A Guidebook For
Conservation District Directors and Employees
Conservation districts are public
agencies, and district officials are public officials. As such they are responsible for
administering district programs in the most effective way. District officials bear
responsibility and accountability for the personnel management policies and decisions
needed to make that staff effective and productive. It is, therefore, vital that district
officials take an active role in formulating and administering personnel policies.
District officials are responsible for
formulating and administering district personnel policies. Once a policy is established
and distributed to employees, it serves as a binding agreement with the district board.
Care should be taken to assure the personnel policy is understood by the district board
members and employees; and, that the policy is consistent with personnel governing laws.
Although districts may have fewer
employees and a less complicated organizational structure than some of their larger
contemporaries, they are accountable to the citizens of the district for the fullest
possible use of their employees. No across-the-board answers can be offered to the
questions arising in district personnel management.
The Personnel Reference Book was written
with this in mind. The purpose of this reference book is to provide district personnel
and district officials with fundamental personnel management information on which to base
their own personnel management policies and decisions.
ACP (Arkansas Conservation Partnership),
in presenting this reference book, is not attempting to mandate state or district
personnel policies. The examples chosen, and policies suggested have been demonstrated to
be effective; however, a district may choose to use whatever works best for their
situation. For purpose of personnel management, where district employees are
considered county or state employees, the policies, rules and regulations established by
those jurisdictions should be followed. The suggestions in this reference book should not
be used in an attempt to supersede those policies.
Permanent Full-Time Employee: An
employee who has been hired to fill a continuing position requiring a minimum of 40 hours
per week of work. Entitled to all fringe benefits after a probation period herein
Permanent Part-Time Employee: An
employee who has been hired to fill a continuing position requiring less than 40 hours per
week on a regular and recurring schedule. Entitled to fringe benefits on a prorated basis.
Temporary Employee: An employee
who has been hired to fill a position of limited duration, is paid an hourly wage for
hours actually worked and receives no fringe benefits.
A probationary or test period of
employment shall be conducted for 90 days after employment. During this period the
employee shall be carefully observed in actual work situations by the board of directors
or their designee. It shall be made clear to the employee that this is a test period and
that the evaluation of the employees performance will determine whether the district
wishes to retain the employee.
An appropriate introduction to the new job
and to the district can improve performance. An informative atmosphere in the beginning
can prevent misunderstandings, confusion and dissatisfaction.
The type of orientation will depend on the
needs of the particular district but completeness and clarity are two of the more
important aspects of orientation.
An orientation session should be part of
the overall district training effort and should be the first step in providing all
employees with the training necessary to do their jobs.
STATEMENT OF NONDISCRIMINATION:
Recruitment, selection and advancement of
employees will be based on ability, knowledge and skills, including open consideration of
qualified applicants for initial employment.
Compensation for initial employment will
be equitable and adequate.
Employees will be trained as needed to
insure high quality performance.
Employees will be retained based on the
adequacy of their performance, and provision will be made for correcting inadequate
performance and separating employees whose inadequate performance can not be corrected.
Applicants and employees will be treated
fairly in all aspects of personnel administration without regard to race, color, religion,
sex, national origin, political affiliation, age, handicap, or other non-merit factors and
with proper regard for their privacy and constitutional rights.
Employees will be protected against
coercion for partisan political purposes and will be prohibited from using their official
authority for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the end result of an election
or a nomination for office.
The district personnel are directly
responsible to the district board. Employees of the district and of the cooperating
agencies are expected to work in a close and cooperative manner to ensure conservation
priorities are addressed. Day to day supervision is normally not practical nor necessary,
however, the district board chairman or committee should periodically review the
performance of the district personnel. This performance review will provide the employee
with insight as to the direction the board wishes to be taken in managing the district
In some instances, district employees are
assigned to work directly with employees of cooperating agencies. The cooperating agencies
should provide technical guidance of the districts employee to insure quality
control of assistance rendered to the public in relation to the cooperating agencies
programs. The district will maintain administrative control over the district employee.
This administrative control will insure that district priorities are given proper
AUTHORITY TO HIRE AND SET SALARIES:
The district board of directors has the
sole responsibility to hire and set salaries, terminate and/or otherwise affect the
working relationship of the district employee.
An example employment application form is
in last chapter of reference book.
The district board is responsible for
determining full-time, part-time or temporary employment status according to workload,
funding or program need and for determining normal working hours.
Communicating the duties and
responsibilities of a position to an employee or prospective employee is an essential
element in personnel management.
Communicating these duties,
responsibilities, and performance standards to the employee or prospective employee can be
best done by a written job description. Verbal instructions cannot provide the mutual
understanding that is provided by a written description of the duties and performance
Included at the end of this reference
book, as Exhibits 4.4 to 4.6, are sample position descriptions for district manager,
district secretary, and district technician. The sample position descriptions and lists
of duties should be used only as guides. Each employee should have a position description
and corresponding performance requirements that are developed expressly for the position.
ANNUAL LEAVE POLICY:
Annual Leave Accrual Timetable
Year of Employment Monthly Annually
Through 3 Years 8 Hours 96 Hours
Through 5 years 10 Hours 120 Hours
Through 12 Years 12 Hours 144 Hours
Through 20 Years 14 Hours 168 Hours
Over 20 Years 15 Hours 180 Hours
Employees who work less than full time but
more than 1,000 hours per year accrue annual and sick leave in the same proportion as time
Accrual rates will change on the first day
of the month following eligibility for the next higher accrual rate.
Annual Leave is cumulative. However, no
district employee shall have over 240 hours accumulated on December 31 of each year. Those
days in excess of 240 hours will be forfeited if not used by December 31 of each year.
Annual leave must be earned before it can
be used. District employees will accrue half their monthly accrual of annual leave if
employed on the first working day of the month and work through the 15th of that month.
District employees will accrue half their monthly accrual if employed on the 16th of the
month and work through the last working day of that month. If the 16th falls on a weekend
or holiday, accrual begins on the first working day thereafter.
District employees will not borrow from
anticipated future accrual and may not use annual leave accrued by other district
The minimum annual leave amount a district
employee can use is one quarter of an hour. No smaller amount shall be authorized or used.
District employees are entitled to payment
for accrued and unused annual leave when they terminate their employment.
SICK LEAVE POLICY:
District employees accrue sick leave at
the rate of eight hours for each completed month of service but only 960 hours may be
carried forward at the end of each calendar year.
Sick leave must be earned before it can be
used. District employees will accrue half their monthly accrual of sick leave if employed
on the first working day of the month and work through the 15th of that month. District
employees will accrue half their monthly accrual if employed on the 16th of the month and
work through the last working day of that month. If the 16th falls on a weekend or
holiday, accrual begins on the first working day thereafter.
District employees will not borrow from
anticipated future accruals and may not use sick leave accrued by other district
Sick leave may be used for the following
1. When the district employee is unable to
work because of sickness, or injury or for medical, dental, or optical treatment.
2. Death or serious illness of a member of
the district employees immediate family. Immediate family is defined as the father,
mother, sister, brother, spouse, child, grandparents, in-laws, or any individual acting as
a parent or guardian of a district employee.
District employees are not entitled to
payment for accrued and unused sick leave when they terminate their employment.
Sick leave is granted on the basis of work
days, not calendar days. Non-work days, such as holidays and weekends, are not charged as
The minimum sick leave amount a district
employee can use is one quarter hour. No smaller amount shall be authorized or used.
Absences due to sickness, except in the
case of maternity leave, shall be charged in the following order: (1) earned sick leave
(2) earned annual leave and (3) leave without pay.
District employees who are on sick leave
for five or more consecutive days must furnish a certificate of illness from an attending
physician. A certificate from a Christian Science practitioner listed in the Christian
Science Journal may be submitted in lieu of a physicians certificate.
Notification of absence due to illness
shall be given as soon as possible on the first day of absence to the district office.
SEE ATTACHMENT FOR "FAMILY LEAVE
MATERNITY LEAVE POLICY:
Maternity leave is to be treated as any
other leave for sickness or disability. However, the district employee may elect to take
leave of absence without pay without exhausting accumulated annual and sick leave.
LEAVE WITHOUT PAY POLICY:
District employees may not take leave
without pay until all their annual leave has been exhausted, except in the case of
maternity leave. In the case of maternity leave, the district employee may elect to take
leave without pay, without exhausting accumulated annual and sick leave.
A district employee who accumulates ten
consecutive or non-consecutive days of leave without pay during any one calendar month
loses the leave accrual (annual and sick) for that month only.
District employees may continue to
participate in the health insurance program during the period of leave without pay.
District employees who choose this option may pay the total cost (deduction and matching)
of the coverage unless the district employee is receiving Workers Compensation
COURT AND JURY LEAVE POLICY:
Any district employee who serves as a
witness, juror, or party litigant in any civil or criminal court proceeding is entitled to
receive normal and full compensation. Court and jury leave will not be considered annual
It is necessary to receive prior approval
for all leave (except sick leave) before it is taken.
District employees shall be granted time
off to observe the following regularly scheduled federal holidays:
New Years Day January 1
Dr. Martin Luther Kings 3rd Monday
George Washingtons Birthday 3rd
Monday in February
Memorial Day Last Monday in May
Independence Day July 4
Labor Day 1st Monday in September
Columbus Day 2nd Monday in October
Veterans Day November 11
Thanksgiving Day 4th Thursday in November
Christmas Day December 25
If a district employee is required to work
on a legal holiday, he/she shall be entitled to equivalent time off on another date.
At the option of the Conservation District
Board, the district employee may observe the state holidays.
District employees are covered by
Workers Compensation for job-related injuries or illness.
Injury is defined as accidental injury
arising out of an accident in the course of employment, including certain occupational
diseases and occupational infections. Any district employee sustaining a job-related
injury which may be compensable under Workers Compensation must report the injury to
the district board chairman or the designated supervisor. The chairman or designated
supervisor should see that medical attention is received and have the employee fill out
the necessary forms.
Workers Compensation on district
employees is paid by the Arkansas Soil & Water Conservation Commission.
Unemployment insurance will be provided
for district employees by the district.
HEALTH AND LIFE INSURANCE:
Health and life insurance is available for
employees located in the district offices. However, the employee must work a minimum of 20
hours per week to be eligible.
The employee must apply for health
insurance within 30 days after eligibility is met. The insurance will then become
effective the first day of the following month. Please note, the first premium is due to
the ASWCC office the pay period before the pay period including the 1st of the month. Each
district secretary will have a copy of the schedule for when premiums are due.
Life insurance is an additional option
offered to district employees. In order to apply for life insurance, one must have the
health insurance. Life insurance premiums vary by age and unit amounts.
Participation in the health/life insurance
program is not guaranteed if applications are not received in a timely manner. There is an
"open or annual" enrollment period each year usually between October and
November. At this time, changes may be made and would become effective January 1st of the
following year. The only time changes may be made throughout the year is if the employee
had a valid Family Status Change.
Several plans are available and are
subject to change each year. Updates on plan changes and premium changes will be sent to
all district secretaries each year during the annual enrollment process.
Please contact the insurance clerk of
ASWCC at 501-682-3906 for further information on health and life insurance, necessary
forms, and health packets available for your specific county.
PAYROLL TAX DEDUCTIONS:
FEDERAL INCOME TAX: Federal Income Tax
deductions are not optional, it is required to be withheld from the wages of all district
employees. Federal income tax must be withheld on all district employees and deposited in
a Federal Depository Banking Institution. Each employee must have on file a current W-4
form. This designates the withholding rate. The amount of tax to be withheld from each
employees wages is determined by matching exemptions claimed, amount of wages,
marital status, spouses employment status if applicable, and wage period. Income tax
tables are found in "Circular E - Employers Tax Guide". Districts are
responsible for completing and distributing W-2 forms for each employee by January 31st
for all wages paid to employees for the preceding year. Additionally quarterly reports,
such as form 941 which summarizes the amount of wages paid and taxes withheld, will be
required to be submitted each quarter. If a district contracts with an individual for
$600.00 or more in any one calendar year, form 1099 must be completed and circulated for
each contractor in this category. "Circular E - Employers Tax Guide" can
answer most questions for items covered under Federal Income Tax.
ARKANSAS INCOME TAX: The Arkansas
General Assembly, at its regular session of 1965, provided for withholding Arkansas Income
Tax from wages and for declaration of Estimated Income Tax. Every employer making payments
of wages to an employee on or after January 1, 1966 is required by law to deduct and
withhold Arkansas Income Tax from such wages, regardless of whether the employee is a
resident or nonresident. Tax tables can be found in the State of Arkansas Income Tax
Withholding Tables and Instructions For Employers.
SOCIAL SECURITY/MEDICARE: Under the
Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), social Security and Medicare taxes are imposed
on the wages of each employee. The combination of the two taxes makes up the amount of tax
to be withheld from an employees wages each time a wage payment is made by the
district. The rate of tax on the employer is the same rate of tax as on the employee. The
tax rate is computed on the amount of wages paid to the district employee. These taxes are
computed and reported quarterly on Form 941 by the district.
State law requires conservation districts
to participate in the Arkansas Public Employee Retirement System if their employee(s) work
an average of 80 or more hours in a calendar month. There is no cost to the employee if
enrolled after January 1, 1978. Longer tenured employees may be participating in the
contributory system. The districts share is the same in both instances. Please
refer to APERS Handbook.
Each district employee is required to
maintain a time sheet approved by established board policy.
An example time sheet is included in last
chapter of reference book.
TRAVEL REIMBURSEMENT POLICY
TRAVEL EXPENSE REGULATIONS:
Travel, meals and lodging must be approved
by district board.
The personal vehicle mileage reimbursement
rate is twenty eight cents ($0.28) per mile or state level..
TRAVEL USING GOVERNMENT VEHICLE:
See Arkansas Bulletin 120-8-1 attached.
APPROVAL FOR TRAVEL:
Approval for travel outside of a district
employees duty area (conservation district/s) must be obtained before hand from the
district board. This pre-approval does not apply if a district employee is working in
an adjoining Conservation District.
The district director/district employee
working relationship is a most important aspect of the function of a conservation
district. Communication between the board and its employee(s) is a must. Therefore,
district employees are encouraged to attend district board meetings.
It should be the policy of all districts
that employees be treated fairly and equitably in all respects. Those employees who feel
they have not been treated in this manner should have the right to present their
grievances to the appropriate officials for consideration. Employees should have the right
to present their grievances in their own behalf or through representatives of their
choice. Employees are permitted to present formal and informal complaints. The filing of
grievances should not be considered as reflecting unfavorably on an employees
performance or loyalty.
The following procedure is offered for
processing formal and informal grievances.
1. Whenever possible, grievances should be
resolved informally. Every effort should be made by the involved parties to come to an
agreeable resolution of the grievance within a reasonable period of time (2 weeks).
Complaints which cannot be resolved should be referred to the district board immediately.
2. Unsuccessful attempts at an informal
resolution of a complaint should be followed by a formal grievance. The employee should
prepare a written statement which states the grievance, describes the remedial action
being sought, and provides all information available in support of the complaint.
Upon receipt of a written grievance the
supervisor should make all reasonable efforts to resolve the complaint. If the grievance
is not resolved, it should be forwarded to the chair of the district board or their
designee, within seven days of receipt, along with a statement of efforts made to resolve
The district board should make its
decision on the grievance within 15 days of receipt or, if not possible, at the next
scheduled board meeting.
Attached is the Grievance Procedure from
the AACD By Laws.
STANDARDS OF CONDUCT AND ETHICS:
A district program cannot be effective
unless it is carried out by a district staff which, in addition to being technically
competent, demonstrates professional integrity in its conduct. All district employees have
a responsibility to perform their assigned duties, to support their supervisors and
district board and to uphold the public trust in soil and water conservation districts.
One of the best ways of maintaining these standards is by the examples set by district
All employees are expected to maintain
high standards of ethics and personal conduct. The following minimum requirements should
1. Attendance - Employees are expected to
report for work and leave work at the time designated by the district. Planned leave is to
be arranged with the employees supervisor in advance. Unexpected leave is to be
reported promptly to the supervisor prior to the beginning of the employees work
2. Diligence During Work Period -
Employees are expected to perform assigned duties during the entire schedule for which
compensation is being received, except for reasonable time provided to take care of
3. Work Performance - Employees are
expected to meet established performance standards. Any conditions or circumstances in the
work environment which prevents an employee from performing effectively are to be reported
to the supervisor.
4. Property Usage - Employees will not use
or allow the use of district, state or federal property of any kind for other than
officially approved activities.
5. Criminal Conduct - Employees will not
engage in criminal, infamous, dishonest, immoral, or notoriously disgraceful or other
conduct prejudicial to the district.
DRUG-FREE WORKPLACE POLICY:
Drug abuse and use at the workplace are
subjects of immediate concern in our society. These problems are extremely complex and
ones for which there are no easy solutions. From a safety perspective, the users of drugs
may impair the well-being of all employees, the public at large, and result in damage to
district property. Therefore, it is the policy of the conservation district that the
unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession or use of a controlled
substance in a districts workplace is prohibited. Any employees violating this
policy will be subject to discipline up to and including termination.
Conservation district employees are
provided safeguards against the human abuse of sexual harassment under federal guidelines
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.
Sexual harassment may consist of requests
for sexual favors, unwelcome sexual advances, threats, actual bodily contact, other
deliberate verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, or the creation of a
"hostile environment" charged with unwelcome sexual overtones. Such behavior
will not be tolerated among employees. Sexual harassment is especially forbidden where the
offending employee is in a position to affect the compensation or employment status of the
person being harassed. In all cases, the district board members shall take appropriate
corrective action. This rule applies equally to sexual harassment of both men and women.
COVERAGE UNDER FOI ACT:
Conservation district directors should be
aware of their employer responsibilities according to the Arkansas Freedom of Information
Act. Certain employee records are not open to the public. For instance, personnel records
are not available to the public to the extent that disclosure would constitute a clearly
unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. Also, performance evaluation records are not
open to the public except when there is a compelling public interest in their disclosure.
Districts should designate a custodian of employee records that understands the
responsibility of the duty and the consequence of negligent action regarding custodial
All employees want and have the right to
know what is expected of them in their jobs and how well they are performing. A system of
performance evaluation based on objective criteria should help achieve peak performance
from employees. Evaluating the performance of subordinates can be very rewarding and
enjoyable but also very trying. It is perhaps the most important job a supervisor has to
The standards by which an employee must
perform each duty should be communicated to the employee in terms of quantity and quality.
Any evaluation of performance should in turn be based on these objective, job related
criteria. Objectivity is the basic and most essential element in setting these standards.
Over-emphasizing objective or measurable
elements, however, can lead to problems. If an effort is made to quantify all elements of
performance, there is a danger of developing a cookbook approach to evaluation so that it
ends up being little more than a checklist.
Each duty that is developed for a position
should have a corresponding standard by which it should be performed. This standard should
be stated in terms of quantity and quality.
Most supervisors are aware of the quality
of an employees performance but his awareness is not enough. There should be a time
when supervisor and employee get together for the specific purpose of reviewing
performance. This periodic, formal review is essential in maintaining a high standard of
An employees performance should be
evaluated by the person who is most familiar with the employees work and who is
involved in setting the performance standards.
The district employee will be evaluated by
the district board and/or their designated supervisor annually by an agreed to criteria.
Pay raises will be based on the annual
evaluation of employees performance.
Example evaluation forms are included in
last chapter of reference book.
This Area Still Under Construction!
Attachments and Example Forms
AS&WCC Organizational Chart
AACD Grievance Procedure
NRCS Vehicle Use Provisions
Example Job Descriptions
Example Evaluation Sheets
Family Leave Act