UCLA Guidelines for Staff Appreciation & Recognition Plan



University of California
UCLA Guidelines for Staff Appreciation & Recognition Plan
Plan Year July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015



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

I.    Plan Eligibility

Eligibility criteria for cash awards under the STAR Plan are outlined below. (Senior Management Group (SMG) members are not eligible for recognition awards under the STAR Plan.)

Policy-covered career Professional & Support Staff (PSS) employees and Management & Senior Professional (MSP) 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.”
  • In addition, policy-covered employees in per-diem, limited, and/or casual-restricted appointments may be eligible for awards at the department’s discretion. Staff hired on an employment contract are eligible for the STAR Plan where eligibility is incorporated into the terms of the contract.
  • Exclusively represented employees are not eligible for recognition awards under the Plan unless the STAR Plan is specifically bargained.
  • 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.  

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 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.

III.    Award Limits and Restrictions

The following limitations 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 pay 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.
  • 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.

IV.    Nomination Process

The UCLA Campus STAR Award Nomination Form or equivalent documentation must be used for each nomination, due no later than June 30, 2015.

  • 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.  

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 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 Description of Service (DOS) code XSL specific to the STAR Plan must be used when implementing cash awards. EDB Preparers are responsible for ensuring that awards are recorded in the EDB. Instructions for entering data are found in the EDB Manual Section D.11.10.
  • 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, 2015.

VII.    Funding Requirements and Restrictions

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


Campus Human Resources, Compensation Services
Phone: (310) 794-0880 | Fax: (310) 794-0875

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Related Information

STAR Plan Nomination Form