A Guide for Writing a State Legislative Personnel Manual


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Legislative staffing organizations vary greatly from state to state. Some legislatures employ large, central, nonpartisan staff, while others have a number of small, discrete units that handle specific tasks (e.g., budget, bill drafting) for each chamber. Regardless of how they are organized, however, legislative staffs are subject to the personnel laws, policies and
procedures promulgated by their employer. These laws, policies and procedures vary among the states and, at times, even between chambers in the same legislature.

For organizations to function effectively and efficiently, it is vital that the employees know the rules that regulate their actions in the workplace. Without a compendium of guidelines for staff and supervisors, decisions made by management may be viewed as arbitrary and unfair. In addition, if there is not a distinct set of rules, managers may be at greater risk of liability for their actions. Agencies almost always encounter problems when policies are not clear or are not followed by management.

It is the responsibility of upper level managers to accurately convey their organization’s personnel policies and to communicate them effectively to employees. A manual can help meet this obligation because it contains the personnel policies, rules and procedures that pertain to employees once they are hired. Making this information available to all staff ensures they are aware of the expectations of the organization and have access to the rules that govern their working lives. Employee handbooks also can protect the organization and its management by giving supervisors a solid understanding of where their discretion ends and by providing guidelines for handling certain situations that are part of organizational life. The handbooks also can serve to instill pride in the organization by clearly defining its mission and history.

The 2001-2002 Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee’s Task Force on Legislative Staff Management developed this guide to assist legislative managers to develop employee handbooks and personnel guidelines, or to review their existing manuals to improve them. The guide is organized topically by policy area (e.g., general employee policies, work schedules and pay, leave policies). Throughout this reference, as different personnel policies are discussed, examples of specific policy language are included to assist managers in considering the needs of their organization. This can be particularly useful in those areas of personnel management where it is crucial for supervisors to state policy clearly. All the sample language presented in this guide is taken from existing handbooks that are used by legislative staff organizations and are solely for illustrative purposes. When developing or refining your own personnel manual, please be sure to seek state-specific legal review of its contents.

The task force is indebted to Stephen S. Burgoon, a partner at Greber & Burgoon, P.C., Frederick, Md., for his technical assistance and counsel. We also wish to thank NCSL staff member Brian Weberg for his hard work and assistance in keeping this project on track.

We hope that you find this guide to be useful in developing or reviewing your personnel policies as we all strive to improve legislative staff support for state legislatures.Contents

Table of Contents


2001-2002 LSCC Task Force on Legislative Staff Management


General Provisions

Greetings to New Employees
Civil Service Exempt
Mission Statement
Organization Chart


General Employee Policies

Equal Employment Opportunity
Sexual Harassment
Performance Evaluation
Immigration Compliance
Personnel Files
Political Activities
Travel Reimbursement for Official Business
Use of State Vehicle
Americans with Disabilities Act


Work Schedules and Pay

Employment Classifications
Hours of Work
Recording Hours of Work
Regular and Overtime Pay Procedures
Compensation from Outside Sources


Leave Policies

General Leave Issues


Employee Benefits

Workers Compensation
Long-Term Disability
Short-Term Disability
Employee Assistance Program
Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA)
Retirement Plans
Training and Professional Development


Workplace Conduct

Personal Appearance and Dress Code 
Staff Code of Ethics
Public and Media Relations
Conflict of Interest
Absenteeism and Tardiness
Disciplinary Infractions
Complaint Resolution Procedures
Substance Abuse
Capitol Security, Safety and Health
Workplace Violence
Computer Systems
Office Supplies and Equipment



Personnel Manual Acknowledgment