229 – Seniority, Bids, and Transfers

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I. Purpose

This policy defines the requirements for conducting transfers of employees of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO).

II. Definitions

Classification – The title of an individual position in the classified service and also the process by which the proper title and pay level for each position are determined. [Civil Service Regulation 2.03]

Seniority – Refers to years, months, and days gained by an employee through length of service within a given classification, organizational unit, or total service with the HCSO. [Civil Service Regulation 2.32]

Bid Process – Administrative mechanism by which employees systematically choose shifts, days off, assignment, or holidays or a combination thereof in order of a predetermined priority.

Entry-Level Position – (1) For certified employees: the rank of Deputy and Detention Officer; (2) For Professional Staff Members: those levels with the base pay grade within specific position titles listed by the Human Engagement & Resources Division (H.E.A.R.D).

Probationary Period – Length of time during which employees are on trial (working test period) and are expected to prove their complete fitness for their position; employees may be in a probationary period after their original appointment, after transfer, after promotion, or for disciplinary reasons. [Civil Service Regulation 2.25]

III. Policy

Seniority, shift bids, and transfers will be established and conducted in an unbiased manner consistent with the Harris County Sheriff’s Civil Service Commission and the best interests of the HCSO.

IV. Seniority

A. Seniority will be defined by the Civil Service Commission Regulations. Whenever seniority is used as a factor, one of the following must be used:

1. Length of service within a given classification,

2. Length of service within an organizational unit, or

3. Length of service since initial date of hire with the HCSO.

B. An employee will not lose their original seniority if they are transferred from their current bureau, regardless if the transfer was voluntary or involuntary.

C. Length of service since initial date of hire must be continuous. An employee’s most recent date of hire will be used for seniority purposes.

NOTE: Service with outside agencies, including other Harris County agencies, does not count towards seniority.

V. Bid Process

A. General Rules

1. Each bureau may conduct a bid at the direction of the Sheriff, his or her designee, or the bureau commander.

2. An employee may not be exempt from the bid except at the discretion of the Sheriff, his or her designee, or the bureau commander, and only if it is in the best interest of the HCSO.

3. Date of hire serves as the primary criteria for seniority during the bid process for non-supervisory personnel. Supervisors will have their seniority determined by the date of achieving their current rank.

B. Bid Procedures

If a Bureau decides to hold a bid, the following requirements must be followed:

1. At least 30 days prior to the start of the bid process, an announcement must be made in writing and distributed to affected employees.

2. The bureau must compile a list of affected employees in order of date of hire.

3. Each affected employee must be given a scheduled date and time, prioritized by the earliest date of hire, to request their preferred schedule.

4. An alternative means to participate must be provided for any employees unable to physically attend.

5. Bids will be collected and compared. An employee’s bid will be fulfilled if it matches a vacancy in the bureau’s schedule and there is no competition. If there are multiple bids for the same vacancy:

a. Selection for each vacancy will be determined by seniority, an employee with the earliest date of hire will be given preference.

b. If multiple employees have the same date of hire, the date of their assignment to the bureau will take precedence.

c. If multiple employees have the same date of hire, and date of assignment, then their classification date will be considered.

d. If multiple employees are still equal on all points, the employee with the lower identification number (EIN) will take precedence.

VI. Transfers

A. Types of Transfers

There are two different categories of transfers:

1. Involuntary Transfers

Involuntary transfers are conducted at the discretion of the Sheriff, his or her designee, or the Bureau Commander, and must be in the best interests of the HCSO.

2. Voluntary Transfers

Voluntary transfers are requested at the employee’s own discretion.

B. Voluntary Transfer Process

1. Voluntary transfers conducted within the same bureau are done at the discretion of the bureau commander and must be in accordance with that bureau’s standard operating procedures.

2. Voluntary transfers for open positions posted by H.E.A.R.D. must meet the requirements outlined in the posting for that position. H.E.A.R.D. will review applicants’ qualifications to determine if the minimum requirements listed for the position are met by the employee’s application.

3. Upon confirming eligibility, H.E.A.R.D. will refer applications to the hiring bureau, division, section or unit. The bureau commander, or his or her designee, will interview candidates and make a selection of the best qualified candidate for a particular position.

4. To be eligible for transfer, employees must:

a. Be in active status,

b. Not have any outstanding obligations in their current position,

c. Have served at least six months of continuous duty following their original date of hire or one year for deputies, laterals, commissioned, reserves, or BPOC graduates prior to September 1, 2021 in their current assignment before becoming eligible for transfer

d. Employees starting their career as a deputy after September 1, 2021, whether through our BPOC, the patrol gateway, lateral employment, Reserves, or any other means, must successfully complete the Field Training Program and have two years continuous service with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in a patrol capacity before being eligible for transfer to another bureau.

5. Employees will not be eligible for transfer, or to make application for transfer, during any period that they are:

a. On probation (including new hire, promotional, or disciplinary) [Civil Service Regulation 8.01] or

b. Currently in an assignment in which a condition of the assignment was serving a specified tenure. The commitment of tenure may be waived by the Sheriff only if it is in the best interests of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office,

c. If an employee is currently under investigation, the Sheriff, or his or her designee, will review each case individually and make a determination of whether the transfer may proceed.

6. All transfers (including promotions) have a 180-day probation period to determine the employee’s suitability for the assignment. [Civil Service Regulation 8.02]

7. Should the employee fail to complete their transfer probation period successfully, the employee may be reassigned to any open assignment or position based on the needs of the HCSO. The supervisor must provide documentation to justify the employee’s separation from that position. [Civil Service Regulation 17.02]

C. Transfer of Supervisors

The staffing needs of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office take priority in the assignment of supervisory personnel. Assignments of supervisory positions are determined on the experience and specialized skills of the individual and are at the authority of the Sheriff or their designee.

For supervisors assigned to the Criminal Justice Command, a transfer list shall apply to line positions and will be based upon the following:

1. Sergeants and Lieutenants assigned to the Detention Command who wish to transfer must have completed their one-year commitment due to promotion will be required to submit a transfer request by the end of January of each year to the Patrol Bureau Commander.

The names will be placed on a list according to their seniority based on their current rank. The list will expire at the end on December 31 of each year.

2. After all supervisory transfers have been identified and filled; remaining supervisory vacancies will be filled at the discretion of the Sheriff or his designee.

3. Upon transfer to their new position, a minimum of one (1) year will be served at the new assignment before the supervisor is eligible to request another transfer. The Sheriff has authority to transfer any supervisor for the benefit of the department.

D. Transfers to Specialized Units

Specialized Units are those units requiring a specific set of skills and training and candidates must go through an interview process prior to being eligible. Examples of specialized units are, Vehicle Crimes Division, SWAT, Crime Scene Unit, and High-Tech Crime Unit.

1. Waiver

If an employee does not meet the required two-year patrol commitment time, but have prior experience related to the specialized unit, the employee may submit a waiver letter through their chain-of-command to the Sheriff requesting an exemption from the time requirement. Waiver request will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

2. Selection Process

a) After the closing date of the job posting, the Bureau Commander will select an interview panel of at least three employees; two of those must be of a supervisory classification.

b) The interview panel will consider the criteria specified in the job posting announcing the vacant position and interview all applicants recommended by H.E.A.R.D.

i. Review applicants personnel file.

ii. The interview questions must be consistent amongst all applicants to ensure a fair process. The interview will be proctored by a representative from H.E.A.R.D.

E. Intra-Bureau Transfers

Intra-Bureau transfers will be based on demonstrable needs of the bureau. The Bureau Commander has the final authority on all transfers within their command. [Civil Service Rule 17 – Intrabureau Transfers]

The staffing needs of the bureau will determine transfers and assignments of all personnel.

1. Types of Intra-Bureau Transfers

1. Request for new days off

2. Request a new shift

3. Request a Division/Unit change

2. Open positions, days off and shifts, will be posted notifying the employees of the positions available. The employees will submit a request for transfer to the Division Commander.

F. Notification of Transfer

The employee being transferred, regardless if it is voluntary or involuntary, will be notified by the losing bureau two (2) weeks before the transfer takes effect.

VII. Open Position Postings

1. H.E.A.R.D. will announce open positions on the HCSO Intranet.

2. Open position postings must remain on the HCSO Intranet “Job Postings” section for a minimum of ten business days.

3. The open position posting will include:

a. A job summary and purpose of a specific assignment,

b. The minimum qualifications required, and any preferred qualifications,

c. Documents requested from applicants,

d. The deadline for submission of the requested documents, and

4. Applicants who do not meet the minimum qualifications for transfer will not be interviewed or considered for a position.

5. Applicants responding to an open position posting must submit an online application within the specified time frame. Late, inaccurate, or incomplete applications will not be considered.

6. Once a job positing is closed, H.E.A.R.D. will review all applications, identify them either as “qualified” or “not qualified” based upon the posting. Once the applicants have been identified as qualified, the applications are then forwarded to the Unit/Division/Bureau requesting to fill the position.

7. Qualified candidates will be referred to the bureau commander or hiring manager for interviews.

8. H.E.A.R.D will coordinate with the bureau commander, his or her designee, or the hiring manager to review interview questions and participate in proctoring interviews.

Revision

This policy has been revised on the below listed dates:

August 14, 2009  November 20, 2015   November 12, 2018

August 3, 2010  April 20, 2016   February 15, 2019

January 5, 2011  July 29, 2016    July 19, 2019

July 24, 2013   December 14, 2016   January 29, 2021

August 27, 2015  August 25, 2017   December 27, 2021

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