DIVISION OF PERSONNEL
CLASSIFICATION & COMPENSATION PLAN
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
1. How is the Division of Personnel job classification plan developed?
The DOP classification plan should be viewed as an administrative tool which helps to assure that personnel administration in state government is conducted on a planned and systematic basis, logically and equitably applied. The specific job classifications are established based on knowledge of agency organization, programs, positions and personnel. This 'fact-finding' element of position classification helps to insure that the classification plans, rules, policies and procedure have a sound factual basis. A well-developed plan is invaluable for nearly all personnel functions such as recruitment, pay administration, promotion, transfer, employee development and training, employee relations and performance evaluation. The plan also assists administrators in developing meaningful budgets and in workforce planning.
The classification plans are approved by the State Personnel Board, a six member panel appointed by the Governor to represent the public interest in state personnel administration. The plans are developed for both the classified service and the classified-exempt service.
We use the Position Classification Method in developing new job classifications. Essentially, this methodology has the following steps:
1. Agency consultation - communication is made with the agency on why the new class or classes are needed, any state or federal requirements and the timeframe for adopting the new class or classes. In large studies, an effort is made to meet with employees/managers throughout the agency to explain the purpose and scope of the study.
2. Data collection - the duties and responsibilities for the various positions to be classified are collected through the completion of position description forms, organizational charts and other information about the jobs. DOP also conducts field audits to verify or clarify the information submitted.
3. Data Analysis - this is the process of reviewing the data collected to determine the number and level of job classifications needed to properly classify the positions in question. In large studies such as a system-wide or a large agency-wide study, this process is very detailed and time-consuming. In determining the kind and number of job classes to recommend to the State Personnel Board for adoption, we use the following universal classification factors: (a) subject matter, profession or occupation represented; (b) difficulty and complexity of duties; (c) nonsupervisory responsibilities; (d) supervisory and administrative responsibilities; and (e) education and experience standards. Each of these factors has one or more subfactors that are considered.
4. Writing Class Specifications - after the number and level of job classes is determined, draft class specifications are prepared and submitted to the agency for review. The draft specifications are validated by subject matter experts (SME's) in the agency to insure that they are descriptive of the work assigned.
5. Allocating Positions to Classes - all affected positions are tentatively allocated to one of the proposed classes by the Division of Personnel. Allocation lists are submitted to the agency for review and comment.
6. Adoption of Classifications - after consultation with the appointing authority of the affected agencies, the State Personnel Board approves the proposed job classifications and establishes an effective date for implementation. In conjunction with the action, pay grades are assigned to new job classes by the Board.
7. Employee Notification - after adoption by the Board, affected employees are notified in writing of the allocation of their position to one of the approved classifications. Employees are also advised of their appeal rights in this regard.2. How many job classes are there and how are they organized?
8. Implementation - implementation requires close coordination with the state budget office and agency officials to insure that all positions are properly converted and that system files/records are updated. This step also includes the review and resolution of employee appeals regarding their classification.
There are approximately 850 job titles in the classification plan which covers about 21,000 positions in 55 state agencies, boards and commissions. The ratio of positions to classes is roughly 26 to1. The plan is organized first by occupational groups as follows:
Occ Group #1 Office Support, Administrative and Fiscal
Occ Group #2 Engineering, Environmental Protection and Applied Sciences
Occ Group #3 Health and Human Services
Occ Group #4 Public Safety, Law Enforcement and Corrections
Occ Group #5 Labor/Trades, Equipment Operation and Institutional Services
Occ Group #6 Education, Communication, Library & Museum Service
Each occupational group has numerous sub-occupational groups to further define the work. For example, Occupational Group #1 is subdivided into General Administration, Fiscal, Office Support, Legal and Data Processing. The Fiscal sub-occ group is then further divided into smaller groupings such as Purchasing, Accounting/Auditing, Taxation, Financial Administration, etc.
Job classifications are also organized by eight functional levels. These are Executive/ Administrative, Managerial, Supervisory, Professional, Technical, Paraprofessional, Clerical/Office Support and Skilled/Unskilled Trades. The categories are meant to be mutually exclusive so a position can only be in one category. Professional employees make up the largest category or about 40% of the workforce; clerical/office support is the next largest group with about 22% of the workforce.
Job classes are most often developed in a class series. A class series is a series of job classes having the same kind of work, but different levels. The levels distinguish the series by ascending degrees of difficulty, complexity and responsibility. Typically, a class series has three levels; a beginning or entry level, then a full-performance level, and, finally, an advanced level. Each of these levels has certain defined criteria to assure a uniform leveling process throughout the plan. However, there are exceptions to the 3-level concept. A few class series have only two levels and some have four or five levels. There is also a supervisory level and a managerial level in many class series. A class series is really a 'mirror' that reflects how work is actually organized in a work unit or agency. Written definitions for these categories and many other terms can be viewed by clicking on the 'Glossary of Classification Terms' on this site.3. How is the job classification of a position determined?
We use the standard of best fit in allocating positions to the proper classification. The DOP Administrative Rule, Section 4.4 (b) requires that the specification as a whole be used in allocating positions. The standard of 'best fit' is applied by comparing the various duties/responsibilities identified in the position description form to various class specifications and the relationship to other classes in rendering an allocation decision. The allocation of positions is also done in consultation with the appointing authority of the affected agency. For mixed positions we use the predominant duty concept to classify the position. This simply means that the duty or duties which occupy the greatest amount of time are considered class-controlling. There is also the exception to the predominant duty rule which applies in certain circumstances.4. How are pay grades determined for job classifications?
The State Personnel Board has established the market pricing method as the job evaluation methodology for the state compensation plan. Essentially, this means that pay grades are determined by comparison of benchmark state jobs with the same benchmarks in other states or the market. West Virginia is a member of the Southeastern States Salary Conference (SSSC) which serves as the primary 'market' for pay comparison purposes. We conduct a major salary survey of 110 benchmark jobs each year. The benchmarks are selected as a representative sample of the six occupational groups and the eight functional levels described in item #2 above.5. Are there career ladders built into the classification plan? If so, how do they work?
Yes. In defining career ladders the emphasis should be placed on 'career'. The concept of career ladder is built into the plan so that employees may enter the service at the lowest level (i.e. Office Assistant I, for example) and move to the highest level in the service (i.e. Administrative Service Manager IV) during their career by acquiring the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities through training and experience and by accepting changes in job assignments. When the plan was developed in each department, the career ladder was included for all agencies and divisions in that department. For example, an employee can enter as an Office Assistant I in the Department of Health and Human Resources and then progress to an HHR Associate, an HHR Specialist, HHR Specialist, Senior (supervisory level), an HHR Program Manager, and, finally, an HHR Office Director. This can be accomplished by acquiring a bachelor or advanced degree or by additional experience. There are many professional and technical class series specific to DHHR that feed into the supervisory, managerial and administrative classes listed above.6. Are all employees on the same salary schedule? [Salary Schedules]
There is a similar career ladder track for all departments. For example, Department of Tax and Revenue has Tax Audit Clerks and Revenue Agents that feed into the Tax Unit Supervisor, then the Tax and Revenue Manager, Tax and Revenue Assistant Director and, finally, the Tax and Revenue Director class. In the Department of Transportation, we have numerous class series in the office support, technical and professional level that feed into the Transportation Analyst Supervisor, then the Transportation Analyst Manager and, finally, the Transportation System Director.
The classification plan was developed to afford all employees the opportunity to make a career in state government. However, career development is, and should be, largely the responsibility of the employee. The employee must be willing to accept new job opportunities, even in different agencies, to take full advantage of the career tracks available in the plan.
No, we have several salary schedules to meet the different salary needs in the service. The General Schedule is a 26 grade schedule that includes the majority of state employees. There is also a Physician Salary Schedule and a Pharmacist Salary Schedule that is used to pay physicians, psychiatrists and physician directors and pharmacists in state hospitals and medical programs. The Department of Transportation Hourly Schedule is used for approximately 2500 trades and crafts employees in the Division of Highways. The Conservation Officer Salary Schedule is reserved for Conservation Officers in the Division of Natural Resources and follows a military rank structure such as officer, corporal, sergeant, etc.7. How do employees progress in salary in the state compensation plan?
There are several ways state employees receive salary increases. The legislature and/or the Governor often grant general wage increases or across-the-board increases. These are generally given to all employees and include the same dollar amount or percent. Permanent employees are also eligible for salary advancements or merit increases. These are based on employee performance and individual employees receive different amounts based on their performance rating. Generally, merit increases are given by agencies if they have funding available to support the increases.8. What is the difference between a 'reclassification' and a 'reallocation'?
Employees are also eligible for promotional increases when they move to a new position in a higher pay grade. The rule for promotion increases also applies to reallocation increases. Lastly, employees receive salary adjustments when the pay grade assigned to their job is changed by the State Personnel Board or if the Board approves a special pay differential for an employee group or classification. Salary adjustments also occur when the legislature grants a special pay increase to certain employees by group such as Correctional Officers.
A position reallocation occurs when the Director of Personnel assigns a position to a different job classification due to significant changes in the duties and responsibilities assigned to the position. A reallocation is always limited to a single position.9. What is meant by the term 'total compensation'?
In contrast, a reclassification occurs after the Division of Personnel, in consultation with the agency, conducts a classification study and creates a new class or class series. The new class or class series must be approved by the State Personnel Board and then each affected position is reclassified by Division of Personnel. Note that a reclassification involves new classes, actions by the State Personnel Board and generally involves multiple positions. Sometimes a reclassification study may involve an entire agency.
Total compensation refers to salary plus the benefits such as retirement, health insurance, sick and annual leave received by the employee. Since all of these benefits have value and represent a 'cost' to the state, they are a form of compensation just like direct salary. The value of the benefits package for a state employee with an average salary of $28,600 with 5 years of service and married and with dependents is approximately 34% of total compensation. In other words, the 'total compensation' for that employee is actually $43,000.