In this issue of The Bridge, I would like to take the opportunity to bring attention to the upcoming election for the Classified Employee-Represented Commissioner of the State Civil Service Commission (SCSC). The SCSC serves a vital role in the administration of the State’s merit system as outlined in Article X of the State Constitution. Most importantly, the SCSC provides mechanisms for delivering progressive and effective human resources programs that will allow State agencies to fulfill their missions to the citizens of Louisiana. I encourage all eligible state employees to familiarize themselves with this election process and participate. All election rules, procedures and announcements will be posted on the SCSC Election website throughout the election cycle. Please continue to monitor this site for updates.
Additionally, I would like to inform the HR Community of the latest developments regarding the new FLSA overtime rule. Although an injunction has suspended the implementation that was to occur on December 1st, it is important for agency human resources professionals to stay connected on this topic. SCS will continue to monitor the progress of this subject matter as it progresses and will provide updates to the HR Community as necessary.
As part of our mission to enable state agencies to recruit and retain qualified classified personnel, the Compensation Division provides an analysis of the competitiveness of the classified pay structures and actual employee pay each year via the Annual Uniform Pay Plan Review report. The recommendation approved by the SCSC in last year’s report was to establish a pay study group composed of key stakeholders. The study group was formed in an effort to share information and garner support for recommendations that would positively impact state agencies in accomplishing their missions via the dedicated classified employees that serve the public each day. In this issue, we provide an overview of the purpose of the study group. We thank the individuals that participated in the study group and we are grateful for their valuable feedback.
Finally, I would like to recognize Ms. Lottie Hennigan of my staff for receiving the Monte M. Lemann Award. Ms. Hennigan currently serves as the Head Test Monitor for the State Civil Service Saturday Test Site at the Louisiana Technical College-Shreveport Campus. She has served as an unclassified test monitor since 1974. Her dedication to the Louisiana merit system and her service to the state is sincerely appreciated.
Upcoming Election for the Classified Employee-Represented Commissioner of the SCS Commission
By Makayla Harris
SCS Policy Administrator
State Civil Service (SCS) will soon begin accepting nominations for the election of the Classified Employee-Represented Commissioner of the State Civil Service Commission (SCSC). The current term of the Classified Employee-Represented Commissioner on the SCSC is set to expire on April 30, 2017. Beginning January 3, 2017, eligible classified state employees will have the opportunity to qualify as a candidate to serve on the Commission which serves a vital role in the administration of the State’s merit system as outlined in Article X of the State Constitution.
The SCSC is a seven-member body that has final authority over the administration of the State Civil Service system, and which serves as an impartial review board that enacts and adjudicates the State Civil Service rules to regulate state personnel activities. Most importantly, the SCSC provides mechanisms for delivering progressive and effective human resources programs that will allow State agencies to fulfill their missions to the citizens of Louisiana. Six members are nominated by each of the private collegiate institutions in Louisiana and appointed by the governor; the seventh is elected by the permanent classified workforce from amongst its ranks. Each member serves a six-year term; the term for the elected classified employee begins on May 1, 2017.
Voting in this election is important, as the person who is elected to serve as the Classified Employee-Represented Commissioner on the SCSC will be the person who represents the issues which may be important to the classified employee. Some of those issues include providing merit-based selection and regulating the pay of classified employees, as well as changes to rules that may have far reaching impact on employees who serve in the classified system. More so, the Classified Employee-Represented Commissioner on the SCSC provides a voice to classified employees on important decisions which may come before the commission.
There are a few things that employees should know about this election process.
- Voting eligibility extends only to classified permanent employees who have achieved permanent status either on or before December 3, 2016.
- Eligible voters will receive a ballot by mail beginning the week of February 6, 2016. It is important that employees who have recently had an address change update this change in their human resources office to ensure the receipt of a ballot at the correct address.
- The ballot envelope will be well marked so that employees will know right away that an election ballot is inside. The ballot will provide instructions on how to vote using one of three methods:
- You can mail the ballot back using a return, pre-paid postage envelope;
- You can go online to a specified election website to cast a vote; or
- You can vote by telephone using the toll-free number provided in the ballot instructions.
- A ballot brochure containing statements from each candidate that provided one during the nomination period will also be included in the ballot envelope.
In addition, employees will have access to candidate information by visiting the SCSC Election page on the State Civil Service website. The website will feature important information about the election, including information about campaigning for a candidate during the election cycle. Employees who wish to campaign for a candidate may do so during the celection, as the prohibitive rules on political participation for state employees will not apply to this election. However, employees must do so on their own time and with the consent of the appointing authority if campaigning is conducted in the office or on office property during work hours.
For more information regarding the Classified Employee-Represented Commissioner election, you may watch the video below, visit our web site at http://www.civilservice.louisiana.gov/Publications/SCSelection.aspx, or you may contact the Election Coordinator at Election.Coordinator@la.gov.
IMPORTANT ELECTION DATES
January 2, 2017: SCS Director issues call for election (GC 2016-041)
January 3, 2017: Deadline for HR professionals to ensure employee information is updated for ballot mail-out (GC 2016-040)
January 3, 2017: SCS begins accepting candidate nomination petitions (GC 2016-036)
January 11, 2017: Deadline for nomination petitions
February 6, 2017: Ballots mailed to permanent employees
February 23, 2017: Deadline to cast a vote for the election
February 24-28, 2017: Tabulation of votes
March 1, 2017: Deadline for vendor to provide election results to SCS
March 8 – April 11, 2017: Runoff election, if necessary
May 1, 2017: Elected Commissioner assumes office
Federal Injunction Affects Implementation of New FLSA Overtime Rule
By Alicia Jones
Employee Relations Division Consultant
In the October 2016 issue of The Bridge, it was advised that the United States Department of Labor (DOL), Wage and Hour Division had announced the final rule updating federal overtime regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The effective date of the final rule was to be December 1, 2016; however, that date came and went without the final rule on the new overtime regulations taking effect. Here’s why:
On November 22, 2016, a federal court judge in Texas issued an injunction against the new overtime rule that would have impacted more than 4 million U.S. workers. The injunction was issued after Judge Amos Mazzant agreed with 21 states and more than 50 businesses - including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – that claimed the new overtime rule is unlawful. The states and businesses claimed that the increase in the salary level used to determine FLSA exempt and non-exempt status was arbitrary. The standard salary level used to test the FLSA exemption was previously set at $445 per week. The final rule would raise that level to $913 per week ($47,476 annually). However, the FLSA says that employees can be exempted from federal overtime requirements if they perform executive, administrative or professional duties. In his ruling, Judge Mazzant wrote that the final rule, “creates essentially a de facto salary-only test.”
In response to the injunction, on December 1, 2016 – the same day the final rule on overtime regulations would have taken effect – the DOL filed an appeal over the district court’s ruling with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The DOL also requested an expedited review of the injunction in hopes that the issue can be resolved before Inauguration Day on January 20, 2017, when it is anticipated that a new Secretary of Labor will be appointed to the DOL.
While determining the FLSA status of classified and unclassified employees is the responsibility of the employing Department or Agency, State Civil Service (SCS) continues to pursue the goal of being a leader and partner in the management of human resources. SCS is carefully following the legal developments surrounding the implementation of the final rule on FLSA. The SCS staff will continue to work with state agencies to provide information, assist with the interpretation of SCS overtime rules, and when possible, bring in subject matter experts on federal employment law to meet with the HR Community in order to address questions and concerns directly.
Pay Study Group Initiated by SCS Brings Key Stakeholders Together
By Janelle Haynsworth
Compensation Division Assistant Administrator
Under the provision of State Civil Service Rules 6.1 and 6.2, the SCS Compensation Division conducts an analysis of the competitiveness of the classified pay structures each year via the Annual Uniform Pay Plan Review report. This report is provided by the SCS Director to the SCS Commission in consideration of any adjustments to the pay structures that may be necessary in order for the Louisiana classified service to be more competitive with the salaries offered by entities outside of state government. The competitiveness of the actual salaries of classified state employees is also considered in the report.
Over the last few years, the SCS Director has been unable to recommend any adjustments due to the state’s fiscal status and the cost associated with making such adjustments. Even raising the minimum starting salaries by a small amount, such as 1% for all pay schedules, can have a significant fiscal impact of over $739,000. Yet it remains that state agencies must compete for talent. It is anticipated that state agencies will face greater pressure in recruiting and retaining qualified personnel as the local economy improves in the coming years. In an effort to face future challenges, the Director provided the recommendation in last year’s report to create a study group composed of key stakeholders.
The study group was formed earlier this year in order to fully understand and predict potential outcomes associated with the continued and growing gap between classified pay schedules and salaries as compared to benchmark jobs in the public and private sectors. The study group consisted of key stakeholders from the SCS Commission, the Louisiana Workforce Commission, the Division of Administration, the Governor’s office, and the legislature. It was important to bring these entities together in order to garner support for plans of action that will have an impact on budgets and services in state government. Objectives of the study group were:
- To ascertain the relative impacts of classified pay schedules and salaries which may no longer be competitive in the workforce market
- To formulate recommendations as necessary to safeguard the competitiveness of the state’s classified pay schedules
- To assess the ability of existing mechanisms in the Civil Service rules to provide state agencies the means to be more competitive in recruiting and retaining qualified personnel
The study group was successful at bringing greater collaboration and knowledge sharing between key stakeholders. In the months to come, State Civil Service will continue to build on the work of the study group in developing recommendations for the benefit of the classified system. It is anticipated that agency human resources professionals will play a key role in providing feedback on these initiatives. Ultimately, State Civil Service will provide a plan that allows state agencies the ability to be competitive in today’s marketplace, while adhering to the constitutional philosophy of uniformity.
SCS Head Test Monitor Receives Monte M. Lemann Award
By Aeli Poydras
Staffing Division Supervisor
SCS congratulates Ms. Hennigan on her
achievement. From left: Chris Deer, Rainette
Stephens, Lottie Hennigan, Peter Harris, and
Byron P. Decoteau, Jr.
At an award ceremony held in October of this year, State Civil Service employee Lottie Hennigan was recognized with the Monte M. Lemann Award. This award is presented annually by the Louisiana Civil Service League to five individuals outside of the state classified service who have made the greatest contributions to the advancement of Louisiana’s merit system of public employment.
This prestigious award is named for Monte M. Lemann, a longtime supporter and defender of civil service in Louisiana. This award is unique in that unlike the Charles E. Dunbar, Jr. Career Service Award which recognizes the exemplary service of classified employees, the Lemann award recognizes the outstanding service of state employees outside the classified service who have “helped to build a good image of this state’s civil servants.”
“Mrs. Hennigan has been an exemplary public servant for the last 42 years; her duties as a Head Test Monitor are a part of the core principles of the merit system,” said Byron P. Decoteau, Jr., SCS Director. “She has been the face of Civil Service on Saturday testing to those seeking state employment in our great state. We are honored to have her serve with our Department.”
Mrs. Hennigan has been a steadfast public servant for the State Civil Service Department for 42 years. She currently serves as an unclassified Test Monitor for the Civil Service Saturday Test Site at the Louisiana Technical College-Shreveport Campus. She has served in this capacity since 1974. The Head Test Monitor is accountable for preparing the classrooms for the test takers, coordinating to make sure there are enough staff monitors available, presenting the instructions for the test and observing job seekers as they take the test. In 1967, Mrs. Hennigan earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Education from NSU and in 1976 was awarded her Master’s degree in Business Education. She worked as a business teacher at Woodlawn High School in Caddo Parish from 1967 until 1986. During her retirement years, she continued to substitute teach in Caddo Parish until 2015. In her time as a test monitor, Ms. Hennigan has only missed monitoring one Saturday testing date.
The other four recipients of the Lemann award were Thomas L. Enright of Baton Rouge, Pamela M. Rogers of New Orleans, Alfred E. (Ted) Stacey, IV, CPA of Metairie, and Nicholas J. Zeringue of Thibodaux.
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Department of State Civil Service and all stakeholders within our system. Email your questions, comments, or suggestions to us, and we’ll do our best to respond promptly. Your feedback may even be chosen for publication as part of this feature!
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