Administrative Policies - Policy 0029

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

Policy 0029


Applicable To:         Permanent Classified Employees of the Department of Buildings and General Services

Issued By:                  Department of Department of Buildings and General Services

Approved by:          Christopher Cole, Commissioner

Date Approved:    April 1, 2017 (Supersedes policy dated March 1, 2006)

1.    PURPOSE: This memorandum establishes Department policy and criteria for merit awards and establishes procedures for submission and review of nominations and approval or denial of awards.  

2.   POLICY:  It is important to recognize employees for significant contributions to the workplace.  These contributions come in varied forms including: sustained high quality work over an extended period; successful efforts on projects; stand-out “moments of success” such as an outstanding customer service or problem resolution effort; or the helpful effects an individual has on his or her organization through positive attitude and collaborative efforts. This Policy is limited to permanent classified employees. Employees in original probation or under disciplinary action do not qualify for awards under this policy.  

3.    GENERAL GUIDELINES: Merit awards will be implemented in accordance with this policy, Collective Bargaining Agreement and the State Personnel Policies and Procedures.

4.    MERIT AWARDS COMMITTEE: There is hereby established a Merit Awards Committee. The Merit Awards Committee (MAC) will consist of at least four members, and the Chair, each appointed by the Commissioner for two year terms. For purposes of creating the committee, half of the members will serve for one year initially so that only one half of the committee shall change each year going forward. There is no prohibition from serving multiple terms. The Chair will be a member of Senior Management. Regular meetings of the MAC will be held monthly or as needed. The Chair may call special meetings at any time. Meetings of the MAC may be held in person or by other means as the Chair may choose. The purpose of the MAC will be to review merit award nominations for internal equity and consistency, make recommendations on approval of awards to the Commissioner and to review and recommend to the Commissioner changes to the criteria to be followed in evaluating nominations. 

5.    TYPES OF MERIT AWARDS – NONRECURRING AWARDS AND MERIT STEP INCREASE:  A Nonrecurring Award is a lump sum or cash equivalent award granted on a one-time basis. It does not alter the employee's current hourly rate of pay. There are two types of Nonrecurring Awards:

  • Peer Recognition Award: Peer Recognition Awards are for a range of employee accomplishments and contributions. This type of award is appropriate for collaborative acts of an employee that assisted other employees in achieving the mission. Nominations may be made at any time by employees. The amount of this award will not exceed $200 or up to 8 hrs.
  • Merit Bonus:  A bonus is a one-time payment appropriate for special recognition of exceptional performance on a project or other specific short-term (i.e., less than 12 month) activity. During the period being recognized, the employee's overall performance must be satisfactory or higher. A bonus may range from $250 to an amount not to exceed 8% of the annualized base salary of the employee, payable through the payroll system, or a time off award of 8 to 40 hours.
  • Merit Step Increase:  A merit step increase is a permanent adjustment to salary that advances the step level of the employee by one or two steps. A step increase may be warranted when faster than normal salary advancement is appropriate due to sustained long-term (i.e., at least 12 months for one step and 24 months for two steps) performance that significantly exceeds all standards, or other exceptional achievement. The employee must have received an outstanding performance appraisal for the time period for which the performance or special achievement is being recognized.  An employee is not eligible to receive more than one step increase in any 12-month period or two step increases in a 24-month period.   


  • Nominations for all Peer Recognition Award will be submitted on a Peer Recognition Form, attached, which should be completed as thoroughly as possible, detailing the circumstances warranting recognition. 
  • Nominations for all Merit Awards will be submitted on a Merit Nomination Form, attached. This form shall be accompanied by a complete and though write up detailing the circumstances warranting recognition. This write up should clearly identify which elements of the Award Criteria which are being identified for consideration. 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 
    • Specific details that illustrate how the nominee exhibited the award criteria of collaboration, communication, competence, and/or team work
    • Current supervisory feedback that is associated with the nomination
    • Current annual, special or promotional Performance Evaluation
  • Once completed all Merit Award will be submitted to the MAC via E-mail through the following link BGS - Merit Oversight Committee
  • The MAC will meet monthly or as needed to consider award nominations, although special meetings may be called when required. Using the criteria outlined in this Policy, any award must be approved by a majority of the MAC. In an effort to be uniform and consistent the MAC reserves the right to recommend a modification of the nominated amount for any award. Once the MAC has developed a recommendation for awards, it will submit the recommendation to the Commissioner for his or her approval. 
  • The Commissioner reserves the right to modify the MAC’s decision as he/she deems appropriate and may directly issue a merit award without submitting such award to the MAC.
  • No individual employee may receive more than one Peer to Peer award and one Merit bonus within the same fiscal year without the prior approval of the Commissioner of Human Resources. An employee may receive up to two Peer to Peer Awards in the same fiscal year. An employee receiving a two-step increase may receive a bonus or time-off award in the second year.

7.    AWARD CRITERIA:  Criteria to consider in evaluating employee nominations. In most cases, any one of these behaviors may warrant a Recognition Award. Nominees for bonuses and merit increases will, most likely, exhibit a number of the behaviors. Additionally, the employee’s latest evaluation must be current for all Merit Step Increases and accurately noted on the application form.

  • Collaboration
    • Makes service improvement suggestions
    • Brings in new information, techniques or materials to support and encourage fresh thinking
    • Takes initiative and calculated risks to try new things
    • Builds enthusiasm and optimism among co-workers to expand their belief in what's possible
    • Encourages individuals to volunteer and get involved in projects that are of special interest 
    • Helps others think things through and get "unstuck" so they can act within constraints
  • Communication
    • Demonstrates quality public communication
    • Increases positive visibility with our customers; promotes mission of the department
    • Resolves conflicts through constructive engagement
    • Provides service perceived as quality by both external and internal customers
    • Is pro-active rather than reactive
    • Writes and prepares documentation that is clear, concise and accurate
  • Competence
    • Demonstrates problem solving skills
    • Participates in job skill training
    • Streamlines tasks
    • Eliminates waste or duplication
    • Ends unproductive tasks
    • Manages work time so as to focus on priority tasks
    • Delegates while maintaining quality 
  • Team Work
    • Displays a positive attitude toward tasks, public, and co-workers
    • Uses humor constructively to keep self and co-workers energized
    • Addresses conflicts with co-workers so a positive climate prevails
    • Acts in a manner which contributes to other workers having a positive attitude and working more productively
    • Places the needs of the team above his or her individual needs or motivations
  • Other
    • Increase employee’s efficiency
    • Demonstrates excellent customer service
    • Other

 8.    NOTIFICATION PROCESS:  Notification of an award shall first go to the employee’s unit Manager. The Human Resource Administrator will process the award. 

Department Approval:  Christopher Cole, Commissioner

Peer Recognition Nomination Award
Merit Award Nomination Form


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