Survey Manual

370.550.9 - Hazard Pay Differential

Within the USGS, authority to approve hazard duty pay under the regulations and procedures set forth in this chapter is delegated to Division Chiefs.


OPR: Admin/Personnel

1. Authority. Public Law 89-512 authorizes the Office of Personnel Management to establish a schedule of pay differentials for irregular or intermittent duty involving unusual physical hardship or hazard. Within the USGS, authority to approve hazard duty pay under the regulations and procedures set forth in this chapter is delegated to Division Chiefs. This authority may be delegated to the division's principal representatives at the regional office level, e.g., Regional Hydrologist, Mapping Center Chief, and Assistant Chief Geologist. Such a redelegation must be made in writing.

2. Definitions.

A. Duty Involving Physical Hardship. Means a duty which may not in itself be hazardous but which causes extreme physical discomfort or distress and which is not adequately alleviated by protective or mechanical devices. Examples are: Exposure to extreme temperatures for a long period of time; arduous physical exertion or inertness (performance in cramped condition); exposure to fumes, dust, or noise which causes nausea, skin, eye, ear, or nose irritation.

B. Hazardous Duty. Means a duty performed under circumstances in which an accident could result in serious injury or death. Examples are: Performance on a high structure where protection facilities are not used; or on an open structure where adverse conditions such as darkness, lightning, steady rain, or high wind velocity exist.

3. Eligibility Requirements.

A. Employee Coverage. Applies to:

(1) Employees occupying positions subject to Chapter 51, Title 5, U.S.C. (General Schedule).

(2) Interior Department General Schedule employees.

(3) Wage Board employees but only when they are engaged in firefighting duties as described in Attachment 1, D(1), and (2).

B. Duty. The hazardous duty must be:

(1) Approved by the Office of Personnel Management (see Attachment 1 for those applicable to the USGS).

(2) Irregular or intermittent duty which is not usually involved in carrying out the duties of the employee's position. This means that even though the hazardous duty may be embraced within the employee's position description, it is not performed with sufficient regularity to constitute an element in fixing the grade of the position.

C. Position Classification. The hazardous duty has not been taken into account in classifying the position.

D. Safety. The hazard cannot be eliminated by safety devices, training, or established practices.

4. Payment of Hazard Pay Differential. Hazard pay at the rate given in Attachment 1 is computed on the basis of the employee's basic compensation. Payment is made for all hours in a pay status on the day on which hazardous duty is performed. Where the work is performed during a continuous period extending over two days, it is considered to have been performed on the day on which the work began and the hazard pay differential is charged to that day.

Payment for hazardous duty is also made for duty performed on overtime provided the overtime was officially ordered and approved. Hazard pay is made whether the overtime is compensated by pay or time off.

5. Procedures.

A. When an employee believes that the duties performed meet the criteria for payment of hazard pay differential, the employee initiates Form 9-1917, Claim for Hazardous Duty Pay, (Attachment 3). The form is then forwarded to the employee's immediate supervisor who completes Part B, and is then forwarded to the authorizing official for approval in Part C.

B. The original, approved Form 9-1917, Claim for Hazardous Duty Pay, is returned by the authorizing official to the requesting office where it is retained for a period of 3 years or until a GAO audit, whichever is sooner. The requesting office must forward a copy of approved Form 9-1917 to the servicing personnel office. Copies are no longer required by the Payroll Office.

C. Attachment 4 includes an example of reporting hazardous duty on the original Time and Attendance Report. When reported at a later date, use a Timekeeper's Time and Attendance Report, A61. Whichever form is used to report the hazardous duty, a statement which certifies that approval has been obtained from an authorizing official should be kept on file in the requesting office for a period of 3 years. Additional guidance on the completion and submission of time reporting forms may be found in Volume 8 of the PAY/PERS System Time and Attendance Instructions (804.011.A).

6. Termination of Hazard Pay Differential. Hazard pay differential will be discontinued when one or more of the conditions requisite for such payment no longer exist.

7. Relationship to Other Premium Pay. Hazard pay differential is in addition to any other premium pay or allowances. Except for overtime under the provisions of FLSA, it is not considered part of an employee's rate of basic pay in computing other premium pay or allowances. It is subject to withholding of Federal and State income tax and FICA tax. Hazard pay differential is not subject to the maximum rate for grade GS-15 limitation applicable to other premium pay.

8. Additions to Hazard Pay Schedule. Recommendations to the Office of Personnel Management for additions to Attachment 1 are to be submitted to the Department through the USGS Personnel Office and must include:

A. A description of the duty.

B. The degree to which the employee is exposed to hazard or physical hardship and the length of time and frequency of exposure.

C. The length of time the duty is likely to continue; i.e., the month and year the duty is expected to terminate.

D. The degree to which the control may be exercised over the physical hardship or hazard.

E. The recommended rate of hazard pay differential.

F. The reasons why safety devices or practices can not eliminate or substantially reduce the hazard. The USGS Safety Manager must concur in the finding that safety devices, training, or practices do not eliminate or substantially reduce the hazard. This concurrence must be in writing.

G. A statement that consultation with local representatives has taken place where exclusive recognition has been accorded to employee organizations. This should include identification of the employee organizations consulted and a summary of their comments or recommendations.