These guidelines apply to non-faculty and non-student bargaining unit positions at California State University San Marcos.  Where these guidelines and procedures are in conflict with the Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA's), the Collective Bargaining Agreements take precedence.


The CSU Chancellor's Office is responsible for overall program design and development of classification and compensation programs. They also oversee and approve collective bargaining related to the impact of these programs. Campuses have been delegated authority to implement these programs to meet their specific operational needs, consistent with the terms of the collective bargaining agreements. 

The responsibility for the administration of classification and compensation programs on the campus has been delegated by the Office of the Chancellor to the President. The President in turn has delegated implementation of these programs to the Director of Human Resources (HR).

Human Resources works in partnership with departments and colleges to provide services and support in the appropriate and consistent evaluations of positions and equitable compensation.

What is the purpose of a compensation program?

The compensation program is part of a total rewards strategy that the CSU uses to attract, motivate, and retain employees. In addition to base salary, the CSU provides generous benefits programs, including leave and retirement programs. Individual campuses may provide recognition programs, career and developmental opportunities, or focus on work-life benefits that are of interest to employees.

How is my base salary determined at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM)?

When a new position is developed at CSUSM, the manager prepares a position description and forwards it to Human Resources (HR). HR conducts a position classification review and the position is assigned to a classification level and corresponding salary range. The salary range specifies the minimum and maximum salary that the position may be paid.

When a new employee is hired, they receive a salary within the salary range for their position.  An employee's salary may increase as a result of a promotion (movement to a higher classification or skill level following a recruitment/selection process), reclassification to a higher classification or skill level, and as a result of CSU system or campus-funded salary adjustments. The main components of the CSU classification and compensation systems are described below.

How are salaries determined for new employees?

Salaries for new employees are determined by management and are made after considering a candidate¿s relevant knowledge, skills, and abilities (demonstrated through the possession of job related experience and education) in relation to the minimum qualifications of the position; internal and external market salary equity considerations; and budgetary considerations. For a new appointment, the candidate must be paid at least the minimum of the salary range for their classification level. 

HR, serving as the President's designee for personnel decisions, works with the Hiring Authority (appropriate administrator) to determine the candidate's starting salary.

How are salaries determined for current employees when their position is reclassified?

An employee's salary may change as a result of movement to a lower or higher classification or skill level.  The change in salary is determined by the terms in the employee's collective bargaining agreement.

The California State University Employee's Union (CSUEU), Academic Professionals of California (APC), and State Employee Trades Council (SETC) collective bargaining unit agreements state the minimum percentage increase that must be granted when an employee moves without a break in service into a classification with a higher salary range. In some cases, an increase greater than the minimum stated percentage may be required in order to place a staff member's salary at the minimum salary rate.

For example, the CSUEU collective bargaining agreement states that when an employee moves without a break in service to a classification or skill level with a higher salary range, an increase of no less than 5 percent may be granted.

Can I receive an increase greater than 5% or the minimum of the pay range?

Yes. An employee may receive a larger increase depending on their qualifications (education and experience) in relation to the required qualifications of the position they are reclassified into, and the department's budget. Internal salary equity is also considered. A department is only required to pay the minimum increase required by the collective bargaining agreement.    

How do I calculate my total compensation?

Total compensation includes an employee's salary plus the monetary value of their benefits package. The value of an employee's benefits package varies depending on their employee/collective bargaining group and the type of benefits plan they choose.

Information on benefits coverage by employee group can be found at CSU Benefits Comparison.

An employee can determine exactly how much their benefits add to their total compensation by entering their salary and benefit program data into the CSU total compensation calculator. For example, a CSUEU employee who earns $40,000 per year; who is in CalPERS; who has their entire family of four (4) enrolled in Blue Shield HMO and basic Delta Dental, has a total compensation package greater than $63,500 per year. Their benefits represent an additional 58% of their salary.

CSU Total Compensation Calculator

What about work-life benefits?

CSUSM recently contracted with our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider to provide work-life benefits for employees. These benefits are very broad and can range from help locating a care-giver for a child or elderly parent, to assistance writing a simple will.

Information about the University's work life benefit program is available on the CSUSM EAP Worklife Flyer.

How are compensation and pay levels determined at CSUSM?

Each collective bargaining agreement contains specific language regarding compensation and pay increases.  While there is some consistency in the compensation programs across bargaining units, the components of each compensation program vary by collective bargaining agreement. The variations are often the result of the differing needs within different occupational groups, as well as the dynamics of the collective bargaining process. E.g., in-range progression increases are currently available to employees in CSUEU, APC, SETC, SUPA, and confidential employees. Even when two different bargaining units provide for the same type of increase (e.g., bonuses), the criteria for receiving the increase may vary by collective bargaining agreement. It is important for both employees and managers to consult the Salary Article of the collective bargaining unit agreement to become familiar with the contract language regarding salary programs.

What other salary adjustments are available to employees?

Salary adjustments fall into two major categories: system-funded and campus-funded.

1.   System-Funded Salary Adjustments

Almost all collective bargaining agreements provide for salary increases that fall under the following general categories for system-funded salary increases. These compensation program components are negotiated and funded at the system-wide level. CSUSM has responsibility for implementing these salary increases based on the specific instructions provided by the Chancellor's Office when new contract provisions are implemented:

  • General Salary Increases (GSI): General Salary Increases are primarily intended to serve as a cost-of-living adjustment and are usually provided to all employees in the bargaining unit.
    These negotiated increases are typically effective at the beginning of the fiscal year.
  • Service-Based Increases: The purpose of these increases is to recognize service. Depending on the bargaining unit, these salary increases are negotiated and apply to eligible employees whose salaries are below the service salary maximum in the salary range for their classifications.
  • Merit/Performance Based Salary Increases: A pool of funds may also be negotiated for performance-based salary increases for the bargaining unit.  Depending on what is negotiated, this pool of funds may be applied to base salaries and/or be awarded as a lump sum payment.
  • Market Equity Increases: At times, salary increases are negotiated at the system-level to address market equity issues for specific classifications. These increases may be applied to all incumbents and salary ranges in a bargaining unit, or just to the incumbents in a specific classification level depending on what is negotiated.

2.   Campus-Funded Salary Adjustments

Most collective bargaining agreements have provisions for increases that may be provided with campus funds. These increases are funded by the employee¿s department or unit and are provided at the discretion of the President.

  • In-Range Progression Increase: An in-range progression is an increase within the employee's current salary range. It is a permanent increase to the employee's base pay based on considerations such as salary equity, changes in duties that do not warrant a reclassification or skill-level change, or recognition of an employee's specialized skills which have specific value to the University.

Employees in the following groups are eligible for in-range progression increases:

  • California State University Employees Union (CSUEU), Units 2, 5, 7, 9. Requests may be employee or management initiated.
  • Academic Professionals of California (APC), Unit 4. Requests are management initiated.
  • State Employees trades Council (SETC), Unit 6. Requests are management initiated.
  • Statewide University police Association (SUPA), Unit 8. Requests are management initiated.
  • Employees in confidential classifications. Requests are management initiated.

In-range progression increases are discretionary and are not subject to grievance procedures.

CSUEU bargaining unit agreement requires a minimum of 3% increase for an in-range progression increase. APC and SETC collective bargaining agreements do not specify a minimum salary increase requirement. Employees may receive more than the minimum increase depending on the rationale for the in-range progression increase  and their department's budget.

  • Bonuses: A bonus is a lump sum payment that is not added to an employee's base salary.  Bonuses and incentives must be based on established criteria which are described in the employees collective bargaining agreement. For example, certain collective bargaining agreements allow for a one-time bonus payment for an individual's or a group's exceptional performance; retention, and/or critical skills. Others (SETC) provide a bonus when an employee receives a specific certification such as Certified Electrician, Certified Plumber, Certified Building Operator, Certified Steam Operator/Universal Steam Certification.

    Bonuses are management initiated. A memo documenting the rationale for such a request is submitted to the Director of Human Resources and Equal Opportunity for final review, approval, and processing.
  • Stipends: Several collective bargaining agreements provide criteria for a stipend, or temporary increase in an employee¿s pay. A stipend is typically provided on a month-to-month basis for a specified time period.  For example, SUPA employees may receive a monthly stipend for certain special assignments such as canine handling. Specific criteria are included in the applicable collective bargaining agreement.

Information on salary programs available by Bargaining Unit can be found at:  CSU Salary Program Information. 

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