In its last session, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted H834, which made revisions to the State Personnel Act (including changing the name to the State Human Resources Act). It included clarifications about SPA career status and SPA probationary status.
The 24-month employment period for an SPA employee to achieve ‘career status’ is a long-standing provision and was not changed in the statute.
But one wrinkle is that the new statute now refers to the first 24-month period as ‘probationary’ status — and that may be confusing, given how the word probationary had historically been used by OSP/OSHR*.
In the past, OSHR policies used the word ‘probationary’ to refer to the first 6-9 months of someone’s employment, during which the employee is orienting to the new role. Since the statute now defines ‘probationary’ as ‘not-yet-in-career-status,’ OSHR, state agencies, and the UNC campuses are updating language to reflect that change.
Regardless of the wording change, SPA employees who are in their first 6-9 months in a position are still considered to be in orientation mode. They should still receive timely work plans. Just like in the past, all SPA employees who have been here at least 6 months should receive mid-year and annual performance appraisals. Under UNC policies, they are still eligible, for example, to utilize the tuition waiver program, and the tuition assistance policy after three (3) months. And they would be eligible for salary adjustments within state policy.
While employees not yet in career status are not covered by most provisions of the State HR Act, in a practical sense, the wording changes should not have much substantive impact on campus practice.
The one area the law did clarify is that the full grievance procedures are available for career employees. However, the University still wants to know if a ‘probationary’ SPA employee has a valid concern or complaint; HR’s Employee Relations office is a good resource and starting poing for grievances and complaints.