B-245737, Nov 25, 1991

B-245737: Nov 25, 1991

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Appeals our Claims Group's disallowance of his claim for backpay as a result of a successful classification appeal wherein his position was upgraded from WG-8 to WG-10. That backpay be awarded since he was wrongfully deprived of his pay. Hammond contends that it is the responsibility of the Army Personnel Office to know the laws. Regulations pertaining to proper classification and that it was the responsibility of that office to have classified him properly 11 years ago and not to have perpetuated the mistake for 11 years. Implementing guidance in the Federal Personnel Manual /2/ authorize retroactive recovery of wages whenever a federal employee has undergone an unjustified or unwarranted personnel action that has resulted in the withdrawal or diminishing of all or part of the compensation to which the employee is otherwise entitled.

B-245737, Nov 25, 1991

PRECIS-UNAVAILABLE

Emory S. Hammond:

Mr. Emory S. Hammond, an employee of the Corps of Engineers, Department of the Army (Army), appeals our Claims Group's disallowance of his claim for backpay as a result of a successful classification appeal wherein his position was upgraded from WG-8 to WG-10, effective

Mr. Hammond requests that the effective date of the reclassification be made retroactive for a period of 11 years, and that backpay be awarded since he was wrongfully deprived of his pay. Mr. Hammond states that for the 11 years prior to his reclassification he had been operating a 5O-foot vessel requiring a Coast Guard license while erroneously classified a WG- 8, the grade for an operator of a 22-foot motor boat without a license requirement. Mr. Hammond contends that it is the responsibility of the Army Personnel Office to know the laws, rules, and regulations pertaining to proper classification and that it was the responsibility of that office to have classified him properly 11 years ago and not to have perpetuated the mistake for 11 years. Mr. Hammond further contends that the Back Pay Act, 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5596 (1988), and implementing guidance in the Federal Personnel Manual /2/ authorize retroactive recovery of wages whenever a federal employee has undergone an unjustified or unwarranted personnel action that has resulted in the withdrawal or diminishing of all or part of the compensation to which the employee is otherwise entitled.

Based on the applicable statutes, we cannot agree with the claimant. The grading of positions under the prevailing rate (wage grade) system is governed by the provisions of 5 U.S.C. Secs. 5341-5349. Sections 5343 and 5346 empower the Office of Personnel Management to prescribe regulations necessary for the grading of such positions. The OPM regulations provide that the effective date of a change in an employee's rate of basic pay as a result of the grading or regrading of the employee's position shall be effective on the date the grading or regrading action is finally approved by the agency or on a subsequent in the grade of a job shall be specified in the agency decision and unless otherwise required by regulation, may not be earlier than the date of the decision. /4/

In a long line of decisions, this Office has held that federal government employees are entitled only to the salaries of the positions to which they are appointed, regardless of the duties they actually perform. Thus, even if a position to which an employee is appointed is subsequently reclassified to a position of higher grade, entitlement to the pay of the higher grade does not commence until the employee is actually appointed to the higher grade. Alleged delays by the agency in processing job descriptions or delays in reclassifying a position to a higher grade do not provide a basis for backpay. /5/

Further, the Back Pay Act itself specifically provides that its backpay provisions do not apply to any reclassification action. /6/ Also, the Supreme Court of the United States has held that neither the Classification Act nor the Back Pay Act creates a substantive right to backpay for periods of wrongful position classification. /7/

Accordingly, the Claims Group's action on this matter was correct and is sustained.

B-227331, Feb. 29, 1988; Gordon L. Wedemeyer, B-200638, Oct. 9, 1981] Connon R. Odom, B-196824, May 24, 1980; George W. Noller, B-192560, Dec. 14, 1978;