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Reclassifications: They’ll Be There for You

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Rachel has been at the county for five years and is a rising star. She volunteers for a wide variety of special assignments and committees. She is dedicated to professional growth and consistently takes on tasks that stretch her comfort zone. She has great project management, attention to detail, follow through and big picture vision. Rachel’s boss, Joanna, thinks that Rachel is working above her classification and should receive a raise.

Chandler has been at the county for six years and is a division manager. When the other division manager in his department leaves the county, Chandler is asked to cover both positions during the recruitment process. Chandler is excited about the opportunity to find cross training opportunities between the divisions. 

Phoebe is taking on a special assignment in her department. She will be leading the implementation of a new software system for Animal Management. She will be the system administrator, setting up security, tables and performing testing in the one-year implementation. 

Monica has grown her position after nine years of working at the county. The duties have evolved over time, as technology has changed. She applied for and received grant funding, and created new collaborations with partner agencies. Additionally, Monica is now overseeing three staff and managing her own budget, work that was not in her original role. 

Ross recently had a staff member leave his department and is considering a reorganization within his department. The vacancy is an opportunity to redefine the work and realign positions to maximize service to citizens. 

In the five scenarios above, three are reclassifications. Reclassification is the process of changing a position from one classification to another due to ongoing and substantial changes in the duties that make the present classification and pay rate inaccurate. The process may also be called job leveling, grading or job evaluation. 

Chandler’s situation is temporary. If the position he was covering was a higher grade, his temporary assignment might qualify for an assignment pay or temporary pay, depending on the terms of any assignment pay policy. This situation is not a reclassification.

Phoebe’s situation is also not a reclassification. The implementation of the new software is an important project, it is not ongoing or permanent. Depending on the policy, Phoebe’s assignment may also qualify for an assignment pay or additional pay.

Rachel’s and Monica’s positions are both good examples of reclassifications. The duties have increased over time, changing greater than 20 percent of the duties, and are ongoing.  Reclassifications should align the position with other similar positions in the county’s classification system in order to align the position with the relevant job market.

Reclassifications may result in a position being moved into a higher salary range or a lower salary range. Is Monica supervising because new positions were created in the budget process or was the supervisory responsibility shifted to Monica from another position? If the responsibility was shifted from another supervisor, the other supervisor, Joey, may need to be reclassified to a lower position. In any reclassification, the incumbent should meet the minimum qualifications of the new position. In some cases, the incumbent may be required to compete for the position after the reclassification. 

Ross’ vacancy is an opportune time for a reclassification, so the position may truly be evaluated without considering the skills or abilities of an incumbent. Reclassifications are intended to measure the growth of a position and are not a reflection of a specific person’s abilities or initiative. One of the best ways to determine if the reclassification request is about the person or the position is to consider how the position would need to be filled if it was vacant.  Would the job description accurately reflect the position? Is the pay grade in alignment with the work performed? Is the job posting attracting the necessary skill set for candidates to be successful in the role? 

Reclassifications should not be conducted because the employee needs a pay raise or because the employee is threatening to leave the organization. Reclassifications may result in a pay adjustment for the incumbent, to accurately reflect the new grade of the position, but pay raises should not drive reclassifications. In situations where a reclassification results in a lower pay grade, the employee’s salary may be reduced to be within the new range and the reclassification may be considered a voluntary demotion. 

A few final thoughts about reclassifications and fairness. If Gunther, Janice and Carol are all customer service representatives, and one position is reclassified to a lead customer service representative position, Gunther, Janice and Carol should all compete for the lead position. 

Alternately, if Gunther has grown the position over time, Ross, as the supervisor, may classify this position as the lead and should document how Gunther took such initiative and how the opportunity to grow the position was granted to all three of the staff equally.

Conversely, if Ross finds organizational needs that would require him to take duties away from another employee, Richard, which results in Richard being reclassified to a lower position, Ross needs to adequately document those needs. Ross would not want the change in duties to appear to be disciplinary or retaliatory. 

Reclassifications should be documented for consistency and fairness, as well as to record the history of the position. Redefining work and giving employees opportunities to cross train, professionally develop and fulfill stretch goals motivates employees and best serves customers.  Reclassifications will be necessary as the work evolves over time. They are a great tool to ensure positions are accurately graded within your classification system.  Reclassifications, they’ll be there for you.

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