Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts

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Personnel Reference Book
A Guidebook For
Arkansas 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 described.

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 employee’s 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.


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 program.

In some instances, district employees are assigned to work directly with employees of cooperating agencies. The cooperating agencies should provide technical guidance of the district’s 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 consideration.


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 requirements.

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 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 worked.

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 employees.

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.


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 employees.

Sick leave may be used for the following purposes:

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 employee’s 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 sick leave.

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 physician’s certificate.

Notification of absence due to illness shall be given as soon as possible on the first day of absence to the district office.



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.


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 benefits.


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 leave.


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 Year’s Day January 1

Dr. Martin Luther King’s 3rd Monday in January

George Washington’s 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 Worker’s 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 Worker’s 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.

Worker’s 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 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.


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 employee’s wages is determined by matching exemptions claimed, amount of wages, marital status, spouse’s 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 - Employer’s 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 employee’s 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 district’s 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, 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..


See Arkansas Bulletin 120-8-1 attached.


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 employee’s 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 problem.

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.


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 officials.

All employees are expected to maintain high standards of ethics and personal conduct. The following minimum requirements should be considered.

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 employee’s supervisor in advance. Unexpected leave is to be reported promptly to the supervisor prior to the beginning of the employee’s work period.

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 personal needs.

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 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 district’s 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.


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 duties.


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 do.

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 employee’s 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 employee performance.

An employee’s performance should be evaluated by the person who is most familiar with the employee’s 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

Time Sheets

AS&WCC Organizational Chart

AACD Grievance Procedure

NRCS Vehicle Use Provisions

Example Job Descriptions

District Manager

District Secretary

District Technician

Example Evaluation Sheets

Employment Application (MSWord)

Employment Application (PDF)

Family Leave Act  



The Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts
8100 Bicentennial Road
North Little Rock, Arkansas 72118
Telephone (501) 904-5575