Employees holding VRAs are not eligible for grade or pay retention upon reduction in grade or pay, or to severance pay upon involuntary separation (not for cause).
By law, grade and pay retention apply only to employees whose employment is on other than a temporary or term basis. (See the definition of employee in 5 U.S.C. 5361(1).) The grade and pay retention regulations define employed on a temporary or term basis as employment under an appointment having a definite time limitation or designated as temporary or term. (See 5 CFR 536.103.)
Similarly, the severance pay law does not apply to an employee serving under an appointment with a definite time limitation, unless the time-limited appointment is made effective within 3 calendar days after separation from a qualifying appointment without time limitation. (See the definition of employee in 5 U.S.C. 5595(a)(2)(ii) and the definition of non-qualifying appointment in 5 CFR 550.703.)
Under 5 CFR part 307, a VRA is limited to 2 years. Although employees are entitled to convert to a career or career-conditional appointment upon completion of the 2 years, this conversion right is contingent upon meeting the terms of the VRA--i.e., employees must satisfactorily complete (1) 2 years of substantially continuous service and (2) any education and training required under the VRA program. If employees do not complete these requirements, they are not converted to career or a career-conditional appointment, and their VRA ends. Therefore, for the purposes of grade and pay retention and severance pay, the VRA must be viewed as having a definite 2-year limitation. Because the VRA is time-limited, employees holding such appointments are not eligible for grade and pay retention or severance pay.
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An employee is not eligible for grade retention if the employee was serving under a term or temporary appointment in the position from which he or she was downgraded. See 5 CFR 536.102(b)(2) and definition of employee in 5 U.S.C. 5361. However, the fact that the employee accepts a temporary or term appointment in conjunction with being downgraded does not affect the employee's entitlement to grade retention.
Similarly, if an employee who is already under grade retention receives a temporary or term appointment via reassignment or transfer, the employee would remain entitled to grade retention, unless one of the terminating events specified in law and regulation occur. (See 5 U.S.C. 5362(d) and 5 CFR 536.208. See also question 2, below.)
No. By law, compensatory time off may be approved instead of overtime pay for irregular or occasional (unscheduled) overtime hours of work. See 5 U.S.C. 5543(a). If an employee is scheduled in advance of his or her administrative workweek (i.e., regularly scheduled) to attend an extended training course, such training would not be irregular or occasional (unscheduled) overtime hours. Therefore, the employee may not receive compensatory time off instead of overtime pay for the extended training hours. Please see OPM's fact sheet on compensatory time off for further guidance (http://www.opm.gov/oca/pay/HTML/COMP.HTM).
(Note: Employees on flexible work schedules may earn compensatory time off for regularly scheduled overtime hours, as provided in 5 U.S.C. 6123(a)(1) and 5 CFR 550.114(b) and 551.531(b). However, employees usually are not on flexible work schedules during periods of training.)
Under the law, an employee does not necessarily have to have 52 consecutive weeks at the grade held immediately before being downgraded in order to retain that grade under the grade retention provisions. Under 5 U.S.C. 5362(a), any employee who is placed as a result of reduction-in-force (RIF) procedures into a lower grade and who has served for 52 consecutive weeks or more in "one or more positions . . . at a grade or grades higher than that of the new position, is entitled to have the grade of the position held immediately before such placement" as the retained grade. [Emphasis added.] See also 5 CFR 536.203(a) and (c).
Thus, for example, assume an employee has 2 years of service at GS-12 and 10 weeks of service at GS-13 immediately prior to being downgraded to GS-11 as a result of RIF procedures. Even though he or she has only 10 weeks of service at the GS-13 level, the GS-12 service plus the GS-13 service gives the employee more than 52 consecutive weeks at one or more grades higher than that of the position to which the employee is being reduced (i.e., GS-11). Thus, the employee meets the 52 consecutive week requirement and is entitled to retain the grade of GS-13.
In contrast, if this employee were being reduced to a GS-12 position rather than a GS-11 position, the employee would not meet the 52 consecutive week requirement and could not retain the GS-13.
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