Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

State Employees Should Have Input on Personnel Policies

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

State Employees Should Have Input on Personnel Policies

Article excerpt

Members of the Legislature and representatives of state employees are concerned about potential changes to personnel policy at the Kansas Department of Administration. These changes include new rules governing the use of sick leave, adjustments to the employee layoff system and revised performance assessments.

The Department of Administration would like to limit the amount of unused sick leave that a retiring employee can donate to a colleague to 80 hours. It also wants to make layoff scores less contingent on seniority while giving workers with specialized skills stronger protections against getting laid off. As of now, the only performance evaluation state employees can't appeal is "exceptional" because the ratings don't go any higher. However, the department's reworked policies would prohibit employees from challenging "meets expectations" or "exceeds expectations" classifications as well. This would mean the only appraisals they could appeal are "unsatisfactory" and "needs improvement."

Given the ramifications these policies could have for thousands of state employees, the Department of Administration should maintain communication with organizations and lawmakers who are looking out for workers' interests. However, according to many of these advocates, the department has failed to solicit this input.

Sen. Vicki Schmidt, R-Topeka, is the chairwoman of an advisory committee responsible for reviewing the proposed policies, and she's displeased with the way the process has been handled so far: "There are some very legitimate concerns that have been raised. It's disappointing that the Department of Administration did not seek input from any of the employees or employee organizations regarding these drastic changes."

While there will be a public forum about these issues on Sept. …

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