OPM waives cabinet members’ exempt status so they can get OT pay

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THE Office of Personnel Management waived the cabinet members’ exempt status so they could be paid for the “extra hours” they performed at a rate of “1.0 x the basic hourly rate of pay.”

During a meeting with the Senate Fiscal Affairs Committee on Wednesday, OPM acting Director Frances Salas said there is regulation that allows OPM to waive government employees’ exempt status but “there has to be justifications.”

Government personnel with exempt status include those with “excepted service appointments” such as cabinet members.

Sen. Frank Cruz brought up the issue during the meeting, saying that it was unfair that hundreds of civil service employees were furloughed while some cabinet members got paid for “extra hours.”

In a memorandum issued on April 23, then-OPM Director Isidro Seman waived the exempt status of some government officials including cabinet members and authorized the payment of the extra hours they performed in the Covid-19 response operations at the rate of 1.0 x basic hourly rate of pay.

The memo was in response to the request of Special Assistant for Homeland Security and Management Gerald Deleon Guerrero.

Joseph Pangelinan, chief of OPM’s Employee Development and Staffing, told the senators on Wednesday that the regulation allows OPM to waive exempt status and authorize a “1 to 1” or “x 1.0” overtime pay only and nothing else. But this has to be justified, he added.

In his  letter to OPM on April 17, Deleon Guerrero cited the governor’s Executive Order 2020-04 as justification to waive the cabinet members’ exempt status.

Deleon Guerrero said Directive 1 allowed the HSEM to perform “temporary action deemed necessary when assisting the Commonwealth in response to Covid-19 threat”; while Directive 3 allowed HSEM and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., after consultation with the governor’s office, to temporarily transfer direction, personnel, and functions of government agencies to facilitate response to the Covid-19 threat, he added.

The department heads and cabinet members whose exempt status was waived and were authorized to receive extra pay were Deleon Guerrero himself, Department of Public Works Secretary James Ada, Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig, Procurement and Supply Director Francisco Aguon and Department of Community and Cultural Affairs acting Secretary Robert Hunter.

The other officials whose exempt status were waived and were authorized to receive pay for extra hours of work were HSEM’s George Cabrera, James Rabauliman, Joey Dela Cruz, Pedro Leon Guerrero, Department of Public Safety’s Thomas Blas Jr., Lawrence Camacho, Jeffrey Olopai, Simon Manacop, Finance’s Margaret Bertha Torres, Velma Palacios, Ryan Camacho, Vivian Lizama, Asuncion Agulto, Remedio Babauta, Commerce’s David Maratita, John Hosono, Department of Public Works’ Joseph Castro, DCCA’s Joaquin Sablan, Department of Corrections’ Jennifer McQuay and Public Assistance Office’s Patrick Guerrero.           




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