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Maricopa County Board of Supervisors enact personnel rules updates

11/7/2015

NORTH VALLEY – The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has approved several changes to the county’s Employee Merit Rules.

The county reported that an update to the personnel system has been a key priority for three first-term supervisors, Chairman Steve Chucri and Supervisors Denny Barney and Clint Hickman.

“We streamlined the out of date rules so we have greater accountability, efficiency, competitiveness, and productivity,” said Chucri. “These arcane rules can be overly burdensome and time-consuming for our managers who are trying to hire the best and brightest. By being more business minded, this enables the County to be more nimble in the hiring and recruiting process.”

Generally, the changes, adopted in a unanimous four to zero vote, reduce and clarify verbiage, giving greater authority and flexibility to department directors when advertising and hiring new employees. For example, the new rules reduce and simplify public notice rules and increase the initial probationary period to one year for many positions, while also giving employees greater opportunities for advancement. 

Officials described the changes were “a common sense update,” not a sweeping overhaul, of employee protections.

“I’m excited about the changes we are making,” said Barney. “We need to give those working in the trenches the tools they need to hire the most qualified people.”

Regarding the changes, Hickman said, “Ours is a complex business with more than 50 separate lines of service, operating in a fiercely competitive market. We must find a way to capitalize on the knowledge and skills of our county work force while we attract the next wave of educated, motivated, and engaged professionals into public service.”

Although the vote was unanimous, Supervisor Steve Gallardo, expressed reservations.

“I sympathize with the intent here. I just hope this will not make it easier for political cronyism and personnel abuse to creep into county government. My chief concern is that our employees are treated fairly and this will not diminish their right to due process,” Gallardo said.  

Specifically the new changes would:

Eliminate a requirement to contact at least five individuals or 50 percent of the qualified candidates referred to the manager.
Extend the initial probationary period from a minimum of six months to a year.
Ends the practice of “locking in” a new employee to a single position during the probation period. Under the new rules, a new or transferring employee may apply for another county position – or return to his or her previous one – during the probationary year.
The new system will also end the so-called “lifetime guarantee” to public employees who gain merit protections at one position and maintain a protected status throughout their career. Instead, at each new position change, promotion, transfer or demotion, the employee will enter a probationary period.