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Frequently Asked Questions Classification

  • Information regarding your pay schedule, series, and grade can be found on your PS Form 50, Notification of Personnel Action. Please refer to box 51 for the series or "Occupation Code", which is defined by the first four digits of the code. Box 60 designates your Rate Schedule Code (similar to a pay schedule), and box 61 indicates your grade. If you do not have a copy of your last PS-50, and are currently employed by USPS, your PS Form 50 may be obtained in hard copy format through your servicing personnel office, or in electronic format from the Postal Service's electronic Official Personnel Folder (eOPF) system. If you are no longer employed by USPS, you can obtain a copy of your PS Form 50 from the National Personnel Records Center of the National Archives and Records Administration. Civilian personnel records are normally transferred to the National Personnel Records Center within 120 days after an employee's separation from Federal employment. To obtain copies of your PS-50s, send written authorization to: National Personnel Records, Annex 1411 Boulder Boulevard Valmeyer, IL 62295 NOTE: The USPS uses the same series as the rest of the Federal Government, except for occupations which are unique to the Postal Service. These unique occupations are in the 2300 series. The USPS uses its own Rate Schedule Codes (RSC), in place of the General Schedule (GS) and Federal Wage System (FWS) used by much of the Federal Government.
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  • First, you should make sure your position or job description identifies the major duties and responsibilities you are assigned and perform. Because your agency is responsible for assigning duties to your position, including them in your position description (PD), and classifying them accordingly, OPM will normally not accept a GS appeal until your agency has fulfilled this responsibility. If the position or job description is significantly inaccurate, you should try to resolve the problem by discussing it with your supervisor and perhaps a representative of your human resources office. If you are unable to resolve the problem at this level, you should use your agency's negotiated or administrative grievance procedure. If you are unable to obtain an accurate position description through the grievance procedure, we may accept your appeal and determine the proper classification based on the duties assigned by management and performed by you. Information on what OPM expects an employee to do to resolve PD accuracy before filing a GS appeal can be found in section 511.607(a)(1) if title 5, Code of Federal Regulations and the Introduction to the Position Classification Standards, Appendix 4.G.4.a.
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  • OPM has two major responsibilities performed by two offices. Classification and Assessment Policy sets Government-wide policy for the General Schedule (GS) white collar position classification system and the Federal Wage System (FWS) blue collar job grading system and issues position classification standards used to classify GS positions and job grading standards used to grade FWS jobs. Merit System Audit and Compliance decides classification and job grading appeals from current Federal employees. A decision from OPM is the final administrative decision on appeals.
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  • We are sometimes asked why positions that seem to involve the same kind of work in different locations or organizations are classified differently.  There are two reasons why positions that seem similar are classified differently: Because the positions or jobs are actually different.  While the tasks might seem to be similar, the complexity of the work, as well as the level of responsibility, authority, level of contacts, purpose of contacts, or other classification or job grading factor could be sufficiently different to justify a different classification or grading.  The classification or job grading decision is made by agency officials who have the most information about the position or job in question. Because one or more of the positions or jobs is not classified or graded correctly.  OPM classification and job grading standards may have been interpreted differently by whoever classified or graded the positions or jobs.  When OPM learns of such situations, we remind the agency or agencies of their responsibility to classify or grade similar positions or jobs consistently.
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  • Under section 5107 of title 5, United States Code (U.S.C.), Federal agencies are responsible for classifying their GS positions consistent with position classification standards issued by OPM.  Similarly, under 5 U.S.C. § 5346, agencies are responsible for grading their FWS jobs consistent with the job grading standards issued by OPM.  Therefore, similar or like positions and jobs across Federal agencies should be classified or graded in a consistent manner since they are evaluated against the same standards rather than position-to-position comparisons.  Agencies are required to classify positions and grade jobs based on the duties and responsibilities assigned to the position and the qualifications required to perform that work.  Qualifications possessed by an employee that are not needed to perform the work assigned to the position or job may not be considered in the position classification or job grading process.
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  • A classification appeal is a written request by an employee for their agency, department, or OPM to review his/her classification. Issues which may be appealed include the pay system, occupational series, grade, and official position title. Employees considering the appeal process should review the applicable information at http://www.opm.gov/classapp.  A job grading appeal covers the same issues except pay system.  Federal wage system employees who believe their job is properly placed in the General Schedule must follow classification rather than job grading appeal procedures. Employees should discuss any discrepancies with their supervisor before requesting a review at higher organizational levels. Remember, while some appeals may result in a position being classified to a higher grade, others may result in grades remaining the same, being classified or graded lower, or being placed in a different pay system.
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  • You can only receive back pay if your position or job was erroneously downgraded by your agency, you suffered an actual loss of pay, and the downgrading is reversed on appeal.  Additionally, to be eligible for back pay, you must file the appeal request within 15 calendar days after the effective date of the reclassification action. 
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  • Only a current Federal employee may appeal the classification of his or her current official position.  The right to appeal ends after the employee leaves the appealed position or job.  The appeal choices available depend on whether the employee is a General Schedule (GS) employee or a Federal Wage System (FWS) employee. If you are a GS employee, you may appeal the pay system, occupational series, grade, and/or official title of your position at any time to your agency or directly to OPM but not both at the same time.  Another option available to a GS employee is to make your classification appeal to OPM through your agency.  Your agency must act on your appeal within 60 calendar days or forward it to OPM for action.  If your agency's decision on your appeal is not in your favor, your appeal is automatically forwarded to OPM. Generally, we recommend that you first seek an appeal decision from your agency.  If you appeal to your agency and its decision is unfavorable, you can still appeal to OPM. However, if you appeal first to OPM and receive an unfavorable decision, you cannot then appeal to your agency. If you are an FWS employee and disagree with the grade of your job, you must first appeal to your agency.  Then, if you are dissatisfied with your agency's decision, you may appeal to OPM.  Your appeal to OPM must be filed within 15 calendar days of the date you receive your agency's decision.  You must tell us which specific part of your agency's appeal decision you disagree with and why.
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  • Once we make a decision, we will notify both you and your agency in writing.  The decision will state our determination of the correct pay system, title, occupational series, and grade of the position or job, as well as the effective date of any required action.  You should be aware that the decision may not be favorable to you (for example, it could result in a lower grade, or a change to a series and/or pay system unwanted by you).  Regardless of our decision, your agency still keeps full control over the assignment of duties to a position or job and who performs those duties.  Our decision is controlling with regard to the classification of your position or the grading of your job.  Any personnel action affecting you because of our classification or job grading appeal decision will be determined and taken by your agency.
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  • Federal employees who call our offices to get information about filing a classification appeal frequently ask how long will it take to get a decision and what are their chances of receiving a favorable decision.  Because of the investigative work and analysis that we must do in each case, we cannot answer that question in individual cases.  However, we can provide an historical perspective. In about 85 percent of cases, the classification or grading of the job does not change.  Of the remaining 15 percent, recent trends show more positions or jobs are downgraded or result in another unrequested change than are upgraded. Although the OPM-certified grade may be higher or lower than the grade assigned by the agency, this does not necessarily mean that the grade of the employee in the position will automatically go up or down.  An agency has a number of options available to it when complying with an OPM appeal decision.
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