Classification Resources

Additional resources and necessary forms.

Purposes of Classification

The position classification plan provides a framework for the organization's human resource management objectives and activities, as well as assures that employment practices comply with federal and state laws. The classification plan, with associated class specifications, facilitates other human resource functions such as recruitment and selection, pay structuring, training and development, performance evaluation, and workforce/employment planning.


Recruitment and Selection

Recruitment and selection involves attracting, interviewing, and selecting job applicants with the necessary skills to offset labor shortages. Position classification assists in the recruitment and selection process since job context (purpose, scope of responsibility, and degree of accountability); job content (identification and description of responsibilities); and job requirements (minimum skills, abilities, and experience necessary to perform a job) are identified by the class and class specifications.


Pay Structure

Position classification serves as the basis for the organization's pay structure. Classes are assigned to pay grades based on an assessment of the value of the work of one class relative to other classes. The assignment of a class to a pay grade based on its relative value to the organization builds equity across the organization and assures that there is a logical relationship between rates of pay and services provided.


Training and Development

Training and development programs are most effective when designed for and delivered to groups of employees selected on the basis of needs assessment. Position classification supports the training and development function by providing the means to identify employees by discrete groupings. Programs intended to improve or update job skills, to provide information, or to retrain employees can be tailored for a particular target group.


Performance Evaluation

Performance evaluation involves assessing how well an employee performs the duties and responsibilities assigned to the position the employee fills. Each position in the organization is identified by class and by typical statements concerning the duties and responsibilities listed in the specification for that class. The use of objective, job-related criteria in the evaluation process, e.g. assigned duties and responsibilities, reduces or eliminates subjective opinion.


Employment/Workforce Planning

Employment/workforce planning requires an organization to identify both the number and types of employees needed to perform work necessary for the future growth of the organization. The classification system facilitates this type of long-range planning because current classified positions and employees can be easily matched to projected needs.

Issued by the Office of Human Resources and Labor Relations, 㽶Ƶ June 1994; Revised February 2002

Classification Standards

Three formal classification standards comprise the core documentation in the position classification process. These include class specifications, job benchmarks, and allocation guides. A summary of each standard follows.

    Class Specifications are written descriptions of a class describing representative duties for a group of like positions. The definition of work, which is the most critical part of the class specification, establishes the parameters and provides the internal composition of the class. The specification describes the nature of work and establishes the relative level of the class in relationship to other classes in the same class series and occupational group; formalizes the class content which is used to derive a pay level through pay analysis; provides the documentation essential in arriving at a title; establishes the framework around which the remaining portions of the class specifications are developed; characterizes typical organization relationships, when applicable, by describing the work environment and the supervisory/subordinate structure; and provides the documentation used in formulating a bargaining unit assignment and Equal Employment Opportunity Code assignment.
    Job Benchmarks These are comparative job standards used in determining position classification. A job benchmark typically describes the functions of a position touching on such aspects as independence of action, scope of responsibility, and sphere of influence. The position under review is compared to a job benchmark, which serves as a standard, in order to identify similarities and differences.
    Specialized Allocation Guides The Clerical Allocation Method (CAM) is an example of a system used to allocate clerical positions within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Adjunct Resources

In addition to the three classification standards, there are additional resources and tools which are utilized. A list of these adjunct resources follows.

   ♦ Documentation on other positions within the organization is reviewed and analyzed to determine the areas of comparability and/or distinctive differences prior to deciding on a relative ranking for the position under review.
   ♦ Documentation on comparable State System of Higher Education positions is considered.
  ♦  Relevant court decisions or judges' rulings may influence the classification of positions because of the court's interpretation of various pieces of legislation.
  ♦ Employment legislation affects position classification. The Commonwealth/State System must be in compliance with federal and state laws, i.e., Fair Labor Standards Act, the Equal Pay Act, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
   ♦ Classification arbitration decisions are an important resource since decisions by the Advisory Arbitration Panel represent the panel's interpretation of class specifications relative to work assigned to coalition bargaining unit employees.
   ♦ The various labor agreements are referenced since they contain language relative to the classification plan.
   ♦ Certain personnel rules and management directives address and deal with position classification.
   ♦ The United States Employment Service provides for the classification and the coding of job applicants and positions by using an occupational classification system, as incorporated in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles.

Factors to be considered

Position classification is the orderly grouping of positions with similar duties and responsibilities into the same categories or classes. The duties and responsibilities of these positions and the skills required to perform them must be sufficiently similar. This is to ensure that the same titles, pay ranges, qualification requirements, examinations, selection and placement procedures, training programs, and performance standards can be applied uniformly to all positions in the same category or class. Factors which determine classification involve what the incumbent does, the kind of work performed, the responsibility one has, and the skills and abilities necessary to do the job.

Factors considered in classification include:

  •     Variety and complexity of work
  •     Level of responsibility
  •     Supervision received
  •     Supervision exercised
  •     Guidelines available
  •     Finality of decisions
  •     Personal contacts
  •     Consequence of error

Issued by the Office of Human Resources and Labor Relations, 㽶Ƶ June 1994; Revised February 2002

The Review Process

The review process may be initiated by a supervisor, a staff person in concert with a supervisor, or by the Classification Manager in the Office of Human Resources and Labor Relations.

If a supervisor or a staff person believes that substantial changes in the position responsibilities will become permanent, he/she obtains a Classification Review Request Form from the Classification Manager to document the changes.

The staff person completes the first section of the form.

The immediate supervisor reviews and verifies the information to ensure the duties listed are, in fact, duties assigned to that position and it is an appropriate assignment of those duties.

The supervisor signs the form and forwards it to the next level of supervision for review and signature. The director or dean reviews the information submitted and writes a brief explanation as to why new duties were assigned. If the director or dean believes that the work assignment is appropriate and that the additional duties substantially change the position, the request is approved and forwarded to the appropriate vice president. If the director or dean disagrees with or questions the work assignment and/or the impact of such changes, a discussion is scheduled to resolve the issue with the supervisor. The staff member should be informed of the rationale if the request is not forwarded to the appropriate vice president.

If the vice president believes that the work assignment is appropriate and that the additional duties substantially change the position, the request is approved and forwarded to the Classification Manager. If the vice president disapproves the request for a review, a discussion is scheduled to resolve the issue.

The form is logged and date-stamped upon receipt in the Human Resources Office. Notice of receipt is forwarded to the dean or director, supervisor, and staff member. The date of receipt becomes the effective date if the position is allocated to a different classification as a result of the review.

Job Descriptions approved for review by the Vice President or Provost will be forwarded to the Classification Manager. During an initial review of the position, the Classification Manager will make a preliminary grade level determination. If it appears an upward reclassification may result, the Classification Manager will then discuss the potential impact of the tentative classification with the Budget Office. The Budget Office will provide the approximate value of the reclassification, immediate and future. Additionally, the Budget Office will indicate the impact of the requested classification, on the department's current fiscal year budget.

The Classification Manager will provide the respective Vice President or Provost with the preliminary classification findings and potential budget implications.

The Vice President or Provost will then determine whether the reclassification request should be processed. The Provost or Vice President may direct that the work of the position, particularly work which may warrant upward reclassification, be redistributed within the department. The work of the position involved and of other positions may be adjusted in order to accommodate the organizational needs efficiently without incurring additional salary expenses. The Vice President or Provost may direct the Classification Manager to assist the manager in re-describing and realigning the duties of staff in the affected department.

Should the Provost or Vice President agree with the job description and preliminary classification determination, he/she will notify the Classification Manager to proceed with the formal classification of the position and subsequent personnel actions if any are required.


Understanding Position Classification

These guidelines, which describe the position classification process at 㽶Ƶ, were originally developed in 1994. The process of position evaluation has not changed since that time, however, personnel and circumstances have changed. Increased emphasis on the good stewardship of our resources requires that we accurately identify our work. Properly described duties and responsibilities are also requisite to accurate position classification.

The objective of this effort is to promote communication and a better understanding of this important process among administration, staff, and those faculty who work with or supervise staff.

The guidelines are a work in progress. We invite you to work with it. Use this as a general reference about job classification. Direct any comments or ideas for improving this guide to the Classification Manager.

The staff of the Human Resources Office is dedicated to improving services to the University and its employees. Open, two-way communication is vital to achieving this goal. From these common roots first grew the idea for this overview of the classification process. We hope you will find these guidelines a useful reference in your work here at 㽶Ƶ.
Overview of Position Classification Process

㽶Ƶ of Pennsylvania, one of the 14 state-owned universities comprising the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education uses prescribed and formal classification standards to classify all its non-instructional positions. These standards are developed and effected by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State System in order to appropriately represent all positions that exist within our organizations.

The classification plan consists of orderly groupings and structured formal standards, which represent the many and varied job categories needed to identify all positions in the workplace. Each job category represents one of these groups of positions through a general descriptor called a class. Position classification is the process used to match each position to and place it into the correct class. The intent is to assure that the same title, pay range, qualification requirements, examinations, selection procedures, training programs, performance standards, etc., are applied uniformly to all positions that are substantially similar in tasks, responsibilities, and skills. The results of the position classification process by design, directly impacts recruitment, staff development, retention, and internal and external pay consistency.

Those engaged in administering the position classification program at 㽶Ƶ believe administrators and staff at the institution should be provided with an explanation regarding the policies and principles that serve as the basis for the position classification system. The intent of this publication is to provide such statements, as a basis for information, to support future deliberation, and to promote greater understanding. It provides the user with the basics as to how positions are assigned to the proper class and illustrates that proper position classification considers a position's relationship to all other positions in the immediate organization.

Since the responsibilities of any given position may be affected by the dynamics of reorganization and change, it should be understood that the position classification process is designed to respond to change by assessing whether additions or deletions of duties have impacted upon the proper classification of a position.

The staff of the 㽶Ƶ Human Resources Office is available to assist in furthering your understanding of position classification and facilitate guidance in this process, on a request basis. Located on the third floor of Arts and Administration Building, the office is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Issued by the Office of Human Resources and Labor Relations, 㽶Ƶ June 1994; Revised February 2002

 

Types of Classification Review

  • Management-Initiated Request - Review of vacant positions and positions that have undergone substantial change are examples of the type of review generally initiated by management.
  • Employee-Initiated Request - Employees may request their positions be reviewed if they believe there has been substantial changes in either their position's permanent job content or job context. The Classification Manager will ultimately determine if such changes merit a change in the position classification.
  • Classification Grievance - A review also may occur as a result of a classification grievance. An employee who perceives that substantial changes have occurred in their permanent job duties or job content may opt to file a classification grievance with their union. The Office of Human Resources responds to this union action by initiating a review of the employee's position.
  • Human Resources-Initiated Review - The Classification Manager in the Human Resources Office may choose to review all positions in a department or all positions within a single class such as Clerk Typist I, Fiscal Assistant, or Painter.
  • System-Level-Initiated Review - There are times when the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education determines a review of one or more classes is necessary. One of the several reasons for launching such reviews would be to ensure that a certain class or classes are used consistently across the State System.

Issued by the Office of Human Resources and Labor Relations, 㽶Ƶ June 1994; Revised February 2002

Roles of the Classification Participants

Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education

The present classification plan, initiated in 1956 by the Executive Board of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, contains a schedule of class titles and specifications for each class. The Office of Administration, Bureau of Personnel establishes all class specifications and pay ranges in the classification plan (for coalition bargaining units), and periodically reviews them to make sure they reflect current conditions. Passage of Act 188 in 1982 established the State System of Higher Education (SSHE) and shifted the lines of authority for labor relations from the Governor's jurisdiction to that of the new System's Chancellor and Board of Trustees. The State System was subsequently empowered to administer the classification plan developed by the Office of Administration for the 14 state-owned universities.


㽶Ƶ Administration

Between June 1986 and July 1987, authority was delegated to 㽶Ƶ and the other 13 State System universities for bargaining unit and classification decision-making under the directives and guidelines of the Office of the Chancellor.
Manager/Supervisor

The supervisor's role in position classification is to provide current and accurate documentation for all positions within their area of responsibility; initiate the evaluation of any new positions or the re-evaluation of any current position because of substantial changes. Prepare required documentation to accompany the recommendation of a classification review; ensure employees within their area of responsibility are assigned work appropriate to their classification.
Position Incumbent

Every university employee (position incumbent) influences the accuracy of position classifications. by maintaining current job descriptions, by carefully reviewing their job description annually as part of their performance evaluation, by clarifying any key assignment changes with their supervisor, and by documenting important changes on the Position Accuracy Certification Form, employees provide timely, detailed information on what workers do and what they need to know to perform their tasks well. Position incumbents also bolster the overall classification system whenever they participate in a review by providing insight and up-to-date information about job assignments and answering questions relative to their particular tasks.


Union

The class titles, specifications, and pay grades are part of the collective bargaining agreements negotiated between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania/State System of Higher Education and the various unions on the campus. A classification grievance may be filed by a union representative on behalf of an employee who believes their position classification does not reflect the duties and the responsibilities assigned to their position.


Office of Human Resources

At the university level, the Classification Manager is responsible for administering the University's classification programs under the direction of the Director of Human Resources and Labor Relations. The Classification Manager has two primary duties with regard to classification: to administer and maintain the job classification programs, and to act as a consultant to university departments on classification and related issues. The Classification Manager reviews the classifications of all vacated positions and newly approved positions prior to posting. This individual also evaluates positions to determine if the current designated classification is appropriate, and consults with supervisors on issues such as structural or organizational changes that may influence classified positions within their department.

Issued by the Office of Human Resources and Labor Relations, 㽶Ƶ June 1994; Revised February 2002

Classification Standards and Adjunct Resources

Classification Standards

Three formal classification standards comprise the core documentation in the position classification process. These include class specifications, job benchmarks, and allocation guides. A summary of each standard follows.

  • Class Specifications are written descriptions of a class describing representative duties for a group of like positions. The definition of work, which is the most critical part of the class specification, establishes the parameters and provides the internal composition of the class. The specification describes the nature of work and establishes the relative level of the class in relationship to other classes in the same class series and occupational group; formalizes the class content which is used to derive a pay level through pay analysis; provides the documentation essential in arriving at a title; establishes the framework around which the remaining portions of the class specifications are developed; characterizes typical organization relationships, when applicable, by describing the work environment and the supervisory/subordinate structure; and provides the documentation used in formulating a bargaining unit assignment and Equal Employment Opportunity Code assignment.
  • Job Benchmarks These are comparative job standards used in determining position classification. A job benchmark typically describes the functions of a position touching on such aspects as independence of action, scope of responsibility, and sphere of influence. The position under review is compared to a job benchmark, which serves as a standard, in order to identify similarities and differences.
  • Specialized Allocation Guides The Clerical Allocation Method (CAM) is an example of a system used to allocate clerical positions within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Adjunct Resources

In addition to the three classification standards, there are additional resources and tools which are utilized. A list of these adjunct resources follows.

  • Documentation on other positions within the organization is reviewed and analyzed to determine the areas of comparability and/or distinctive differences prior to deciding on a relative ranking for the position under review.
  • Documentation on comparable State System of Higher Education positions is considered.
  • Relevant court decisions or judges' rulings may influence the classification of positions because of the court's interpretation of various pieces of legislation.
  • Employment legislation affects position classification. The Commonwealth/State System must be in compliance with federal and state laws, i.e., Fair Labor Standards Act, the Equal Pay Act, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
  • Classification arbitration decisions are an important resource since decisions by the Advisory Arbitration Panel represent the panel's interpretation of class specifications relative to work assigned to coalition bargaining unit employees.
  •     The various labor agreements are referenced since they contain language relative to the classification plan.
  • Certain personnel rules and management directives address and deal with position classification.
  • The United States Employment Service provides for the classification and the coding of job applicants and positions by using an occupational classification system, as incorporated in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles.

Factors to be considered

Position classification is the orderly grouping of positions with similar duties and responsibilities into the same categories or classes. The duties and responsibilities of these positions and the skills required to perform them must be sufficiently similar. This is to ensure that the same titles pay ranges, qualification requirements, examinations, selection and placement procedures, training programs, and performance standards can be applied uniformly to all positions in the same category or class. Factors that determine classification involve what the incumbent does, the kind of work performed, the responsibility one has, and the skills and abilities necessary to do the job.

Factors considered in classification include:

  • Variety and complexity of work
  • Level of responsibility
  • Supervision received
  • Supervision exercised
  • Guidelines available
  • Finality of decisions
  • Personal contacts
  • Consequence of error

Issued by the Office of Human Resources and Labor Relations, 㽶Ƶ June 1994; Revised February 2002

Frequent Questions About Classification

Does a desk audit or on-site review always have to be conducted in order for an analyst to make a classification decision?

No. It is generally up to the Classification Manager to decide how to obtain the necessary information. A desk audit may be performed. Sufficient information may be obtained from the job description, the position analysis questionnaire, the supervisor, and other sources so that a desk audit is not necessary.

Does the supervisor have any influence on the classification of a position?

Yes, in the sense that the supervisor determines what duties are assigned to a position and how independently the individual functions. This is why the Classification Manager usually talks to the supervisor when conducting an audit.

What impact does the supervisor have on the final decision of a classification review?

None, other than that mentioned above.

How often can a position be reviewed?

There is no limit on how often a position can be reviewed. Only those positions which have undergone substantial change in job content or job context, however, are eligible for a full review under the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement.

Can a position be reclassified to a class lower than the current classification? (For example, Clerk Typist 3 to Clerk Typist 2)

Yes, this can happen.

Who should initiate a request for a job or position audit?

The supervisor should initiate a request for a review.

Does the performance evaluation of an employee have an impact on the classification of their position?

No. The performance evaluation process is a separate and distinct function from classification.

What is the difference between a promotion and a reclassification?

A promotion means that an employee moves from on position to another in a higher pay range. A promotion occurs when an employee bids on and is selected for a vacant or new position. Reclassification occurs as the result of a review of a position or job. Reclassification can result in upward reallocation of the position which means it moves to a higher pay range; or can result in a downward reallocation of the position which means it moves to a lower pay range. The position can also move laterally and remain in the same pay range.

Who should be contacted regarding classification questions?

Your first resource is your supervisor since this is the person responsible for your work assignment. If you need additional information, your next contact is the University's Classification Manager in the Office of Human Resources and Labor Relations, Arts and Administration Building.

Issued by the Office of Human Resources and Labor Relations, 㽶Ƶ June 1994; Revised February 2002

Glossary of Classification Terms

Allocation - the act of placing a position in a particular class based on the classification finding (result).

Allocation Factors - separate and distinct criteria that measure the level characteristics and similarities and differences among and between positions.

Class - a group of positions or jobs similar enough with respect to duties and responsibilities so that the same title and code may be used for all positions in the group. These positions/jobs are treated alike for pay, classification, bargaining unit, recruitment and other personnel/management purposes.

Class Level - the relative level of a class within a class series that represents its hierarchical placement based on complexity and responsibility in relationship to the other classes within the series.

Class Series - the hierarchical group of two or more classes of the same job family reflecting various levels of work in progression, e.g., the Clerk Typist series consists of Clerk Typist 1, 2, and 3.

Class Specifications - a representative description of the kind and level of work, the typical significant duties, the desirable preparation and significant knowledge, skills, and abilities required to do the work of positions allocated to a class.

Classification Plan - one or more documents describing all the classes in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Classification Plan consists of the orderly grouping and structures formal standards of all classes that represent the many and varied job categories of positions within the workplace.

*Classification Review Request Form - form used to document a request to review a position for classification purposes.

Duties and Responsibilities - the units of work and tasks/activities, with required commitment to finality and accuracy that are assigned to a position.

Classify (Classification) - the process of evaluating a position using all relevant factors.

Job - a group of two or more identical or substantially similar positions, that have common tasks, responsibilities and required skills.

Job Family - jobs involving work of the same nature, but requiring different skill and responsibility levels.

*Job/Position Description - document describing various aspects of a position such as the job title, statements outlining the principal duties and responsibilities, knowledge and skill requirements, reporting relationship, and working conditions or environment; used as documentation for position classification.

Position - an authorized and individually identified group of responsibilities and duties assigned or delegated by an appropriate authority requiring the full time or part time employment of one or more persons.

*Position Accuracy Certification - a form that is a part of the annual performance appraisal procedure. This document verifies duties and responsibilities of the position and serves as an addendum to the position/job description.

*Position Analysis Questionnaire - a structured job analysis questionnaire used in the evaluation of clerical positions.

Position Survey or Audit - the review or study of a position to determine what kind and level of duties the employee is assigned and performs.

Reclassification - the reassignment of a position from one class to another in order to reflect a change in duties and responsibilities or to correct an error in the original assignment.

Upward reclassification of a position - the reassignment of a position to a class assigned to a pay range with a higher minimum hourly rate.

Downward reclassification of a position - the reassignment of a position to a class with a lower minimum hourly rate.

Supervision - responsibility for the work of others with authority in the interest of the employer to hire, transfer, suspend, layoff, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward, or discipline employees or responsibility to direct them or adjust their grievances; or to a substantial degree effectively recommend such action.

*Indicates a document or form available from the Classification Manager in the Office of Human Resources, Arts and Administration Building, 㽶Ƶ.

Issued by the Office of Human Resources and Labor Relations, 㽶Ƶ June 1994; Revised February 2002