Position classification is the first step in the employment process. Classification is one of the most misunderstood human resource concepts in higher education. Confusion exists because higher education administrators frequently come from academic ranks where titles/ranks relate not to what employees do, but to how well they perform. For example, academic promotions are more directly related to performance than to increased duties. This is somewhat foreign to the concept of position and job classification as applied in traditional work environments where promotion generally is defined as a permanent and significant increase in duties and responsibilities.
Please contact Human Resource Management at 878-4822 for guidance and assistance with position classification.
A job description must be written for, or revised for, every new position. The job description outlines the tasks, duties, and responsibilities to be assigned to the job, highlights those duties and responsibilities that are essential, and identifies the placement of the position in the organization.
Job descriptions must be compared to title specifications available from the New York State Department of Civil Service, the State University of New York, and/or the U.S. Department of Labor’s Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT). Title specifications define classes of positions and minimum qualifications. They also describe the various types and levels of duties and responsibilities that may be assigned to them. They are much broader in scope than job descriptions because they cover “what work might appropriately be assigned” to a position, not just what the employer “intends to assign” to a specific position.
Classification or reclassification of classified service positions require the approval of the Department of Civil Service. A list of classified budget titles is available from the New York State Department of Civil Service.
Classification or reclassification of management/confidential positions require the approval of SUNY System Administration. A list of management/confidential budget titles is available from SUNY Administration.
Faculty, Professional, and Graduate Assistant
Classification of faculty, professional, and graduate assistant positions may be approved at the campus level, except in cases where Buffalo State seeks to establish a brand new title to the University title file, it must be approved by SUNY System Administration. A list of faculty and professional budget titles is available from SUNY Administration.
Americans with Disabilities Act
When classifying positions and preparing postings, it is important to outline the essential duties and responsibilities that an employee in the position must be able to perform. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to provide employment opportunities for the disabled. Although new enabling technologies are constantly increasing the number and types of functions that the disabled can perform, it is still imperative that job descriptions contain some prioritization of tasks, duties, and responsibilities so that disabled employees can adequately evaluate their ability to perform our jobs.
Collective Negotiations and Unit Work Determinations
In New York State, the Taylor Law was passed to provide State employees the right to collectively negotiate their terms and conditions of employment. The Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) was established to oversee collective bargaining for public employees in New York State and to resolve issues and complaints relative to this right. The threshold determinations before collective bargaining could commence in New York State had to do with the definition of negotiating units. PERB was guided by language in the Taylor Law that stated: “the definition of the unit shall correspond to a community of interest among the employees to be included in the unit”. “Community of interest” included such things as the nature of the work assigned to different types/groups of State workers, along with consideration of the terms and conditions of employment already enjoyed by the different groups of employees (i.e., attendance requirements, exempt or non-exempt, classified or unclassified service, qualifications required, etc.) at the time these determinations were made. Based upon its findings, PERB determined both the definition of the negotiating units and the definition of the work that belonged to them based upon the community of interest among the employees to be included in the unit. Negotiating units have a legal right to represent the employees who perform the duties and responsibilities (unit work) that belongs to them in accordance with PERB’s determination. If unit work belonging to one negotiating unit is assigned to another, it can lead to improper practice charges that would have to be resolved through hearings with PERB.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Buffalo State is required to report on its staffing to many outside agencies and participate in many surveys, both in the normal course of business and when required to respond to a specific complaint, grievance, or lawsuit (i.e., Affirmative Action reports, responses to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, College and University Personnel Association for Human Resources [CUPA–HR], and internal SUNY reports). The title to which employees are officially appointed (budget title) not only determines the employee’s terms and conditions of employment, but each title also is associated with standard title attributes that place the position into reporting categories (i.e., attributes for EEOC, U.S. census codes, and for internal reporting of instructional and non–instructional positions and faculty–student ratios). It is therefore essential that all positions are properly classified to ensure the accurate reporting of our staffing–especially when we are attempting to compete with other Colleges for “excellent ratings” or to ensure that we receive our correct share of special funds.
Fair Labor Standards Act
The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that positions/employees be placed in either exempt or non-exempt categories based upon the nature of the work that is to be performed.
At minimum, all of these issues must be considered when new positions are established or existing positions are reclassified at Buffalo State.
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