Ask The Lawyer

By Debra Roth

Q & A Session – Reduction in Salary

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

As an employee with the judiciary, my position was eliminated and I accepted a position under saved grade, saved pay. The position that I accepted was downgraded from a GS-11 to a GS-9 when it was offered to me. Now, the Judicial Conference has voted to eliminate saved grade, saved pay and I face a $15,000 annual pay-cut. What, if any, remedies are left for me other than to find a new job?

A:

The judiciary has independent personnel rules and the authority to change them. You can file a grievance, but if this action is pursuant to a new policy and the policy is applied fairly to you, I doubt the grievance would be successful.


Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

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Q & A Session – Detail and Temporary Assignment Pay

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

During recent CBA negotiations and while negotiating the Promotions and Details Article, it was stated that there is no federal law that would prohibit Temporary Assignment pay by the hour. The union had proposed that all Bargaining Unit Employees receive pay to the higher position when assigned by management. This currently is a personnel action that requires an SF-50 to be issued, should the temporary promotion be for more than two pay periods. Currently, any assignment under 30 days is considered a “detail” which requires no additional pay. We have encountered a recent arbitration in which the employer has tried to state that an employee (who was acting in the higher grade for the day) is held to the standard of that position despite receiving no financial compensation. Having read several FLRA decisions, I was surprised to find that the FLRA believes in the theory of equal pay for equal work and that they also believe this is a negotiable item. Why hasn’t anyone challenged this? Can an employee be paid at the higher grade, for the day, if he/she performs the work?

A:

It sounds like the issue is being arbitrated and he or she would answer your question. The answer depends on the wording of the contract as it relates to federal regulations.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

 

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

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Q & A Session – Rights in a Reorganization

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

I work as a GS-12 for a federal department. If my immediate boss finds it necessary to demote me, even though I’m getting excellent performance ratings and through no fault of my own, what are my rights?

Would I be entitled to retain my grade for two years and my pay level indefinitely? What does it mean to retain one’s pay level?

A:

Civil Service employees who are beyond a probationary or trial period have Merit Systems Protection Board rights if they are demoted. Your second question about saved pay does mean that you cannot earn less than your pay when demoted and are entitled to only 50 percent of annual comparability increases, if they ever occur again.

 

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

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Q & A Session – Salary Cap Differences

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

In my agency, I have reached the salary cap. However, I recently found out that another agency has a higher salary cap. Why would these differ?

A:

Congress can do this and often does. For example, at the SES or equivalent pay level, Congress has created at least 88 different pay systems, many with different caps and some with no caps.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw, Bransford & Roth, PC.

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

 

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Q & A Session – Temporary Promotion

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

I moved from a nonsupervisory position to a supervisory position for about 10 months and then was returned to my original assigned position after my request. I have asked for temporary promotion pay. Should my agency pay compensation for the detail to a higher graded position?

A:

Because you served in a higher pay band on your detail and that would equate to a temporary promotion, it appears that your pay for that period of time was supposed to increase by a minimum of 6%, and up to 20% with management approval.  Your base salary then should have reverted to the salary of your permanent position upon termination of the detail.

Agencies are not required to officially document details under NSPS unless the detail exceeds one year, crosses component and/or agency lines, assigns an employee from NSPS to another pay system within the component (i.e., NSPS to General Schedule), or documents developmental rotational assignments or deployment.  Although NSPS does not require a detail to be documented solely because it goes beyond 180 days, individual components may have such a requirement in those circumstances and so you would need to check with yours.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw, Bransford & Roth, PC.

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

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Q&A Session – Retirement Pay

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

My brother is a federal retiree. He is currently serving time in prison for a crime he committed before he was a federal employee and the conviction was not related to his federal service. Will the felony conviction affect his retirement pay?

A:

Assuming your brother is already retired, the conviction will not affect retirement eligibility. Federal employees lose their retirement when convicted of offenses such as treason, espionage, sabotage and other offenses related to these. Members of Congress have a much broader list of offenses that will result in the Congressman’s loss of an annuity, if convicted.

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

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Q&A Session – NSPS Pay Retention

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

With the transition back to the General Schedule (GS) from the National Security Personnel System (NSPS), can they lower the grade level or pay of the employee?

A:

The conversion from NSPS back to the General Schedule has caused a great deal of confusion. Employees are supposed to be moved from their NSPS designation to a GS position with the equivalent duties and responsibilities. An employee is not supposed to see a decrease in pay. However, if you were making a salary under NSPS that is higher than the GS salary for your converted position, you will be placed under pay retention – which means you will not be eligible for full salary adjustments until the General Schedule catches up. Your supervisor and HR specialist should be able to discuss your specific situation.

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

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Q&A Session

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

 Q:        If the government compensates an employee, who earns Law Enforcement Availability Pay (L.E.A.P.), overtime wages which the government now claims the employee is not entitled to, may the government recoup the unauthorized payments by withholding funds form a federal employee’s paycheck?

A:        Any federal law enforcement officer who receives availability pay (L.E.A.P.), generally may not receive any additional payment for unscheduled duty hours, or overtime.  As such, any payment received for the unscheduled duty hours, or overtime, worked is unauthorized.  Because that payment was improperly made, an employee is not entitled to the money, and has no property interest in money that he/she is not entitled to.   Conversely, the government has the authority to recoup that overpayment, and is not prevented from doing so by clerical mistakes that caused the improper payment.  Furthermore, the government may recoup the money in intervals by deductions from the employee’s paycheck.  However, the amount deducted may not exceed 15% of his/her disposable pay without the employee’s written consent. 

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

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