Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor
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Report Summary
Special Review: Creating or Modifying Employment

Rights For Unclassified Employees

 

Public Release Date: July 3, 1996 No. 96-26

The Office of the Legislative Auditor has conducted a special review of a personnel practice that enhanced or created classified position rights for several top management employees that either currently hold or once held unclassified positions.

Our objectives in conducting this study, were to address the following questions:

How widespread has the practice been and what types of employees have benefited from it? Did the transactions comply with state law and related personnel rules and regulations? What effect did these transactions have on the state employees and their agencies? Did any employees exercise their rights and realize benefits to which they were not entitled? What were the consequences for the employing agencies?

Conclusions

We found 15 cases of state agencies executing transactions that changed the classified position rights of state employees after they had taken a leave of absence to accept an unclassified position. In 11 cases, the transaction was executed to preserve the employees' classified position rights. Although the state does not have an established procedure to guide state agencies in these circumstances, we concluded that their actions were reasonable to preserve a right that the employees had previously earned. In four other cases, however, state agencies either created or enhanced the classified position rights for an employee. We question whether these four transactions were consistent with the intent of the statutory authority that permits these personnel transactions. The four employees were, however, selected for these classified positions based on merit. The employees had extensive state experience and possessed qualifications that suited them for the classified positions.

We recommend that the Department of Employee Relations develop an administrative procedure for preserving the classified position rights of unclassified employees. These transactions are subject to certain risks and errors that should be addressed by the procedure. Also, many of the transactions were executed under the direction of the same personnel director--indicating that the availability of these transactions is not readily recognized throughout state government. Furthermore, the department should consider the propriety of enhancing or creating classified position rights for unclassified employees, put in place procedures that ensure any potential conflicts of interest are resolved, and reevaluate the method of computing service toward satisfying probationary periods.

 

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