B-236012, Nov 8, 1989

B-236012: Nov 8, 1989

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Who traveled outside their regular duty hours to temporary duty inspection sites are not entitled to compensatory time or overtime pay. Travel During Non-Duty Hours: This decision is in response to a joint request from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The parties have agreed to hold further arbitration procedures in abeyance pending a decision by our Office. OPINION Although agencies are exhorted to schedule traveltime to the maximum extent possible within the regular workweek of the employee (5 U.S.C. That driving or transporting a vehicle were not essential parts of their jobs. The FRA further argues that overtime may not be paid under subsection 5542(b)(2)(B)(iv) since the assessment in this case was a scheduled event under the sole control of the agency.

B-236012, Nov 8, 1989

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Travel - Non-workday travel - Travel time - Overtime DIGEST: Federal Railroad Administration employees, who traveled outside their regular duty hours to temporary duty inspection sites are not entitled to compensatory time or overtime pay. The travel did not result from an event which could not be scheduled or administratively controlled, and the fact that the employees carried equipment to their assignment does not authorize the payment of overtime or compensatory time.

Erich P. Rudolph-- Overtime Pay-- Travel During Non-Duty Hours:

This decision is in response to a joint request from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Department of Transportation, and the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (AFGE), Local 2814, concerning the claims of six FRA employees for overtime pay or compensatory time for travel outside their regularly scheduled workweek. /1/ For the reasons set forth below, we deny the claims.

BACKGROUND

Following the Conrail/Amtrak accident in Chase, Maryland, in January 1987, the FRA undertook a safety inspection of the Conrail system between March and July 1987. In connection with this special inspection, Mr. Rudolph and other FRA employees often traveled on Sunday in order to report to temporary duty assignments on Monday, and they claim compensatory time or overtime pay for travel on those nonwork days. The FRA denied the claim based on DOT regulations, and AFGE Local 2814 filed a grievance with the FRA on behalf of Mr. Rudolph and others. The parties have agreed to hold further arbitration procedures in abeyance pending a decision by our Office.

OPINION

Although agencies are exhorted to schedule traveltime to the maximum extent possible within the regular workweek of the employee (5 U.S.C. Sec. 6101(b)(2) (1982)), Congress has authorized overtime pay for traveltime only under the specifically limited circumstances enumerated in 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5542(b)(2)(B). Golden and Wood, 66 Comp.Gen. 620 (1987). The union argues that these employees transported government owned test equipment essential to the assessment, thereby entitling them to overtime pay, under subsections 5542(b)(2)(B)(i) or (ii). Additionally, the union cites subsection 5542(b)(2)(B)(iv) arguing that the nature of safety assessments precludes them from being scheduled or administratively controlled.

The agency report indicates that these employees did not perform any work while traveling to the job site, and that driving or transporting a vehicle were not essential parts of their jobs. Citing to 51 Comp. Gen 727 (1972) and 43 Comp.Gen. 273 (1963), the FRA argues that the time these employees spent traveling outside their regular duty hours does not qualify as overtime. The FRA further argues that overtime may not be paid under subsection 5542(b)(2)(B)(iv) since the assessment in this case was a scheduled event under the sole control of the agency.

We have held that the fact that the employee carries files, documents, or supplies incident to the travel does not convert the travel to compensable overtime within the purview of 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5542(b)(2)(B). See William L. Lamb, 61 Comp.Gen. 626 (1982); B-178458, June 22, 1973. There is nothing in the record indicating that any equipment transported by these employees was other than incidental to their travel to their job sites or that the employees were required to accompany, protect, or perform work on the equipment. Therefore, the time spent traveling to the assigned job sites does not qualify for overtime under subsections 5542(b)(2)(B)(i) or (ii). William L. Lamb, 61 Comp.Gen. at 633-34.

With regard to subsection 5542(b)(2)(B)(iv), we have held that in order to be compensated for overtime (1) the travel must result from an event which could not be scheduled or controlled administratively and (2) there must exist an immediate official necessity in connection with the event requiring the travel to be performed outside the employee's regular duty hours. John B. Schepman, et al., 60 Comp.Gen. 681 (1981); Charles S. Price, et al., B-222163, Aug. 22, 1986; Thomas G. Hickey, B-207795, Feb. 6, 1985. Thus, where the necessity for the travel is not so urgent as to preclude proper scheduling of travel, overtime compensation may not be paid nor compensatory time granted for the after-hours traveltime. Hankins and Archie, B-210065, Apr. 2, 1984.

We find that the travel involved in this case does not meet this test. Under the authority of 49 U.S.C. Sec. 103 (1982), the FRA is given broad discretion to perform system safety assessments. The union has not established that the assessments were unscheduled or administratively uncontrollable so as to permit overtime under subsection 5542(b)(2)(B)(iv). Although the January 1987 accident which precipitated the assessment was not within agency control, the agency did control the scheduling of the inspection and the regions involved in this assessment were given advance notice of the assignments.

Accordingly, we deny these claims for compensatory time or overtime compensation for travel outside the regular duty hours.

/1/ The request was submitted under our labor-management procedures in 4 C.F.R. part 22 (1989). These employees are: Erich P. Rudolph, Gordon Nelson, Charles E. Kreh, Jr., Randall A. Jackson, Robert N. Davids, and Gerald R. Jones.