§ 531.409Acceptable level of competence determinations.
(a)Responsibility. The head of the agency or other agency official to whom such authority is delegated shall determine which employees are performing at an acceptable level of competence.
(b)Basis for determination. When applicable, an acceptable level of competence determination shall be based on a current rating of record made under part 430, subpart B, of this chapter. For those agencies not covered by chapter 43 of title 5, United States Code, and for employees in positions excluded from 5 U.S.C. 4301, an acceptable level of competence determination shall be based on performance appraisal requirements established by the agency. If an employee has been reduced in grade because of unacceptable performance and has served in one position at the lower grade for at least the minimum period established by the agency, a rating of record at the lower grade shall be used as the basis for an acceptable level of competence determination.
(c)Delay in determination.
(1) An acceptable level of competence determination shall be delayed when, and only when, either of the following applies:
(i) An employee has not had the minimum period of time established at§ 430.207(a) of this chapter to demonstrate acceptable performance because he or she has not been informed of the specific requirements for performance at an acceptable level of competence in his or her current position, and the employee has not been given a performance rating in any position within the minimum period of time (as established at § 430.207(a) of this chapter) before the end of the waiting period; or
(ii) An employee is reduced in grade because of unacceptable performance to a position in which he or she is eligible for a within-grade increase or will become eligible within the minimum period as established at§ 430.207(a) of this chapter.
(2) When an acceptable level of competence determination has been delayed under this subpart:
(i) The employee shall be informed that his or her determination is postponed and the appraisal period extended and shall be told of the specific requirements for performance at an acceptable level of competence.
(ii) An acceptable level of competence determination shall then be made based on the employee's rating of record completed at the end of the extended appraisal period.
(iii) If, following the delay, the employee's performance is determined to be at an acceptable level of competence, the within-grade increase willbe granted retroactively to the beginning of the pay period following completion of the applicable waiting period.
(d)Waiver of requirement for determination.
(1) An acceptable level of competence determination shall be waived and a within-grade increase granted when an employee has not served in any position for the minimum period under an applicable agency performance appraisal program during the final 52 calendar weeks of the waiting period for one or more of the following reasons:
(i) Because of absences that are creditable service in the computation of a waiting period or periods under§ 531.406 of this subpart;
(ii) Because of paid leave;
(iii) Because the employee received service credit under the back pay provisions of subpart H ofpart 550 of this chapter;
(iv) Because of details to another agency or employer for which no rating has been prepared;
(v) Because the employee has had insufficient time to demonstrate an acceptable level of competence due to authorized activities of official interest to the agency not subject to appraisal underpart 430 of this chapter (including, but not limited to, labor-management partnership activities under section 2 of Executive Order 12871 and serving as a representative of a labor organization under chapter 71 of title 5, United States Code); or
(vi) Because of long-term training.
(2) When an acceptable level of competence determination has been waived and a within-grade increase granted under paragraph (d)(1) of this section, there shall be a presumption that the employee would have performed at an acceptable level of competence had the employee performed the duties of his or her position of record for the minimum period under the applicable agency performance appraisal program.
(e)Notice of determination.
(1) A level of competence determination shall be communicated to an employee in writing as soon as possible after completion of the waiting period or other period upon which it was based.
(2) When the head of an agency or his or her designee determines that an employee's performance is not at an acceptable level of competence, the negative determination shall be communicated to the employee in writing and shall:
(i) Set forth the reasons for any negative determination and the respects in which the employee must improve his or her performance in order to be granted a within-grade increase under§ 531.411 of this subpart.
(ii) Inform the employee of his or her right to request that the appropriately designated agency official reconsider the determination.
[46 FR 2319, Jan. 9, 1981, as amended at 51 FR 8420, Mar. 11, 1986; 60 FR 43948, Aug. 23, 1995; 62 FR 62503, Nov. 24, 1997]
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