Compensation & Classification Guidelines

Purpose, Philosophy & Overview:

  1. Purpose:

    The Office of Human Resources (OHR) has developed this guideline to ensure an understanding of the current classification and compensation programs and practices for California State University, Northridge (CSUN) staff and management employees, and to promote the effectiveness, equity, and consistency in our efforts to recruit and retain highly qualified staff and management employees.  In addition, this guideline provides the framework for CSUN to administer these programs consistently.  If any information provided here is in conflict with provisions of CSU policy or provisions of Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA), they would take precedence.The following is not intended to describe all compensation programs available.  Some programs described are not available in certain bargaining units and other new programs might become available as a result of CSU policy changes for non-united positions or collective bargaining negotiations.
  2. Philosophy:

    CSUN is strongly committed to attracting and retaining a highly qualified and diverse workforce.  The OHR is responsible for ensuring a consistent framework for the effective administration of the staff classification and compensation programs, which includes the management of the staff compensation program to effectively promote the recruitment and retention of highly qualified employees. Our goal is to compensate CSU employees in a manner that is fair, reasonable, competitive, and fiscally prudent.
  3. Overview:

    This guideline applies to all state non-faculty positions with the exception of student assistants, work-study students, graduate assistants, teaching assistants, and positions covered by Section 600 of the Administrative Manual.

    This guideline has been developed to effectively implement and administer the CSUN staff classification and compensation program to provide an accurate, comparable, and consistent application of the system-wide classification and compensation programs.

    While the guideline was developed to provide reference information, please note that the Manager of Compensation and Classification is always available to provide individual consultation to departments.  Please call extension 2101 for further assistance.

Key Definitions:


  1. Classification:  The process by which a position is allocated to an appropriate CSU classification.

  2. Classification & Qualification Standards:  The description of a benchmark set of characteristics, duties and responsibilities as well as the minimum qualification requirements used for the process of making classification decisions.

  3. Exempt employees:  Employees who are in classifications that are designated exempt from overtime, in accordance with provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

  4. In Class Progression:  Movement from one skill level to a higher skill level within the same classification.

  5. In Range Progression:  An increase within a salary range for a single classification or within a sub-range of a classification that has various skill levels.

  6. Internal Equity:  A measure of the relative value of positions in relation to one another within the same organizational unit, and/or across divisions as appropriate.

  7. Nonexempt Employees:  Employees who are in classifications eligible for overtime, in accordance with the provisions of the FLSA.

  8. Overtime:  Authorized time (typically pre-approved) worked in excess of 40 hours in a designated work week.  Overtime may be compensated in cash or in compensatory time off (CTO), as determined and approved by department management, and is generally compensated at a rate of time and one-half. (Please refer to appropriate collective bargaining unit for specific provisions.)

  9. Position:  A position is a group of duties and responsibilities assigned by management.

  10. Position Description:  The form(s) that includes the duties and responsibilities assigned to a specific position.

  11. Reclassification:  A change in the classification of a position.

  12. Salary Range:  The specified range of pay established at the system level for a particular classification.

Classification & Skill level Changes:

  1. New or Vacant Positions:  When a new position is established or a vacancy occurs, it is an excellent time for a manager to conduct a staffing analysis.  The duties and responsibilities of the position should be evaluated to ensure that they reflect the current needs of the department.  The duties and responsibilities may be changed by management.  The appropriate Position Description (PD) Form needs to be completed and included with the on-line Recruiting Solutions process.  All forms can be found at Human Resources will determine the appropriate classification for the position and notify the hiring supervisor.

  2. Position Descriptions:  Employees must be given a copy of the PD (OHRS 10-09) for the position that he or she occupies within a specified time after appointment. Employees should generally be given a PD 30 days after their initial appointment.  If management changes an employee's duties significantly, a new PD should generally be provided to the employee 7 days in advance of the effective date of the change. (Please refer to appropriate collective bargaining agreement (CBA) for specific provisions.)

  3. The following position description forms should be used:

  • Request for Classification or Skill Level Review/Reclassification:  An employee or management may request a classification or skill level (in-class progression) review of the position. To request a classification review or skill level review, the appropriate PD Form must be completed. The forms can be found on the Human Resources website: The employee should submit the completed form to his/her supervisor for review and signature, who in turn should forward the form to the Department Head or Manager of Academic Resources and Area Head for acknowledgment and signatures. 

    The signatures of the supervisor and the department head on the PD Form is an acknowledgment of receipt and certification that the duties are accurately stated, but does not necessarily indicate whether the request for change is supported.  The form should be forwarded to the OHR in a timely manner. For CSUEU, if not forwarded to OHR within 30 days, the employee may file the request directly with OHR. (Please refer to appropriate CBA for specific provisions.)

    An employee may not initiate a request for classification/skill level review until twelve (12) months have passed since the completion of a previous classification review.

    After a request for classification review has been received in the OHRS, an acknowledgement letter will be sent.  A classification review will be conducted by Human Resources and a written response will be prepared.

  • Reclassification/In-Class Progression:  If the review results in a change, the effective date shall be the beginning of the pay period following receipt of the request in the OHR. An employee shall be given a new probationary period upon reclassification or an in-class progression.

    • Upon reclassification to a higher-level classification, an employee is generally given a salary increase of five percent, or greater if necessary to bring the salary to the salary range minimum.

    • If a position is reclassified to a lateral classification, a salary increase is generally not provided.

    • If a position is reclassified to a lower-level classification, a red circle rate might be applied.  The red circle rate may occur when the current salary is above the maximum of the new salary range.(Please refer to the appropriate CBA for specific provisions.)

  • Classification Appeal:  The employee may appeal the classification determination. To appeal, the employee will complete the Classification Appeal Form (OHRS 10-2) and submit it to OHRS within 30 days of the employee’s receipt of the Classification Review Report.

    The appeal will be reviewed by an HR Manager other than the one who conducted the initial review. The classification appeal review may include an interview with the employee and discussion with the department manager.  The results will be sent to the employee and department manager.  The appeal decision results will be final.

  • Reorganization:  Managers should consult with an HR Manager when considering a reorganization of a unit, changes in reporting relationships, and major changes in responsibilities.  The Dean or Director should submit appropriate justification, current and proposed organization charts, position descriptions of affected positions, and review the proposal with the appropriate Vice President prior to forwarding the reorganization request to the OHR.

  • Determination of Salary Placement:

    1. Appointment through Recruitment:

    • New employees - The initial appointment of a candidate to a position is based upon the candidate’s salary history, internal salary equity, budgetary considerations, and specialized recruitment considerations.  Departments should consult with the OHR prior to the offer of employment being made.

    • Current employees - Internal candidates who are being promoted to higher-level positions are generally offered a five percent salary increase or the minimum of the new classification salary range.

  • Reassignments/Lateral Assignments:

    • Reassignments – Duties and responsibilities may be reassigned on a temporary or permanent basis.  If the new assignment is to a position that is classified at a higher level than the current assignment, the employee shall generally be granted a five percent increase for the duration of the temporary assignment. (Please refer to appropriate CBA for specific provisions.)

    • Lateral Assignments – A lateral assignment/reassignment is an employee's movement from one position to another campus position that is determined to be at the same level, and is generally not compensated.  A position is determined to be at a higher level if the maximum of the employee’s new salary range is at least two and one half percent (2.5%) higher than the maximum of the employee’s current salary range.  However, if the new position is significantly different and deemed to be broader in scope than the previous position, even though it is in a lateral class, a salary increase might be considered.

    Other Compensation Programs:

    The following is not intended to be inclusive of all compensation programs available.  Other compensation programs might be available as a result of negotiations through the collective bargaining process.

    1. General Salary Increase:  A General Salary Increase (GSI) is a negotiated increase to the salary ranges within a bargaining unit and is also applied to each employee’s base salary within the bargaining unit. This type of increase is generally effective July 1 and is funded by the state.  A GSI may also apply to other non-represented groups of employees.

    2. Merit (Performance Based) Salary Increase:  Collective bargaining agreements might include the granting of performance-based salary increases, which may be referred to by various names. The performance evaluation process is generally conducted on an annual basis for all permanent and temporary employees.  (Please refer to appropriate CBA for specific provisions.)Salary increases for Management Personnel Plan (MPP) and Confidential employees are based on performance reviews and are generally conducted on an annual basis, when CSU system funding is available to the campuses. The amount of increase is determined by the President and campus funds that are appropriated for merit raises.

    3. In-Range Salary Progression Increase:  An in-range salary progression (IRP) increase is a permanent increase to the base pay of an employee. An IRP is may be based on one or a combination of considerations of salary equity, market conditions, or changes in duties that do not warrant reclassification or in-class progression, or exceptional performance.  The specific amount of an IRP is determined in accordance with the appropriate bargaining agreement and in consultation between the Office of Human Resources and department management. (Please refer to appropriate CBA for specific provisions.)A request for an in-range increase should be submitted to the OHR on an In-Range Progression Request Form describing the precise request and the rationale. An IRP would result in an unplanned increase in the budget of a department and is not funded from any system-wide compensation allocation. The approval of the appropriate divisional Vice President or designee must also be obtained prior to implementing an in-range salary progression.

    4. Stipend:  A stipend is a temporary additional payment to an employee that is allocated on a month-to-month basis for the duration of a temporary assignment of responsibilities. A request for a temporary stipend may be submitted to Human Resources by management through the CSUN Portal (Path: Login to My CSUN Portal > HR > Forms & Policies > Employee Forms > HR Stipend/Request Form). Please review the Stipend/Bonus Processing Guide for steps on how to submit. The request will be reviewed for conformance with the appropriate CBA and campus compensation practices.

      Stipends may be initiated by management typically when an employee is required to perform the following:

      • Temporary Project Coordination or Lead Work Functions – supplemental work assignment outside of an employee’s normal responsibilities made in writing with specific begin and end dates.
      • Additional Work or Special Projects – supplemental work outside of regularly assigned duties for a limited period of time or required to maintain contact with their campus outside of employee’s normal working hours on a regular basis.
      • Special Assignment – monthly stipend to perform one or more special assignments paid for the duration of the special assignment. 

      Assignment of duties that are a primary/regular part of an employee’s duties are not eligible for stipend.

      Stipend eligibility is based on the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Please refer to the appropriate CBA for specific provisions.

    5. Bonus:  A bonus is a lump sum payment that does not increase the employee’s base salary. The Management Personnel Plan and certain collective bargaining agreements include provisions for the granting of bonuses for reasons such as exceptional performance, retention, critical skills, and recruitment. Management may request a bonus for an employee who is eligible by submitting through the CSUN Portal (Path: Login to My CSUN Portal > HR > Forms & Policies > Employee Forms > HR Stipend/Request Form). Please view the Stipend/Bonus Processing Guide for steps on how to submit.  Human Resources will review the request for compliance with the appropriate CBA or provisions of the Management Personnel Plan and campus compensation practices.

      Bonus eligibility is based on the CBA.  Please refer to the appropriate CBA for specific provisions.