5 CFR 531.221 - Maximum payable rate rule.

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§ 531.221 Maximum payable rate rule.
(a) General.
(1) An agency may apply the maximum payable rate rule as described in this section to determine an employee's payable rate of basic pay under the GS pay system at a rate higher than the otherwise applicable rate upon reemployment, transfer, reassignment, promotion, demotion, change in type of appointment, termination of a critical position pay authority under 5 CFR part 535, movement from a non-GS pay system, or termination of grade or pay retention under 5 CFR part 536. (Note: Special rules for GM employees are provided in § 531.247.) A payable rate set under this section must take effect on the effective date of the action involved. This section may not be used to set an employee's rate of basic pay retroactively unless a retroactive action is required to comply with a nondiscretionary agency policy.
(2) At its discretion, an agency may set an employee's rate(s) of basic pay at the maximum rate identified under this section or at a lower rate. However, the employee's rate may not be lower than the rate to which he or she is entitled under any other applicable pay-setting rule.
(3) In applying this section, an agency must use applicable annual rates of pay or, if a rate under a non-GS system is an hourly rate, convert the hourly rate to an annual rate.
(4) In applying this section, an agency must treat a critical position pay rate under 5 CFR part 535 as if it were a rate under a non-GS pay system, as described in paragraph (d) of this section.
(5) In applying this section, an agency must treat an adjusted GS rate that includes market pay under 38 U.S.C. 7431(c) as if it were a rate under a non-GS pay system, as described in paragraph (d) of this section.
(b) When highest previous rate is based on a GS rate or LEO special base rate. When an employee's highest previous rate (as determined under § 531.222) is based on a GS rate or an LEO special base rate paid under the GS pay system, an agency must determine the maximum payable rate of basic pay that may be paid to the employee as follows:
(1) Compare the employee's highest previous rate with the GS rates for the grade in which pay is currently being set. For this comparison, use the schedule of GS rates in effect at the time the highest previous rate was earned. In applying this paragraph to an employee who was a law enforcement officer receiving an LEO special base rate when the highest previous rate was earned, compare the highest previous rate to the applicable LEO special base rates in lieu of GS rates if the grade in which pay is currently being set is one of the grades from GS-3 through GS-10.
(2) Identify the lowest step in the grade at which the GS rate (or LEO special base rate, if applicable) was equal to or greater than the employee's highest previous rate. If the employee's highest previous rate was greater than the maximum GS rate (or LEO special base rate, if applicable) for the grade, identify the step 10 rate (i.e., maximum rate of the grade).
(3) Identify the rate on the currently applicable range of GS rates or LEO special base rates for the employee's current position of record and grade that corresponds to the step identified in paragraph (b)(2) of this section. This rate is the maximum payable GS rate or LEO special base rate the agency may pay the employee under this section.
(4) After setting the employee's GS or LEO special base rate within the rate range for the grade (not to exceed the maximum payable rate identified in paragraph (b)(3) of this section), the agency must determine the employee's payable rate of basic pay based on the employee's GS or LEO special base rate.
(c) When highest previous rate is based on a GS employee's special rate. When a GS employee is reassigned under the conditions described in § 531.222(c), the employee's former special rate in effect immediately before the reassignment may be used as the employee's highest previous rate. If the employee's former special rate schedule is being adjusted on the effective date of the employee's reassignment, the agency must determine what the employee's special rate would have been on that adjusted schedule (before any other simultaneous action) and treat the resulting special rate as the employee's former special rate in applying paragraph (c)(1) and (2) of this section. The agency must apply the maximum payable rate rule as follows:
(1) When the employee is assigned to an official worksite within the geographic boundaries of a formerly applicable special rate schedule, compare the former special rate to the rates of basic pay in the highest applicable rate range for the employee's current position of record and current official worksite. Identify the lowest step rate in that range that equals or exceeds the former special rate (or the maximum step rate, if the former special rate exceeds the range maximum). That step rate is the employee's maximum payable rate of basic pay.
(2) When the employee is assigned to an official worksite outside the geographic boundaries of the formerly applicable special rate schedule, determine the maximum payable rate as follows:
(i) Convert the former special rate to a corresponding rate (same step) in the current highest applicable rate range for the new official worksite based on the employee's position of record immediately before the reassignment.
(ii) If the rate resulting from the geographic conversion under paragraph (c)(2)(i) of this section is a special rate, that converted special rate is deemed to be the employee's former special rate and highest previous rate in applying paragraph (c)(2)(iii) of this section. If the resulting rate is not a special rate, this paragraph (c) may not be used to determine the employee's maximum payable rate. Instead, paragraph (b) of this section must be used.
(iii) Compare the employee's highest previous rate (i.e., the former special rate after the geographic conversion) with the rates on the current highest applicable rate range for the new official worksite based on the employee's position of record after the reassignment. Identify the lowest step rate in that range that equals or exceeds the highest previous rate (or the maximum step rate, if the highest previous rate exceeds the range maximum). That step rate is the employee's maximum payable rate of basic pay.
(3) After setting the employee's rate of basic pay in the highest applicable rate range (not to exceed the maximum payable rate), the agency must determine any underlying rate of basic pay to which the employee is entitled based on the employee's step rate.
(d) When highest previous rate is based on a rate under a non-GS pay system. When an employee's highest previous rate (as provided in § 531.222) is based on a rate of basic pay in a non-GS pay system, the agency must determine the maximum payable rate of basic pay that may be paid to the employee in his or her current GS position of record as follows:
(1) Compare the highest previous rate to the highest applicable rate range in effect at the time and place where the highest previous rate was earned. The highest applicable rate range is determined as if the employee held the current GS position of record (including grade in which pay is being set) at that time and place. Identify the lowest step rate in that range that was equal to or higher than the highest previous rate (or the maximum step rate if the highest previous rate exceeded the range maximum).
(2) Convert the step rate identified in paragraph (d)(1) of this section to a corresponding rate (same step) in the current highest applicable rate range for the employee's current GS position of record and official worksite. That step rate is the employee's maximum payable rate of basic pay.
(3) After setting the employee's rate of basic pay in the current highest applicable rate range (not to exceed the maximum payable rate), the agency must determine any underlying rate of basic pay to which the employee is entitled at the determined step rate.
[70 FR 31291, May 31, 2005, as amended at 73 FR 66152, Nov. 7, 2008]

Title 5 published on 2014-01-01

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