This Section applies only to FWS employees.
The head of an operating unit or a designee shall pay environmental differential to any FWS employee who is exposed to a hazard, physical hardship or unusually severe working condition listed in Appendix A to 5 CFR 532. Environmental differential is the only way in which exposure to these conditions may be compensated since they are not considered in the job grading process.
Schedule of Rates and Computing the Differential
The amount of differential payable shall be determined by multiplying the rate authorized in Appendix A for the described exposure by the rate for WG-10, step 2, taken from the current regular nonsupervisory wage schedule applicable to the area in which the employee has an official duty station. One-half cent or over shall count as a full cent. The resulting cents-an-hour amount shall be paid uniformly to each eligible FWS employee, regardless of the grade level of the employee or the FWS wage schedule on which the employee is paid.
Basis of Payment
Whether environmental differential is paid on the basis of all hours in a pay status or on the basis of actual exposure depends on the hazard, physical hardship or working condition as listed in Appendix A.
An employee who is entitled to environmental differential for all hours in a pay status shall be paid for all hours in a pay status on the day of exposure.
An employee who is entitled to environmental differential on an actual exposure basis shall be paid not less than one hour's differential pay for the exposure. For exposure beyond one hour, the employee will be paid in increments of one-quarter hour with less than 15 minutes rounded up to a quarter hour. However, environmental differential for such intermittent exposures may not exceed the number of hours of active duty by the employee on the day of exposure.
An employee may not be paid more than one environmental differential for a period of work. Payment shall be based on the higher of the two differentials authorized.
When an employee is eligible for environmental differential pay which is payable on a shift basis, and, on the same day, is eligible for environmental differential on an actual exposure basis at a higher rate, he or she must be paid environmental differential on the basis of actual exposure for that exposure, and environmental differential on the basis of the shift for the remaining hours in the pay status that day.
Additions to the Schedule of Differentials
The head of each operating unit and those to whom authority has been delegated are responsible for determining whether local situations are covered by one or more categories defined in Appendix A.
When the local situation is not covered by any of the defined categories, OPM may be requested to establish an appropriate category and differential. Any such request must be submitted to the Director for Human Resources from the operating unit head through the Principal Human Resources Officer with a description of the hazardous duty or physical hardship involved; the number, series, grades, and location of the positions affected; the potential annual cost to the Department if the waiver is approved; and the justification for the waiver. A copy of the position description and any supporting documentation must be attached.
Relationship to Other Pay
Environmental differential is included as part of the employee's basic rate of pay and must be used to compute premium pay for overtime, holiday, or Sunday work, the amount from which retirement deductions are made, and the amount on which group life insurance is based.
Effect of Excused Absence and Leave
An environmental differential is included as part of an employee's basic rate of pay for periods of paid leave under the following circumstances:
- When an employee is exposed to a situation for which an environmental differential is authorized on the basis of hours in a pay status, that differential will be paid during a period of absence on paid leave on the day on which the exposure occurs.
- When an employee is exposed to a situation for which an environmental differential is authorized on an actual exposure basis, the differential will be paid during a period of absence on paid leave only to the extent that the leave period is within the minimum period of payment for exposure.
- An employee will not be paid an environmental differential during a period of absence on paid leave on any day on which he or she is not exposed to situations for which an environmental differential is authorized.
Effect of Environmental Differential Pay on Lump Sum Leave Payment and Severance Pay
Because an environmental differential is paid only on a day on which an employee is exposed to a situation for which the differential is authorized, it is not included in a lump-sum payment of annual leave or in computing severance pay. Its loss is not an adverse action.