Merit System Services
Definition
Merit System Services
241 Lathrop Way
Sacramento, CA 95815
mss@cpshr.us
916.263.3614

A Merit System is defined as the manner of hiring and promoting government employees that emphasizes their ability, education, experience, and job performance rather than their connections or other political factors -- one in which human resources activities are governed by uniform and impersonal policies and procedures. Federal legislation established the following six merit principles that apply to those state and local governments that are required to operate merit personnel systems as a condition of eligibility for Federal assistance or participation in an intergovernmental program.

  1. Recruiting, selecting, and advancing employees on the basis of their relative ability, knowledge, and skills, including open consideration of qualified applicants for initial appointment.
  2. Providing equitable and adequate compensation.
  3. Training employees, as needed, to assure high quality principles.
  4. Retaining employees on the basis of the adequacy of their performance, correcting inadequate performance, and separating employees whose inadequate performance cannot be corrected.
  5. Assuring fair treatment of applicants and employees in all aspects of personnel administration without regard to political affiliation, race, color, national origin, sex, religious creed, age, or disability and with proper regard for their privacy and constitutional rights as citizens. This “fair treatment” principle includes compliance with the Federal equal employment opportunity and nondiscrimination laws.
  6. Assuring that employees are protected against coercion for partisan political purposes and are prohibited from using their official authority for purposes of interfering with or affecting the result of an election or a nomination for office.

The State of California added to these six principles and developed the Local Agency Personnel Standards (LAPS) to implement Government Code Sections 19800 -19810. Of the 58 California counties, 28 are Approved Local Merit Systems (ALMS). These counties meet the requirements set forth in LAPS Chapter 1 in order to qualify for certain state and federally funded programs. MSS periodically reviews the personnel practices of the ALMS counties to ensure they are in compliance with LAPS. The remaining 30 counties comprise the Interagency Merit Systems (IMS) and MSS works with these counties on a daily basis in interpreting, and applying the standards (LAPS Chapters 1 and 2) to ensure compliance with state and federal rules and regulations.

Pursuant to California Government Code Section 19800 – 19810, the State Personnel Board (SPB) is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that counties that receive federal funds for programs within their Social Services and Child Support Services departments adhere to the federal merit principles. The SPB has contracted with CPS HR Consulting to provide the services that meet the federal mandates. “MSS” refers to the contract program within CPS HR Consulting that provides the requisite services to counties.

What MSS Covers:
  • Recruitment and selection process
  • Appointments/promotions
  • Demotions
  • Discipline and appeals
  • Layoffs/seniority
  • Position classification
  • Probationary periods
  • Reinstatements/transfers
  • Appeal process
What MSS Does Not Cover:
  • Salary setting
  • Benefits
  • Position control
  • Working conditions
  • Employee relations
  • Steps after the list is certified
  • Hiring interview and hiring process
  • Background and degree checks
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