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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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