June 26, 2011

Conversion from Academic Professional
to Civil Service Explained

A determination will be made whether this and other jobs should be classified as AP or CS.
(Photo courtesy AADE.)

By Anniese Lemond, Director, Compensation

A CRITICAL outcome of the job analysis process is the necessity to correct the inappropriate exemption of jobs from coverage by Civil Service (CS). Conversion of misclassified positions, though unpopular, serves two important purposes: first, to resolve audit findings; and second, eliminate non-compliance with the State law that established the State Universities Civil Service System (SUCSS).

TO ENSURE fairness and consistency, UIC is conducting a systematic study of all Academic Professional (AP) posi­tions within the organization. Therefore, all employees in positions that are deemed to be inappropriately exempted will eventually be converted.

MANY EMPLOYEES have questioned why positions were misclassified in the first place. Unfortunately, there are a range of reasons that exist (e.g. misunderstanding of exemption guidelines, increased flexibility in the management of one employee group over another, attachment of status to AP position, degree attainment, etc.). Whatever the initial rationale, the fact of the matter is that the exemptions guidelines have been clarified and will be applied ap­propriately moving forward.

DETERMINING WHETHER or not a position will be converted requires the application of one basic rule. That is, if the positions’ duties (in essence, not every task performed) match those of an already existing Civil Service classifica­tion, the position is Civil Service. If there is not a suitable match (since there are more than 1,000 classifications the likelihood of a match is high) in the CS class plan and the job meets the criteria for exemption, the job may be es­tablished as AP. However, be mindful that the rules have to be applied in that specific order. The SUCSS website provides a user-friendly application to review general information about each classification within the class plan, http://www.sucss.state.il.us/classspecs/admin.asp?kw=accountant&criteria=SearchAll

Results from the UIC Medical Center’s Job Analysis and Other Departments

WHILE THE AP positions in all units and departments at UIC will be reviewed in the coming months, the process is furthest along at the UIC Medical Center. During the first review phase, approximately 325 positions were re­viewed and of them, 260 were deemed to have been inappropriately exempted. Beginning May 1, employees began converting from AP to CS. Job analyses have been conducted in the offices of the Chancellor, Provost, Central Human Resources, the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Athletics, the Honors College, and the Academic Computing and Communications Center (ACCC). Results of those analyses (and re­quired conversions, if any) are forthcoming.

Impact of Conversions

RUMORS ABOUND regarding the impact of converting from AP to CS; but whether or not conversion is “good” or “bad” depends on a particular individual’s perspective. However, in some cases, conversion of certain positions will likely create additional management challenges. For example, in a position elimination scenario the potential impact of bumping or the requirement to retain CS staff whose positions are grant funded and in the event the funding goes away. Maureen Parks, executive director and associate VP for human resources, is working closely with the executive leadership of SUCSS to develop win-win resolutions to these and other issues. The truth of the matter is that conversion signals a change, not only in the culture and mindsets of this institution but there will be specific impacts to employees’ every day work lives. The following details those areas of employment that are not impacted at all, that may be impacted or will definitely be impacted as a result of conversion.

CONVERTING FROM an Academic Professional position to a Civil Service classification will not impact an em­ployee’s: Work assignments, responsibilities, relationships, tasks, or duties; pay, since the amount of annual salary will not be reduced; health benefits, since benefits offered by Central Management Services (CMS) are the same for all eligible State employees; and retirement.

CONVERTING FROM an Academic Professional position to a Civil Service classification may impact an em­ployee’s: Weekly work schedule (37.5-hour vs. 40-hour schedule); pay schedule will change from monthly to biweekly (every other Wednesday) when the conversion becomes effective; overtime status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA; and representation by a union. This is a determination controlled by the Illinois Educational Labor Board and reflected in a labor agreement, which is a legally-enforceable contract. If a position is represented by a union, employees are not required to join the union, but will be required to contribute a “Fair Share” payment for the work done by a union to represent that job if the employee does not join and pay dues. If your job will be cov­ered by the new Service Employees International Union (SEIU) “Professional” unit, there is no “Fair Share” or dues arrangement with the Union at this time.

CONVERTING FROM an Academic Professional position to a Civil Service classification will impact an em­ployee’s: Notice rights. Eventually, employees will not have notice rights, but will have specific rights regarding employment processes, including promotion, reduction in force, discipline and termination; gaining of seniority rights within the Civil Service system for the time spent in the same position/job; ability to bump or be bumped from positions.

SPECIFICS VARY among individuals. To determine the amount of classification tenure (not overall University tenure) that is considered in the position elimination/bumping proc­ess, consider the following examples:

EXAMPLE 1: Hired as an AP Project Coordinator 20 years ago, and will be converted to a clerical title in the near future: Will have 20 years of seniority in the Civil Service classification.

EXAMPLE 2: Hired into a Civil Service clerical position 20 years ago, promoted to an AP Project Coordinator title four years ago, promoted again into an AP Accountant title two years ago, and will be converted to a CS Accountant title in the near future: Will have two years of seniority in that classifica­tion.

Paid Time Off

FOR APs, sick leave is accrued at 25 days per year (12 accruable); while for Civil Service employees it is ac­crued at the rate of 0.0462 hours for each hour worked.

FOR APs, vacation is accrued at 24 days per year (48 maximum accruable); while for Civil Service employees there is a maximum accrual = two years’ total; must be accrued prior to use. Depending on the FLSA status and years of ongoing service, Civil Service employees may receive between 12 and 25 days if non-exempt. If ex­empt, between 25 and 28 days.

CIVIL SERVICE employees must accrue leave before it can be used; no “up front” usage. Impact of vacation change is highly dependent on years of service and FLSA status. Paid time off “banks” will be converted intact so that you lose no days of leave.

IN THE event that a conversion is required, employees will have some choices to make. Employees with notice rights may choose to work as an AP until the notice rights expire following issuance of a terminal appointment no­tice and then convert to Civil Service status, or choose to waive notice rights and convert in the near future.

WHERE NOTICE rights are not considered (e.g. visiting or academic hourly) employees will be converted at the end of the appointment or contract periods.

THE CONVERSIONS process has proven to be extremely complex (e.g. FLSA, immigration, seniority, work hours, etc.). While many of the issues raised have workable solutions, there are many instances where we continue to look for answers. As that information becomes available, it will be communicated widely within the organization. See http://www.uic.edu/depts/hr/index.shtml.

1 comment:

  1. This is EXTREMELY UNFAIR! My department is being converted from an Academic Professional position to a Civil Service classification. My department was misclassified but I was given a "termination" contract so that I would not be re-hired under a Civil Service contract. I read that "no positions will be eliminated" but clearly mine was. Is this legal or do I have a rights to a Civil Service contract?