Sources of the Law Governing Civil Service

Civil Service Law, Rules and Regulations

The Civil Service Law and the Rules and Regulations promulgated there under, implement the mandate of the State Constitution, Article V, section 6, which provides that:

"Appointments and promotions in the civil service of the State and all of the civil divisions thereof, including cities and villages, shall be made according to merit and fitness to be ascertained, as far as practicable, by examination which, as far as practicable, shall be competitive, ..."

Article V, section 6 also provides for additional credits in competitive examinations for certain disabled and non-disabled veterans. Since this preference for veterans is inconsistent with the constitutional requirement of competition, it was necessary that provision for such credits be included in the Constitution itself.

The majority of the provisions pertaining to civil service procedures and requirements in the State service are contained in the Civil Service Law, the Rules for the Classified Service, the Regulations of the State Civil Service Commission (Commission's Regulations) and the Regulations of the Department of Civil Service (President's Regulations). The Rules and Regulations implement the Law and provide procedures for carrying out the principles expressed in the Constitution and Law. The Rules and Regulations, of course, must be consistent with the Law.

The principal rules governing the recruitment of personnel and personnel changes, including examinations, appointments, promotions, transfers and reinstatements, are contained in the Rules for the Classified Service. The Rules for the Classified Service are subject to the approval of the Governor and take effect when filed with the Department of State. These Rules apply to all employment under the jurisdiction of the State Department of Civil Service.

The Attendance Rules for Employees in New York State Departments and Institutions, commonly referred to simply as the Attendance Rules, govern such matters as vacation, sick leave, holidays and other time allowances. They apply to officers and employees in the classified service in the Executive Branch of the State government.

In addition to the Civil Service Law, Rules and Regulations, there are many other laws containing provisions dealing with civil service matters. For example, there are provisions affecting the employment of people in the civil service in the Public Officers Law, Public Authorities Law, Military Law, Town Law and Village Law. Even the executive budget approved by the Legislature each year is, in a sense, a law dealing with civil service matters. State and federal human rights and employment laws and the Public Employees' Fair Employment Act (The Taylor Law) significantly influence the administration of the civil service system.

Furthermore, there is a fairly large body of court decisions and Opinions of the Attorney General and the State Comptroller dealing with civil service issues.

Civil Service Administration

    The Department and the Commission
CSL § 5.1
The authority and responsibility for administration of the Civil Service Law in New York State government is vested in the State Department of Civil Service. Although many in the public service make no distinction between the Department and the State Civil Service Commission, they do have separate identities and functions. The Commission consists of three members appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, for overlapping six year terms, with a term expiring every two years. No more than two of the members may be of the same political party. The President of the Commission is designated by the Governor from among the three members and serves as President at the pleasure of the Governor. The President of the Commission is the head of the Department.
CSL § 7 As head of the Department, the President of the Commission is responsible for carrying out all of the duties and functions of the Department. These include, for example, the administration of the examinations program, which encompasses the scheduling, preparation, conduct and rating of examinations; setting minimum qualifications; establishing the type and conduct of tests; and deciding whether to hold an open-competitive or promotion examination in any given instance. Other examples of the administrative functions of the Department are the establishment and certification of eligible lists, maintenance of rosters, certification of payrolls, provision of services to local jurisdictions, administration of the health insurance program and all matters of internal management of the Department, including the appointment and assignment of personnel in the Department. The President is also responsible for the enforcement of the Rules and Regulations.
CSL § 6 The functions of the Commission may be described generally as quasi-legislative, appellate and investigative. It might be characterized as the "watchdog" of the merit system. The quasi-legislative function involves the promulgation of rules and regulations, and the appellate function involves hearing and determining appeals. These include appeals in disciplinary cases for those employees not covered by contract, appeals from involuntary leaves of absence, appeals from examination ratings, and appeals of any action taken by the President, acting as the head of the Department of Civil Service.  Any appeal of the President's action must be filed in writing with the Commission within 30 days of the determination. The Commission may make such investigation relative to the determination appealed, as it may deem advisable, and may affirm, reverse or modify such determination. The Commission may hold a hearing on the appeal, but is not required to do so. No appeal is allowed if the determination of the President relates solely to matters of internal management of the Department of Civil Service or if the determination was approved in advance by the Commission.  Also, no appeal may be taken to the Commission from any action of the President dealing with the administration of the health insurance program.
CSL § 6.3 The Commission also has the authority to conduct investigations concerning any matter touching on the enforcement and effect of the Civil Service Law or Rules. In connection with such an investigation, the Commission or its designated representative may issue subpoenas, administer oaths and interrogate witnesses.
CSL § 145
The Commission has also been given the functions formerly exercised by the Merit Award Board for making merit awards for outstanding accomplishments or suggestions by State employees.
    Department and Commission Jurisdiction
CSL § 6.1 The State Department of Civil Service and the Civil Service Commission exercise direct jurisdiction over all employment in the classified service of the Executive Branch of State government, except positions (uniformed and non-uniformed) in the Division of State Police. Examinations and other civil service requirements applicable to the State Police are administered directly by the Superintendent of State Police. The Department and Commission also have jurisdiction over a number of, but not all, public authorities and public benefit corporations.

Jurisdictional Classification

CSL § 2.5 The "civil service" encompasses all offices and positions in the service of the State or any of its civil divisions, except offices and certain employees in the Division of Military and Naval Affairs.


Unclassified and Classified Service
The civil service is divided into the unclassified and classified service.  The unclassified service includes elective offices; offices filled by election or appointment of the legislature on joint ballot; legislative officers and employees; department heads; certain officers and employees appointed by the Governor; officers, members and employees of boards of elections; and, the largest group, teachers and supervisory personnel in the public schools, the State University and certain community colleges.
CSL § 40

All positions not in the unclassified service are in the classified service.  All positions in the classified service, when created are automatically in the competitive class until the Commission takes action to place them in the exempt, non-competitive or labor classes.  The division of positions into these classes is called jurisdictional classification, and is based principally on the extent to which examination is practicable.


Exempt Class
The exempt class is defined in the Civil Service Law to specifically include one secretary of each department, temporary state commission or other State officer authorized by law to appoint a secretary, deputies of principal executive officers authorized by law to act generally for and in place of their principals, and certain court clerks.  The secretary of each municipal board or commission authorized by law to appoint a secretary shall also be in the exempt class.  Additionally, any other subordinate positions for which competitive or non-competitive examination is found to be not practicable may be placed in the exempt class. No position is in the exempt class unless it is specifically listed as exempt in the Rules for the Classified Service. The Commission must amend its rules to add a position to the exempt class listing.  Such amendment is subject to approval of the Governor. The statute provides that for any title listed in the exempt class in the rules, only one position is authorized unless a different number is specifically prescribed in the rules. The statute also provides that when a vacancy occurs in the exempt class, the Commission shall study and evaluate the position and within four months determine whether it is properly classified in the exempt class. Pending such determination the position may not be filled except on a temporary basis.


Non-Competitive Class
The non-competitive class consists of those positions for which it is not practicable to conduct examinations on a competitive basis.  Appointments to non-competitive positions are to be made after a non-competitive examination, such as a review of training and experience, as prescribed by the Department.  For the most part, this class consists of skilled trades positions.  However, it does include some higher level administrative, scientific or technical positions, positions that are confidential in nature, or involve making or influencing policy.  Positions in the non-competitive class require an amendment to the rules.  The statute provides that a title listed in the non-competitive class shall include only one person unless a different or an unlimited number is specified in the rules.  Further, the Commission may, by appropriate amendment to the rules, designate among positions in the non-competitive class those that are confidential or policy influencing. Positions so designated carry a "phi" designation. Incumbents of positions that carry a "phi" designation do not obtain tenure under Section 75 of the Civil Service Law.
CSL § 55-b

Under Section 55-b, up to 1,200 positions can be designated specifically for filling by people with physical or mental disabilities who are otherwise qualified to satisfactorily perform the duties of the position. Positions so designated are classified in the non-competitive class by the Commission. Under Section 55-c, an additional 500 positions can be classified as non-competitive for the employment of disabled veterans who served in time of war. Disabled candidates seeking employment under 55-b or 55-c must present documentation of their disability to the Department's Employee Health Service for eligibility determinations.

The difference between the exempt and the non-competitive classes, insofar as appointment is concerned, is that for positions in the exempt class, the appointing officer is free to select whomever he/she pleases and the agency, rather than the Department of Civil Service, sets any educational, experience or other qualification requirements.  If the position is in the non-competitive class, the appointing officer still has the power of selection, but the appointee must meet such educational, experience and other qualification requirements as may be fixed by the Department of Civil Service.  Generally, no written or oral tests are required for non-competitive class appointments.



Labor Class
Labor class titles are listed in the Regulations of the Civil Service Commission. Positions in the labor class involve unskilled labor; however, qualifying tests may be required for appointment to labor class positions.


Competitive Class
The competitive class consists of all offices and employments in the classified service that are not in the exempt, non-competitive or labor class.  Positions in the competitive class are not listed in the rules or regulations.  No action is required to place a position in the competitive class.  Every position in the classified service is automatically in the competitive class unless and until it is specifically classified in another jurisdictional class.

The courts have held that when a position is reclassified from the exempt, non-competitive or labor class to the competitive class, an incumbent who has been serving in the position on a permanent basis is entitled to permanent appointment in the reclassified position with all the rights and privileges of competitive class status, without further examination.

Permanent incumbents of positions that have been reclassified from the competitive to the non-competitive jurisdictional class are immediately accorded the same protection afforded to tenured non-competitive employees.  Employees so affected are entitled to the disciplinary protections of Section 75, and to exercise the same vertical bumping and retreat rights they would have been entitled to, had their positions remained in the competitive class.


Continuation of Employment in Takeovers by the State
The Civil Service Law contains provisions to retain certain employees of private institutions or enterprises that are taken over by the State.  The provisions apply to those who have been employed for at least one year.  Under such provisions, the positions held by the private employees are initially placed in the non-competitive class pending their assignment to an appropriate jurisdictional class.  However, such an employee may be disqualified from further employment if he/she is not found to be a person of good character.  All positions held by such employees are required to be assigned to appropriate jurisdictional classes within one year after the acquisition of the private institution or enterprise.  The incumbents are entitled to all the rights, benefits and status of the jurisdictional class to which their respective positions are assigned.  This action is termed a "cover-in" and must be approved by the Civil Service Commission.

Classification and Compensation

CSL § 117
The Civil Service Law provides for a Classification and Compensation Division in the Department of Civil Service, and a Director of Classification and Compensation. The Director is responsible for ascertaining and recording the duties and responsibilities of positions in the classified service of the State, classifying such positions, and allocating salary grades for competitive, non-competitive and-in his/her discretion-labor class positions.  All positions, with the exception of part-time, exempt and some temporary and labor class positions, are assigned (allocated) to a salary grade as specifically set forth in the Civil Service law.  All positions in the same title, unless unallocated, are in the same salary grade.  With the exception of the professional service of SUNY, members of the Division of State Police, and positions in the Division of Military and Naval Affairs and a few smaller organizations, all positions in State government are under the jurisdiction of the Classification and Compensation Division.  Positions with similar duties having the same qualifications and requiring the same examination are generally classified under the same title.
CSL § 120 Most classification actions are initiated by applications to the Director of Classification and Compensation. An agency appointing officer may request the classification and salary allocation of a new position or the reclassification (change in title) or reallocation (change in salary grade) of an existing position or title. An employee may also apply for the reclassification or reallocation of his or her own position and/or title but may not, however, request the establishment of a new position. In the event that an employee or an appointing officer disagrees with a classification determination, an appeal of the determination may be brought to the Civil Service Commission. The appeal must be filed within 60 days of the receipt of the determination.
CSL § 121.1
Any determination to classify, allocate, reclassify or reallocate a position takes effect on the first day of the fiscal year after approval by the Director of the Budget and funds are appropriated. An employee affected by such a change has no legal entitlement to any back dated salary adjustment.


An employee whose position is reclassified does not automatically receive permanent status in the new title. The individual may have to qualify through the competitive examination process. Judgments are made on an individual case-by-case basis depending upon the changes in duties and responsibilities that supported the change in title and/or grade level.
CSL § 121.2 In those cases where a permanent employee's position is reclassified to a lower grade level, the affected employee's salary will not be reduced as a result of the action and, in a similar situation, the salary of a permanent incumbent of an unallocated position will not be reduced when that position is allocated to a salary grade.


Bargaining Units
Except for those employees considered Managerial/Confidential, there are seven bargaining units into which most employees are grouped. The Civil Service Law sets forth the salary schedules that are applicable to each specific unit. Newly hired employees receive the hiring rate of the salary schedule unless an increased hiring rate has been approved by the Director of Classification and Compensation and the Director of the Division of the Budget.  Increased hiring rates may be approved based on recruitment difficulties and/or the outstanding qualifications of a particular candidate.


Hiring to Job Rate
Movement from the hiring rate to the job rate (maximum) is determined by an evaluation of performance as prescribed in the applicable performance evaluation plan developed by the Governor's Office of Employee Relations. Employees promoted to a higher grade level receive the hiring rate of the new grade or an increase in their present salary of 1-1/2 percent plus 1-1/2 percent for each grade advanced, whichever results in a higher salary.



Geographic/Pay Differentials
In addition to the scheduled salary rates, an employee's total salary may be affected by location compensation, inconvenience pay, geographic area pay differentials and/or shift pay differentials.  Location pay, as negotiated with employee unions, is added to the base pay of all employees, including those designated as Managerial/ Confidential, located in New York City, and in the Counties of Monroe, Rockland, Westchester, Suffolk, Nassau, Dutchess, Orange and Putnam.  Inconvenience pay, as negotiated with employee unions, is added to the base pay of all employees regularly assigned to evening or night shifts.

Both geographic and shift pay differentials are administrative tools intended to facilitate recruitment and retention of employees in those areas where salaries and employment practices of other employers adversely affect the ability of the State to recruit and retain a competent work force.  Both require the approval of the Director of Classification and Compensation and the Director of the Division of the Budget, and are selectively applied.  A geographic pay differential is an amount of money added to the pay range of a salary grade for selected titles in a specified location of the State.  In a similar manner, shift pay differentials are approved for selected titles in a specified area for those employees working evening or night shifts on a regular basis.


CSL § 50.1 Civil Service Law requires that, as far as practicable, positions in the competitive class be filled through a competitive examination process that ascertains the relative merit and fitness of each candidate.

PR §

The State Department of Civil Service must issue an announcement for each competitive examination, setting forth the minimum qualifications, the subjects of the examination and other information deemed necessary, and advertise such examination.

Candidates for competitive examinations must submit applications and demonstrate that they meet the announced requirements.  The State Civil Service Department may refuse to examine or to certify an applicant who does not meet the minimum qualifications. There are several other grounds for disqualification, including falsification of an examination application.  Disqualified applicants must be provided a written explanation and afforded an opportunity to submit an opposing explanation.  Additionally, they may appeal the disqualification to the Civil Service Commission.


Positions in the competitive class above entry-level are generally filled by promotion from among individuals holding competitive class lower grade positions in direct line within the department in which the vacancy exists.  The Department of Civil Service may determine that it is impracticable or against the public interest to limit eligibility to individuals holding lower grade direct line positions.  Eligibility for promotion may be extended to individuals in collateral lines or to comparable positions in any other unit or units, and may include minimum training and experience requirements.


Open Competitive
The State Civil Service Department may, on its own initiative or upon the request of the appointing officer stating his/her reasons, determine to conduct an open-competitive examination instead of a promotion examination.
CSL § 51.2
If there is a promotion field, and an open-competitive and promotion examination are not being held simultaneously, a notice of intention to conduct an open-competitive examination must be posted for at least 15 days.  During this 15-day period, employees who believe that a promotion examination should be held may submit specific reasons why they believe a promotion exam to be practicable and in the public interest.


Non-Competitive Class Eligibility for Promotion
For certain designated titles, employees who hold or formerly held non-competitive or labor class positions have the same opportunities to take promotion examinations as employees in competitive class positions, as long as the promotion examination is being held in conjunction with an open-competitive examination.
CSL § 55.b
Additionally, individuals appointed to non-competitive class positions pursuant to Section 55-b or 55-c have the same opportunities to take promotion exams as employees in competitive class positions. No simultaneous open-competitive exam need be held. The same opportunity may be extended by the Civil Service Commission to Vietnam Era veterans.

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