Administrative Policies - Policy 0029

State of Vermont
Agency of Administration
Department of Buildings & General Services


 Policy 0029

Title: Employee Recognition & Bonus Merit Awards
Date of Issue: October 27, 2010
Supersedes: May 19, 2003

To provide appointing authorities and their staff guidance in the administration of employee recognition and monetary award programs primarily for the Department of Buildings and General Services (BGS) employees in the classified service who have exhibited exceptional effort that reflects the values of the Department and to recognize their outstanding contributions made in the workplace.
The BGS policy is designed to fall within the general guidelines of the State Statutes, the Outstanding Performance Article of the Agreements between the State of Vermont and the Vermont State Employees' Association, Inc. (VSEA) and the Department of Human Resources (DHR) policy on Employee Recognition and Merit Bonus Awards.  The Commissioner of BGS is accountable for ensuring that the BGS policy is implemented and maintained in accordance with the original intent of the program as outlined in the Purpose statement above.
This Employee Recognition and Merit Bonus Awards Policy (the policy) is limited to permanent BGS classified employees, exempt employees not covered by DHR policy 7.2, and other employees at the discretion of the Committee.  Employees on probation or under disciplinary action do not qualify for awards under this policy. 
Permanent BGS Employee: A BGS employee who has completed an original probationary period and is occupying a permanent classified position.
Other Employees: Employee’s paid through the State payroll system. 
Employee Recognition Awards (four  types):

  1. Performance Award: A non-cash award that has a cash equivalent of less than $100.00 for short-term or one-time efforts deserving immediate and special attention. This award will be in the form of cash in increments of either $50.00 or $100.00 or can be a time-off award of up to one day. “Outstanding Recognition” Award: For all employees achieving an “Outstanding” rating on their annual performance appraisal. This recognition includes meeting with the Commissioner, award of a BGS commemorative item and  lunch with the employee’s supervisor.
  2. Employee of the Year Recognition Award: Each Division Director will recognize an employee by selecting a single employee within his/her division as the division’s employee of the year. This award will be presented at BGS Day each year by the Commissioner and include a BGS plaque and BGS commemorative item.  
  3. Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW) Award: Once per year a single BGS employee will be recognized as the BGS PSRW Employee of the Year. This individual will be chosen by the Commissioner from the pool of merit program recipients after consultation with the Merit Oversight Committee. 

Employee Merit Awards (three types): A non-recurring cash bonus or merit step increase for excellence over a period of time.

  1. Merit Cash Bonus - A cash bonus awarded for performance that displays a dedication to excellence over a period of time.
  2. Merit Step Increase: May be awarded for only sustained, long-term performance that significantly exceeds all standards.
  3. Team: Two or more individuals who have worked together for at least six months on a specific project, special initiative or activity having a common purpose.  Characteristics of teams include shared decision-making, shared accountability and collective work product(s).


  1. Purpose & Policy Statement:

To foster excellence, BGS hereby establishes a program to reward and recognize individual employees and/or teams.
This policy is written to establish guidelines and procedures for nomination, review, and approval of awards.  Awards may be proposed for:

  • Professional achievement
  • Initiative,
  • Cost savings
  • Innovation substantially above and beyond established standards for a specific position
  • Outstanding, ongoing performance, which significantly exceeds established standards.

Any employee within the Department of Buildings and General services may submit a nomination.

  1. Merit Oversight Committee:

The Oversight Committee (the Committee) is established by the Commissioner of BGS and comprised of four Senior Staff members appointed by the Commissioner.  The role of the Committee is to:

  1. Establish and maintain the policy, in accordance with DHR policy, for approval by the Commissioner of BGS.
  2. Review and recommend nominations within the Department for merit step increases and for awards of $500.00 or more in value. 
  3. Evaluate each award request packet to ensure it meets the criteria for approval and make recommendations to the Commissioner.
  4. Recommend levels of award that promote consistent and equitable recognition.
  5. Serve as the internal merit committee for the Commissioner’s office.
  6. May, at the discretion of the Commissioner, have an advisory role regarding the Department’s observance of Public Service Recognition Week.
  7. Review nominations for completeness, verify employee status, and initiate approval process within 30 days of receipt of a nomination.  Comments and/or recommendations may be solicited by the Committee from appropriate supervisors and/or managers.
  8. The Committee will meet at least monthly, review all completed nominations, and forward recommendations to the Commissioner of BGS for review and final approval. Once approved, the Committee will process the award and notify both the nominator and nominee's immediate supervisor of the approved award.  


  1. Award Criteria:

The goal of this policy is to encourage and reward employees for exceptional effort that reflects the values of the Department. Meritorious performance may be exemplified by, but not limited to, the following:
a.     Demonstrates initiative, innovation or creativity (such as savings to the State, increased efficiency of operations or continuous program improvement).
b.    Demonstrates extraordinary commitment, customer service, or dedication to the workplace.
c.     Exhibits an extraordinary level of teamwork, professional development or leadership.
d.    Contributes extra effort toward creation of a positive work place environment or positive workplace attitudes.
e.    Achieves measurable success on special projects requiring significant extra effort.
f.      Demonstrated and recognized, long-term "outstanding" or “excellent” performance, for a continuous period of 12 months or more is required for merit step increases.

  1. Nomination Procedure:

Any BGS employee may nominate another employee or team within BGS by following the nominating procedures contained in this policy. The inclusion of supporting documentation is required.  Employees may not nominate themselves, and reciprocal nominations are prohibited.
The following procedure shall be used for all BGS merit award nominations.  The nominator shall complete a merit award nomination form, Nomination Form  or, upon request, present the nomination to the Committee in person. The nomination form must be completed as thoroughly as possible, detailing the circumstances warranting recognition and reward, and be forwarded to the Committee for processing.   Supporting documentation may include:

  • Comments and recommendations from the employee's supervisor, manager, appointing authority
  • Letters of commendation, support, or appreciation that speak to the employee's interactions with other departments, customers, clients, and public or private contacts
  • Examples of work products, documentation of achievements, or other forms of documentation as appropriate insofar as it relates to the employee's job performance and the award under consideration.
  • Approval from nominee’s manager.


  1. Types of Awards: Recognition and Awards:

A.    Employee Performance Recognition – Non-Cash Awards
This policy permits division directors and program managers the authority  to implement and administer reward and recognition programs for non-cash awards worth less than $100.00, such as gifts or gift certificates for a specific item, letters of appreciation, plaques, or time off (in increments of 1 hour to 1 day). Receipt of an award under a reward and recognition program does not prohibit an employee from being eligible for a non-recurring bonus or merit base pay increase in the same twelve-month period.
B.    Merit Awards – A Non-Recurring Merit Bonus is an award recognizing exceptional performance of a one-time nature.  A Merit Step Increase may only be awarded for sustained, long-term performance that significantly exceeds all standards. 
(1)      Non-Recurring Merit Bonus:
A Non- Recurring Merit Bonus is a lump sum or cash-equivalent bonus granted on a one-time basis and does not alter the current hourly rate of the nominee. These bonuses are appropriate for special recognition of exceptional performance on a special project or other "short-term" (i.e., less 12 months) activity of significant importance to BGS.  The amount of the bonus will be determined, considering:
                                          i.    The duration of extraordinary effort expended (days, weeks, months),
                                         ii.    The amount of extra effort required (time, physical energy, personal sacrifice, mental effort or demands), and
                                        iii.    The impact resulting from the extraordinary effort (saved money, increased efficiency, improvements to safety, the environment, etc.)
The value of a non-recurring bonus may range from $500.00 to an amount not to exceed 8% of the annualized base salary of thenominee.
(2)      Merit Step Increase:
Merit Step Increases are permanent adjustments to salary that advance the step level of the employee by one or two steps.  Merit Step Increases may be appropriate when faster-than-normal salary advancement is warranted due to sustained, long-term (i.e. 12 months or more) performance that significantly exceeds all standards.
i. One step awards:  A candidate for a one-step award must have received an “excellent” or “outstanding” rating by his or her supervisor for the last performance rating period.  The nomination must be supported by corroborating evidence from a third party, or other credible evidence as may be available.
ii. Two step awards:  A candidate for a two-step award must have received an “excellent” or “outstanding” rating by his or her supervisor in the last two (2) consecutive performance rating periods. The nomination must be supported by corroborating evidence from a third party, or other credible evidence as may be available.
The effective date for a Merit Step Increase will be the first day of the new payroll period following approval of the award by the Commissioner of BGS.  
A Merit Step Increase may not, in any circumstance, exceed two steps.
The granting of these awards must be in compliance with the Outstanding Performance Article of the Agreements between the State of Vermont and VSEA.  
No individual employee may receive more than one "small" bonus (up to and including $1,000) and one "large" merit bonus (over $1,000 or a step increase) in a single year without the prior approval of the Commissioner of DHR. 
(3)      Team Rewards
The policy permits the Committee to establish provisions, in addition to reward and recognition programs (Section A) for meritorious performance by team members. Receipt of an award under a team recognition program does not prohibit an employee from being eligible for a Non-Recurring Merit Bonus or Merit Step Increase in the same twelve-month period. Nominations that include entire divisions are prohibited.

  1. Committee Operating Guidelines:

The Committee shall create operating guidelines to ensure the continuity of this policy. The Commissioner of BGS shall approve the operating guidelines.  The operating guidelines shall consider:

  1. Adoption of specific rules of order,
  2. How Committee membership is to be established and modified,
  3. The over-all duties and responsibilities of the work performed by the Committee
  4. Any other operating guidelines as may be necessary to discharge the Committee’s obligations.

Department Approval:  Gerry Myers, Commissioner

Nomination Form Recognition Award
Nomination Form Merit Award


Contact Information

Commissioner's Office

2 Governor Aiken Avenue
Montpelier, Vermont 05633-5801
(802) 828-3314 

24/7 Statewide Security Phone Number
(802) 828-0777

24/7 Statewide Security Pager
(802) 240-0068