Civil Service Overview
The following overview is subject to change as laws rules and policies are revised on the local, state and national level. We will attempt to keep this information up-to-date but cannot guarantee it. Please check by telephone or by mail for the most recent updates.
New York State Civil Service Law requires that each municipal Personnel Officer prescribe, amend, and enforce suitable rules for carrying out the provisions of the Civil Service Law. After approval by the State Civil Service Commission, such local rules have the force and effect of law. These Rules for Classified Service of Cattaraugus County can be reviewed in the Personnel Department.
A. Classified Service
The majority of county employees serve in positions in the classified service as defined by New York State Civil Service Law. This means that these positions are subject to the jurisdiction of the County Personnel Department which has established certain rules, regulations, and requirements for these positions in accordance with New York State Civil Service Law and regulations.
The classified service is divided into four classes as follows:
- Exempt Class - The exempt class includes certain positions for which competitive or non-competitive examinations are deemed not to be practicable. Positions in this class are usually at the policy making level and include some deputies and secretaries to department heads.
- Competitive Class - The competitive class includes all positions for which it is practicable to determine merit and fitness of employees by competitive examination. The examination method may take the for of a written, oral, or proficiency test, or a rating of training and experience, based upon the duties and qualifications as determined by the County Personnel Department and as set forth in class specifications adopted for each position. An appointment to a vacancy in this class must be made from among the top three candidates on an appropriate eligible list willing to accept the position.
- Non-Competitive Class - The non-competitive class includes those positions for which merit and fitness can be determined but for which competitive examination is deemed not practicable. Merit and fitness are determined by examining the applicant's qualifications to see that they meet the standards set forth in the class specifications adopted for each position. Such standards may be measured by a non-competitive examination.
- Labor Class - The labor class includes all unskilled positions in the various county departments, such as road repair, parks, upkeep, etc. for which competitive examination are not practicable.
NOTE: All positions are deemed to be in the Competitive Class unless approved otherwise by the New York State Civil Service Commission.
There are several types of appointments to the classified service:
- Permanent Appointment - Permanent appointments in the competitive class are made from eligible lists established as a result of competitive examinations. Employees appointed from such eligible lists and who successfully complete a probationary period (as described below) are considered permanent. A permanent appointment cannot be terminated, interrupted or discontinued except in accordance with the laws, rules and regulations governing the classified service. A permanent appointment can also be made to the non-competitive, exempt, and labor classes subject to successful completion of the probationary period.
- Contingent Permanent Appointment - A contingent permanent appointment is an appointment made from an eligible list to a position which is permanently encumbered by another employee. Although the contingent permanent appointee serves a probationary period in the same manner as a permanent employee, full permanency cannot be gained until the position becomes unencumbered, at which time the contingent permanent employee is granted permanent competitive class status retroactive to the date of their original appointment in that position.
- Provisional Appointment - In the event that a vacancy occurs in the competitive class for which no eligible list exists, the position may be filled by a qualified applicant on a provisional basis until such time as an appropriate eligible list can be established.
As soon as practicable after a provisional appointment is made, the County Personnel Department will hold a competitive examination for the position. The provisional employee will be required to compete with all other qualified applicants. A permanent appointment will then be made, in accordance with Civil Service Law, from the resulting eligible list.
- Temporary Appointment- Temporary appointments are made when there is a need for emergency work, or when a position is scheduled to terminate within a short period of time, or to fill in for a permanent employee who is on a leave of absence. If the position is in the competitive class, it is subject to the following provisions:
- A temporary appointment may be made for up to three months where the need for such service is important and urgent without regard to any existing eligible lists.
- A temporary appointment may be made for more than three months and up to six months by the selection of anyone on an appropriate eligible list regardless of ranking.
- A temporary appointment for more than six months must be made from an appropriate eligible list from among the top three candidates willing to accept the appointment.
Temporary appointments should not exceed six months, except that the County Personnel Department may approve the extension of such appointments not to exceed an additional six months. In exceptional situations involving certain federally funded programs, appointments may be made for a longer period in accordance with Section 64.3 of the New York State Civil Service Law.
In absence of an appropriate eligible list, any qualified applicant may be given a temporary appointment.
- Seasonal Appointments - Seasonal positions, (such as lifeguard, recreation aide, etc.) reoccur from year to year in a readily predictable pattern. Such positions are generally classified in the non-competitive class. Appointments may be made from among applicants who meet the standards of fitness prescribed by the County Personnel Department which may be measured by a qualifying examination.
C. Probationary Term
Any permanent appointment in the competitive, non-competitive, exempt or labor class is initially made for a probationary period during which the employee must prove his or her ability and competence to do the work. This probationary period is generally for a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 52 weeks - with certain exceptions such as an interdepartmental transfer which is for a probationary term of 26 weeks or a trainee appointment which has a maximum of 52 weeks. There are other exceptions. If you would like clarification on the duration of your probationary term, contact the Personnel Department.
During this trial period, the employee's supervisor should observe and evaluate the employee's work performance and make suggestions for improvement or for future work development.
Permanent employees who are either promoted or have made an interdepartmental transfer and are required to serve probationary term have the right to return to his/her previous position at any time during the probationary term. If the employee's performance during the probationary period is not satisfactory, he/she shall be restored to the previous permanent position.
The probationary appointment automatically matures into permanent appointment at the end of the maximum probationary period unless the department head does one of the following:
- The probationer is notified, in writing, that his/her appointment is terminated after the end of the minimum probationary period, but before the end of the maximum probationary period. (There is a formal procedure in place for this action.)
- The probationer is notified, in writing, before the end of the maximum period that the probationary period is satisfactorily completed. In this case, the probation ends before completion of the maximum period. (There is a formal procedure in place for this action.) A copy of such notifications are sent to the Personnel Department.
Vacancies in positions in the competitive class are filled so far as practicable by promotion from among per-sons holding positions in a lower grade in the department in which the vacancy exists. Interdepartmental promotions maybe allowed where deemed appropriate by the Department of Personnel. Promotions are based on merit and fitness as determined by examination with additional credits given for continuous permanent competitive class service in the county.
A permanent employee may be transferred from his or her position in one department to a similar position in the same or lower grade in another department for reasons which are satisfactory to the administration. However, no employee maybe transferred without his or her written consent and that of the respective appointing authorities having jurisdictions over the position from which and to which transfer is sought, and the approval of the Personnel Officer. Transfers will be allowed only when it is not practicable to fill by promotion the position to which transfer is sought, when there is no preferred list for the position, and when it is determined that the examination for the position currently held involved tests and qualifications the same as or greater than those to which appointment is sought.
F. Classification and Job Specifications
The proper title and qualifications for each position in county service are determined by the Department of Personnel based upon the duties and responsibilities of the position.
For each job title within the classified service, a job specification is prepared. This is a brief description of some of the duties, responsibilities, skills, knowledge's, and abilities required on the job. Every department head is given a copy of the job specification prepared for each of the job titles found in that department. The purpose of the specification is to explain and clarify the job rather than to limit or confine the employee in the work that he or she may encounter. Job specifications are available to employees upon request. From time to time employees may be asked to fill out a Job Classification Questionnaire. This is the employee's own statement of the type of work performed and the degree of supervision or instruction received. Review of these questionnaires insures that the job titles and specifications are current and appropriate.
An employee who feels that his or her job has changed substantially since its original classification may request a re-evaluation by filling out a Job Classification Questionnaire and first submitting it to the immediate supervisor and to the department head; who then submits it to the Department of personnel.
G. Civil Service Examinations and Announcements
Insofar as possible, civil service examinations are practical in nature and measure the candidates' relative abilities and fitness to perform the duties of the jobs they seek. The test material in the examinations pertains to the knowledge's, skills and abilities required on the job as listed on the job specification and the examination announcement.
Open Competitive Examinations
Some examinations are "open competitive" which means that any person meeting all the minimum requirements may apply to take the examination.
Other examinations are "promotional" which means that only those employees already in permanent competitive positions in civil service in certain agencies, who meet the minimum requirements, may apply to take the examination. Promotion Examinations may be countywide, or they may be limited to certain department, divisions or offices. On Promotion Examinations, seniority credits are added to candidate's passing test scores according to the employee's years of permanent competitive service status . Promotion by non-competitive examination is possible whenever there are no more than three persons eligible to compete in a promotion examination for a vacant competitive class position. The appointing authority may nominate one of these eligible persons to take the Promotion Examination without competition, subject to the approval of the Personnel Department.
Continuous Recruitment Examinations
We continuously accept applications for many clerical, custodial, telephone operator and water/wastewater positions. Examinations are generally held twice a year. Names of eligibles are interfiled according to grade and remain on eligible lists for up to two years. Additionally applications for certain health care, mental health, and attorney positions are received continuously. Rather than a written examination we rank applicants on the basis of their training and experience. Successful applicants are placed on an eligible list for up to four years.
Examination announcements for competitive class positions are issued by the Personnel Department prior to the examination date for the position. These announcements contain information regarding salary, location of positions, job duties, and the minimum requirements for eligibility. Copies of any examination announcement may be reviewed in the Personnel Department any time after its publication. Announcements are sent to all county departments, all civil divisions and school districts, and other interested public and private organizations prior to the last filing dates.
Examination Fees: Although this is subject to change, there is at present a $15.00 Fee charged for most examinations in which a candidate participates.
H. Eligible Lists
The eligible list for each competitive class title is the official roster of all persons who have passed The examination for that title. It is arranged in rank order with the name of the highest scoring candidate at the top. Job vacancies are filled from among the names on the eligible list according to the following procedures:
For each vacancy, the appointing authority must select one of the top three eligibles who indicates a willingness to accept the appointment. Eligible lists are established for a period of not less than one year nor more than four years in accordance with Rule XI (2) of the Civil Service Rules for the Classified Service.