FEA Legal Update #4 SY 09-10 - Possible alternatives to taking RAT in conjunction with PCSTo: FEA Leaders and Educators (For Immediate Distribution)
From: H.T. Nguyen, FEA Executive Director/ General Counsel
Date: June 8, 2010
Re: Legal Update #4 SY 2009-2010- Possible Alternatives to taking RAT in conjunction with PCS
This legal update is to explain a potential benefit to DoDDS educators who are simultaneously eligible for RAT and PCS travel this summer. While the Association knows that most of you are aware of this potential benefit, this update is to provide this information to those who might not have been aware of this benefit. Under specific circumstances, it may be to your advantage not to take RAT travel in conjunction with your PCS travel, and defer your RAT to next summer. However, this does not apply to all instances where an educator is simultaneously eligible for RAT and PCS, as some conditions must first be met. Please allow me a few moments to explain.
Which Educators Might Benefit from Making this Election?
If you are an educator in a one or two-year area, are eligible to take RAT this summer, and have also received PCS orders to a new post in a two-year area, it might be to your advantage to use your PCS orders now, and elect to defer your RAT travel to next summer.
In these scenarios, you would request your PCS orders, but specifically inform your local HR personnel that you are delaying your RAT until next summer. When signing your new service agreement for RAT at the new duty station, you would only need to sign a ONE year service agreement (for the coming school year) at the new two-year post. However, once you take RAT next summer, you must subsequently serve the regular two-year service agreements to become eligible to take RAT at that new post.
Which Educators Would Probably Not Benefit From this Election?
If you are an educator in a one or two-year area, are eligible to take RAT this summer, but have PCS orders to a new post in a one-year area, deferring RAT would probably not benefit you.
The reason that the election to defer RAT would probably not benefit educators moving to a one-year area is that you will be eligible for RAT after each school year. In other words, if you elect to defer RAT in a one-year area, you gain no benefit as you would be eligible for RAT travel next summer anyway. Please note that under JTR regulation C 5521, when you complete a new service agreement, any deferred RAT benefits expire. Thus, in a one-year area, any deferred RAT benefits will expire before you could use them.
My PCS Orders are from the Pacific to Europe (or vice versa). Should I take RAT in conjunction with PCS?
If you are presently in a one or two-year area, are eligible to take RAT this summer, but also have PCS orders from the Pacific to Europe (or Europe to the Pacific) to a new post in a two-year area, you may also ask that your orders be amended to allow you to "stopover" in the U.S. incident to the PCS move, at your own expense, and still be eligible for RAT next summer.
Under this request, the educator could request to be authorized a "delay enroute authorized at employee's expense" in the U.S., incident to the PCS. In other words, you would be asking to be authorized to stop in the U.S. indefinitely "enroute" to Europe/Pacific on the PCS orders. Please note that the following only applies to PCS moves from Europe to the Pacific and vice versa- it does NOT apply to intra-Pacific or intra-Europe PCS moves. Please be aware that ALL of your costs for this "delay enroute" in the U.S. on PCS travel come out of your own pocket.
Please also note that you need to get this authorization BEFORE traveling on your PCS orders to clarify that you are not taking RAT this summer, as well as being authorized to stop enroute in the U.S. This may require you to explain in detail to your local HR people that you are delaying your RAT to next summer and make sure that you only need to sign a one-year RAT agreement at your new post in Europe/ Pacific, to avoid confusion in the future.
I Have Already Requested my PCS Travel Orders for This Summer and asked for PCS in conjunction with RAT. Is it Possible to make a Change to my Orders now?
In the event that you are an educator in a one or two-year area who is taking a PCS to a new post in a two-year area, and you already requested orders election PCS in conjunction with RAT for this summer, and you now would like to defer your RAT until next summer, you may go into TOPS and request an amendment to your travel orders. Please be sure to have the changes approved and placed on your travel orders BEFORE you travel. If you do NOT have these changes authorized BEFORE you travel, management will take the position that you have already used your RAT benefit and you have nothing to defer.
Please note that making the request to defer RAT may require you to explain in detail to your local HR people that you are delaying your RAT to next summer, but are taking your PCS now, and to make sure that you only need to sign a one-year RAT agreement at your new post to avoid confusion in the future. However, you would then have to sign and complete a two-year service agreement to subsequently be eligible for RAT at the new duty station.
I Am Having Trouble Changing my PCS Orders. Who Can I Contact for Help?
In the event that you encounter problems with any of the above actions, the Association would recommend that you contact Ms. Terrie Burford at DoDEA Headquarters, the DoDEA official responsible for making benefits and allowances determinations on behalf of DoDEA management. Ms. Burford's email may be found on the DoDEA Outlook email system.
Please also be aware that under JTR regulation C5521, RAT is not cumulative and you cannot defer your RAT benefit indefinitely. For example, under this regulation, if you live in a two-year area and complete a tour of duty, entitling you to RAT travel, if you defer that RAT benefit for several years and subsequently complete another two-year tour of duty, the RAT benefit you deferred will expire and you will get only the one RAT trip for the subsequently completed tour of duty.