Panel: State agency can use job ratings to set pay

In a precedent setting move, the state Civil Service Commission on Wednesday allowed the state revenue agency to use employee job evaluations to determine how much of a pay bonus its workers will receive.

It is the first time the commission has allowed a state agency to use the job rating in determining pay since a new performance evaluation system went into effect last year.

The revenue department will give those who rated exceptional in recent reviews a 4 percent one-time boost in their pay while those rated successful will get 2 percent.

According to the agency, 141 employees rated exceptional while 488 rated successful. Another nine employees will get nothing because they rated needs improvement-unsuccessful are ineligible for any type of pay boost.

One commissioner questioned the fairness of the ratings because of the “human element” which can crop up in evaluations. “Why can’t we just give everybody an equal amount?” asked commissioner Curtis “Pete” Fremin, the elected state employee representative on the board.

Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield said the agency did not have the funds to provide the annual 4 percent raise in employee base pay that goes with attainment of exceptional and successful job evaluations that many other agencies are providing. So, the agency came up with the lump sum payment as a way to provide some relief - albeit not on-going, Barfield said.

Barfield acknowledged the human element in the employee evaluations and its subjective nature.

“We wanted to give our employees something this year. We also felt it was important to distinguish based on performance and reward those who are high performers,” said Barfield.

After the meeting, Civil Service director Shannon Templet said the Revenue Department is breaking new ground in using job evaluation ratings to determine pay. “Revenue is the only department using a rational business reason to differentiate the payment for their employees,” said Templet. The business reason is lack of funding, she said.

The employees remain eligible to receive permanent pay boosts for three years should funding become available.

The tying of certain pay increases to the rating an employee received drew fire as a new performance-based job evaluation system was developed. The linkage, pushed by the Jindal administration, was dropped before the plan was approved with employees who ranked “successful” or above eligible for a 4 percent annual base pay increase.

Barfield’s plan as well as three involving LSU System schools were before the commission for approval Wednesday because they went the route of a one-time bonus instead of the 4 percent on-going pay adjustment.

All four entities told Civil Service giving the 4 percent base pay increase for their rank and file employees as a majority of state agencies are doing would require employee layoffs to come up with the funds.

Like Revenue, LSU-Shreveport, Eunice and Alexandria will provide a lump sum bonus - Shreveport and Alexandria , 2 percent of pay and Eunice 4 percent. But unlike Revenue, it will be for all employees who attained exceptional and successful job evaluations.

All four entities will spread the employee payments out over the year.

Commissioner Scott Hughes voted against the bonus plan for the LSU schools. He said the employees deserved more pay. But he said it is “fundamentally unfair” for employees at the three schools to get only a bonus when LSU’s main campus is providing a 4 percent pay increase to its rank and file employees.

“The satellite universities are being put out to dry,” said Hughes. “It’s not a precedent I want to set.”

Commissioner Lee Griffin said the LSU System administration allocates money to each campus and each campus chancellor makes decisions on how it is to be spent.