B-57444, MAY 21, 1946, 25 COMP. GEN. 791

B-57444: May 21, 1946

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RURAL CARRIERS WHOSE SALARIES WERE ADJUSTED ON JULY 1. BY BEING ASSIGNED TO THE LOWEST GRADE THAT WOULD PROVIDE AN ANNUAL SALARY OF NOT LESS THAN THEIR BASE PAY UNDER CERTAIN PRIOR ACTS PLUS $300 WILL BE ENTITLED TO AN AUTOMATIC PROMOTION TO THE NEXT HIGHER GRADE UPON THE COMPLETION OF ONE YEAR'S SATISFACTORY SERVICE ON JULY 1. RURAL CARRIERS WHO ARE GRANTED. TEMPORARY RURAL CARRIERS SERVING ROUTES ON WHICH A VACANCY EXISTS WHO ARE COMPENSATED PURSUANT TO SECTION 17 (F) OF THE POSTAL SERVICE PAY STATUTE OF JULY 6. ARE NOT ENTITLED TO AUTOMATIC PROMOTIONS AFTER MEETING THE SERVICE REQUIREMENTS OF SECTION 17 (A) OF ACT. WHERE A VACANCY IS CREATED BY THE ENTRY OF THE REGULAR CARRIER INTO THE ARMED FORCES.

B-57444, MAY 21, 1946, 25 COMP. GEN. 791

COMPENSATION - AUTOMATIC PROMOTIONS - RURAL CARRIERS UNDER SECTION 17 (A) OF THE POSTAL SERVICE PAY STATUTE OF JULY 6, 1945, PROVIDING THAT RURAL CARRIERS SHALL BE PROMOTED SUCCESSIVELY AT THE BEGINNING OF THE QUARTER FOLLOWING ONE YEAR'S SATISFACTORY SERVICE IN EACH GRADE, RURAL CARRIERS WHOSE SALARIES WERE ADJUSTED ON JULY 1, 1945, PURSUANT TO THE PROVISO OF SECTION 17 (G) OF SAID ACT, BY BEING ASSIGNED TO THE LOWEST GRADE THAT WOULD PROVIDE AN ANNUAL SALARY OF NOT LESS THAN THEIR BASE PAY UNDER CERTAIN PRIOR ACTS PLUS $300 WILL BE ENTITLED TO AN AUTOMATIC PROMOTION TO THE NEXT HIGHER GRADE UPON THE COMPLETION OF ONE YEAR'S SATISFACTORY SERVICE ON JULY 1, 1946. RURAL CARRIERS WHO ARE GRANTED, UPON RESTORATION AFTER MILITARY DUTY, A PERIOD OF EXTENDED LEAVE OF ABSENCE WITHOUT PAY FOR THE PURPOSE OF SECURING VETERANS' EDUCATION OR OTHER TRAINING BENEFITS, MAY NOT INCLUDE SUCH LEAVE OF ABSENCE WITHOUT PAY IN DETERMINING THE "ONE YEAR'S SATISFACTORY SERVICE" IN A PARTICULAR GRADE REQUIRED FOR AUTOMATIC PROMOTION PURPOSES UNDER SECTION 17 (A) OF THE POSTAL SERVICE PAY STATUTE OF JULY 6, 1945. TEMPORARY RURAL CARRIERS SERVING ROUTES ON WHICH A VACANCY EXISTS WHO ARE COMPENSATED PURSUANT TO SECTION 17 (F) OF THE POSTAL SERVICE PAY STATUTE OF JULY 6, 1945, ARE NOT ENTITLED TO AUTOMATIC PROMOTIONS AFTER MEETING THE SERVICE REQUIREMENTS OF SECTION 17 (A) OF ACT; HOWEVER, WHERE A VACANCY IS CREATED BY THE ENTRY OF THE REGULAR CARRIER INTO THE ARMED FORCES, THE TEMPORARY CARRIER WOULD BE ENTITLED, BY VIRTUE OF THE COMPENSATION ASSIMILATION PROVISIONS OF SECTION 4 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 6, 1946, TO THE AUTOMATIC PROMOTIONS OTHERWISE DUE THE REGULAR CARRIER.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, MAY 21, 1946:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 23, 1946, REFERENCE 15, AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 17 (G) OF THE ACT OF JULY 6, 1945, PUBLIC LAW 134, PROVIDES THAT RURAL CARRIERS WHO WERE RECEIVING AN ANNUAL SALARY IN EXCESS OF THE STANDARD RATE OF $60 PER MILE AS OF JUNE 30, 1945, BE PLACED IN A GRADE PROVIDED BY PUBLIC LAW 134 THAT WOULD GIVE THEM AN INCREASE OF NOT LESS THAN $300 PER ANNUM EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 1945.

1. WILL RURAL CARRIERS WHO WERE ASSIGNED TO AN EXCESS GRADE ON JULY 1, 1945, BECAUSE THEY WERE RECEIVING OVER $60 PER MILE ON JUNE 30, 1945, BE ENTITLED TO AN AUTOMATIC PROMOTION ON JULY 1, 1946?

FOR EXAMPLE, RURAL ROUTE 1, WHEELER, ALABAMA, IS 24.4 MILES IN LENGTH. IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ACT OF JUNE 25, 1934 (48 STAT. 1213) THE CARRIER WAS RECEIVING $1620 PER ANNUM ON JUNE 30, 1945. THIS RATE, PLUS $300, RESULTED IN THE CARRIER'S BEING PLACED IN GRADE 10 AT $1944 PER ANNUM ON JULY 1, 1945, IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 17 (G), PUBLIC LAW 134. CARRIER SERVING A ROUTE OF THIS LENGTH WHO WAS NOT RECEIVING AN EXCESS OF $60 PER MILE ON JUNE 30, 1945, WOULD HAVE RECEIVED $1800 ON JULY 1, 1945, AND ON JULY 1, 1946, WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR PROMOTION TO THE $1872 GRADE. IF YOUR ANSWER TO QUESTION NO. 1 IS IN THE AFFIRMATIVE THE CARRIER ON ROUTE 1, WHEELER, MAY BE ADVANCED TO GRADE 11 AT $2016 PER ANNUM ON JULY 1, 1946.

2. IS A REGULAR CARRIER ON EXTENDED LEAVE WITHOUT PAY ENTITLED TO AUTOMATIC PROMOTIONS?

QUESTIONS ARE ARISING, AND WILL CONTINUE TO ARISE IN INCREASING NUMBERS WHERE RURAL CARRIERS ARE TAKING EXTENDED LEAVES OF ABSENCE WITHOUT PAY, PARTICULARLY CARRIERS RETURNING FROM THE ARMED FORCES, WHO DESIRE TO TAKE LEAVE FOR THE PURPOSE OF SECURING EDUCATIONAL OR OTHER TRAINING BENEFITS UNDER THE GI BILL OF RIGHTS. IN SOME CASES THE CARRIER WILL BE ABSENT FOR A SHORT PERIOD OF A FEW MONTHS WHILE IN OTHER INSTANCES THE ABSENCE MAY LAST A YEAR OR LONGER.

3. IS A TEMPORARY CARRIER SERVING A ROUTE ON WHICH A VACANCY EXISTS ENTITLED TO AUTOMATIC PROMOTIONS UNDER PUBLIC LAW 134?

THERE ARE MANY INSTANCES WHERE, BECAUSE OF CONDITIONS PECULIAR TO THAT PARTICULAR AREA, IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO APPOINT A REGULAR CARRIER, AND THE TEMPORARY CARRIER SERVING THAT ROUTE MUST BE EMPLOYED FOR A CONSIDERABLE LENGTH OF TIME. AS THESE CARRIERS MAY SERVE SEVERAL YEARS, THE QUESTION IS RAISED AS TO WHETHER THEY ARE ENTITLED TO AUTOMATIC PROMOTIONS AFTER COMPLYING WITH THE SERVICE REQUIREMENTS OF PUBLIC LAW 134.

SECTION 17 (G) OF PUBLIC LAW 134, APPROVED JULY 6, 1945, 59 STAT. 435, 456, PROVIDES:

IN THE READJUSTMENT OF THE SALARIES OF CARRIERS IN THE RURAL DELIVERY SERVICE TO CONFORM TO THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ACT, CARRIERS ASSIGNED TO ROUTES SEVENTEEN MILES OR MORE IN LENGTH SHALL BE PLACED IN GRADE 8; RURAL CARRIERS ASSIGNED TO ROUTES ELEVEN TO SIXTEEN MILES IN LENGTH, INCLUSIVE, SHALL BE PLACED IN GRADE 9; RURAL CARRIERS ASSIGNED TO ROUTES EIGHT TO TEN MILES IN LENGTH, INCLUSIVE, SHALL BE PLACED IN GRADE 10, AND RURAL CARRIERS ASSIGNED TO ROUTES SEVEN MILES OR LESS IN LENGTH SHALL BE PLACED IN GRADE 11: PROVIDED, THAT ANY CARRIER IN THE RURAL MAIL DELIVERY SERVICE ON JUNE 30, 1945, WHO SERVES SIX DAYS A WEEK A RURAL ROUTE OF LESS THAN THIRTY MILES, OR WHO SERVES THREE DAYS A WEEK A RURAL ROUTE OF LESS THAN SIXTY MILES OR TWO ROUTES OF A COMBINED LENGTH OF LESS THAN SIXTY MILES, AND WHO IS RECEIVING FOR SUCH SERVICE AN ANNUAL SALARY IN EXCESS OF A SALARY BASED ON THE STANDARD RATE OF $60 PER MILE PER ANNUM FOR THE FIRST THIRTY MILES, AND WHOSE ANNUAL SALARY IS IN EXCESS OF SUCH STANDARD RATE IN CONFORMITY WITH SUBSECTION (D) OF THE FIRST SECTION OF THE ACT ENTITLED "1AN ACT TO ADJUST THE SALARIES OF RURAL LETTER CARRIERS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES" (48 STAT. 1213), APPROVED JUNE 25, 1934, AS AMENDED ( U.S.C. 1940 EDITION, TITLE 39, SEC. 197-A), SHALL BE ASSIGNED TO THE LOWEST GRADE THAT WILL PROVIDE AN ANNUAL SALARY OF NOT LESS THAN HIS BASE PAY UNDER ALL PROVISIONS OF SAID ACT, AS AMENDED PLUS $300.

IT IS APPARENT THAT FOR THE PURPOSE OF READJUSTING THE SALARIES OF CARRIERS IN THE RURAL DELIVERY SERVICE TO CONFORM TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT, THE SECTION QUOTED ABOVE PRESCRIBES TWO METHODS FOR DETERMINING THE PROPER GRADES OF RURAL CARRIERS. THE FIRST METHOD IS TO PLACE THE CARRIER IN A GRADE ACCORDING TO THE NUMBER OF MILES IN THE ROUTE TO WHICH ASSIGNED. THE SECOND METHOD, PRESCRIBED IN THE PROVISO AND APPLICABLE ONLY TO CERTAIN CARRIERS AS INDICATED, IS TO ASSIGN THE CARRIER TO THE LOWEST GRADE THAT WILL PROVIDE AN ANNUAL SALARY OF NOT LESS THAN HIS BASE PAY UNDER CERTAIN PRIOR ACTS PLUS $300.

SECTION 17 (A) OF PUBLIC LAW 134, SUPRA, 59 STAT. 455, PROVIDES:

CARRIERS IN THE RURAL DELIVERY SERVICE SHALL BE DIVIDED INTO ELEVEN GRADES, WITH SALARIES BASED IN PART ON SPECIFIED RATES PER MILE PER ANNUM AND IN PART ON FIXED COMPENSATION PER ANNUM, AS FOLLOWS:

FOR ROUTES THIRTY MILES OR LESS IN LENGTH SERVED SIX DAYS A WEEK:

RATES PER MILE: FIXED COMPENSATION

GRADE 1, $54 ------------------------------------------- 10

GRADE 2, $56 ------------------------------------------- $ 24

GRADE 3, $58 ------------------------------------------- 48

GRADE 4, $60 ------------------------------------------- 72

GRADE 5, $62 ------------------------------------------- 96

GRADE 6, $64 ------------------------------------------- 120

GRADE 7, $66 ------------------------------------------- 144

GRADE 8, $68 ------------------------------------------- 168

GRADE 9, $70 ------------------------------------------- 192

GRADE 10, $72 ------------------------------------------- 216

GRADE 11, $74 ------------------------------------------- 240 AND CARRIERS SHALL BE PROMOTED SUCCESSIVELY AT THE BEGINNING OF THE QUARTER FOLLOWING ONE YEAR'S SATISFACTORY SERVICE IN EACH GRADE TO THE NEXT HIGHER GRADE UNTIL THEY REACH THE ELEVENTH GRADE: PROVIDED, THAT THERE SHALL BE THREE ADDITIONAL GRADES OF CARRIERS IN THE RURAL DELIVERY SERVICE, WITH RATES OF PAY PER MILE PER ANNUM AND FIXED COMPENSATION PER ANNUM, AS FOLLOWS:

RATES PER MILE: FIXED COMPENSATION

GRADE 12, $76 ------------------------------------------- $264

GRADE 13, $78 ------------------------------------------- 288

GRADE 14, 80 ------------------------------------------- 312 AND CARRIERS WHO PERFORM FAITHFUL AND MERITORIOUS SERVICE SHALL BE PROMOTED TO GRADE 12 AFTER THREE YEARS OF SUCH SERVICE IN GRADE 11, AND SHALL BE PROMOTED TO GRADE 13 AFTER FIVE YEARS OF SUCH SERVICE IN GRADE 12, AND SHALL BE PROMOTED TO GRADE 14 AFTER SEVEN YEARS OF SUCH SERVICE IN GRADE 13. (ITALICS SUPPLIED.)

THAT SECTION OF THE STATUTE, IN PROVIDING FOR THE PROMOTION OF A CARRIER FROM ONE GRADE TO ANOTHER, DOES NOT MAKE REFERENCE TO THE METHOD ORIGINALLY USED IN DETERMINING THE GRADE TO WHICH THE CARRIER SHOULD BE PLACED OR ASSIGNED. IT MAKES NO DISTINCTION BETWEEN A CARRIER WHO HAS BEEN PLACED IN A GRADE DETERMINED UNDER THE FIRST METHOD PROVIDED IN SECTION 17 (G) SUPRA, AND A CARRIER WHO HAS BEEN ASSIGNED TO A GRADE DETERMINED ACCORDING TO THE SECOND METHOD WHICH IS CONTAINED IN THE PROVISO OF THAT SECTION. SINCE SECTION 17 (A) PROVIDES THAT CARRIERS SHALL BE PROMOTED SUCCESSIVELY AT THE BEGINNING OF THE QUARTER FOLLOWING ONE YEAR'S SATISFACTORY SERVICE IN EACH GRADE AND SINCE NO REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE MANNER BY WHICH THE CARRIER WAS ORIGINALLY PLACED OR ASSIGNED IN THE GRADE, THE FIRST QUESTION PRESENTED IS ANSWERED IN THE AFFIRMATIVE, PROVIDED, OF COURSE, THAT THE SERVICE PERFORMED FOR THE YEAR WAS SATISFACTORY.

WITH RESPECT TO THE SECOND QUESTION, THERE IS FOR NOTING THAT PORTION OF SECTION 17 (A) OF THE ACT WHICH READS "CARRIERS SHALL BE PROMOTED SUCCESSIVELY AT THE BEGINNING OF THE QUARTER FOLLOWING ONE YEAR'S SATISFACTORY SERVICE IN EACH GRADE.' ALSO, THERE ARE FOR CONSIDERATION THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 25 OF PUBLIC LAW 134, SUPRA, 59 STAT. 461, WHICH PROVIDES:

ALLOWABLE SERVICE UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ACT SHALL BE ONLY SUCH CONTINUOUS ACTIVE SERVICE AS HAS BEEN RENDERED AND SHALL NOT INCLUDE PREVIOUS PERIODS OR TERMS OF EMPLOYMENT: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, THAT IN THE CASE OF EMPLOYEES WHO HAVE BEEN SEPARATED OR SHALL HEREAFTER BE SEPARATED FROM THE FIELD SERVICE OF THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT FOR MILITARY DUTY, THE PERIODS OR TERMS OF SERVICE IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING ENTRY INTO THE MILITARY SERVICE AS WELL AS THE TIME ENGAGED IN MILITARY SERVICE SHALL BE CONSTRUED AS ALLOWABLE SERVICE AND PRO RATA CREDIT SHALL BE GIVEN FOR THE TIME ENGAGED IN MILITARY SERVICE FOR EACH YEAR OF SUCH SERVICE. (ITALICS SUPPLIED.)

IT HARDLY COULD BE CONCLUDED THAT CARRIERS WHO ARE ON EXTENDED LEAVE WITHOUT PAY ARE PERFORMING ,SATISFACTORY SERVICE" OR THAT THE PERIOD OF LEAVE WITHOUT PAY COULD BE CONSIDERED AS "CONTINUOUS ACTIVE SERVICE AS HAS BEEN RENDERED" SO FAR AS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS CONCERNED. ACCORDINGLY, UNLESS THE CARRIER COMES WITHIN THE TERMS OF THE PROVISO RELATING TO EMPLOYEES SEPARATED FROM THE FIELD SERVICE OF THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT FOR MILITARY DUTY, QUESTION NO. 2 IS ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE.

SECTION 17 (F) OF THE STATUTE, 59 STAT. 456, PROVIDES IN PART:

* * * A TEMPORARY RURAL CARRIER SERVING A ROUTE FOR WHICH THERE IS NO REGULAR CARRIER SHALL BE PAID AT THE RATE OF SALARY PROVIDED FOR A CARRIER OF GRADE 1 FOR THE ROUTE ON WHICH SERVICE IS PERFORMED, INCLUDING SUNDAYS AND AUTHORIZED HOLIDAYS EXCEPT AT THE BEGINNING AND END OF THE PERIOD OF EMPLOYMENT.

THERE IS PARTICULARLY FOR NOTING, ALSO, SECTION 4 OF PUBLIC LAW 317, APPROVED MARCH 6, 1946, 60 STAT. 36, WHICH PROVIDES:

SEC. 4. A TEMPORARY RURAL CARRIER SERVING A RURAL ROUTE DURING THE VACANCY CREATED BY THE INDUCTION OF THE REGULAR CARRIER INTO THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES SHALL BE PAID FOR SUCH SERVICE AT THE SAME RATES PER MILE PER ANNUM AND THE SAME RATE OF FIXED COMPENSATION THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN PAID TO THE REGULAR CARRIER, SUNDAYS AND HOLIDAYS INCLUDED EXCEPT AT THE BEGINNING OR END OF THE PERIOD OF EMPLOYMENT.

NO EXPRESS PROVISION IS FOUND EITHER IN PUBLIC LAW 134 OR ELSEWHERE WHICH WOULD ENTITLE ALL TEMPORARY RURAL CARRIERS TO PROMOTIONS; NEITHER HAS THERE BEEN FOUND ANY PROVISION FROM WHICH IT REASONABLY COULD BE IMPLIED THAT PROMOTION FOR ALL TEMPORARY RURAL CARRIERS WAS INTENDED. ON THE CONTRARY, THE SEVERAL PROVISIONS APPEARING IN PUBLIC LAW 134 PROVIDING FOR THE PROMOTION OF CERTAIN POSTAL EMPLOYEES WHO ARE OTHER THAN REGULAR EMPLOYEES WARRANTS THE CONCLUSION THAT WHERE EXPRESS PROVISION HAS NOT BEEN MADE FOR THE PROMOTION OF OTHER THAN A REGULAR EMPLOYEE A PROMOTION WAS NOT INTENDED. SEE, FOR EXAMPLE, SECTIONS 12 (F), 13 (E), 16 (K), (O) AND (S) AND 22 (B), 59 STAT. 445, 446, 453, 454, 455, 460, EACH OF WHICH HAS TO DO WITH THE PROMOTION OF OTHER THAN REGULAR EMPLOYEES. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, QUESTION NO. 3 IS ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE, EXCEPT WHERE A TEMPORARY RURAL CARRIER IS SERVING A RURAL ROUTE DURING A VACANCY CREATED BY THE INDUCTION OF A REGULAR CARRIER INTO THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES, IN WHICH EVENT THE QUESTION, BY VIRTUE OF THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 4 OF THE 1916 STATUTE, SUPRA, WOULD BE FOR ANSWERING IN THE AFFIRMATIVE.