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Classification FAQs

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.

What is classification?

Position classification is a method of job evaluation that attempts to measure the worth of a position as a whole unit. A classification system organizes positions into groups (or classes) on the basis of similar duties, responsibilities, and qualification requirements.

Classification provides for common treatment in compensation, qualification requirements, expected responsibility, and other employment policies and procedures.

Positions at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) are classified based on classification standards developed by the California State University (CSU) system. The CSU Classification and Qualification Standards are periodically updated by the Chancellor’s Office.

What is the difference between a classification standard and a position description?

The CSU Classification and Qualification standards (classification standards) contain descriptions of the general body of work and typical qualifications for each position classification. They focus on the general type and nature of work rather than specific tasks and duties and are meant to be generic enough to meet the needs of all CSU campuses.

Position descriptions are written by the individual campuses to meet specific campus operational needs. They describe the actual work performed in the job, including the essential job functions, minimum qualifications, etc. They describe the campus specific duties that are performed and describe the structure and reporting relationships for the position on the campus. Position descriptions reflect the current duties assigned to the position and not future or past assignments.

Basically, the classification standard is the description of the benchmark set of generic responsibilities and requirements against which individual position descriptions are evaluated. An individual position is placed in the classification which best describes the overall responsibilities of the position.

What is a salary range?

The CSU Salary Schedule provides system wide salary ranges for each position classification and skill level. They are intended to be broad enough to accommodate individual campus differences with regard to cost of living and prevailing wage rates.

A salary range is established for each classification or skill level. Salary ranges specify the minimum, maximum, and service salary maximum salaries which can be paid for a classification or skill level.

How exactly is a position assigned to a classification level?

The CSU classification standards outline criteria that are used to distinguish positions from one another and to evaluate the classification level of each position. They typically address:

  1. The purpose of the position.
  2. The level and type of knowledge, skills, and abilities required to successfully perform the work of the position.
  3. The level of independence and decision–making required to perform the work.
  4. The level of accountability for one’s own work and that of others.
  5. The level and nature of creativity and ingenuity required by the work.
  6. The scope and effect of decision making and complexity of responsibilities.
  7. The level of supervision given and received.
  8. The nature, level and diversity of contacts involved in performing the work.

The duties described in these campus specific position descriptions are analyzed against the CSU classification standards to determine the appropriate classification.

In determining the appropriate classification for a position, it is the position and not the employee, which is classified. Classification decisions are based on the duties performed and not on factors such as an employee’s length of service, volume of work, or quality of performance.

Classification review should occur when there are substantial changes in job duties and responsibilities. It is not intended to be used as a reward system for an individual employee. Other salary increase provisions are available to address pay issues and changes in duties and skills within the same classification. HR can assist managers in identifying the appropriate compensation strategy.

What is the campus’ role in classification?

Each campus has been delegated the authority to implement and administer the CSU classification standards. 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).

When are positions reviewed or classified?

Position classification reviews can be submitted any time throughout the year. Classification reviews are conducted for the following reasons:

  • New or vacant positions are reviewed for proper classification prior to recruitment.
  • An administrator may submit a request for a classification review of a position any time they believe there has been a substantial change in the duties and responsibilities of the position.
  • CSUEU, APC, and SETC employees may initiate a request for a review of their position per the collective bargaining agreements.
  • The Chancellor’s Office may issue new Classification Standards and mandate a classification change to existing positions within a specified time frame.

What is the classification review process at CSUSM?

The processes to submit a classification review request and the process for conducting a classification review are described below:

1. Processes to request a classification review

  • Management-Initiated Classification Review
    Managers may request a classification review by submitting a current position description, organization chart, a memorandum which briefly summarizes the changes in the position, and appropriate supervisory signatures. The complete request is submitted to the Director of Human Resources (HR).
  • Employee-Initiated Classification Review (CSUEU, APC or SETC)
    A CSUEU, APC, or SETC employee may initiate a request for a classification review. The request should be presented to the employee’s immediate non-bargaining unit supervisor/administrator who forwards it to Human Resources in a timely manner.

Documentation required for an employee-initiated classification review is the same as that required for a management-initiated classification review. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that the employee and manager work together to initiate the review.

2. Conducting the classification review

After the classification review request is received in HR, the assigned HR Analyst, or a Human Resources Manager, who is trained in classification methodology will review the revised job description and accompanying materials and conduct the review. The review may consist of an interview with the incumbent, supervisor and/or managers to discuss and clarify the duties; and a comparison of the position to other positions for similarities and differences in matters such as scope, responsibility, and skill level. The assigned HR Analyst analyzes and evaluates the information; compares the position description to the CSU Classification Standards; analyzes which classification best describes the body of work and responsibilities; and determines the appropriate classification level.

How long does a classification review take?

Employee-initiated classification reviews are completed in less than 180 days after the request is received in HR. HR strives to complete position reviews as soon as possible. The time-frame is impacted by the number of new and vacant positions which need to be classified, and the total volume of classification reviews received. Priority is given to classifying vacant positions so the recruitment process is not delayed. However, regardless of the time it takes to complete the review, if a higher classification or skill level is granted, the employee receives the appropriate pay increase retroactive to no later than the first of the month following receipt of the classification review request and revised position description in HR.

Do all classification reviews result in a higher level classification?

Not always. Position reviews may result in a higher, lower, or equivalent classification level. A change in classification is typically driven by a substantial and permanent change in duties and responsibilities.

If my position is reclassified to a higher level, who funds my pay increase?

Funding for reclassifications comes from department funds.

What if I disagree with the classification decision?

Where authorized by their collective bargaining agreement, an employee may appeal a classification and/or skill level determination to the Director of Human Resources. The appeal must include the specific reasons for disagreement with the classification determination. Classification and skill level decisions are not subject to the grievance procedure.

What if my supervisor disagrees with the classification decision?

There is no formal appeal process for a supervisor who disagrees with the classification decision. HR works closely with managers to ensure complete understanding of how the classification determination is reached before finalizing the decision.