U.S. Code of Federal Regulations
Regulations most recently checked for updates: Dec 07, 2023
Each agency shall determine the retention standing of each competing employee on the basis of the factors in this subpart and in subpart E of this part.
(a) Each agency shall establish competitive areas in which employees compete for retention under this part.
(b) A competitive area must be defined solely in terms of the agency's organizational unit(s) and geographical location and, except as provided in paragraph (e) of this section, it must include all employees within the competitive area so defined. A competitive area may consist of all or part of an agency. The minimum competitive area is a subdivision of the agency under separate administration within the local commuting area.
(c) When a competitive area will be in effect less than 90 days prior to the effective date of a reduction in force, a description of the competitive area shall be submitted to the OPM for approval in advance of the reduction in force. Descriptions of all competitive areas must be made readily available for review.
(d) Each agency shall establish a separate competitive area for each Inspector General activity established under authority of the Inspector General Act of 1978, Public Law 95–452, as amended, in which only employees of that office shall compete for retention under this part.
(e) When an agency finds that a competitive area defined under paragraph (b) of this section includes pay band positions and positions not covered by a pay band, the agency may, at its discretion, define a separate (and additional) competitive area, otherwise consistent with paragraph (b) of this section, to include only pay band positions. The original competitive area would then include only the remaining positions (i.e., those positions not covered by a pay band).
(a)(1) Each agency shall establish competitive levels consisting of all positions in a competitive area which are in the same grade (or occupational level) and classification series, and which are similar enough in duties, qualification requirements, pay schedules, and working conditions so that an agency may reassign the incumbent of one position to any of the other positions in the level without undue interruption.
(2)(i) Except as provided in paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of this section for pay band positions, competitive level determinations are based on each employee's official position of record (including the official position description), not the employee's personal qualifications.
(ii) To establish a competitive level comprised of pay band positions, an agency may supplement an employee's official position of record with other applicable records that document the employee's actual duties and responsibilities.
(3) Sex may not be the basis for a competitive level determination, except for a position OPM designates that certification of eligibles by sex is justified.
(4) A probationary period required by subpart I of part 315 of this chapter for initial appointment to a supervisory or managerial position is not a basis for establishing a separate competitive level.
(5) If a competitive area includes positions in one or more pay bands, each set of interchangeable positions in the pay band under paragraphs (a)(1) through (4) of this section is a separate competitive level (e.g., with interchangeable positions under paragraphs (a)(1) through (4) of this section, each pay band is one competitive level; if the positions are not interchangeable under paragraphs (a)(1) through (4) of this section, the pay band may include multiple competitive levels).
(b) Each agency shall establish separate competitive levels according to the following categories:
(1) By service. Separate levels shall be established for positions in the competitive service and in the excepted service.
(2) By appointment authority. Separate levels shall be established for excepted service positions filled under different appointment authorities.
(3) By pay schedule. Separate levels shall be established for positions under different pay schedules.
(4) By work schedule. Separate levels shall be established for positions filled on a full-time, part-time, intermittent, seasonal, or on-call basis. No distinction may be made among employees in the competitive level on the basis of the number of hours or weeks scheduled to be worked.
(5) By trainee status. Separate levels shall be established for positions filled by an employee in a formally designated trainee or developmental program having all of the characteristics covered in § 351.702(e)(1) through (e)(4) of this part.
(c) An agency may not establish a competitive level based solely upon:
(1) A difference in the number of hours or weeks scheduled to be worked by other-than-full-time employees who would otherwise be in the same competitive level;
(2) A requirement to work changing shifts;
(3) The grade promotion potential of the position; or
(4) A difference in the local wage areas when a competitive area includes positions covered by more than one wage-board or similar wage-determining procedure;
(5) A difference in locality payments under 5 U.S.C. 5304 and subpart F of part 531 of this chapter when a competitive level includes more than one locality pay area listed in § 531.603 of this chapter; or
(6) Representative rates in different local commuting areas when a competitive area includes General Schedule (GS) and Federal Wage System (FWS) positions in multiple GS locality pay areas, and/or FWS local wage areas.
(a) When a competing employee is to be released from a competitive level under this part, the agency shall establish a separate retention register for that competitive level. The retention register is prepared from the current retention records of employees. Upon displacing another employee under this part, an employee retains the same status and tenure in the new position. Except for an employee on military duty with a restoration right, the agency shall enter on the retention register, in the order of retention standing, the name of each competing employee who is:
(1) In the competitive level;
(2) Temporarily promoted from the competitive level by temporary or term promotion; or
(3) Detailed from the competitive level under 5 U.S.C. 3341 or other appropriate authority.
(b)(1) The name of each employee serving under a time limited appointment or promotion to a position in a competitive level shall be entered on a list apart from the retention register for that competitive level, along with the expiration date of the action.
(2) The agency shall list, at the bottom of the list prepared under paragraph (b)(1) of this section, the name of each employee in the competitive level with a written decision of removal under part 432 or 752 of this chapter.