(a) Council staff positions must be filled solely on the basis of merit, fitness for duty, competence, and qualifications. Employment actions must be free from discrimination based on race, religion, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, reprisal, sexual orientation, status as a parent, or on any additional bases protected by applicable Federal, state, or local law.
(b) The annual pay rates for Council staff positions shall be consistent with the pay rates established for General Schedule Federal employees as set forth in 5 U.S.C. 5332, and the Alternative Personnel Management System for the U.S. Department of Commerce (62 FR 67434). The Councils have the discretion to adjust pay rates and pay increases based on cost of living (COLA) differentials in their geographic locations. COLA adjustments in pay rates and pay increases may be provided for staff members whose post of duty is located in Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico.
(1) No pay adjustment based on geographic location shall exceed the COLA and locality pay adjustments available to Federal employees in the same geographic area.
(c) Salary increases funded in lieu of life and medical/dental policies are not permitted.
(d) Unused sick leave may be accumulated without limit, or up to a maximum number of days and contribution per day, as specified by the Council in its SOPP. Distributions of accumulated funds for unused sick leave may be made to the employee upon his or her retirement, or to his or her estate upon his or her death, as established by the Council in its SOPP.
(e) Each Council may pay for unused annual leave upon separation, retirement, or death of an employee.
(f) One or more accounts shall be maintained to pay for unused sick or annual leave as authorized under paragraphs (d) and (e) of this section, and will be funded from the Council's annual operating allowances. Councils have the option to deposit funds into these account(s) at the end of the budget period if unobligated balances remain. Interest earned on these account(s) will be maintained in the account(s), along with the principal, for the purpose of payment of unused annual and sick leave only. These account(s), including interest, may be carried over from year to year. Budgeting for accrued leave will be identified in the “Other” object class categories section of the SF-424A.
(g) A Council must notify the NOAA Office of General Counsel before seeking outside legal advice, which may be for technical assistance not available from NOAA. If the Council is seeking legal services in connection with an employment practices question, the Council must first notify the Department of Commerce's Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Administration, Employment and Labor Law Division. A Council may not contract for the provision of legal services on a continuing basis.