Job Description and Claim for Backpay

B-195127(MRV): Dec 7, 1979

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Two employees of the Veterans Administration claimed retroactive pay for a period of 7.5 years on the ground that their position should have been classified as WG-5 instead of as WG-4. In view of statutes relating to its decisionmaking authority, GAO was unable to render a formal decision at the time. However, several comments were offered on the basis of available information. Prevailing rate positions are graded under standards established by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Employee appeals of such job grading determinations are reviewed by the employing agency and OPM. With regard to entitlement to backpay for a period of wrongful classification, GAO and the courts have long held that there is no entitlement to the pay of a higher grade position unless and until the position is reclassified upward and the employee is promoted to that position. GAO has held that employees who are on extended details to a higher graded position without Civil Service Commission approval to extend the detail beyond 120 days are entitled to a retroactive temporary promotion and backpay beginning the 121st day of such detail. However, where an employee has not been detailed to a higher grade position but instead argues that his existing position should have been classified at a higher grade, this rule is not applicable.