOURLY BASIC COMPENSATION COMPUTED ON THE BASIS OF 2,080 HOURS IN A YEAR. IN ARRIVING AT THE AMOUNT OF OVERTIME TO BE PAID AT ANY TIME DURING THE CALENDAR YEAR, ANY DEFICIENCIES ACCRUED UP TO THAT TIME DURING THE SAME CALENDAR YEAR SHALL BE OFFSET AGAINST ANY OVERTIME WORK BY THE EMPLOYEE.'

AS WE UNDERSTAND IT, YOUR PRINCIPAL CONTENTION IS THAT IN OFFSETTING DEFICIENCIES THE MONETARY EQUIVALENT OF THE ACCRUED DEFICIENCIES SHOULD BE COMPUTED AT STRAIGHT TIME RATES AND SUCH MONETARY EQUIVALENT THEN SHOULD BE DEDUCTED FROM THE MONETARY EQUIVALENT OF THE ACCUMULATED OVERTIME WHICH SHOULD BE COMPUTED AT 1 1/2 TIMES THE BASIC RATE. THE EXCESS OF THE MONETARY EQUIVALENT OF THE OVERTIME WORK OVER THE MONETARY EQUIVALENT OF THE ACCRUED DEFICIENCIES SHOULD THEN BE PAID TO THE EMPLOYEE.

WE DO NOT SUBSCRIBE TO SUCH VIEWS. THE STATUTE PROVIDES FOR OFFSETTING DEFICIENCIES AGAINST THE AMOUNT OF OVERTIME WORK, THAT IS, THE DEFICIENCIES IN TIME WORKED ARE TO BE OFFSET AGAINST OVERTIME WORK SUBSEQUENTLY PERFORMED. THERE IS NO PROVISION IN THE LAW FOR FIRST CONVERTING THE DEFICIENCIES AND THE OVERTIME WORK TO THEIR MONETARY EQUIVALENTS. MOREOVER, THE PRACTICE OF THE DEPARTMENT IS ONE THAT HAS BEEN CONSISTENTLY FOLLOWED UNDER LAWS RELATING TO EMPLOYEES OF THE POSTAL TRANSPORTATION SERVICE AND THE FORMER RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE FOR MANY YEARS AND HAS BEEN RECOGNIZED BY DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE DATING AS FAR BACK AS 1922 (1 COMP. GEN. 496).

ACCORDINGLY, IN THE ABSENCE OF AN AMENDMENT TO THE CONTROLLING STATUTES PRESENTLY IN EFFECT IT IS OUR VIEW THAT THERE WOULD BE NO PROPER LEGAL BASIS FOR DISTURBING THE PRESENT PRACTICES OF THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT RELATING TO OFFSETTING DEFICIENCIES TO ARRIVE AT THE HOURS FOR WHICH PAYMENT OF OVERTIME MAY BE MADE.

WE POINT OUT AS A MATTER OF INFORMATION THAT A SIMILAR SITUATION EXISTS WHEN COMPENSATORY TIME OFF IS GRANTED FOR AN EQUAL AMOUNT OF TIME SPENT ON OVERTIME DUTY IN LIEU OF THE PAYMENT OF OVERTIME COMPENSATION. SEE 39 U.S.C. 3573.