Assembly Approves Measure To Stop Civil Service Changes

TRENTON – By a vote of 46-32, the full Assembly on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats objecting to the establishment of the Civil Service Commission’s proposed job banding program because it violates the legislative intent established in New Jersey’s constitution.

The sponsors noted that the civil service system in New Jersey, once a statutory creation, gained permanence through its inclusion in the New Jersey Constitution, which provides that appointments and promotions in the civil service system must be made according to merit and fitness, to be ascertained, as far as practicable, by competitive examination.

But on March 18, the state Civil Service Commission published proposed rule changes to establish a new job banding program for positions in both state and local service. The proposed job banding program gives substantial discretion to civil service employers, potentially imperiling or curtailing veterans’ preference and advancement opportunities for women, minorities, those with disabilities and those vulnerable to discriminatory practices.

The bill (ACR-199) approved today notes that the proposed rule change is contrary to the spirit, intent, and plain meaning of these provisions in the New Jersey Constitution.

Specifically, the measure notes that the proposed changes are not consistent with legislative intent because they violate a number of constitutional edicts, including:

  • that employees be selected and advanced on the basis of their relative knowledge, skills and abilities;
  • that equal employment opportunities are ensured at all levels of public service to protect career public employees from political coercion;
  • that a competitive promotional examination process be established; and
  • that veterans ranking highest on a promotional certification receive preference.

Under the proposed rule change, the appeal process would also be unavailable to employees who have not been selected for an advancement appointment under the proposed job banding program. Instead, a less protective grievance appeal procedure would be used.

The resolution now awaits consideration by the Senate. Once it is approved by both houses, copies will be transmitted to the Governor and the Civil Service Commission.

The Civil Service Commission will then have 30 days following transmittal of the resolution to amend or withdraw the proposed regulations or the legislature may, by passage of another concurrent resolution, exercise its authority under the constitution to invalidate the regulations in whole or in part.

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