B-240200, Dec 20, 1990

B-240200: Dec 20, 1990

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Young We have been requested to render a decision concerning the application of the biweekly pay limitation contained in 5 U.S.C. That other civilian employees who participated in the military operation "Just Cause" in Panama were involved in similar situations and that our decision will be applied to all employees who participated in the operation. Fox is a General Schedule employee who. His total gross biweekly salary was $3. You state that the biweekly maximum rate of pay at that time was $2. Resulting in earnings of $301.64 which were in excess of the statutory limitation. Young is a General Schedule employee who earned a biweekly base salary of $1. His total gross biweekly salary was $3.

B-240200, Dec 20, 1990

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Compensation - Overtime - Eligibility - Statutory restrictions - Maximum rates DIGEST: Two civilian employees who participated in military operation "Just Cause" involving the country of Panama, performed overtime work, which, when added to their gross bi-weekly salary, caused their aggregate rate of pay for certain pay periods to exceed the maximum rate for GS-15. Section 5547, title 5, United States Code, 1988, places the above stated restriction upon the aggregate compensation which may be paid federal civilian employees. The statutory provision does not contain any exclusions or exceptions that permit waiver of the limitation. Accordingly, the two employees may not be paid overtime compensation which would cause their gross bi-weekly salary for any pay period to exceed the maximum rate for GS-15. Courtney R. Fox and Berthel L. Young

We have been requested to render a decision concerning the application of the biweekly pay limitation contained in 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5547 (1988) on the earnings of certain federal civilian employees of the Department of the Army. /1/

The request concerns two specific employees, Courtney R. Fox and Berthel L. Young. The requester states, however, that other civilian employees who participated in the military operation "Just Cause" in Panama were involved in similar situations and that our decision will be applied to all employees who participated in the operation.

Mr. Fox is a General Schedule employee who, for the pay period ending December 30, 1989, earned a biweekly base salary of $1,413.60. performed 92 hours of overtime work which resulted in overtime pay of $1,736.04. Therefore, his total gross biweekly salary was $3,149.64. Based upon the provisions of section 5547, title 5, United States Code, 1988, you state that the biweekly maximum rate of pay at that time was $2,848, resulting in earnings of $301.64 which were in excess of the statutory limitation.

Mr. Young is a General Schedule employee who earned a biweekly base salary of $1,524 for the pay period ending December 30, 1989. performed 115 hours of overtime work which resulted in overtime pay of $2,170.05. Therefore, his total gross biweekly salary was $3,694.05. His earnings in excess of the statutory ceiling were $846.05.

The specific question presented is whether these two employees may be paid wages in excess of the biweekly statutory limitation of $2,848.

Section 5547 limits the amount of premium pay (including overtime and holiday pay) which may be paid to civilian employees during any pay period. The statute provides that an employee may be paid premium pay under section 5542 (overtime rates), 5542(a), (b) and (c) (night, standby, and irregular overtime differentials), and 5546(a) and (b) (Sunday and holiday pay) of title 5, United States Code, only to the extent that the payment does not cause the employee's aggregate rate of pay for any pay period to exceed the maximum rate for GS-15.

In 26 Comp.Gen. 750 (1947) we held that the restriction placed upon the aggregate compensation which may be paid federal employees by the predecessor statute of 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5547 precludes an employee from receiving overtime compensation if the amount so received would increase his or her aggregate compensation above the limit set by that statute. Further, we held that an employee could not be authorized compensatory time off as a result of overtime work if the limitation on aggregate compensation prevented the employee from being paid for such work. have followed this position in subsequent decisions. See Department of the Army Civilian Payroll System, B-211286, Oct. 2, 1984, and cases cited therein.

Section 5547 does not contain any exclusions or exceptions that permit a waiver of the limitation. See Robert E. Brown, B-229089, Dec. 28, 1988.

Accordingly, the maximum aggregate biweekly basic and premium pay allowable under 5 U.S.C. Sec. 547 is the maximum biweekly rate payable for GS-15 at the time in question, and claims for amounts in excess thereof may not be paid to Messrs. Fox and Young or other civilian employees involved in operation "Just Cause" who have similar claims.

If the Army believes that an exception to the limitation imposed by section 5547 should be made for those involved in operation "Just Cause," it may wish to consider recommending to the Congress enactment of appropriate legislation.

/1/ Based on our informal inquiry of the supervisor. The request has been submitted by Colonel Garry D. Foster, Finance Corps, Civilian Pay Policy and Deployment Division, Department of the Army.