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Award Amounts for Employee Suggestions

​​Award amounts range from $50 up to $50,000 per adopted suggestion. Departments may authorize awards up to $5,000. Awards over $5,000 require approval of the State's Merit Award Board, California Department of Human Resources, and the Legislature.

Cash Awards

Whenever possible, cash awards are based on the net savings or earnings realized by the state in the first year following the date the suggestion is placed in effect. The award is based on twenty percent of the net savings or revenues, although if the first year is not representative of net savings or revenue, a different period of time may be substituted.

Note: Suggestions requiring substantial refinement or modification for implementation will be calculated at five percent of the net savings or increased earnings received during the first year following adoption of the suggestion. Significant implementation costs will also be deducted from the benefits received during the first year.

Where annual net savings or increased revenue are calculated as at least $500, but not more than $1,000, the recommended cash award is $100.


One-Time Awards

When an adopted suggestion results in a one-time savings or earnings, the award will be calculated at five percent of the net savings or revenues.

Improved Procedures Awards

Where the annual net savings or increased revenue cannot be determined or are calculated to be less than $500, a cash award may be recommended according to the Award Amounts for Improved Procedures scale.

Award amounts for improved procedures

Narrow Application, Frequency and Value of Improvement  

Narrow Application, Frequency and Value of Improvement
​Narrow Application​Minor Value of Improvement​Moderate Value of Improvement​Marked Value of Improvement
​Low frequency​$50​$70$95
​High frequency​$65​$85​$110


Broad Application, Frequency and Value of Improvement

Broad Application, Frequency and Value of Improvement
Broad Application
Minor Value of improvement
Moderate Value of improvement
Marked Value of improvement
Low frequency $75$95$125
High frequency?$85$105​$150


Add $25 for suggestions which improve service to the public.



Value of improvement

  • Minor - Slightly improves methods, form, facilities, equipment, and so on.

  • Moderate - Provides an average improvement.

  • Marked - An exceptional change.


  • Narrow - Limited to the program, function, or policy and procedures of units in a division, branch, region, or district.

  • Broad - Wide change, affecting one or more divisions, branches, regions, or districts.


  • Low - Occurs seldom or occasionally.

  • High - Frequent, greater than usual or normal amount.


Improved Safety Awards

Improved safety suggestions propose improvements in practices or facilities to eliminate or reduce injury to state employees or to the public.


Examples include suggestions relating to equipment modification, maintenance that isn't routinely expected, and items not specified in building codes. The evaluator or Merit Award Administrator must refer to the Award Amounts for Improved Safety scale to calculate the award amount for an implemented suggestion.


Improved Safety Scale

The evaluator or Merit Award Administrator uses the table below to assign a number of points to the safety suggestion. The greater the number of points, the higher the award, with a maximum of $1,000.


Points for safety improvements

Points for safety improvements
Point value
Point value
Point value
Point value
Point value
Point value
Point value
Point value
Point value

Number of people exposed to the hazard at any one time

1 to 2

3 to 4

5 to 6

7 to 10

11 to 15

16 to 20

21 to 25

26 to 30

31 or more

Frequency with which people are exposed to the hazard

Less than 1 per month 

1 per month 

1 per 2 weeks 

1 per week 

1 per 2 days 

1 per day 

1 per 2 hours 

1 per hour 

More than 1 per hour 

Extent of the potential injury or illness most likely to occur 



Minor injury 



Serious injury 




Rate of death or serious injury 



Less than 1 per year 



1 per year 



2 or more per year 

Severity of hazard 










Effectiveness of improvement 



Slightly reduces hazard 



Appreciably reduces hazard 



Eliminates hazard 

Cost of adoption 





Small or none 


Value of award by points

  • 13 points or less: $50

  • 14 points or more: $50 plus $25 per point over 13, to a maximum of $1,000

  Updated: 5/27/2016
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