timesleader.com

Lawton eyes expanded HR hiring role

October 4, 2012

Luzerne County Manager Robert Lawton has proposed personnel code changes that would allow the human resources department to decide how some employees are recruited and selected.
This discretionary hiring approach would apply to roughly 350 ‚??non-career service‚?Ě positions, which are essentially workers not in unions or governed by state civil service.
The existing personnel code established a process for selecting unionized career service employees but didn‚??t clearly state whether the procedure must be followed for non-career service positions.
That procedure requires public advertising of all vacant positions to be filled if there‚??s no eligibility list from a previous selection process within a year. The county human resources department handles the initial screening, and ‚??knowledge, skills and abilities,‚?Ě or KSAs, must be developed for the rating and ranking of all applicants.
Lawton proposes vacant non-career service positions be posted for at least two weeks at county buildings and on the county‚??s website. The position would be advertised only if it‚??s not filled in-house by a current employee.
The human resources department, with the approval of the administrative services head and county manager, ‚??shall determine the recruitment and selection process to be used for each non-career service position,‚?Ě Lawton‚??s proposed amendment says.
These requirements should not apply to positions appointed or confirmed by council, which would include the council clerk and eight division heads, Lawton‚??s proposal says.
County council agreed to introduce the proposed amendments but has not yet voted to accept them in full or part.
Lawton has asked council to adopt the proposed changes at its Oct. 9 meeting.
Council Chairman Tim McGinley said council will vote on the changes at that meeting.
County Councilman Edward Brominski has already privately raised objections, saying the change gives the manager and his administration ‚??carte blanche‚?Ě to follow any hiring procedures they want for hundreds of positions.
Brominski said the clerk and division head positions could be filled without publicly advertising the positions or involving the human resources department in the hiring process if the changes are adopted.
Lawton‚??s proposed amendments keep a clause requiring the county to follow ‚??merit principles and objectives,‚?Ě including recruiting, selecting and promoting employees based on abilities, knowledge and skills required for the position ‚??as determined through open and competitive means.‚?Ě
Lawton told council he was proposing the amendments because the home rule charter ‚??identifies and draws a distinction‚?Ě between career service and non-career service ‚?? also known as exempt -- employees, but the personnel code does not.
The lack of clarity came to light earlier this year when council hired a clerk, a position considered non-career service by the administration. An ethics complaint was filed arguing council should have followed the code hiring procedures, though the complaint was dismissed.
The county district attorney and public defender also have developed their own hiring procedures filling non-career service vacancies in their offices in recent months.
See the changes
Luzerne County Manager Robert Lawton‚??s proposed personnel code changes have been posted on the council section of the county website, www.luzernecounty.org, under the subhead ‚??Introduced, for adoption, Personnel Code Amendments.‚?Ě