Although Congress imposes strict requirements on government agencies about personnel practices, pay and leave, many members of Congress are more flexible, and sometimes less generous, when it comes to 20,000 staffers on Capitol Hill, the Congressional Management Foundation reported in a new study.

The CMF is a management consultant organization that keeps tab on congressional personnel practices. It sent questionnaires to the offices of more than 400 House members, and from the 218 responses reported that:

*Only 61 percent of all House offices have manuals or written guidelines on staff personnel practices, although they are required at all other federal agencies.

*Fewer than half the offices automatically grant their employes the pay raises that federal workers usually get each year.

*Only about two of every 10 offices give longtime employes additional vacation.

*More than one-third of the offices responding said they grant paid maternity leave to employes, and 12 percent give paid paternity leave to staffers. Other federal workers must take sick leave to have babies. There is no regular paid paternity leave in federal employment.

*Republican members from rural districts pay their top staffers the best salaries (an average of $55,889 a year for administrative assistants), followed by Democrats from suburban districts.

*The average House staffer salary this year is $24,132, compared with an average of about $31,000 for white-collar civil servants in other federal agencies.

*Salaries, which are uniform for federal employes doing the same job regardless of where they work, vary in congressional offices by as much as $40,000 a year for the same type of job.

*Only 41 percent of the offices responding said they had a formal sick-leave policy, with 81 percent saying that they allow employes up to 15 days a year, compared with 13 days a year for other federal workers.

*About 24 percent of the offices said they have trouble getting qualified people to work, in part because of the level of pay and benefits offered.