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UCLA Guidelines for the Staff Appreciation and Recognition Awards for FY 2023-24

These guidelines serve as a framework for implementation of cash recognition awards for employees under the Staff Appreciation and Recognition (STAR) Plan at UCLA.


Plan Eligibility


Criteria for cash awards under the STAR Plan are outlined below:



Policy-covered career Professional & Support Staff (PSS), Management & Senior Professionals (MSP), and Clerical (CX) and Skilled Crafts Unit (K4) represented employees are eligible for STAR Plan cash awards if, at the time of the award, they:




Have been employed at UCLA for at least six months and have  successfully completed their probationary period, if applicable;




Have completed the mandatory Systemwide training requirements for their position (including Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Prevention, Abusive Conduct, Cybersecurity, and Ethics);




Are on active pay status or on an approved unpaid leave; and




Received a “Meets Expectations” or better overall rating on their most recent annual performance evaluation. Personnel Policies for Staff Members (PPSM 23) requires that written performance evaluations be completed annually. Employees who have not yet received an annual performance evaluation may be eligible for an award if their manager confirms on the nomination form that they are “meeting expectations”.



Policy-covered employees in per diem, limited, and/or casual-restricted appointments may be eligible for a STAR Plan award at the department’s discretion. Staff hired on an employment contract are eligible for the STAR Plan if they have been employed at UCLA for at least six months and if eligibility is incorporated into the terms of the contract.



Clerical (CX) and Skilled Crafts (K4) represented employees are eligible. All other exclusively represented employees are not eligible for recognition awards under the STAR Plan unless the STAR Plan eligibility is specifically bargained.



Senior Management Group (SMG) members are not eligible for awards under the STAR Plan.



An employee may not receive an award under the STAR Plan if the employee is a participant in an incentive award plan that prohibits the receipt of a recognition award.



An employee’s receipt of an award under the STAR Plan does not establish any right or guarantee that the employee will be eligible for or entitled to an award in any subsequent Plan year.


Performance Standards


Under the STAR Plan, managers are able to recognize, acknowledge, and reward employees for exceptional performance and/or significant contributions related to and supportive of individual, departmental, divisional, and/or organizational goals and objectives. Managers may acknowledge and reward individuals and teams for:



Exceptional Performance: Demonstrated and sustained exceptional performance that consistently exceeds goals and work expectations in quantity and/or quality.



Creativity: One-time innovation or creation that results in time/dollar savings, revenue enhancement, and productivity improvement; and/or ongoing innovative/creative activities that benefit organizational systems, protocols, and/or procedures.



Organizational abilities: Exhibiting extraordinary skills in leadership resulting in the accomplishment of significant departmental or divisional goals and objectives; effective project management, which could include developing a project and/or implementing a project with substantial success; and/or demonstrating organizational capability leading to a greater level of effectiveness.



Work success: Significantly exceeding productivity, customer service, quality of care or similar goals, including demonstrating superior interactions with managers, peers, supervisors, subordinates, the University community, and/or clients and customers served.



Teamwork: Acting as an exceptionally effective and cooperative team member or team leader for a team that has significantly exceeded the goals/objectives of the department/unit.



Written justification of demonstrated performance and contributions, as described in the performance standards above, is required for every STAR award.


Award Limits and Restrictions


The following limitations and restrictions apply to STAR Plan cash awards:



STAR awards for FY 2023-24 are limited to 10 percent of base salary or $5,000, whichever is less.



STAR Plan cash awards are strictly discretionary and may not be promised or guaranteed in advance.



“Across-the-board” type awards (e.g., awards to a category of employees without regard to a recipient’s performance or relative contribution) are not allowed under the STAR Plan. Awards must be based on the recipient’s achievement as an individual or as part of a team.



No exceptions will be made to the above monetary award limits and restrictions.


Nomination Process


The UCLA Campus STAR Award Nomination Form or equivalent documentation must be used for each nomination, due no later than June 30, 2024.



Individual Award Nominations
Individual employees may be nominated for STAR awards based on one or more of the performance standards set forth above. Input will be required from the employee’s manager/supervisor if someone other than the employee’s manager/supervisor is nominating the employee.



Team Award Nominations
Team Awards may be granted to teams of employees who meet one or more of the performance standards set forth in the STAR Plan for work on a project within the same department or for work on the development and/or implementation of inter- departmental projects. Input will be required from the team leader and each employee’s supervisor/manager if someone other than the manager/supervisor is nominating the team.



The employee’s department head is responsible for confirming that the employee is eligible for an award and must approve the employee’s award regardless of the funding source for the award.


Award Review and Approval Authority


The process for all STAR Plan cash awards requires the endorsement of the employee’s immediate supervisor and approval as delegated by the Vice Chancellor, Vice Provost or Dean of the organization.


Timing and Processing of STAR Award Payments



The FY 2023-24 STAR Plan cash awards must be processed by June 30, 2024 and paid from FY 2023-24 funds. 



The assigned Earn Code XSL specific to the STAR Plan must be used when implementing cash awards. (This code does not apply to non-cash awards under Business & Finance Manual provisions.) UCPath Initiators are responsible for ensuring that STAR Plan awards are recorded in UCPath as One Time Pay using the appropriate Action Reason and EARN code.



All STAR Plan cash awards for the Plan year should be processed in accordance with year-end closing schedules. The implementation deadline is July 31, 2024.


Funding Requirements and Restrictions



Only local funds will be used for STAR Plan awards. The Organization Head (i.e., Dean, Vice Chancellor, Vice Provost) is responsible for establishing limitations on funding for awards. Such authority may not be re-delegated.



For FY 2023-24, total annual award expenditures may be up to 2% of the payroll base of eligible filled positions. The Organization Head is responsible for ensuring adherence to this limit.



General funds may not be used for non-general fund positions. Requirements applicable to Federal funds must be observed.


Recordkeeping and Compliance



UCLA campus administration of the STAR Plan is the responsibility of the Associate Vice Chancellor—Campus Human Resources (CHR) as the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO). For the Health Sciences, the Chief Human Resources Officer—Health Sciences is the responsible official.



Campus departments are required to keep local documentation of all STAR Plan awards and will be asked to provide documentation of award implementation on an annual basis.


Treatment for Benefit Purposes


STAR Plan cash awards are not considered compensation for University benefit purposes, such as the University of California Retirement Plan or employee life insurance programs.


Tax Treatment and Reporting


Under Internal Revenue Service Regulations, payment of STAR Plan cash awards must be included in the employee’s income as wages subject to withholding for federal and state income taxes and applicable FICA taxes. Payment is reportable on the employee’s Form W-2 in the year paid.


Plan Contact for Questions


Questions regarding application of these guidelines may be directed to UCLA Campus Human Resources or your CHR Compensation Consultant.