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Chapter 4

CSUSM Corporation Office of Sponsored Projects
Principal Investigator/Project Director Manual

Chapter 4:  How do I hire people?

Employee Categories

For most purposes, employees fall into one of three general categories:

  • Regular employees are employed by CSUSM Corporation to work a regular schedule of twenty (20) or more hours per week for an expected period of one year, after which their appointment may be renewed.  Regular employees qualify for and may participate in benefit plans and programs offered by CSUSM Corporation, as funds allow.
  • Temporary employees are those employees whose expected term of employment is less than one year.  They are paid based on the number of hours or days reported on their time sheets each pay period.  Temporary employees with appointments of six months or more and who work at least 20 hours per week are eligible for vacation or paid academic breaks, holidays, and Personal Time Off during their employment.  They are not eligible for benefits such as employer-paid insurance or retirement programs.
  • Student Assistants are Temporary employees who regularly attend classes and otherwise meet the eligibility requirements for Student Assistant at Cal State San Marcos.  One of these requirements is that the individual be continuously enrolled at least half-time during the academic year at the California State University – i.e., six undergraduate units or four graduate units.  Student Assistants are paid an hourly rate and may be exempt from paying Social Security and Medicare during the academic year, although they are eligible for workers’ compensation, unemployment and disability insurance.  They do not qualify for other employer-provided benefits.
Project Charges

The CSUSM Corporation Payroll webpage outlines appropriate project charges (employer-paid payroll taxes and benefits) for your employees.

Classification of Positions

CSUSM Corporation classifies positions under titles and descriptions so that positions with similar duties and responsibilities are grouped together in the same classification.  A consistently applied classification system with an appropriate pay range is essential for ensuring compliance with equal pay requirements and other legislative guidelines.  Please see the Position Matrix to help you determine the appropriate compensation for positions in your area.  CSUSM Corporation utilizes the University’s Student Assistant Classification and Salary Guide for student assistant positions.

When a new Regular CSUSM Corporation position is created, it is reviewed and classified based on the job description before an employee is hired to fill it. Existing positions may be reviewed because of reorganization, new equipment or work processes, new programs, or significant changes that have affected an employee’s duties and responsibilities.
If a Project Director or Supervisor believes that a position classification should be reviewed, he or she should send the following to the CSUSM Corporation Human Resources department:

  • Memorandum requesting a classification review and stating reasons for the review.
  • Job Description - review the employee’s job description for completeness and accuracy.
  • Organization Chart of the project or department.
  • Performance Appraisal - employee’s most recent, signed and dated by both supervisor and employee.

When these documents are received, the CSUSM Corporation Human Resources department will review the job description and, at its discretion, conduct a desk audit.  During the desk audit, Human Resources will conduct interviews with the Project Director or Supervisor and the incumbent to discuss the duties and responsibilities of the position.  The position is then evaluated in terms of various classification factors including:

  • Complexity and difficulty of work
  • Nature of supervision exercised and received
  • Knowledge, abilities and skills required
  • Independence of judgment and action required
  • Extent and difficulty of interface with persons and organizations

Comparisons to related positions in CSUSM Corporation, other CSU auxiliaries, and/or the University may also be made in order to maintain consistency within the various classifications.

Before a final decision is made, Human Resources will discuss recommendations with the employee’s Supervisor to provide an opportunity to address questions and concerns.  If a classification change is recommended, it must be approved by both the Project Director and the CSUSM Corporation Human Resources department.

Project Directors and Supervisors should make no commitment to a current or prospective employee concerning classification or compensation level without CSUSM Corporation Human Resources’ approval.


For purposes of overtime compensation, employees are classified as either non-exempt or exempt:

  • Non-exempt employees are entitled to receive overtime pay when they work overtime hours; or
  • Exempt employees are not entitled to receive overtime compensation.  Exempt employees are salaried executive, administrative, or professional employees.

Contact CSUSM Corporation’s Human Resources department if you have questions as to whether an employee is exempt or non-exempt from overtime calculations.

Hiring Process

Refer to the Summary of Hiring Documents to determine what is required for each employee classification.  The Employment Authorization form (this document will be explained in the next section) should be received at CSUSM Corporation at least 3 days prior to the employee’s start date and must be at CSUSM Corporation by the deadlines published on the Payroll Schedule.  At a minimum, the following documents are required when hiring any employee:

Note:  Additional documents are necessary when hiring a “Regular” employee, which requires a more extensive recruitment process.  Regular employee openings can be posted on the CSUSM Corporation website and may utilize a search committee.

Regular Employees

Some CSUSM Corporation projects will engage "Regular" employees, that is, appointments that are for an expected period of at least one year with a minimum of 20 hours per week.  However, the temporary nature of most sponsored projects precludes this type of appointment (see Temporary Employees below.)  Regular employees receive CSUSM Corporation’s full benefit package, resulting in a charge to the project/grant of the highest benefit rate.  Because the hiring process for regular employees is more extensive than for temporary employees, contact with the CSUSM Corporation Human Resources department prior to initiating recruitment is advised.  Please review the Regular Employee Hiring Procedure

New employees are required to attend an Employee Orientation on their first day of work.  Regular employees attend a more extensive orientation than temporary or student employees.  Contact the CSUSM Corporation HR office (x3509) to schedule a new employee orientation BEFORE an employee begins work on the project.

Temporary Employees (including student assistants)

After an applicant has been selected, and before the start date, complete an Employment Authorization Form (EAF).  The form indicates two temporary employee options:  temporary with leave (20 hours or more and a minimum 6 month appointment), or temporary without leave (less than 6 month appointment).  Send the completed EAF to the CSUSM Corporation HR office, providing as much advance notice as possible prior to the employee’s first day of work.  In addition to the EAF, an Employment Application and a Job Description must also be submitted. The CSUSM Corporation HR office will be available to answer questions you may have related to the necessary hiring forms and CSUSM Corporation’s hiring process.

New Employee Orientations

Once an employee has been selected for employment, s/he will be required to attend a new employee orientation before beginning work.  Call the CSUSM Corporation HR office (x3509) to schedule this orientation. Regular employee orientations may last up to three hours and temporary employee orientations usually last between thirty (30) and forty-five (45) minutes. 

At the orientation, employees will be asked to show proof of employment eligibility by completing the I-9 form, but they must submit this proof within 3 days of beginning employment.  Please review the I-9 guidelines.  

A new employee CSUSM Corporation Handbook provides safety information, benefits documentation, and other information related to employment and payroll.  It is important that new employees receive consistent communications regarding CSUSM Corporation policies, benefits, federal and state employment laws, and eligibility information regarding various employer-sponsored programs. 

Performance Appraisals

Once per year, all Regular employees are required to receive a written performance appraisal evaluating their work.  The exact time frame for this review may vary.  The Performance Appraisal form is utilized to provide written feedback to each employee.  This appraisal will document whether the employee is meeting, exceeding, or not meeting expectations on the job.  As a part of this appraisal, Regular employees are required to complete a Self-Evaluation and the supervisor is required to conduct a one-on-one meeting with the employee to discuss both the appraisal and the self evaluation. 

Feedback is critical to organizational success, and maintaining information regarding performance should be a continuous process for managers and supervisors.

Hiring CSU Faculty and Staff to Work Additional Employment

If you’re considering hiring an employee who is currently employed by the CSU, the CSU Additional Employment Policy must be followed, in addition to CSUSM Corporation's Additional Employment and Overload Guidelines.  CSU employees hired on a CSUSM Corporation project are considered “temporary employees” and are required to follow the appropriate hiring procedure, including attending an orientation.  The following forms will need to be completed:

Faculty who work on externally funded projects must report their activities as percent of effort on each project.  These activities must be pre-approved by the department Chair and the Dean of the College before work begins.  In both cases of reimbursed time and overload, the Reimbursed Time and Overload Form is submitted to CSUSM Corporation with an Employee Authorization Form (EAF). 

If you have any questions related to the CSU Additional Employment Policy or hiring CSU employees, please contact the CSUSM Corporation’s Director of Human Resources.

Hiring Minors

People under age 18 must have a current work permit on file during their term of employment.  Applications for work permits are available at high schools in San Diego County.  It is solely within the discretion of each school district to determine whether a minor, who is still subject to the state’s compulsory education laws, may obtain a work permit and, therefore, be employed to work. 

Work permits are required all year long, not just when school is in session, and must be renewed at the start of each new school year or at the time the student obtains a new job.  It serves as an age certificate and states the maximum number of hours a minor may work based on their age. 

Follow the temporary hiring process outlined above.

Independent Contractors

Publication 15-A of the Internal Revenue Service helps explain the rules and regulations related to independent contractors.  Independent contractors are often exempt from labor and employment legislation, while employees are usually covered.  People, such as lawyers, contractors, subcontractors, stenographers, and auctioneers who follow an independent trade, business, or profession in which they offer their services to the public, are generally considered independent contractors. 

Improperly classifying employees as independent contractors can lead to tax violations, insurance or benefits issues, wage and hour claims, and much more.  Some common law factors used to determine independent contractor status include the extent of employer control, nature of the service, and independence of the individual’s trade.  The IRS and the Franchise Tax Board have the legal authority to audit CSUSM Corporation’s records and to impose penalties for misclassifications.

The final determination of whether an individual may be paid as an independent contractor will be made by the CSUSM Corporation’s Executive Director or designee.  To reach a decision, information is needed regarding the type of work the person will be doing on the project.  Page 6 of the Independent Contractor Packet is used to help make the final determination as to whether an individual working on a project should be classified as an employee or as an independent contractor.  This worksheet must be completed before authorization is given to pay an independent contractor on a project. 

Once it is determined that an individual may be engaged as an independent contractor, submit two original copies of the Standard Agreement for Independent Contractors found in the Independent Contractor Packet to the CSUSM Corporation Human Resources office. One copy is signed by the contractor and the other by the PI/PD.  In addition, have the contractor complete a Payee Data Record Form 204 and return it to CSUSM Corporation as well.  Please note that incomplete information may result in delay of payment.

Hiring Relatives

Employees’ relatives are not eligible for employment with CSUSM Corporation where potential problems of supervision, safety, security, morale, or potential conflicts of interest exist.  Relatives of present employees will not be hired by CSUSM Corporation if the individual(s) concerned work in a direct supervisory relationship or in the Human Resources and Payroll Services department.  For purposes of this policy, “relatives” include: spouse, child, parent, sister, brother, in-law, step parent, step sibling, step child, or any person involved in a legally binding guardianship or relationship with the employee, and/or residing in the home of the employee.

If two employees become subject to the restrictions of this policy after they are hired, one or both of the employees must seek a transfer or reassignment to eliminate the actual or potential conflict of interest as specified in this policy.

CSUSM Corporation also reserves the right to determine that other relationships not specifically covered by this policy represent actual or potential conflicts of interest, in which case CSUSM Corporation may take appropriate action that includes, but is not necessarily limited to, transfers, reassignments, changes in shift or if necessary, termination.

Guest Lecturers

Guest lecturers are typically engaged for a one-time lecture or performance (musical, poetry reading, dramatic, etc.) and may be hired using the Guest Lecturer Form.  A Guest Lecturer must meet the guidelines above to be considered an independent contractor.  If not, s/he can be hired as a temporary employee for the one-day event.  Please contact CSUSM Corporation’s Director of Human Resources before hiring guest lecturers in order to obtain the appropriate forms and instructions.

Timesheets and Payroll

Non-exempt regular, temporary, and student employees are required to keep track of their hours on a Time Sheet and must submit the time sheet to the project director or a designated supervisor for signature prior to the semi-monthly timesheet deadline.  The Payroll Schedule is updated yearly on CSUSM Corporation's Payroll webpage and indicates time sheet deadlines and pay day information.  Student Assistant employees keep track of their hours on a Student Assistant Time Sheet.  Exempt employees are not required to record actual hours worked but simply record exceptions on their timesheets, such as vacation, PTO, or holiday.  In the case of additional employment, faculty and exempt level CSU employees report a percentage of effort performed on the project on each timesheet.

The time sheet is a legal document and should be filled out and signed by the employee and the supervisor in ink.  Signed timesheets are then forwarded to the CSUSM Corporation payroll office on or before the timesheet deadline for each pay period.  
Other considerations are 1) overtime must have been approved in advance, and 2) falsification of hours is a serious matter and will result in immediate disciplinary action taken against the employee, including possible termination. 

Employee Safety

It is the policy of CSUSM Corporation to provide a work environment that is, as much as possible, free of recognized hazards.  Supervisors are expected to comply with the safety and health requirements of CSUSM Corporation and of federal and/or state laws, and are responsible for keeping their employees safe at all times.

Any accident that occurs at a CSUSM Corporation worksite to a client, visitor, or employee should be reported immediately to the Director of Human ResourcesIf an emergency arises, call 911.  In addition, safety hazards or unsafe conditions that could have caused an injury or even a “near miss” should be reported.   Please do not attempt to give medical aid to an injured client, visitor, or employee.  Call the appropriate medical authorities.

After reporting the incident/injury to CSUSM Corporation, direct the employee to CSUSM Corporation’s industrial medical center, Concentra Medical Center, 740 Nordahl Rd, San Marcos, CA 92069.  The CSUSM Corporation HR office can schedule the first appointment for the employee.  There will be additional documents for the PI/PD and the employee to complete either before seeking medical attention or shortly after returning to work.  All subsequent visits and scheduling is the responsibility of the employee.

CSUSM Corporation will make every effort to see to it that any injured employee receives excellent care, has a speedy recovery and returns to work as soon as possible.  We have “Return to Work” and “Light Duty” programs to return the employee to work if there are specific limitations during recovery.  Refer to the Injury and Illness Prevention Program (“IIPP”) and specific Injury Reporting Procedures for further information regarding employee safety.

Employment Changes and Separations

Pay rate increases or decreases and changes in appointment status (including appointment date extensions, job title changes, direct reporting changes, etc.) must be documented on a new Employment Authorization Form (EAF).  Separations are documented on the Separation Notice.  If you have questions related to either of these documents, please contact the CSUSM Corporation Human Resources Department at (760) 750-4700 for instructions.

Changes in Pay

Each year, CSUSM Corporation’s Board of Directors approves the annual “Compensation Guidelines” to be used by CSUSM Corporation managers and supervisors as their guide for pay increases.  This guideline includes a description of the maximum “general salary increases” and maximum “merit salary increases” available for CSUSM Corporation employees.  Any adjustments in pay to CSUSM Corporation employees are to be documented on a new EAF each year and require that an annual Performance Appraisal be attached. 

During the year, managers and supervisors may request “Equity Adjustments.”  CSUSM Corporation’s Compensation Team will review and consider equity adjustment requests.  If the equity adjustment is approved, it will require the submission of a new EAF that reflects the changes.  To request an equity adjustment, contact Human Resources to discuss this request prior to any commitments to employees. 


If an employee’s appointment is being terminated or is ending without being renewed, this is considered an involuntary separation.  Review the Separation Procedures and please follow them carefully.  It is important that consistency be maintained in handling employment separations.  It is CSUSM Corporation’s policy that all involuntary separation requests be forwarded to, and be approved by, Human Resources prior to action taking place.  
If the appointment is ending because the employee voluntarily terminates the employment, ask the separating employee to submit a letter of resignation and forward it to Human Resources. 

After receiving the notice of separation, Human Resources will contact the employee to schedule an exit interview and ensure all CSUSM Corporation property is returned.  If no letter of resignation is received, then send a Separation Notice to CSUSM Corporation indicating that the employee has terminated employment and a reason why s/he has done so.

CSUSM Corporation's Employement Forms and related policies and procedures can be found on the website. 

rev 01/31/14