Volume 12, Number 4 October 8, 2004

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ASPA job appeals finished

152 had job family or phase shifted

Nearly half of the 308 staff who appealed their placement in the new classification system for middle-level U of S employees succeeded in having their jobs shifted to a new job family or phase.

And now that the appeal period is over, both the University and the Administrative & Supervisory Personnel Association (ASPA) say implementation of the new job families and phases last May and the summer-long appeal process have been positive moves.

The heads of ASPA and the Human Resources Division (HRD) say the resulting system for classifying and rewarding the 775 middle-level University jobs is a major improvement over the old one.

ASPA President Mike Grevers and U of S Associate Vice-President of Human Resources Barb Daigle admit that some staff are still upset with the placement of their jobs in the new grid. But they say on the whole the new matrix is a big step towards a fairer, more flexible system that allows for more salary growth than in the past and for a change in position classification when there’s a change in the job.

ASPA members voted overwhelmingly on April 20 to approve the new job families and phases system, but members didn’t yet know where their own positions were placed.

Daigle says that after the May 1 implementation of the new system, 308 ASPA members applied for reconsideration of their placement. “Joint reconsideration committees” consisting of equal numbers of ASPA and HRD members met for two days per week through June, July and August to review those job placements. Both Daigle and Grevers say the committee members worked hard on the appeals, and Grevers says he was satisfied that the position placements were equitable. He adds the committee members were careful not to work on appeals in which they might have had a conflict of interest.

The results were announced Sept. 1. Daigle says 156 positions remained the same as they were classified on May 1, and 152 – or 20 per cent of total ASPA members – were moved either in their job family or phase.

“This has been a very positive experience, in that it clarified things that had been unclear in some of the earlier documentation and job descriptions,” she says.

“In some cases, we know it’s still not perfect. This is work that will never really be finished, because jobs will continue to change.”

“ We know that some ASPA staff and their supervisors are still concerned that the results are not correct. HRD will follow up with them with respect to the roles and accountabilities of the job, to ensure they are fully understood and well-described for future reviews. We will respond to everyone’s concerns and questions.”

Daigle adds the new position system and the review of appeals have been healthy moves, but like all change in an organization, they require a change in the culture – and that can play on people’s emotions.

“I want to thank people for their patience as we’ve gone through this.”

She adds the position matrix is just the first part of a bigger model of recognizing people’s work at the University.

“The next phase will include redesigning the performance and salary review process.”

Daigle says with the new position system now in place, there is more flexibility than in the past for recognizing changes in people’s jobs.

“Now every year, if a person’s job profile changes, or if their jobs grow, they can submit it.” A new annual review process, to be overseen jointly by HRD and ASPA, will provide for an ongoing job review, she says.

Grevers acknowledges that some ASPA members were upset with the placement of their jobs, and with the explanations they received when their appeals were denied.

“It was a concern to us that some members read into the position descriptions the idea that they were not valued.”

Grevers says that was partly because some people didn’t distinguish that the descriptions dealt with the position, not the person, “and some people are doing far more than their position calls for”. It was also partly because of some of the wording in the new position matrix, and he understands that some of it is being reviewed.

Another irritant, he says, was the fact that when the results of the appeals were announced Sept. 1, “the reasons and the rationale weren’t ready”, so people didn’t always get full explanations of why their reconsiderations were turned down. “That’s now being addressed.”

Grevers says the ASPA leadership is telling members that if they still feel their jobs aren’t correctly placed, or their jobs are growing, they should put their requests forward in the new, improved annual review process.

He is convinced the new position system is better than the old one.

“People forget how it used to work. This is a huge improvement over what we had before. ASPA had very little input,” he says.

Grevers applauds the ASPA members who served on the reconsideration committees this summer, saying they worked very hard and were sometimes criticized by other ASPA members as being traitorous, and were called “one of them”.

“They should be given a medal,” he says.

After a 5½-year joint job evaluation project, the University and ASPA approved a new position system for May 1 that reduced the number of pay levels to four from the previous 12, and increased the range for annual pay increases up to 18 years. It also put each job into one of five new job families – operational/administrative, instructional, information technology, specialist/professional, and managerial. Each family has one, two or three phases, or pay ranges.

Members had until May 31 to appeal their job classification, and the results of the appeals are final and can’t be subject to grievances.

For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca

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