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State Management Personnel Manual

1800 Appointments

1850(E) Retroactive / Backdated


.110 Responsibilities

.111 The Department of Civil Service is responsible for maintaining accurate personnel status records for State employees. Since these records serve as a basis for determining employees' eligibility to compete in promotion examinations, eligibility for transfer or reinstatement, and seniority dates for layoff purposes, it is critical that agencies process changes in personnel status in an accurate and timely fashion via NYSTEP transactions.

.120 Purpose

.121 In those instances where such changes are not reported in a timely manner, or where an error preventing the processing of a change has occurred, agencies may request that an employee's status and/or appointment date be corrected on a retroactive basis. Such situations are often referred to as "Backdated Appointments"; however for the purposes of state policy and operations, we shall now use the term "retroactive appointments" exclusively.


.210 Criteria


+.211 Retroactive appointments are intended to correct past clerical or ministerial errors in processing or recording valid appointments.

.212 The head of the appropriate Staffing Services Section has the authority to permit retroactive appointments where the requested retroactive date does not exceed six months and the action does not involve the payment of additional monies. Additionally, Staffing Services Section Heads have the authority to approve retroactively mandated trainee advances and formalized career ladder advances in those cases where there is no question as to the entitlement of the employee. (The six month limitation described above does not apply to mandated trainee or career ladder advances.)
Certain sensitive or complex cases may be referred to Director of the Division of Staffing Services for final determination.

.213 Appointments effective retroactive more than six months or involving payment of additional monies may be authorized only by the Director of the Staffing Services Division (noting the exceptions of mandated trainee advances and formalized career ladder advances as mentioned in .212 above; and also excepting retroactive appointments of five pay periods or less, as described below in .214E.)

.214 Retroactive appointments are appropriate when all of the following criteria are met:

  1. A clerical or ministerial error needs correction. It is only when there was an error in processing an appointment on the part of either the agency or the Civil Service Department that agencies should request a retroactive appointment.
  2. ALL constitutional and statutory conditions for permanent appointment must have been met at the time the "error" prevented the appointment. The agency making the request must show that there was an item available to which a permanent or contingent permanent appointment could have been made on the effective date and that the individual was eligible for permanent appointment on the requested effective date. The agency must demonstrate that there was no budget freeze, reemployment list or other factor that would have prevented the appointment on the date of the retroactive appointment.
  3. The intent of the appointing authority on the proposed effective date to permanently appoint the employee in question must be apparent and documented by a denied NYSTEP transaction, an appointment letter, or some other dated document acceptable to the Department of Civil Service.
  4. The agency must describe in writing the error that prevented permanent appointment and explain the circumstances which resulted in the error and include any available documentation to substantiate those circumstances.
  5. + In cases where the appointment date is less than five payroll periods retroactive, the State Comptroller's Office does not require agencies to obtain advance approval or provide documentation for payment of any additional money. Retroactive appointments of five payroll periods or less do not require exceptional approval and may be submitted directly to NYSTEP. Except in cases of mandatory trainee advances or formalized career ladder advancements (where there is no question concerning the employee's entitlement) all requests for retroactive appointments which involve the payment of additional money beyond the five payroll periods must first be submitted in writing by the requesting agency to the Director of Staffing Services for review in accordance with the criteria set forth in A - D above. Approval by the Director of Staffing Services will be accepted by the Office of the State Comptroller as sufficient authorization in these cases.

Review and Approval Requirements for
Various Retroactive Appointment Transactions

type of backdate
5pp or less
5pp - 6 months
over 6 months
No $$ involved
DCS: NYSTEP review
OSC: NYSTEP approval
DCS: Staffing Section Head approval
OSC: Civil Service Approval
DCS: Staffing Director approval
OSC: Civil Service Approval
$$ involved
DCS: Staffing Director approval
OSC: Civil Service Approval
DCS: Staffing Director approval
OSC: Civil Service Approval
Mandated trainee/career ladder advance
DCS: Staffing Section Head approval
OSC: Civil Service Approval
DCS: Staffing Section Head approval
OSC: Civil Service Approval


310. The following illustrate various situations in which retroactive appointments would NOT be appropriate, and, if based on case law, the decision on which the determination was based:

  1. To avoid a hiring freeze an agency requests the retroactive appointment/leave of absence of an individual to a date BEFORE he/she passed the physical/medical test for the position.
    In Montero v. Lum, the court determined that such an appointment is in violation of the constitutional mandate of appointment only upon proof of merit and fitness.
  2. An agency appoints an individual temporary pending passing a required phys/med test. Before the test is conducted, the eligible list expires. The agency requests a retroactive appointment for the person, citing good faith in making the appointment, and also noting the Department of civil service's inability to provide a timely test.
    See Montero v. Lum; also, in Hurley v. Bd. of Ed. the court stated that no constitutionally permissible appointment may be made after the expiration of the relevant list.
  3. An agency seeks the retroactive appointment of an employee, noting that on the requested effective date the employee was reachable for appointment, and "it is the agency's policy to promote employees as they become reachable. Due to a clerical error we never effected the appointment." The agency does not provide evidence that the appointment of the employee in question was ever ordered or intended.
    The appointing authority must demonstrate that it had actually exercised its discretion in appointment by selecting a candidate for appointment, and making that appointment.
  4. An agency seeks a retroactive permanent appointment of an employee who had indicated entitlement for veterans' credits. Processing the S-203 takes a number of weeks. The agency wishes [to] transact the permanent appointment back to the date of "original" appointment.
    In Marlow v. Tully the court determined that the administrative procedure of processing the S-203 to confirm the claim of veterans' credits must be completed before the permanent appointment may be made.


.410 Requests/Determination


.411 + If an approved request will result in the retroactive payment of additional monies beyond five payroll periods (retroactive traineeship and formalized career ladder advances excepted) the agency must submit a written request to the Director of Staffing Services indicating how the request meets the above criteria.

.412 + The agency must request approval of all retroactive appointments beyond five payroll periods in writing from the Civil Service Department, Division of Staffing Services. The request must show that the above criteria have been met and the item number of the position was available. Where approval of the Director of Staffing Services is required, the request must be submitted to the Director of the Staffing Services Division.

.413 When a final determination has been made concerning a request for retroactive appointment, formal notification will be made by the appropriate Staffing Services Section to the requesting agency.

.414 If approval has been granted, a NYSTEP transaction must be processed to effect the retroactive appointment.

.415 + If the request is denied and the appointing authority wishes to challenge the Director of Staffing Services' decision, an appeal of the decision may be submitted to the Civil Service Commission.


TM-51; +Revised; February, 2001

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