Kansas Department of Administration Secretary Jim Clark on Wednesday outlined a package of initiatives designed to modernize the state’s human resource policies regarding state employees, including efforts to give agencies more flexibility in hiring unclassified employees and reforming the state’s layoff and termination practices.
The initiatives reflect the administration’s attempt to streamline and modernize human resources practices and make best use of the state’s resources while ensuring the rights of employees. The package was developed after lengthy discussions within the Department Administration and among Cabinet officials.
“Kansas deserves human resource policies that are commensurate of the quality of services that state employees provide on a daily basis,” Clark said. “These initiatives are a major step toward ensuring that the State of Kansas is able to deliver those services and maximize the resources that taxpayers provide.”
Three of the initiatives will require changes to state law, while the remainder of the items can be accomplished through amendments to the state’s personnel rules and regulations through authority granted to the secretary.
Legislation will be filed that will definitively give state agencies broader authority to hire unclassified employees to fill positions. This move, Clark said, is in direct response to concerns raised by legislators regarding the state’s hiring practices. It will allow agencies to fill positions faster than classified positions and can be adapted to the specific qualifications and abilities of the employee.
“This will allow the state the proper flexibility in order to compete with other employers and be able to recruit and retain high-performing employees,” Clark said.
Changes to the longevity policy will require the Legislature to either fund the bonuses for state employees or eliminate the practice altogether. Recent practice has been for the Legislature not to fund longevity bonuses and force agencies to make the payments out of existing operating funds.
Another measure will clarify language regarding shared leave among state employees by allowing use only when an illness is determined to be “life threatening.” Clark said the current language has led to confusion over what constitutes a “serious or extreme” illness, injury, impairment or physical or mental condition.
Regulatory changes include the state’s policy regarding payouts of accrued leave to employees who have been terminated for cause; reform of the layoff process to put more emphasis on performance rather than longevity; the planned implementation of a paid time off system for new employees; amending the employee evaluation appeal process; and authorizing agencies to grant time off to employees as a reward.
In addition, the state plans to re-open several memorandums of understanding with a number of labor organizations in order to establish more consistent policies across the state workforce.
HR Modernization Initiatives
- Amendment to K.S.A. 75-2935 providing agencies with even broader authority to move positions to the unclassified service
- Suggest either approving funding for the bonus, or revoking the statute authorizing the longevity bonus to classified employees to eliminate the bonus entirely
Shared Leave Program
- Amendment of K.S.A. 75-5549 to limit eligibility for shared leave to only life-threatening medical conditions
Appeal of Performance Reviews
- Begin the development of a PTO program for all new State employees, effective at a specific date TBD, as well as any current State employee who elects to participate in the program
Payout of Vacation Leave
- Amendment of K.A.R. 1-9-13 to limit the payout of vacation leave to employees who are dismissed for personal conduct or performance deficiencies to a maximum of one year’s accumulation of vacation leave
Reform of the Layoff Process
- Amendment of K.A.R. 1-14-8 changing the formula used to determine layoff scores to reduce the impact of longevity and increase the impact of performance
- Amendment of K.A.R. 1-14-10 changing the bumping process to allow agencies to exempt employees from being included in a layoff
- Amendment of K.A.R. 1-6-23 to reduce restrictions on granting exceptions to the employee preference policy
Use of Leave as a Reward
- Amendment to K.A.R. 1-2-74 removing the restriction that administrative leave cannot be used as a reward
Current Memoranda of Agreements (MOA’s)
- The State plans to re-open several MOA’s with a number of labor organizations in order to establish more consistent policies across the State workforce