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Staff Appreciation and Recognition (STAR) Plan Guidelines (FY 2018-19) for Policy-Covered Staff


Guidelines for UCLA’s Staff Appreciation and Recognition (STAR) Plan for FY 2018-19 are now available. The Guidelines are consistent with Staff Policy 34, Incentive and Recognition Award Plans and provide a basis to recognize staff members for their achievements and outstanding contributions to the department, organization, and/or the campus.

STAR Plan eligibility requirements for policy-covered staff (PSS and MSP) are described in the Guidelines. Highlights are noted below:

  • Awards are in the form of a lump sum and may not exceed 10% of an employee’s base salary or a maximum of $10,000, whichever is less. Organizations may establish lower award limits. (The XSL Earn Code should be used to process all cash awards that fall within the STAR Plan.)
  • The Chancellor has delegated authority for approval of any awards that exceed $5,000 to Organization Heads (the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, Deans, Vice Provosts, and Vice Chancellors) for employees within their jurisdiction. This authority may not be re-delegated.
  • This fiscal year, total annual award expenditures by departments may be up to 1% of the payroll base of eligible filled positions. (Please see Section VII of the Guidelines.)
  • To receive an award, eligible staff must be on pay status for at least six months and have successfully completed their probationary period, if applicable; they must be on pay status at the time of the payout to receive an award.
  • Please note that represented employees in the Clerical Unit ("CX") and UCLA Skilled Trades Unit ("K4") are eligible for STAR awards under the same terms and conditions that apply to policy-covered employees.
  • All awards require specific documentation of performance and achievements that are the basis for the award. Only those employees who have achieved a performance rating of "meets expectations" or better are eligible to receive an award. Please utilize the CHR Award Nomination Form for the necessary documentation of award approval.

University of California
UCLA Guidelines for the Staff Appreciation and Recognition Plan
for Plan Year July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019

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

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

  1. Policy-covered career Professional & Support Staff (PSS), Management & Senior Professionals (MSP), and Clerical (CX) and Skilled Trades Unit (K4) represented employees are eligible for STAR Plan cash awards if, at the time of the award, they:
    • Have successfully completed their probationary period, if applicable,
    • 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."
  2. 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 eligibility is incorporated into the terms of the contract.
  3. Clerical (CX) and Skilled Trades (K4) represented employees are eligible. All other exclusively represented employees are not eligible for recognition awards under the STAR Plan.
  4. Senior Management Group (SMG) members are not eligible for awards under the STAR Plan.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

II. 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,

  • 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.

III.  Award Limits and Restrictions: The following limitations and restrictions apply to STAR Plan cash awards:

  • No single STAR Plan cash award may exceed 10% of the employee’s base salary or $10,000, whichever amount is lower. Organizations may establish lower award limits. Base salary is the regular rate of pay, excluding overtime, stipends, and differential pay such as shift differential.
  • Cumulative STAR Plan cash awards paid to an employee in a Plan year may not exceed 10% of the employee’s base salary or $10,000, whichever amount is lower.
  • The total amount that an employee receives in STAR awards during the Plan year cannot exceed $10,000 or 10% of base salary whichever is lower regardless of the number of awards or sources of the awards. The home department is responsible to ensure that the cumulative amount does not exceed $10,000 or 10% of base salary amount.
  • 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.

IV. Nomination Process: The UCLA Campus STAR Award Nomination Form (PDF) or equivalent documentation must be used for each nomination, due no later than June 30, 2019.

  • Individual Award NominationsIndividual 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.

V. Award Review and Approval Authority

  • The process for all STAR Plan cash awards requires the endorsement of the employee’s immediate supervisor and approval of the next level manager and the department head.
  • Authority to approve any awards that exceed $5,000 has been delegated by the Chancellor to the Executive Vice Chancellor & Provost, Deans, Vice Provosts, and Vice Chancellors for employees within their jurisdiction. This authority may not be re-delegated.

VI. Timing and Processing of STAR Award Payments

  • STAR Plan cash awards may be presented at any time during the Plan year and should be awarded as soon as possible after the accomplishment or event in order to provide immediate recognition to employees.
  • 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.)
  • All STAR Plan cash awards for the Plan year should be processed before July 31, 2019.

VII. 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.
  • In FY 18-19, total annual award expenditures by departments may be up to 1% of the payroll base of eligible filled positions. The Organization Head is responsible for ensuring adherence to this limit. Under exceptional circumstances, requests by the Organization Head to exceed this limit may be forwarded to Campus Human Resources for consideration.
  • General funds may not be used for non-general fund positions. Requirements applicable to Federal funds must be observed.

VIII. 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.

IX. 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.

X. 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.

XI. Plan Contact for Questions

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


Related Information

PPSM Policy 23

PPSM Policy 34

STAR Nomination Form