The Carter administration has officially recommended legislation that would give temporary grade - and indefinite salary - protection to workers hit by reorganization-related downgrades.

There is a good chance, as outlined here July 12, that the Carter plan will be linked to a pending House bill that provide lifetime grade and pay protection from classification-related demotions.

Under the Carter bill, sent to the House Post Office-Civil Service and Senate Governmental Operations committers, workers hit by no-fault demotions resulting from reorganization or layoffs (RIF) would continue at their present grade for two years after being officially demoted or downgraded.

If the "demoted" employees' old pay level was higher than his or her pay at the new, lower grade, the employee would keep the higher salary even after demotion had occurred. Each October when other workers received a pay raise, the demoted employee would get exactly half the raise until his or her salary equated the rate for the new, lower grade. As the bill explains:

". . . employees whose rates of pay exceed the maximum step of the grade to which assigned shall be entitled to an amount equal to one-half of all future general increases in the rate of pay for total maximum step. In this way, such employees will be gradually phased back into the system. At the point when their pay, which has risen more slowly due to receipt of half-increases, is equalled or excedeed by the maximum step of the grade of the position which they occupy, the employees will be placed in the maximum step."

The employee, under the Carter bill, would keep his or her grade for two years after a demotion due to reorganization or downgrading. At the end of two years, the employee would be placed in the new lower grade. This is the explanation of what would happen, and what it would mean to the demoted worker:

". . . Upon termination of the personal grade and formal assignment to the lower grade position occupied, the employee's rate of pay will, in all likehood, the accommodated with the rate range of the grade of the position to which downgraded.

"It is anticipated that civil service regulations will specify that the pay rates of employees which fall between steps of the grade to which downgraded, will be established at the higher step. These employees will no longer be covered by the provisions of this bill and will receive the full amount of any future general increases in pay authorized for the step of the grade in which they are placed."

Insiders believe the Carter bill may be tied to legislation already introduced by Rep. Robert N.C. Nix (D-Pa.), Nix heads the Post Office-Civil Service unit. He could engineer the merger if he wants it.

The Niz plans does not cover jobs due for downgrading because of either reorganization or RIF actions. His measure, which gives lifetime pay and grade protection, is aimed only at no-fault downgradings ordered after agencies had turned up classification errors in employee jobs.

Some studies have indicated that as many as three jobs in every 10 in some federal agencies are overgraded past classification errors. The same studies show a much smaller rate of error in which jobs are undergrated (and therefore underpaid).

Employees due for demotion through no-fault classification errors would get liftime pay and grade guarantees under the Nix bill. Their jobs would be "red-circled," meaning they are subject to demotion but the actual downgrading wouldn't take place until the incumbent left it.

Blending the two bills, if that is what the House decides to do, would eliminate downgrading actions for some employees and soften pay and grade cuts for others.