CSU Policy: State Classified Compensation

Policy Title: State Classified Compensation Category: Human Resources
Owner: Vice President for University Operations Policy ID#: 3-6004-028
Human Resources
Web: https://hr.colostate.edu/
Email: hr_service_center@mail.colostate.edu
Phone: (970) 491-6947
Original Effective Date: 7/1/2014
Last Revision: 3/2/2020
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This policy provides guidance for establishing compensation rates for state classified positions for new hires and when existing employees transfer, are promoted to existing positions or are eligible for in-range salary adjustments.


This policy applies to all state classified positions at CSU.

Colorado State University strives to maintain compensation strategies that allow us to attract, retain and develop high-performing employees while recognizing our fiscal responsibilities as a public institution. All salaries should be established at rates that recognize the individual's relevant education, skills and experience while considering the salaries of current employees, the compensation rates established by the State, and other pertinent factors. A salary decision that creates internal inequity or compression should be made carefully and should include a strategy for remedying the inequity with other employees. Compression results where longer-term or more experienced employees are paid lower in the range for the class than new hires or less experienced employees over a period of time resulting in documented retention difficulties.

The midpoint of the pay range established by the State represents the market value of the position and may be an appropriate hiring salary for experienced and fully qualified employees whose performance and experience meet or exceed the major requirements of the position. There may be occasions when unique position requirements or a candidate's qualifications and relevant work experience warrant a starting salary that is greater than the midpoint of the pay range. All requests outside of the established parameters of the range minimum to the midpoint must be submitted to Human Resources for review and approval before an employment offer is made. Any request for a salary above the midpoint of the pay range (whether at time of hire or thereafter) will be considered in comparison to incumbents in the same classification throughout the university for pay equity purposes.
1.      New Hires
Generally, the hire rate for all state classified employees is set between the minimum and the midpoint of the pay range (refer to the CSU Compensation Plan). In instances of recruiting difficulty or other unusual conditions, Human Resources may authorize the appointment of a person to a salary in the pay range higher than the midpoint. When an individual salary above the midpoint is approved, it shall apply only to the person for whom it is established.
2.      Current Classified Employees – New Assignments
a.       Promotions
Upon promotion from an eligible list a employee and the hiring authority may negotiate a new salary between the minimum and the midpoint of the new pay range, or up to 10% above their current salary, if greater.
b.      Transfers
Salaries of transferring employees selected through a competitive process may be set anywhere between the minimum and the midpoint of the pay range. If the transferring employee’s current pay rate is above the midpoint of the salary range, the hiring authority may allow the employee to transfer at their current rate of pay. If the employee is transferring from another state agency, however, pay cannot exceed the maximum of the pay range.
c.       Demotions
Salaries for voluntary (competitive) demotions can be anywhere from the minimum of the pay range up to the midpoint. If an employee’s current pay rate is above the midpoint of the salary range, the hiring authority may allow the employee to demote at their current rate of pay, subject to the pay grade maximum of the range. For disciplinary demotions, pay will be determined by Human Resources.
d.      Position Audit
When an individual position audit (PDQ review) results in a promotion, the incumbent employee is eligible for up to a 10% salary increase, or to the new pay range minimum, if greater. Demotions resulting from individual position audits will not affect existing base pay, unless the current salary is above the pay grade maximum of the new class. In those instances, base pay may be saved above pay range maximum for up to three years as per the provisions of the State Personnel Rules and Administrative Procedures.
3.      Reinstatements
Salaries for reinstatement of former employees can be set anywhere from the minimum of the range for the class in which the employee is to be reinstated up to the midpoint. If an employee’s former rate of pay in the same classification was higher than the current midpoint, the hiring authority can allow the employee to reinstate at their previous rate of pay, subject to verification of the former pay rate by Human Resources.
4.      In-Range Salary Movements

In-range salary movements may be used to increase base salaries of employees within their current classes and positions for the reasons listed in subsections a-e below. To be eligible under any of these subsections, an employee must have at least one year of continuous classified service, be performing satisfactorily as evidenced by the most recent final overall performance rating and must not have received an in-range salary increase within the previous 12 months. In most instances, the increase may be up to 10 percent, subject to the pay grade maximum; however, if significant salary compression/inequity exists, a greater increase may be warranted.

This type of salary adjustment is not to be used as a method of providing a merit- based salary increase, or to otherwise recognize an individual employee’s performance, development or abilities. Merit-based increases can only be accomplished as authorized by the State of Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration.

Salary movements of this type are discretionary as requested by the Department Head, and are subject to available funding and review and approval by Human Resources.
a.       Job Changes
Employees may be granted in-range adjustments to compensate for changes in duties and responsibilities as documented by position descriptions (which shall be reviewed and retained by Human Resources) where significant changes have occurred in duties and responsibilities that are not temporary in nature, and that:

(1)  are at a higher level within the class, but are not substantial enough to justify a higher salary grade through reclassification, or

(2)   are at the same level as currently assigned, but the changes substantially increase the scope of duties.
Examples of the types of changes that may warrant this type of in-range salary movement include:
·         Added responsibilities that are significantly different than current duties;
·         New supervisory responsibilities not previously assigned;
·         New duties that require significant new training, coursework or certification such as regulatory compliance operations or inspections, operation of complex machinery or systems or handling of dangerous materials.
This includes movement (promotions) within classifications assigned to broadband pay ranges. For changes to positions that may result in a reclassification to a higher salary grade, refer to Position Audit, above.
Examples of changes that would not qualify for in-range salary movement include:
·         Increased volume of current duties;
·         Supervising additional staff with similar responsibilities;
·         Learning new methods/technology to perform currently assigned tasks.
b.      Retention/Counter Offer
A counteroffer of an increase in compensation may be made for retention purposes when an employee with critical, strategic skills receives a higher salary offer from another (non-CSU) employer. Written confirmation of the other employer’s offer is required.
c.       Equity Adjustment
Salary range compression occurs when longer-term employees are paid lower in the range than new hires over a period of time resulting in retention difficulties. In these circumstances, equity adjustments may be granted to increase one or more employees’ base salary in recognition of contributions equal to or greater than that of the newly hired employees.
d.      New Hire/Promotion Conditional Increase
If an employee is hired or promoted at a salary within the first quartile of the pay range, the hiring authority may authorize an additional salary increase upon completion of established training requirements, e.g., achieving certification, passing required coursework, etc. This one-time increase to base pay of up to 10% may be granted if satisfactory completion of established training objectives is achieved within 12 months of hire or promotion. Training objectives and rate of increase must be established and approved prior to the effective date of hire or promotion. Both Department Head and Human Resources approval is required.
    e.      Market Adjustments
When there is strong evidence to substantiate that external market factors are directly impacting recruitment and retention in critical roles (e.g., high turnover rates, exit interview information, failed recruitments, etc.), the President or the head of a division or college may authorize salary increases for all incumbents in identified classifications. Such increases may be a specified percentage or dollar increase for all individuals or may be in the amount necessary to meet an established salary threshold. Market adjustments are not typically used to provide increases for individual employees.
5.      Supplemental Pay

The use of supplemental pay requires authorization from Human Resources prior to the work being performed. Supplemental pay is a non-base building, temporary form of compensation earned in addition to base pay that may be used when an employee (i) assumes the full set of duties of a higher-level position that is vacant or when the incumbent is on extended leave for a period of one to nine months (i.e., acting/interim appointment), or (ii) when an employee is assigned to a long-term project that is not an expected or customary part of the employee’s regular assignment and is critical to the mission and operations of the University.

Supplemental pay may not be used to compensate an employee for perceived higher level duties pending a job classification review by Human

Resources. Employees who are eligible for overtime and who are performing additional temporary duties that are similar to their regular assignment are entitled to overtime payment for any hours in excess of 40 in a given work week and cannot be paid supplemental pay in lieu of overtime. See the Supplemental Pay policy and procedures in the Human Resources Manual, Sec. 3-9.
6.      System Maintenance Studies
Classification changes resulting from the implementation of system maintenance studies will not affect the pay of employees in those classes unless the minimum of the new class is above the employee’s current salary, in which case, the pay will be adjusted to the new minimum. In cases where the employee’s current base pay exceeds the pay range maximum of the new class, base pay will be saved above pay range maximum for up to three years as per the provisions of the State Personnel Rules and Administrative Procedures.


Positions and compensation are subject to audit by the University. Provisions of this policy are not subject to the State Classified grievance process.



CSU procedures, guidelines and forms will be developed and maintained by HR.


Approved on May 16, 2014 by: Amy L. Parsons, Vice President for University Operations

Approved by Lynn Johnson, Vice President for University Operations on March 2, 2020



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