Rule 250 Frequently Asked Questions
On November 7, 2013, the State Personnel Board (SPB) issued a decision in Cynthia McReynolds v. California Public Utilities Commission (Case No. 13-0396N) (McReynolds) clarifying that California Code of Regulations (CCR), title 2, section 250 (Rule 250) requires that an employee transferring from one classification to another must meet the minimum qualifications (MQs) of the “to” classification.
On December 3, 2013, the Department of Human Resources (CalHR) sent an email to departments informing them of the McReynolds ruling and instructing departments to ensure that all employees transferring to another position without examination meet the MQs of the new position.
The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are provided to assist departments in implementing the McReynolds ruling. For assistance with specific questions, departmental human resources offices should send an email to CalHR, Personnel Management Division at PMD@calhr.ca.gov.
1. What is the effective date by which departments must comply with the McReynolds ruling interpretation of Rule 250?
The effective date for departments to comply with the McReynolds interpretation of Rule 250 (hereafter also called the McReynolds policy) is December 3, 2013, the date that CalHR sent an email to departments informing them of the SPB's ruling in McReynolds. The Board will apply the McReynolds policy to merit issue complaints that are newly filed or currently pending with the SPB Appeals Division. In addition, if an appointment made on or after December 3, 2013, is found by the Appeals Division or by another review or investigatory process, to be an illegal appointment based upon the failure of the employee to meet the MQs of the new classification to which he or she is appointed, the appointment may be voided.
However, for purposes of SPB compliance reviews of appointments that are effective between December 3, 2013, and July 1, 2015, a department may avoid a deficiency finding for appointments where the employee does not meet the classification MQs if the department has developed and taken steps to implement a written action plan that identifies classifications negatively impacted by the McReynolds policy and sets forth a strategy to minimize the future impact of the McReynolds policy on employees. For example, the action plan may include strategies to assist employees in meeting educational requirements that will enable them to satisfy the minimum qualifications, revisions to department-specific classifications, or training and development assignments for certain employees.
2. Do departments need to review all transfer appointments effective prior to December 3, 2013, and submit to CalHR good faith justifications for any hires that do not meet the MQs of the classification to which they were appointed?
No. The McReynolds policy will not be applied retroactively from December 3, 2013. The McReynolds policy applies prospectively from that date.
3. Can an employee after December 3, 2013, permissively reinstate to a classification they were previously appointed to by transfer if they did not complete probation or achieve permanent status?
No. For all permissive reinstatements after December 3, 2013, the employee must satisfy the MQs of the classification to which he or she seeks appointment unless the employee previously passed probation and achieved permanent status in that classification.
4. Will verifying MQs for candidates transferring to another classification within the same appointing power or to another appointing power be a required step in the hiring approval process?
Yes. Departments must verify that employees requesting to transfer from one classification to another meet the MQs of the “to” classification, whether within the same appointing power or to another appointing power.
5. Does the McReynolds policy impact employees who after December 3, 2013, seek to transfer to a position in the same classification under another appointing power?
Yes. An employee who wants to transfer to a position in the same classification at another appointing power must meet the MQs or have passed probation and achieved permanent status in the “to” classification.
6. Can an employee be reassigned to a vacancy in the same classification, under the same appointing power, if he or she currently does not meet the MQs?
Yes. An employee can be “reassigned” to a different position in the same classification within the same appointing power without meeting the MQs. Title 2, CCR section 250(g) provides, “Intra-departmental job assignment transfers within the same job classification, such as assignments to different work shifts or work locations, or time base changes pursuant to Section 277 do not constitute appointments for purposes of this regulation.” (Emphasis added.)
7. When determining transfer eligibility of a candidate who is working for another appointing power, will the “gaining” department be given a copy of the State Controller’s Office (SCO) system employment history report to verify if MQs have been met?
Departments should work together to ensure that the “gaining” department has whatever information it needs to verify the candidate meets MQs. Departments may request authorization to access a candidate’s Official Personnel File via a completed standard release form. Once the candidate has signed the release form, the “gaining” department should contact the candidate’s current departmental human resources office to review the file and obtain a printout of the candidate’s SCO state employment history.
8. Will departments have to verify MQs for candidates transferring from another appointing power if the candidate is already in a higher or comparable classification?
Yes. To be eligible to transfer to a different classification, whether within the same appointing power or another appointing power, the employee must meet the MQs of the classification to which he or she seeks to transfer (lateral or demotional).
9. Will departments have to ensure employees meet MQs when demoting an employee through adverse action?
Yes. When considering demotion as the penalty in an adverse action, departments may only demote the employee to a classification the employee meets the MQs of, or has passed probation and achieved permanent status in. If the employee does not meet the MQs of the next lowest classification in the classification series, the department should consider pursuing another form of penalty (e.g., suspension or pay reduction).
10. Will departments have to verify MQs of an employee voluntarily demoting, outside of the layoff process?
Yes. Appointing powers must ensure an employee seeking a voluntary demotion meets the MQs or has passed probation and achieved permanent status in the demotional classification.
11. Will candidates who do not possess the educational requirements of the Staff Services Analyst (SSA) MQs be allowed to take the SSA transfer examination?
Yes. Until the SSA classification specification is revised, departments may continue to administer and appoint candidates using the SSA transfer examination regardless of whether they meet the MQs of the SSA classification.
12. Will candidates who do not meet the SSA MQs, but successfully complete the SSA transfer examination be allowed to transfer into the SSA classification?
Yes. As discussed in FAQ No. 11, until the SSA classification specification is revised, departments may continue to administer and appoint candidates using the SSA transfer examination regardless of whether they meet the MQs of the SSA classification.
13. Will departmental demotional patterns still be viable during the layoff process?
Yes. As to layoff and demotion, Government Code section 19997.8 allows employees to elect a demotion in lieu of being laid off and expressly delineates two types of demotions an employee may choose: "(1) any class with substantially the same or lower maximum salary in which he or she had served under permanent or probation status, or (2) a class in the same line of work as the class of layoff, but of lesser responsibility.” This law does not require a department to ensure that an employee making such an election meets the MQs.
14. Will departments have to verify MQs of applicants on State Restriction of Appointments (SROA)/Surplus?
Yes. A department must verify whether an SROA/Surplus applicant meets the MQs of the classification for which he or she has applied. If an employee does not meet the MQs, he or she is not eligible to transfer.
15. Will departments have to apply the McReynolds policy to good faith offers made to transfer candidates prior to December 3, 2013?
No. The McReynolds policy does not apply to bona fide job offers that are documented and dated prior to December 3, 2013, and where the appointment was postponed due to background check, drug test, or personnel file review.
16. Will Government Code section 18525.3 and CCR sections 425, 430-433, 435, and 444 be repealed or revised?
No. Currently, Government Code section 18525.3 and CCR sections 425, 430-433, 435, and 444 are not being repealed or revised. Rule 250, as clarified by McReynolds, is applied in addition to all other transfer rules.
17. Does the McReynolds policy impact reasonable accommodation or return to work issues?
No. The McReynolds policy does not impact reasonable accommodation or return to work issues. Given that the McReynolds policy does not expressly address reasonable accommodation or return to work issues, it is recommended that appointing powers continue personnel practices consistent with the mandates of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) that are aimed at protecting the rights of employees with disabilities. If legal issues or questions arise, personnel staff are encouraged to consult with their department’s legal office to ensure ADA and FEHA compliance.
18. Do candidates have to meet the MQs of both classifications when an appropriate list is used?
Yes. Appointing powers are required to verify MQs for both the “list” classification and the “to” classification.
19. Does the McReynolds policy impact employees on Industrial Disability Leave (IDL)?
No. The McReynolds policy does not concern IDL issues. It focuses on transfer appointments. CCR section 443 specifies when injured employees may receive temporary assignments involving duties of a classification other than the one to which they are appointed.
20. How does the McReynolds policy impact employees who are being merged into state civil service from another jurisdiction (e.g., local fire agencies)?
In these situations, SPB will address the issue of MQs.
21. Does the McReynolds policy affect Career Executive Assignment (CEA) and/or Exempt mandatory reinstatement rights?
No. The McReynolds policy does not impact the mandatory reinstatement rights of CEAs and/or Exempts.
22. Does the McReynolds policy impact upward mobility programs?
No. The McReynolds policy does not impact upward mobility programs. Government Code sections 19400 through 19406 and CCR sections 547.82 through 547.87 require each department to establish an effective upward mobility program for its employees in low-paying occupations. This includes developing an upward mobility plan to assist employees in developing their qualifications to be competitive with non-state job applicants for entry technical, professional and administrative state jobs, and establishing annual upward mobility employment goals. Departments are also required to appoint an upward mobility coordinator to report on the department's program efforts.
23. Does the McReynolds policy impact Training and Development (T&D) assignments? Will T&D rules be broadened to accommodate the new interpretation of Rule 250?
No. Government Code section 19050.8 limits T&D assignments to a maximum of two years. An employee should not be placed in a T&D assignment if they will not meet the MQs of the classification by the end of the assignment. In addition, CCR section 438 requires an employee to have permanent status in their present classification or have probationary status and previously had permanent status and since such permanent status have had no break in service due to a permanent separation to be eligible for a T&D assignment.
24. Should departments be using bridging classifications?
Yes. Bridging classifications should be used whenever possible. The below classifications are the most commonly used service wide bridging classifications; however, employees must still meet the MQs for appointment to bridging classifications.
- Management Services Technician
- Personnel Technician I
- Personnel Technician II (Specialist)
- Personnel Technician II (Supervisor)
- Budget Technician I
- Budget Technician II
25. Will employees who transferred into their current positions on a limited-term (LT) tenure prior to December 3, 2013, be required to meet the MQs for the classification prior to permanent appointment?
Yes. If an employee transferred into a position on a LT tenure without meeting the MQs prior to December 3, 2013, the employee will be allowed to serve out the time of his or her LT appointment; however, the employee must meet the classification MQs prior to permanent appointment in the classification.
26. Does the McReynolds policy apply to an employee in an out-of class assignment?
No. An out-of-class assignment is not an appointment; therefore, the McReynolds policy does not apply.
27. Can an employee on a t&D assignment to the ssa classification who does not meet the mqs be appointed to the ssa classification? (added 7/31/2014)
Yes. An employee on a T&D assignment to the SSA classification who does not meet the MQs but has passed the SSA transfer examination may be appointed to the SSA classification. The T&D may be terminated and the employee may be appointed to the SSA classification, but the effective date of the appointment shall not be backdated prior to July 25, 2014. Departments are reminded that any backdate of appointment beyond 60 days requires Personnel Management Division approval.