Despite heavy lobbying from departments and interest groups, California’s personnel panel has stood its ground: If you’re applying for a state job, you have to meet the minimum qualifications – even if you’re a state worker.
The State Personnel Board late last week issued guidelines for applying its ruling in Cynthia McReynolds v. California Public Utilities Commission case, which found the CPUC wrongly awarded a transfer without a test to an employee who lacked the experience and the education for the job.
Applied more broadly, the decision ended a common practice that allowed state employees to skip meeting the minimum requirements for some jobs.
State workers in many instances made transfers between departments, for example, without meeting college coursework minimum qualifications. Outside applicants don’t receive the same considerations. The Nov. 7 McReynolds decision stopped that practice, which originated many years ago when State Personnel Board staff allowed the policy.
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The board’s guidelines don’t soften the impact of its ruling, even though state employee advocacy groups, unions and several departments wanted it rescinded or significantly amended. Many state workers are single parents and some hold down more than one job, advocates for workers said, so taking college courses to meet job requirements would be a hardship. And department personnel shops worried that they would be overwhelmed with administering more civil service tests.
After a public hearing and behind-the-scenes meetings with various groups, the Personnel Board issued seven common questions and answers. The Department of Human Resources, which guides department personnel shops’ policies and procedures, also published 26 FAQs for state human resources managers.
The Personnel Board has suggested departments assist employees help staff get education and training they need or alter job specifications that have needless minimum qualification standards.
Editor’s note, 3:05 p.m.: This post was altered to clarify the circumstances under which employees could formerly transfer.