U.S. Geological Survey Manual
370.550.10.1 - Environmental Differential
1. Purpose. This chapter provides the basis for approving and paying environmental differentials to Federal Wage System (FWS) employees (full-time, part-time, or intermittent) and lists categories of situations that apply to the U. S. Geological Survey (Appendix A) and specifies the differential payable for each category.
A. Environmental differential means additional pay authorized as specified in Appendix A for a category of situations involving exposure to a hazard, a physical hardship, or working conditions of unusually severe nature.
B. Hazard of an unusual nature is one which could result in significant injury, illness, or death when the hazard is not practically eliminated by protective facilities.
C. Physical hardship of an unusual nature involves performance under circumstances which cause significant physical discomfort or distress not practically eliminated by protective devices.
D. Working condition of an unusually severe nature involves exposure to fumes, dust, or noise which cause significant distress or discomfort where such distress or discomfort is not practically eliminated.
3. Coverage. An environmental differential is paid to a wage employee who is exposed to a hazard, physical hardship, or working condition of an unusually severe nature listed under the categories in Appendix A. Exposure to a hazard, physical hardship, or working condition of an unusually severe nature is not taken into consideration in the job-grading process, and additional pay for exposure to these conditions is provided only through the environmental differential.
4. Computation of Environmental Differential.
A. Computation of Amount. The amount of environmental differential which is payable is determined by multiplying the percentage rate authorized for the described exposure (Appendix A) by the second step rate for grade WG-10 on the current regular nonsupervisory wage schedule for the particular area, counting one-half cent and over as a full cent. The resulting cents-an-hour amount is paid uniformly to each employee in the area who qualifies for the authorized differential.
B. Basis of Payment. The environmental differential is paid on the basis of:
(1) Actual Exposure. Part I, Appendix A, identifies environmental situations for which a differential is payable on the basis of actual exposure time.
(2) Hours in Pay Status (Shift). Part II, Appendix A, identifies situations for which a differential is payable for all hours the employee is in a pay status on the day of exposure. When exposure to the situation occurs during a continuous period extending over 2 days, it is considered to have occurred on the day on which the exposure began and the differential is charged to that day.
C. Payment of Environmental Differential is made as follows:
(1) When an employee is entitled to an environmental differential which is paid on an actual exposure basis, he/she will be paid a minimum of 1 hour's differential pay for the exposure. For exposure beyond 1 hour, the employee will be paid in increments of one-quarter hour for each 15 minutes or portion thereof in excess of 15 minutes.
(2) When an employee is exposed at intermittent times during a day to a category for which the environmental differential is paid on an actual exposure basis, each exposure is considered separately and the amount of time exposed is not added together before payment is made for exposure beyond 1 hour's duration except that pay for the environmental differential may not exceed the number of hours of active duty by the employee on the day of exposure.
(3) When an employee is exposed to a category for which an environmental differential is payable on a shift basis (hours in pay status) and on the same day he/she is also exposed to a category for which an environmental differential payable on an actual exposure basis at a higher rate is authorized, he/she will be paid the environmental differential on the basis of actual exposure for the length of exposure time, and the environmental differential on the basis of the shift for the remaining hours in pay status that day.
(4) When an employee is exposed to more than one category for which the environmental differential is payable on an actual exposure basis, each category is considered separately in computing the amount of environmental differential payable.
(5) When an employee is subjected at the same time to more than one category for which the environmental differential is payable, he/she will be paid for that exposure which results in the highest differential but will not be paid more than one differential for the same hours of work.
(6) When an employee is exposed to an environmental differential category during an approved overtime period for which he/she is entitled to overtime pay, the employee will be paid not less than the minimum amount of differential to which he/she would otherwise be entitled.
D. Environmental Differential Pay During Absence on Paid Leave.
(1) When an employee is exposed to a situation for which an environmental differential is authorized on a shift basis, the differential will be paid during a period of absence on paid leave on the day on which the exposure occurs.
(2) Then an employee is exposed to a situation for which an environmental differential is authorized on an actual exposure basis, that differential will be paid during a period of absence on paid leave only to the extent that the leave is within the minimum payment periods specified in paragraph 4.C(1) above.
(3) An employee will not be paid an environmental differential during a period of absence on paid leave on any day on which the employee is not exposed to situations for which an environmental differential is authorized.
E. Effect of Environmental Differential on Lump-Sum Leave Payment and Severance Pay. Because an environmental differential is paid only on a day which an employee is exposed to a situation for which the differential is authorized, it is not included in a lump-sum payment for annual leave or in computing severance pay.
F. Relationship of Environmental Differential to Other Pay. Environmental differential is included as part of the employee's basic rate of pay and will be used to compute premium pay (overtime, holiday, or Sunday work), the amount from which retirement deductions are made, and the amount on which group life insurance is based.
5. Procedure. Supervisors of Federal Wage System employees must determine whether the categories in Appendix A are applicable to employees under their supervision. If so, the supervisor must prepare Form 9-1693, Request for Environmental Differential (Figure 1), in quadruplicate for submission to the Office of Financial Management through the servicing personnel office and the Division Chief. Separate Forms 9-1963 must be prepared when the conditions and/or basis for payment are different or changed.
6. Additions or Changes to Environmental Differential Schedule. Recommendations to the Office of Personnel Management for additions to, or changes in, a category in Appendix A must be submitted to the Department through the Headquarters Personnel Office and must include:
A. The nature of the exposure showing clearly that the hazard, physical hardship, or working condition which results from that exposure is of an unusual nature.
B. The degree to which the employee is exposed to the hazard, physical hardship, or working condition.
C. The period of time during which the exposure will continue to exist.
D. The degree to which control may be exercised over the physical hardship. hazard, or working condition.
E. The rate of environmental differential recommended.
F. The reasons why safety devices or practices cannot eliminate or substantially reduce the hazard. The Bureau Safety Officer must concur in the findings that safety devices, training, or practices do not eliminate or substantially reduce the hazard. This concurrence must be in writing.
G. A statement that consultation with local representatives has taken place where exclusive recognition has been accorded to labor organization. This should include identification of the labor organization consulted and a summary of their comments or recommendations.