U.S. Code of Federal Regulations
Regulations most recently checked for updates: Sep 28, 2023
(a) Merit promotion plans. Except as otherwise specifically authorized by OPM, an agency may make promotions under § 335.102 of this part only to positions for which the agency has adopted and is administering a program designed to insure a systematic means of selection for promotion according to merit. These programs shall conform to the requirements of this section.
(b) Merit promotion requirements—(1) Requirement 1. Each agency must establish procedures for promoting employees that are based on merit and are available in writing to candidates. Agencies must list appropriate exceptions, including those required by law or regulation, as specified in paragraph (c) of this section. Actions under a promotion plan—whether identification, qualification, evaluation, or selection of candidates—must be made without regard to race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), national origin, age (as defined by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, as amended), disability, genetic information (including family medical history), marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, labor organization affiliation or nonaffiliation, status as a parent, or any other non-merit-based factor, unless specifically designated by statute as a factor that must be taken into consideration when awarding such benefits, or retaliation for exercising rights with respect to the categories enumerated above, where retaliation rights are available, and must be based solely on job-related criteria.
(2) Requirement 2. Areas of consideration must be sufficiently broad to ensure the availability of high quality candidates, taking into account the nature and level of the positions covered. Agencies must also ensure that employees within the area of consideration who are absent for legitimate reason, e.g., on detail, on leave, at training courses, in the military service, or serving in public international organizations or on Intergovernmental Personnel Act assignments, receive appropriate consideration for promotion.
(3) Requirement 3. To be eligible for promotion or placement, candidates must meet the minimum qualification standards prescribed by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Methods of evaluation for promotion and placement, and selection for training which leads to promotion, must be consistent with instructions in part 300, subpart A, of this chapter. Due weight shall be given to performance appraisals and incentive awards.
(4) Requirement 4. Selection procedures will provide for management's right to select or not select from among a group of best qualified candidates. They will also provide for management's right to select from other appropriate sources, such as reemployment priority lists, reinstatement, transfer, handicapped, or Veteran Recruitment Act eligibles or those within reach on an appropriate OPM certificate. In deciding which source or sources to use, agencies have an obligation to determine which is most likely to best meet the agency mission objectives, contribute fresh ideas and new viewpoints, and meet the agency's affirmative action goals.
(5) Requirement 5. Administration of the promotion system will include recordkeeping and the provision of necessary information to employees and the public, ensuring that individuals' rights to privacy are protected. Each agency must maintain a temporary record of each promotion sufficient to allow reconstruction of the promotion action, including documentation on how candidates were rated and ranked. These records may be destroyed after 2 years or after the program has been formally evaluated by OPM (whichever comes first) if the time limit for grievance has lapsed before the anniversary date.
(c) Covered personnel actions—(1) Competitive actions. Except as provided in paragraphs (c)(2) and (3) of this section, competitive procedures in agency promotion plans apply to all promotions under § 335.102 of this part and to the following actions:
(i) Time-limited promotions under § 335.102(f) of this part for more than 120 days to higher graded positions (prior service during the preceding 12 months under noncompetitive time-limited promotions and noncompetitive details to higher graded positions counts toward the 120-day total). A temporary promotion may be made permanent without further competition provided the temporary promotion was originally made under competitive procedures and the fact that might lead to a permanent promotion was made known to all potential candidates;
(ii) Details for more than 120 days to a higher grade position or to a position with higher promotion potential (prior service during the preceding 12 months under noncompetitive details to higher graded positions and noncompetitive time-limited promotions counts toward the 120-day total);
(iii) Selection for training which is part of an authorized training agreement, part of a promotion program, or required before an employee may be considered for a promotion as specified in § 410.302 of this chapter;
(iv) Reassignment or demotion to a position with more promotion potential than a position previously held on a permanent basis in the competitive service (except as permitted by reduction-in-force regulations);
(v) Transfer to a position at a higher grade or with more promotion potential than a position previously held on a permanent basis in the competitive service; and
(vi) Reinstatement to a permanent or temporary position at a higher grade or with more promotion potential than a position previously held on a permanent basis in the competitive service if the individual did not wait 1 year or more after separating from Federal employment before applying for reinstatement, or did not receive a rating of record for his or her most recent career or career-conditional position of at least Fully Successful (or equivalent).
(2) Noncompetitive actions. Competitive procedures do not apply to:
(i) A promotion resulting from the upgrading of a position without significant change in the duties and responsibilities due to issuance of a new classification standard or the correction of an initial classification error; and
(ii) A position change permitted by reduction-in-force procedures in part 351 of this chapter.
(3) Discretionary actions. Agencies may at their discretion except the following actions from competitive procedures of this section:
(i) A promotion without current competition of an employee who was appointed in the competitive from a civil service register, by direct hire, by noncompetitive appointment or noncompetitive conversion, or under competitive promotion procedures for an assignment intended to prepare the employee for the position being filled (the intent must be made a matter of record and career ladders must be documented in the promotion plan);
(ii) A promotion resulting from an employee's position being classified at a higher grade because of additional duties and responsibilies;
(iii) A temporary promotion, or detail to a higher grade position or a position with known promotion potential, of 120 days or less;
(iv) Promotion to a grade previously held on a permanent basis in the competitive service (or in another merit system with which OPM has an interchange agreement approved under § 6.7 of this chapter) from which an employee was separated or demoted for other than performance or conduct reasons;
(v) Promotion, reassignment, demotion, transfer, reinstatement, or detail to a position having promotion potential no greater than the potential of a position an employee currently holds or previously held on a permanent basis in the competitive service (or in another merit system with which OPM has an interchange agreement approved under § 6.7 of this chapter) and did not lose because of performance or conduct reasons; and
(vi) Consideration of a candidate not given proper consideration in a competitive promotion action.
(vii) Appointments of career SES appointees with competitive service reinstatement eligibility to any position for which they qualify in the competitive service at any grade or salary level, including Senior-Level positions established under 5 CFR Part 319—Employment in Senior-Level and Scientific and Professional positions.
(viii) Reinstatement in accordance with 5 CFR part 315 to any position in the competitive service for which the individual is qualified at a higher grade level or with more promotion potential than a career or career-conditional position previously held by the individual; provided: The individual has been separated for at least one year before applying for reinstatement, and the individual must have received a rating of record for his or her most recent career or career-conditional position of at least Fully Successful (or equivalent).
(d) Grievances. Employees have the right to file a complaint relating to a promotion action. Such complaints shall be resolved under appropriate grievance procedures. The standards for adjudicating complaints are set forth in part 300, subpart A, of this chapter. While the procedures used by an agency to identify and rank qualified candidates may be proper subjects for formal complaints or grievances, nonselection from among a group of properly ranked and certified candidates is not an appropriate basis for a formal complaint or grievance. There is no right of appeal of OPM, but OPM may conduct investigations of substantial violations of OPM requirements.