Frequently Asked Questions
Classification and Compensation
- How can I progress through the various levels of my pay grade?
- How does the "pay system" in State Government work?
Family and Medical Leave Act (FLMA)
- Who determines whether an employee's absence from work due to illness is considered to be FMLA eligible and what criteria are used in the determination of a "serious health condition" under FMLA?
Military Service Obligations
- May a state employee who receives official orders to report for military service use accrued, unused annual and compensatory leave during the period of military service?
- Does an employee accrue annual, sick and holiday leave during periods of military leave without pay?
- What types of leaves of absence are available for military service obligations and are the leaves of absence paid or unpaid?
- Where can institution of higher education appropriation acts and other legislation that affect institution employees be found?
- How many hours can institution of higher education extra help employees work in a year?
- Can a public school employee transfer salary and leave to an institution of higher education?
Policy and Procedures Manual
Classification and Compensation
How can I progress through the various levels of my pay grade?
Employees progress through the levels of their assigned pay grade by personnel actions that affect their pay. For example, advancement in pay level may be accomplished by a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) as may be granted periodically by the Arkansas General Assembly. Under limited conditions, a special entry rate may be approved for certain classifications where there is documentation of a need to pay a rate necessary to recruit and retain well-qualified personnel in specialized areas. Special entry rates are not automatically granted, however. Lastly, eligible employees may eventually move upward in pay grade based on promotion to a higher pay grade provided the employee meets at least the minimum qualifications of the higher graded position and is selected for the job.
How does the "pay system" in State Government work?
The Uniform Classification and Compensation Act, as amended by the Arkansas General Assembly establishes the compensation plan for setting the salaries and salary increases, of all classified employees (those whose pay grades range from 1-26). Most of the State's employees fall into this category. Other employees (unclassified) may be compensated with maximum annual salary rates as set out in specific dollars by law enacted by the Arkansas General Assembly every two years for all departments, boards, commissions, institutions of higher education, and state agencies. This category usually covers agency heads/directors, professionals such as medical personnel and some employees of the institutions of higher education.
As a rule, employees covered by the Uniform Classification and Compensation Act may not be paid more than the maximum for his or her pay grade, nor may unclassified employees be paid more than the maximum annual salary rates established for his or her position each year of the biennium. The Office of Personnel Management of the Division of Management Services of the Department of Finance and Administration has administrative responsibility for enforcing compliance by state agencies and institutions in implementing procedures for pay grade changes and salary adjustments. These implementing procedures are updated following each session of the Arkansas General Assembly to incorporate any changes in laws and are made available to the personnel managers/representatives and agency heads of the state agencies and institutions.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FLMA)
Who determines whether an employee's absence from work due to illness is considered to be FMLA eligible and what criteria are used in the determination of a "serious health condition" under FMLA?
FMLA Regulation § 825.112(a) requires employers to grant family and medical leave to eligible employees as follows:
- For birth of a son or daughter, and to care for the newborn child;
- For placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care;
- To care for the employee's spouse, son, daughter or parent with a serious health condition; and,
- Because of a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the employee's job.
FMLA Regulation § 825.208(a) stipulates that, in all circumstances, it is the employer's responsibility to designate leave, paid or unpaid, as FMLA-qualifying, and to give notice of the designation to the employee. Because the obligation to designate absences as FMLA-qualifying resides with the employer, a standard form, OPM 005, is available for use by all agencies. The standard form allows the state agency to require an employee to obtain certification of a "serious health condition" from the employee's health care provider.
FMLA Regulation § 825.114 defines "serious health condition" as any illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility or continuing treatment by a health care provider." The regulations expand the definition of "continuing treatment by a health care provider" to include any one or more of the following:
- Any period of incapacity of more than three consecutive days and any subsequent treatment or period of incapacity relating to the same condition that involves two or more treatments by a health care provider or at least one treatment by a health care provider which results in a regimen of treatment under supervision of the health care provider;
- Any period of incapacity due to pregnancy or prenatal care;
- Any period of incapacity due to a chronic serious health condition;
- Any period of incapacity which is permanent or long-term, due to a condition for which treatment may not be effective; or,
- Any period of absence to receive multiple treatments by a health care provider for restorative surgery after an accident or for a condition that would likely result in a period of incapacity for more than three days if left unattended.
The "three consecutive days of incapacity" is not a prerequisite for eligibility under the FMLA. Rather, it is one definition the regulations use to determine whether an employee suffers from a serious health condition. Thus, an employee need not always demonstrate that the illness continued for more than three consecutive calendar days in order for that illness to be considered a serious health condition under FMLA. For example, an employee whose condition falls within definitions two through five, above, would not need to demonstrate a three-day period of incapacity to satisfy the "serious health condition" definition, provided he or she meets the other conditions.
Military Service Obligations
May a state employee who receives official orders to report for military service use accrued, unused annual and compensatory leave during the period of military service?
Yes. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) §4316(d) allows any person whose employment is interrupted by a period of military service to be permitted, upon request of the employee, to use during such periods of military service, any vacation, annual, or similar leave with pay accrued by the employee before the commencement of such service. However, no employer may require any employee to use such leave.
In addition, OPM Policy Section 105.7.1 provides that, upon action by which a person ceases to be an active employee of the State, the amount due the employee from accrued and unused annual leave shall be paid to the employee in a lump sum unless the employee is beginning a period of active duty for military service and requests that such leave not be liquidated by a lump-sum payment, but instead be held in escrow by the state and reinstated upon the employee's return to state employment. If the employee requests payment for such accrued, unused leave, and the employee has expressed an intent to return to state employment upon completion of the military obligation, paying accrued, unused leave at a rate of forty (40) hours per week, until depletion, during regular payroll cycles is acceptable.
Does an employee accrue annual, sick and holiday leave during periods of military leave without pay?
No. USERRA does not require employers to provide "short-term compensation" (pay, vacation accrual, etc.) when an employee is not working at the worksite. Arkansas Code Annotated §21-4-210(d)(1) prohibits accrual of leave and holiday pay for employees on leave of absence without pay. In addition, OPM Policy Section 105.8.3 specifies that an employee who accumulates ten consecutive or nonconsecutive days of leave without pay during any one calendar month loses annual and sick leave accrual for that month. The annual lave that is lost due to the leave without pay is based on the rate of accrual authorized for that employee.
Therefore, annual and sick leave accrues only during the period of military service when the employee is on pay status with the state, i.e., receiving compensation from the state for accrued, unused annual, compensatory, holiday or military leave.
To be eligible for holiday pay, Arkansas Code Annotated §1-5-101(a) requires an employee to be on pay status with the state on the last scheduled workday before the holiday and the first scheduled workday after the holiday. Thus, to receive pay for an official state holiday while serving a military obligation, the employee must be on pay status with the state. If the employee is on pay status with the state at the occurrence of an official state holiday, the employee is to be paid for the holiday and compensation received for the holiday is not charged against the paid leave, e.g., annual, compensatory or military, being used during the period of military service.
What types of leaves of absence are available for military service obligations and are the leaves of absence paid or unpaid?
The State of Arkansas grants leaves of absence to employees for various reasons related to military obligations. An approved leave of absence for military obligations may be defined as official permission granted by a State agency to an eligible state employee to cease active state employment for a specific period of time to fulfill an official military obligation. Such leaves of absence for military obligations may be paid or unpaid, as determined by Arkansas statutes. (Arkansas Code Annotated § §21-4-212 and 21-4-1-2.
Arkansas Code Annotated §21-4-212 lists three (3) distinguishable types of leave for military obligations as follows:
- §21-4-212(a):: Leave without loss of pay for fifteen (15) days per calendar year for military training or other duties performed in an official duty status;
- §21-4-212(b): Leave without pay for extended periods for employees who are drafted, called or volunteer for active duty; and,
- §21-4-212(d)(e): Leave without loss of pay for thirty (30) days for employees who are called to duty in "emergency situations," as defined.
To be eligible to receive any of the above three (3) types of leaves of absence for official military service obligations--(1) Short Term Training or Other Official Duty, (2) Extended Active Duty, or (3) Emergency Situations Active Duty--the employee must:
- Be actively employed by the state, i.e., on pay status performing duties at a state agency worksite; and,
- Provide a copy of official military orders to the employing state agency.
The employing state agency will determine the type of leave of absence to be granted, on a case-by-case basis, after review of the official military orders provided by the employee. The employing state agency may request other documentation, as needed, to assist in the decision-making process.
How many hours can institution of higher education extra help employees work in a year?
1500 hours per year. (Arkansas Code §6-63-314)
Can a public school employee transfer salary and leave to an institution of higher education?
No, public school employees are not employees of the State, they are employees of the school district they work in and there is no legislation authorizing the transferring of a public school employee's salary. A public school employee transferring to a two year college can transfer sick leave not to exceed ninety (90) days. (Arkansas Code §6-17-1206.
Policy and Procedures Manual
Why can’t we print the entire OPM policy all at once?
A file as large as the OPM Policy and Procedures Manual would take an extremely long time to download and probably crash older web browsers. For your convenience, the Manual is broken down into Sections for easy reference, which in many cases eliminates the need for printing it in its entirety.
- Personnel Management
- Class Code Book
- Classification & Compensation
- Dispute Resolution
- Employee Suggestion System
- Personnel Management Forms and Reporting
- HR Forum
- Job Titles
- State Personnel Policy
- OPM Training
- Workforce Reduction
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Performance, Goals and Compensation (PGCS)
- DFA Internal Human Resources Policies