Government agencies soon will be told how to begin restoring the grade, back pay or promotions that thousands of workers lost during the past two years through no-fault demotions.

The employes, many in the Washington area, had to take grade reductions or pay cuts through no fault of their own. Some resulted from RIFs (layoff). They forced senior workers to bump down into lower grades. The majority of the demotions came about as the result of reclassifications showing that workers had been overgraded. In both instances employes were put back down the career ladder even though they were not to blame for the RIF, or the classification error.

The new civil service reform act requires agencies to reach back two years (until Jan. 1, 1977) to make grade and pay amends to anybody hit by a no-fault demotion. That applies not only to workers still in government, but also to persons who have since retired, or to their survivors if they have died and are due retroactive pay.

Obviously straightening all this out will take a lot of time.

Under the law, employes who have suffered pay cuts or grade cuts through no-fault demotions will get whatever they lost restored. Money due will be refunded in lump payments. In addition, those demoted will be entitled to any other "pay or benefit" they would have had if they had not been demoted.

The Office of Personnel Management is working on the final draft of regulations that will cover the pay and grade recovery program. They are due out within a couple of weeks.

The pay-grade protections of the reform act work two ways. For employes faced with no-fault demotions from now on, the law provides they will have their grades protected for two years.

Employes who were hit by no-fault demotions between January 1977 and Jan. 11 of this year will be restored in status and salary. In addition, they too will get two extra years of grade protection.

The best advice for employes who have been demoted since January 1977 is to be aware of the new law and sit tight for the moment. Don't call your agency for advice yet, because personnel officials do not have the ground rules from the OPM. Don't call the OPM because it won't comment until the regulations are published in the Federal Register.

If you were demoted within the last two years for a no-fault reason, you will get your grade back. And any pay due you. That is the law and OPM brass say they will live up to it. This column will help remind them from time to time, and keep you posted.

The how-to rules aren't out yet. But they are on the way. Hopefully, everybody downgraded over the past couple of years will be back in grade and pay ladder within the next couple of months.

Merit Pav For Supervisors: The White House plan to put Grade 13 through 15 federal supervisors under a partial merit pay plan will be implemented over the next three years. Officials hope 25 percent of the government-wide total of supervisors are under merit this year, 50 percent in 1980 and the remaining 25 percent by 1981.

Frank Wolek, Commerce's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Science, will speak at the American Society for Public Administration's Jan. 31 luncheon at Blackie's. Call 377-5930 for reservations.

Patent Adviser: Army at Fort Belvoir has a Grade 13 ($27,453) opening at Fort Belvoir. Call Mr. Overick at 664-5321.

Clerical Jobs: Agriculture down town has permanent and temporary intermittent jobs for GS 2 and 3 clerktypists, and for GS 4 secretary-typists. Call Elsie Walker at (301) 344-3196.

John P. Donnelly, formerly top press officer for the Space Agency has taken the top public information job for the U.S. Metric Board. It was set up in 1975 to help gradually coax the nation into thinking metric.