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370.531.1 - Setting Salary Rates General Schedule Employees

4/8/88

OPR: Admin/Personnel

1. Purpose. This chapter provides policies and procedures for setting salary rates for employees who occupy positions classified and paid under the General Schedule.

2. References.

A. PL 95-454, Civil Service Reform Act of 1978.

B. Basic FPM Chapter 531, Pay Under the General Schedule.

C. FPM Supplement 990-1:

(1) Book I, The General Civil Service Laws:

(a) Chapter 53, Subchapter III, General Schedule Pay Rates.

(b) Chapter 53, Subchapter VI, Grade and Pay Retention.

(2) Book III, Rules and Regulations:

(a) Chapter I, Part 530, Subpart C, Special Rates for Recruitment and Retention.

(b) Chapter I, Part 531, Pay Under the General Schedule.

D. FPM Supplement 990-2, Book 536, Grade and Pay Retention.

E. Departmental Manual:

(1) 370 DM 330, Subchapter 1, paragraph J, Salary and Pay.

(2) 370 DM 531, Subchapter 2, Determining Rate of Basic Compensation.

(3) 370 DM 536, Subchapter 3, Grade and Pay Retention.

3. Establishing Pay Rates.

A. New Appointments. New appointment to the Federal Service will be made at the minimum rate of the grade except when an increased minimum rate is approved as follows:

(1) Shortage Category Positions (see FPM Chapter 530 and FPM Supplement 990-2, Book 530.)

(2) Appointment to a Position at Grades GS-11 and above. Section 5333 of Title 5 United States Code, permits the appointment of a new employee at a rate above the entrance rate for the following considerations: (a) the candidate's unusually high or unique qualifications, (b) the candidate's existing pay, or (c) a special need for his/her services. Prior approval must be obtained from the Bureau Director. An SF-59, Request for Approval of Noncompetitive Action, is to be prepared for the signature of the Servicing Personnel Officer with the concurrence of the Bureau Personnel Officer and approval of the Director. Complete justification must be submitted with the request. A request may also be made in the case of a reappointment with a break in service of at least 90 calendar days. However, the break-in-service requirement does not apply where last employment was as follows: (a) under an appointment as an expert or consultant, (b) under a temporary appointment in furtherance of a postdoctoral research program or as a part of a predoctoral or postdoctoral training program during which a stipend was received, (c) under a temporary appointment of a graduate student when the work was used as a basis for completing certain academic requirements for an advanced degree, (d) employment as a member of the Commissioned Corps of either the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or the Public Health Service, (e) employment which was not both fulltime and the candidate's principal employment, or (f) appointment under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act.

B. Position or Appointment Changes. An employee who is reemployed, reinstated, transferred, promoted, reassigned, changed to lower grade (except where grade or pay retention benefits apply - Paragraphs 5 and 6 respectively) may be paid any step rate in the new grade which does not exceed his highest previous rate SUBJECT TO THE PROVISIONS AND EXCEPTIONS STATED BELOW. This also applies to a conversion or change from one type of appointment to another either in the same position or to a different position.

(1) The criteria in paragraph 4 must be met.

(2) Any action that results in a promotion between General Schedule positions without a break in service will be made at a rate equivalent to 2 step increases above the employee's existing rate. If an employee is receiving a rate above the maximum of his/her grade and there is no rate in the higher grade which is at least two steps above his/her existing rate, the top step or the existing rate is given whichever is higher. (See paragraphs 5 and 6 when promoting an employee with retained grade or retained pay.)

(3) If the higher previous rate falls between two step rates of the new grade, the higher step rate may be given.

(4) The rate given cannot be less than the established minimum rate for the position.

(5) If the highest previous rate rule is not applied when an employee is reappointed within 1 year after separation from the Department by reduction in force, his/her rate is fixed to preserve as nearly as possible the rate received at the time of separation adjusted to subsequent increases in the pay schedule.

(6) The rate of an employee repromoted after a change to lower grade within the Survey in lieu of separation by reduction in force or displacement is fixed so that he/she will not get less than the step rate previously held in the higher grade, unless otherwise provided by law.

(7) The rate of an employee reassigned within USGS or by transfer from another agency without a grade change shall be fixed so that it will not be less than his/her existing rate, unless otherwise provided by law.

(8) A change to lower grade after a temporary promotion is made to the former salary rate (unless otherwise provided by law) plus any within-grade increases which the employee would have earned in the lower grade, or to an augmented rate for which he/she would have been eligible had the employee remained in the lower-grade position. Based upon the merits of a specific case, the pay rate received during the temporary promotion may be used in establishing the rate upon change to lower grade provided the criteria and instructions in paragraph 4A(2) pertaining to highest previous rate are applied.

(9) The rate of an employee changed to lower grade because of unsatisfactory performance will be set at the minimum rate of the lower grade. Exception: If an employee is returned to a position held during a current continuous period of service in which the employee had performed satisfactorily, the rate may be set at the rate the employee would have received had he/she remained in that position.

(10) If a change to lower grade is voluntary or at the request of the employee, his/her pay may be adjusted to any rate which does not exceed the employee's existing rate of pay or, if his/her existing rate of pay falls between two rates of the lower grade, the employee may be given the higher rate, unless otherwise provided by law. (See paragraph 3B(11) below for exception.)

(11) If a change to lower grade is for the purpose of acquiring competitive status, the employee's pay will be adjusted to a rate which upon repromotion as soon as legally possible with the required two-step increase would result in the rate he/she would have received had the employee remained continuously in the higher grade.

(12) If upon post audit the Office of Personnel Management reduces the grade of a position which was reallocated by USGS without fundamental change after the Office of Personnel Management had previously placed it in a lower grade, the employee's salary reverts to that previously held in the lower grade plus any within-grade increases to which he/she would have been entitled.

(13) Upon termination of Agency for International Development (AID) assignment with reemployment rights, the employee's salary may be set at any rate which does not exceed his/her highest previous rate subject to the criteria given in paragraph 4. The salary, however, shall not be less than the rate of the position occupied prior to the AID assignment plus any within-grade increases and any mandatory pay adjustments to which the employee would have been entitled had he/she remained in the position, and if the return is made to a higher grade, the two-step increase upon promotion requirement must also be applied.

(14) The rate of an employee changed from a non-shortage category position to a shortage category position (see SM 370.530.3, Attachment 1) is set as follows:

(a) Reassignment. Employee is given the rate for the numerical step in the shortage category table which corresponds to his/her existing numerical step.

(b) Promotion. First, the two-step increase rule is applied in the usual manner. The numerical step in the higher grade thus ascertained becomes the numerical step of the shortage category table and the employee is given the corresponding rate.

(c) Demotion. (Except where grade or pay retention benefits apply.) First, determine, in the normal manner, the numerical step in the lower grade to be applied. The numerical step thus determined becomes the numerical step of the shortage category table and the employee is given the corresponding rate.

(15) An employee who is removed from a supervisory or managerial position is entitled to be placed in a position with a grade and pay no lower than the one the employee left to accept the supervisory or managerial position.

(16) If promotion is from a position covered by the Performance Management and Recognition System (PMRS) (formerly called the Merit Pay System), the rate of pay will be set at the lowest step of the General Schedule grade to which promoted for which the rate of basic pay exceeds the employee's existing rate of basic pay by an amount equal to six percent, or at the minimum rate of the higher grade, if that rate is higher.

(17) An employee who loses his/her PMRS status as a result of change in the coverage determination is entitled to basic pay at the lowest rate of the grade of his/her position that is equal to or greater than his/her existing rate of basic pay under the PMRS.

(18) The conversion of an employee who, together with his/her position, is brought under the General Schedule is covered by the grade and pay retention provisions (see paragraphs 5 and 6, respectively.)

(19) An employee who accepts a change to lower grade to enter a formal Upward Mobility Program is entitled to pay retention. His/her rate of basic pay will be set in accordance with instructions in paragraph 4.

4. Higher-than-minimum and Highest Previous Rate Criteria.

A. Appointments of Other or Former Federal Employees.

(1) To same or similar occupation. Normally the salary of an appointee with prior Federal service is fixed at the step of the grade to be filled which is computed by establishing the highest step rate in that grade based upon all prior Federal service in the same or higher grade which is in the same or similar line of work. Exceptions are:

(a) The rate cannot exceed the employee's highest previous rate unless otherwise provided by law.

(b) The mandatory requirements in paragraph 1B must be met.

(c) Any deviation from this policy must be justified in the remark section of the Request for Personnel Action. (See SM 370.296.1 for pertinent statement.)

(2) To different occupation. In fixing a rate higher than the minimum for an appointee with no experience in the same or similar line of work, consideration will be given to the following and a statement must be included in the remark section of the Request for Personnel Action giving the basis for granting the rate. (Exception: Mandatory requirements in paragraph 3B must be met.)

(a) Employee's service history.

(b) Quality of pertinent experience and background.

(c) Difficulty in recruiting or retention.

(d) Effect on morale of other employees.

B. Change Actions. The same criteria and instructions given in paragraph 4A(2) are to be applied whether action involves a change to the same or a different occupation.

C. Computation of Highest Previous Rate.

(1) The highest previous rate is based on a regular tour of duty at such rate (a) under an appointment not limited to 90 days or less regardless of length of action service of (b) for a continuous period of 90 days under one or more limited short-term appointments without a break in service. This precludes using salary under intermittent employment as the highest previous rate.

(2) The highest previous rate may not be based on a rate received under an expert or consultant appointment.

(3) The highest previous rate may not be based on a rate established under section 5303 of Title 5, United States Code (special salary rate authorized for shortage category positions.) A reconstructed highest previous rate is used which is the rate the employee would have received had not section 5053 been applied, plus any within-grade increases he/she have earned on that rate.

Prior Office of Personnel Management approval to use the special rate as the highest previous rate may be requested when an employee is reassigned to a position for which no special rate or a lesser special rate has been established, and it is determined that there is a significantly greater need for the employee's services in the position to which he/she is being reassigned. Such requests are to be sent to the Department through the Office of Personnel and the justification statement shall include, if possible, any cost benefits that can be reasonably expected should the request be approved.

(4) Additional compensation such as foreign or nonforeign post differential or cost-of-living allowance cannot be used in determining highest previous rate.

(5) If the highest previous rate was earned in a General Schedule position, it shall be increased by any subsequent statutory amendments to the General Schedule.

(6) If the highest previous rate was earned in an unclassified position, the equivalent General Schedule rate is obtained as follows: The earned rate is changed to an annual rate and then compared to the General Schedule in effect as of the time of service to find an equivalent annual rate. The equivalent rate thus determined is converted to the corresponding rate under the current General Schedule. However, if the same rate as the earned rate occurs within two or more grades, the rate which gives the employee the maximum benefit upon conversion to the current pay schedule is selected. If a rate which is the same; as the earned rate does not occur in the pay schedule, the equivalent rate is the higher of the rates between which the earned rate falls. If the earned rate falls between the rates of two or more grades, the equivalent rate is the one which gives the employee the maximum benefit when it is converted to the current pay schedule.

Hourly and per diem rates are changed to annual rates as follows: Multiply per diem rates by 260. Multiply hourly rates by 2080 for actions effected prior to October 1, 1983. Multiply hourly rates by 2087 for actions effected October 1, 1983, or later.

5. Grade Retention Benefits. Section 5362 of Title 5, United States Code provides a 2-year period of grade retention for certain employees who are demoted. If, during the 2-year period of grade retention, the employee is further reduced in grade under circumstances also entitling him/her grade retention, the employee continues to retain the previous retained grade for the remainder of the original 2-year period. At the end of that period, the employee retains the grade of the position from which further reduction in grade was made for 2 years from the date of the further reduction.

A. Basic Eligibility.

(1) Employee must hold an appointment that is other than on a temporary or term basis.

(2) If demotion is a result of reduction-in-force procedures, the employee must have served 52-consecutive weeks or more at a grade or grades higher than the grade to which demoted.

(3) If demotion is a result of employee's position having been reclassified at a lower grade, the position being reduced must have been classified at a higher grade or grades for a continuous period of at least 1 year immediately before the reduction.

(4) When an employee who is serving a period of grade retention in another agency transfers to USGS, entitlement to grade retention continues for the balance of the original 2-year period, if the grade of the position to which the employee is assigned in USGS is no lower than the grade of the employee at the time of the original grade retention.

B. Optional Grade Retention. It is the policy of USGS to grant optional grade retention to an employee who is not entitled to mandatory grade retention benefits and who meets the basic eligibility requirements in paragraph 5A when the employee moves to a position in a lower grade during a reorganization, or reclassification, that has been announced in writing.

C. Exclusions. Grade retention shall not apply to an employee who:

(1) Is reduced in grade for personal cause or at the employee's request.

(2) Does not satisfactorily complete the supervisory or managerial probationary period prescribed by section 3321(a)(2) of Title 5, United States Code and is removed from his/her supervisory or managerial position.

(3) Is changed to lower grade at the expiration of a temporary promotion. If employee is temporarily promoted during a grade retention period, the temporary promotion has no effect on his/her grade retention entitlements.

D. Determination of Retained Grade.

(1) An employee who is serving on a temporary promotion at the time he/she becomes eligible for grade retention is entitled to retain the grade to which he/she would have been entitled had not the temporary promotion occurred.

(2) An employee who is reduced in grade from another position in the General Schedule, or a position under the Federal Wage System or PMRS is entitled to retain the grade held immediately prior to the reduction in grade.

(3) An employee who is reduced in grade from a position not under the General Schedule, Federal Wage System or PMRS retains the lowest grade in the General Schedule which has a representative rate of the grade held immediately before the reduction. If there is no grade in the General Schedule with a representative rate equal to or higher than the representative rate of the grade held immediately before the reduction, the employee retains the highest grade in the General Schedule.

E. Determination of Rate of Basic Pay.

(1) The rate schedule which will be used to establish the employee's rate of basic pay is that schedule which applies to the:

(a) Geographical area in which the employee is actually assigned.

(b) Occupational series of the position to which the employee is assigned.

(c) Retained grade.

(2) The rate of basic pay an employee is entitled to upon commencement of grade retention is the greater of:

(a) His/her rate of basic pay held before the movement.

(b) The rate of basic pay from the applicable rate schedule for the grade and step held by the employee immediately before the movement.

(c) The lowest rate of basic pay from the applicable rate schedule for the retained grade which equals or exceeds the employee's rate of basic pay before the movement.

(3) If the employee has a retained rate or saved rate under some other authority other than 5 U.S.C. 5362 when he/she becomes entitled to grade retention, the employee is entitled to whichever is greater:

(a) The maximum rate of his/her retained grade.

(b) His/her rate of basic pay held before the movement.

(4) If one grade retention period follows another grade retention period the employee is entitled to either:

(a) The lowest rate of basic pay from the applicable rate schedule which equals or exceeds the employee's current rate of basic pay.

(b) If there is no such rate, the employee is entitled to his/her current rate or 150% of the maximum rate of his/her retained grade, whichever is less.

(5) If the rate of the basic pay to which the employee is entitled is within the rate range of the retained grade, the employee's retained step will be the applicable step for the basic rate of pay. If the rate is not within the rate range, the employee's retained step will be 00.

F. Pay Determination During Grade Retention Period.

(1) Within-grade Increases. An employee is entitled to within-grade increases in the retained grade.

(2) Comparability Increases.

(a) An employee who, at the time of a comparability increase, is receiving a rate of basic pay within the rate range of the retained grade is entitled to an increase as determined by the appropriate law and regulation.

(b) An employee who is receiving a rate of basic pay outside the range of the retained grade will have his/her rate in creased in the maximum rate of the employee's retained grade if the employee is receiving the rate under 5 U.S.C. 5362. If the employee is receiving this rate under some other authority, the employee will receive an increase as provided by the authority.

(c) An employee whose grade retention was granted at the option of the agency will receive 50% of the comparability increase.

G. Loss of Eligibility. Grade retention ceases to apply to an employee who:

(1) Has a break in service of 1 workday or more.

(2) Is demoted for personal cause or at the employee's request.

(3) Is placed in a position the grade of which is equal to, or higher than, the retained grade.

(4) Declines a reasonable offer of a position, the grade of which is equal to, or higher than, the retained grade.

(5) Elects in writing to have the benefits of grade retention terminate.

(6) Fails to enroll in a program providing priority consideration for placement when grade retention entitlement was provided.

(7) Fails to comply with reasonable written requirements established to assure full consideration in a program providing priority consideration for placement.

H. Effective Date of Termination.

(1) Day before placement if the termination is the result of the employee's placement in another position.

(2) At the end of the last day of the pay period in which the employee:

(a) Declines a reasonable offer.

(b) Elects to waive grade retention benefits.

(c) Fails to enroll in a program providing priority consideration for placement.

I. Establishing Salary Rate Upon Termination of Grade Retention.

(1) If upon expiration of the grade retention period the employee is entitled to pay retention, his/her rate of basic pay will be set in accordance with paragraph 6C.

(2) If employee is placed in another position during the grade retention period which is equal to his/her retained grade, the employee's entitlement to a rate of basic pay is determined essentially in the same manner as when the grade retention period commenced (see paragraph 5.E.)

(3) If employee is promoted to a grade which is higher than his/her retained grade, the employee's rate of basic pay in the new grade will be determined in accordance with paragraph 3B.

(4) If the entitlement is terminated for any other reason, the employee's rate of basic pay will be set in accordance with the highest previous rate rule.

J. Documentation. An employee who is entitled to grade retention will receive, in addition to the Notification of Personnel Action (SF-50) documenting entitlement to grade retention, a letter from the servicing personnel office describing the circumstances warranting the grade retention and the nature of the entitlement.

6. Pay Retention Benefits. Section 5363 of Title 5, United States Code provides indefinite pay retention to certain employees.

A. Applicability. Employee's whose rate of basic pay would otherwise be reduced as a result of:

(1) Expiration of 2-year period of grade retention.

(2) Reduction-in-force or reclassification when the employee does not meet the eligibility requirements for grade retention.

(3) A reduction or elimination of schedule rates, or as a result of the reduction or elimination of special schedule or special rates.

(4) Placement from a special rate position to a non-special rate position, or to a lower special rate position.

(5) Placement in a different pay schedule.

(6) Placement in a formal employee development Upward Mobility Program or Career Intern Program or an Apprenticeship Program utilized Governmentwide.

An employee who transfers to USGS while in receipt of pay retention from another agency is entitled to continue pay retention.

B. Optional Pay Retention. The policy of USGS is to grant pay retention to eligible employees whose rate of basic pay would otherwise be reduced as the result of a management action or to accommodate handicapped or disability cases.

C. Determining Rate of Basic Pay.

(1) An employee is entitled to the lowest scheduled rate of basic pay in his/her grade after the action is taken which equals or exceeds his/her current rate of basic pay, and will be placed in the step appropriate for that rate. If there is no such rate, the employee is entitled to retain either his/her current rate of basic pay or 150% of the maximum rate of basic pay for the employee's grade after the action is taken, whichever is less.

(2) When an employee who is receiving a retained rate or saved rate under some other authority is affected by an action covered by pay retention, the employee's rate of basic pay will be determined in accordance with paragraph 6C(1) above. Whether the employee is entitled at the same time to continue the retained or saved rate under the older authority will be determined under those statutory and regulatory provisions providing for the retained or saved rate.

(3) An employee, while receiving pay retention, is entitled to 50% of any comparability increase in the maximum rate of his/her retained grade. If, as a result of the increase, the employee's rate of basic pay becomes equal to or less than the maximum rate of his/her grade, the employee is entitled to that maximum rate and pay retention terminates.

(4) An employee who is serving on a temporary promotion at the time he/she becomes eligible for pay retention is entitled to retain the rate of basic pay to which he/she would have been entitled had not the temporary promotion occurred.

D. Loss of Eligibility. Pay retention ceases if any of the conditions listed below occurs:

(1) The employee is entitled to a rate of basic pay which is equal to or higher than the rate to which the employee is entitled under pay retention.

(2) Has a break in service of 1 workday or more.

(3) Is demoted for personal cause or at the employee's request.

(4) Declines a reasonable offer of a position for which the rate of basic pay is equal to or higher than the rate to which the employee is entitled under pay retention. If the employee's entitlement ceases as a result of paragraph 6D(2), 6D(3), or 6D(4) above, his/her rate of basic pay will be set in accordance with the highest previous rate rule.

E. Effective Date of Termination.

(1) The day before placement if the termination is the result of the employee's placement in another position.

(2) The end of the last day of the pay period in which the employee declines a reasonable offer.

F. Documentation. An employee who is entitled to pay retention shall receive, in addition to the Notification of Personnel Action (SF-50) documenting entitlement to pay retention, a letter from the servicing personnel office describing the circumstances warranting the pay retention and the nature of the entitlement.

7. Increasing Supervisor's Pay If Less Than Wage Board Employees.

A. Authority. As provided by Sec. 5333(b), Title 5 United States Code, the pay of a General Schedule employee who regularly supervises one or more wage board employees may be adjusted to a step rate of his/her grade which is above the highest rate paid to any wage board employee under his/her supervision provided consideration is given to the equities between supervisors as well as the equities between the supervisor and the wage board employees.

B. Eligibility Requirements.

(1) The supervisor must have continuing responsibility, which is reflected in his/her official position description, for supervising one or more wage board employee.

(2) The supervisor must perform the following duties either personally or through intermediate wage board supervisors:

(a) Determine work assignments.

(b) Review work products for which responsibility requires the application of substantial subject matter or technical knowledge.

(c) Plan and organize work with particular consideration to the distribution of assignments, workloads, priorities, and completion schedules.

(d) Advise, assist, counsel, and instruct wage board employees.

(e) Rate or review Performance Rating Reports for wage board employees.

C. Comparing Pay Rates. In comparing rates only the basic pay is used. Additional compensation such as overtime pay and night differential is disregarded. However, when the supervisor is in an area where he/she receives a cost-of-living allowance or post differential and the wage board employee he/she supervises does not receive such separately stated additional compensation, the allowance or differential is added to the super visor's basic pay rate. A "retained rate" held by a wage board employee is also disregarded. Instead, the highest regular prevailing rate for the position is used.

D. Rate Payable. Pay is adjusted to the nearest rate of the supervisor's grade (but not above the maximum) which exceeds the highest rate paid to any wage board employee regularly supervised.

E. Procedure.

(1) Requests for pay adjustment are to be submitted to the appropriate personnel office as a Request for Personnel Action (see SM 370.296.1). The names of the wage board employees whose rates are higher than the supervisor shall be included and the specific rates cited.

(2) The appropriate personnel office, upon determination that the requirements are met and equities considered, approves the pay adjustment which is recorded on a Notification of Personnel Action (SF-50.) The pay adjustment is effected the pay period following the approved date and will be considered as an equivalent increase in compensation when establishing the beginning date for a within-grade increase.


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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA, USA
URL: http://www.usgs.gov/usgs-manual/370-500/370-5311.html
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Last modification: 08-Jan-2013@15:58 (kk)
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