Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Seven-year temporary promotion

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Q. I have been employed with DHS/OPR in a temporary promotion (GS-14) for seven years. During my fifth year of the TPro, I was transferred into another unit and location within OPR. I am into my seventh year as a TPro.

Does any law convert the position into a permanent grade due to the longevity in the position?

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Temporary promotions

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Q. How is it determined who is best qualified for a temporary promotion when there is more than one candidate? Does seniority at the next lower grade come into play at all? Should there be an interview process when several candidates are interested? Who decides who is the best qualified when there is more than one applicant since there is no application process?

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High-3 and temporary promotion

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Q. I am eligible for CSRS retirement with 39+ years of service. I just completed a temporary promotion to manager for five months and some days. Will that pay increase be considered in my high-3 for retirement?

A. Yes. A high-3 is based on the average of the three highest consecutive years (78 pay periods) of basic pay.

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Temporary promotion and agency transfer

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Q. I work for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. I am occupying a GL-09 position under a temporary promotion not to exceed 12 months which was effective Dec. 4. My salary is $64,124 a year.

I am transferring to another agency. Will my pay be matched at the current level or my previous grade? The new position is starting as a GS-09 on a specialty scale 980 b for law enforcement security officers.

A. As a rule, your new employer would set your pay at the level of your permanent position, not the one to which you were temporarily promoted.

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Temporary NTE and “sold” leave

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Q. I’m a full-time FERS employee with 21 years of service and over 60 years in age. I am on a temporary promotion that is to “Not to Exceed 12/31/2012”. I am planning on retiring Nov. 30, a month before the temporary promotion expires. I am also planning on “selling” my 100 hours of unused annual leave at retirement. Will my leave be sold at my temporary promotion salary (GS-14) or at my permanent grade (GS-13)?

A. Since your agency has the right to return you to your official position of record before you separate, the amount of your lump-sum payment will depend on which position you are occupying when you retire.

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Lump-sum payment for annual leave

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Q. I retired from Federal Civilian Service on June 3. I received my final pay check which included my lump-sum payment for annual leave on Friday June 10. I was paid my regular earnings at my pay grade, GS-12, but my lump-sum payment for unused annual leave was paid at the pay rate for a GS-09. Thinking it was a mistake I called the activity payroll office and to my surprise I was told this was because my promotion to GS-12 was temporary and when I retired I was reverted back to my permanent grade GS-09 in order to pay me for the unused annual leave. Prior to retirement I was never informed that this would happen by anyone involved in processing my paperwork. 

A: I checked with OPM and here’s what they had to say:  “Each agency has the discretion to return an employee from a temporary promotion to the official position of record before the employee separates. The temporary promotion regulations at 5 CFR 335.102(f) authorize temporary promotions and specify that an agency may—“(f) Make time-limited promotions …. for a specified period of not more than 5 years, unless OPM authorizes the agency to make and/or extend time-limited promotions for a longer period.(1) The agency must give the employee advance written notice of the conditions of the time-limited promotion, including the time limit of the promotion; the reason for a time limit; the requirement for competition for promotion beyond 120 days, where applicable; and that the employee may be returned at any time to the position from which temporarily promoted [emphasis added], or to a different position of equivalent grade and pay, and the return is not subject to the procedures in parts 351, 432, 752, or 771 of this chapter. When an agency effects a promotion under a nondiscretionary provision and is unable to give advance notice to the employee, it must provide the notice as soon as possible after the promotion is made.”

“So the agency did have the authority to return the employee to his/her official position of record before separating him or her. Once the employee was returned to the official position of record, then the lump-sum payment would be made at the rate of pay for the official position of record. The agency should have provided the employee information about the temporary nature of the promotion per the regulation cited above, but even if it did not, the regulations provide the authority for the agency to return the employee to the official position of record at any time.”

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