[Adopted 8-4-2003 by Bill No. 2003-07]
Editor's Note: This bill also repealed former Art. I, Merit System, adopted 9-1-1966, as amended.
The purpose of the merit system is to establish and set forth a uniform system for competitive, performance-based hiring, promotion and retention of employees for the Charles County Sheriff's Office.
No person may be hired to, promoted to, or experience a change of pay within a merit system position except in accordance with merit system rules.
Probationary employees serve in an at-will status and do not become merit system employees until they have attained regular status.
Part-time, temporary, contractual and emergency employees are not part of the merit system.
Individuals in appointed positions serve in an at-will status and are not part of the merit system. Individuals serving in appointed positions may be dismissed, demoted or reassigned at the sole discretion of the Sheriff.
Employees in grant-funded positions are within the merit system, assuming they meet the qualifications of their probationary period, with the exception that they may be separated without cause based upon the loss of grant funding and any other special provisions set forth in the grant funding agreement.
All employees of the Office of the Sheriff who were merit system employees under the merit system in effect on the day before the effective date of this article retain their merit status under this article.
Any employee brought into the merit system under this subsection:
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- APPOINTING AUTHORITY
- The authority to hire, dismiss, promote, transfer and make such other employment decisions concerning positions within, and in accordance with, the rules of the merit system. The Sheriff is the appointing authority for all merit system and non-merit system positions.
- APPOINTED POSITIONS
- Regular full-time positions, outside the merit system, which are staffed through an at-will employment relationship. Employees in appointed positions serve at the pleasure of the Sheriff and may be dismissed with or without cause. Appointed positions include the Assistant Sheriff, officers appointed to the ranks of Lieutenant Colonels, Majors, Captains, and the Director of Administrative Services, the Director of the Charles County Detention Center and others as added or deleted by the Sheriff.
- The process of reviewing the duties and responsibilities of a position and incorporating these duties and responsibilities into a position description.
- CONTRACTUAL EMPLOYEE
- An individual who, under a written agreement, provides temporary personal services to the office of the Sheriff for pay, who is not employed in a budgeted position, and who has an employer-employee relationship with the Office of the Sheriff, in which the Office of the Sheriff furnishes the necessary tools and a place to work, has the right to control and direct the details, means, and results of the performance or services and has the right to discharge the individual from employment.
- The movement of a merit system employee from the currently occupied pay grade or rank to a lower pay grade or rank.
- ELIGIBILITY LIST
- A list of persons who have satisfactorily completed all of the requirements necessary to become eligible for appointment or promotion to a merit system position.
- EMERGENCY EMPLOYEE
- An employee serving in an at-will, temporary relationship with the Office of the Sheriff, which may only be activated in the event of an immediate need for an individual with specialized skills or knowledge. An emergency employee is not part of the merit system.
- One employed by the Charles County Sheriff's Office for wages or salary, in an at-will or regular position where the Office of the Sheriff has the right and the ability to direct the individual's conduct and work performance.
- FIELD PROMOTION
- The advancement of a merit system employee to a rank or pay grade higher than the one currently occupied by that employee as a result of a particularly heroic, meritorious, valiant or courageous act on the part of the employee.
- GRANT-FUNDED POSITIONS
- Positions which are funded in part or in total by federal/state funds, the continuation of which may be strictly dependent on that funding.
- MERIT SYSTEM
- The name given to the classified system which includes the regulations and procedures prescribed in and promulgated under the authority of this article, the Director of Administrative Services, the Charles County Sheriff's Office Administrative and Operational Manual, position descriptions, the Charles County Sheriff's Office pay plan and all Charles County Sheriff's Office employees who are included in the merit system of the Charles County Sheriff's Office under this article.
- MERIT SYSTEM POSITIONS
- All regular full-time positions within the Office of the Sheriff, except that of the Sheriff, Assistant Sheriff, officers appointed to the ranks of Lieutenant Colonel, Major, Captain, and the Director of Administrative Services, the Director of the Charles County Detention Center, probationary employees, student officers, contractual employees, temporary employees, and emergency employees.
- PAY PLAN
- The written salary scales placing every position in a pay grade. Each pay grade consists of a maximum and minimum level and intermediate levels of pay.
- A group of duties and responsibilities assigned to one employee. A position may be vacant or occupied.
- POSITION DESCRIPTION
- A written explanation of one position or a number of positions with the same duties and responsibilities, essential functions and title for the position. A position description may contain the minimum qualifications and performance specifications applicable.
- PROBATIONARY EMPLOYEE
- An employee serving in an at-will relationship with the Office of the Sheriff, pending successful completion of the employee's training and probationary period.
- The advancement of a merit system employee to a rank or pay grade higher than the one currently occupied by that employee.
- The designation utilized to identify the level of authority for sworn, corrections and police communications officers within the agency chain of command and to designated placement on the respective agency pay plan.
- The process of reviewing the duties and responsibilities of an existing position in order to revise the position description or moving a position description from one pay grade or rank to another pay grade or rank.
- REGULAR STATUS
- The standing given to merit system employees who have satisfactorily completed their probationary period of employment. Regular status shall not be effective until conveyed in writing by the appointing authority.
- The formal renouncement or relinquishment of employment with the Office of the Sheriff other than retirement.
- To complete a specified term of service or meet the requirements of the Disability Review Board for retirement and formally terminate service with the Charles County Sheriff's Office making the individual eligible for retirement benefits.
- RIGHT OF RETREAT
- A sworn or correctional officer's ability to reclaim the employee's last permanent rank within the merit system when the employee is removed from or fails to complete the probationary standards of the employee's current rank.
- The movement of a merit system employee from one position to another at the same pay grade or rank.
- VOLUNTARY DEMOTION
- When a merit system employee requests a transfer to and accepts a position within the merit system at a lower pay grade or rank than the position the employee currently occupies.
The Sheriff, in accordance with Chapter 125 of the Code, will develop and implement an administrative and operational manual, which shall set forth the rules and regulations governing merit system employees. Copies of all merit system rules and regulations will be made available to all merit system employees.
[Amended 11-1-2011 by Bill No. 2011-09]
The Sheriff may appoint a Director of Administrative Services. The Director of Administrative Services may be sworn or civilian personnel who will serve at the pleasure of the Sheriff and may be removed and replaced at any time by the Sheriff, with or without cause.
The Director of Administrative Services, with the approval of the Sheriff, shall be responsible for preparing such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this article.
The duties or tasks of the Director of Administrative Services shall be determined by the Sheriff and set forth in the administrative and operational manual.
All hiring positions within the merit system will be accomplished by competitive process as set forth in the administrative and operational manual of the Office of the Sheriff.
All applicants for both merit and non-merit positions may be subject to a background investigation, physical, mental, written and oral testing, and such other screening devices as the Sheriff may deem necessary to determine that applicants have the ability to perform the essential functions of the position.
Qualified applicants will be placed upon an eligibility list. The eligibility list will be effective upon its establishment and may be drawn upon by the Sheriff until a new hiring cycle is begun.
All promotions within the merit system will be accomplished by competitive process as set forth in the administrative and operational manual of the Office of the Sheriff. The Board of Public Safety will review and approve those promotions that are not made in accordance with the process.
All applicants will be subject to the same background investigation, physical, mental, written and oral testing, and such other screening devices as the Sheriff deems necessary to determine that the applicants have the ability to perform the essential functions of the position.
The Sheriff retains the right to make field promotions, as he deems appropriate, outside the competitive promotional process.
Promoted employees will assume their promotion in a probationary status.
Each newly hired employee accepts his or her position in a probationary status and will not attain regular status until all conditions of probation have been met. Each employee will serve the following periods of probation:
Sworn employees: 24 months with the possibility of an extension that shall not exceed 12 months.
Correctional officers: 24 months with the possibility of an extension that shall not exceed 12 months.
Civilian employees: 12 months with the possibility of an extension that shall not exceed six months.
Any employee, during the probationary period, may be dismissed, demoted or transferred by the Sheriff. The probationary employee has no recourse, review or appeal under this article.
Promoted or transferred merit system employees will serve in a probationary status for 12 months with the possibility of an extension that shall not exceed six months.
Any regular merit system sworn or correctional officer who is promoted within the merit system shall retain his regular status in the rank from which he is promoted until regular status is attained for the promoted rank or unless dismissed or demoted for cause.
Civilian employees do not serve within a rank structure. Therefore, if a civilian employee fails to meet the conditions of probation in a position to which he or she was transferred or promoted, he or she does not enjoy any right of retreat and may be separated from the agency for failing to meet the terms of his or her probationary status.
A probationary merit system employee shall be retained and granted regular status at the end of the probationary period if the employee's performance during the probationary period is satisfactory to the appointing authority. At the conclusion of the probationary period, the Sheriff will give written notice informing the employee of attainment of regular status, the extension of the probationary period or dismissal. In the event of extension of the probationary period, the Sheriff will set forth the reason(s) for the extension, recommendations to assist the employee in attaining regular status and the length of the extension. The probationary period for newly hired sworn employees and correctional officers may not extend beyond a total of 36 months of probation. The probation period for newly hired civilian employees may not extend beyond a total of 18 months of probation. At the end of the extension, the Sheriff may either award regular status or dismiss the employee.
A regular status employee may resign his position by informing the Sheriff, in writing, of his need to leave and the reason(s) for leaving his position. Whenever possible, employees shall give at least two weeks' advance notice. If a regular status sworn or correctional officer leaves in good standing and the resignation is accepted by the Sheriff without prejudice, the Sheriff, within three years after the date of resignation, may reinstate the sworn employee with credit for previous time served for purposes of retirement benefits, if the Sheriff determines that there is a need for the sworn employee's service. This section is not applicable to individuals who have retired from the Charles County Sheriff's Office merit system.
The appointing authority may make transfers within the merit system when necessary to attain maximum efficiency within the agency or when the appointing authority deems such a transfer to be in the best interests of the public or the agency.
A regular status employee may request a transfer to a position at a lower pay grade. Should the employee accept the position at the lower pay grade, the employee will be considered to have taken a voluntary demotion. The employee who takes a voluntary demotion enjoys no right to retreat to the position with a higher pay grade.
Nothing in these sections shall be interpreted to abridge or supersede any right granted any sworn employee under the Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights or any employee under federal or state law.
The tenure of every employee shall be conditioned on good behavior and the satisfactory performance of the duties of his or her position. Any employee may be temporarily separated by layoff or suspension and regularly separated by dismissal.
When necessary, due to a lack of work or funds, the Sheriff may designate layoffs. Employees in the designated positions shall be laid off in inverse order of their length of service and quality of service. Probationary employees shall be laid off before regular employees.
When an employee's work performance or conduct justifies disciplinary action, the Sheriff may take any appropriate disciplinary action, to include but not limited to suspending an employee with or without pay, removing, demoting or dismissing an employee from his position or take any lesser action he deems appropriate.
Any act, activity, failure to act or perform the essential functions of a position by any employee, by itself or in aggregate with past occurrences, shall be grounds for disciplinary action.
All merit system employees shall have the right and opportunity to be heard with respect to any punitive action taken against them as set forth in the Sheriff's Administrative and Operational Manual.
The Sheriff shall establish a written pay plan for all employees of the Office of the Sheriff.
As part of the budget process each year, the Sheriff will submit the proposed pay plan for the approval of the County Commissioners. The pay plan funded shall be the Sheriff’s pay plan, except that step increases for the Deputy Sheriffs are subject to collective bargaining and must be appropriated by the County Commissioners.
[Amended 4-19-2016 by Bill No. 2016-02]
The salaries of sworn employees, based upon rank and length of service, shall correspond to the salary schedule of the Department of State Police, including longevity steps. The pay plan will change in accordance with any change in the Department of State Police salary pay schedule.
[Amended 4-19-2016 by Bill No. 2016-02]
The pay plan for non-sworn employees will be developed by the Sheriff to offer a range of pay commensurate with the duties and responsibilities enumerated in the employee's position description. The Sheriff may petition the County Commissioners to elevate such pay grades as necessary to compensate for the higher level of security expected of personnel in public safety positions and to compete with surrounding jurisdictions to attract the specialized talents unique to the public safety community.
Hours of work shall be as described in the employee's position description as published in the administrative and operational manual or work schedule or as assigned from time to time by the Sheriff. Leave will be administered as published in the administrative and operational manual.
Merit system employees shall be selected without regard to political considerations, except that political belief or affiliation subversive to the laws of the State of Maryland and the United States of America shall be disqualifying.
There shall be no discrimination against any person seeking employment or employed in the merit system based on the individual's age, ancestry, color, creed, marital status, mental or physical disability, national origin, race, religious affiliation, or sex. With the exception that a personnel action may be taken with regard to age, sex, or disability to the extent that age, sex, physical or mental qualification is required by law or is a bona fide occupational qualification.
Prior conviction of a felony crime involving loss of citizenship shall be automatically disqualifying.
Retirement for sworn law enforcement officers, correctional officers and communications employees will be administered in accordance with the Charles County Sheriff's Office Retirement Plan, amended and restated effective July 1, 1995.
[Amended 1-10-2017 by Bill No. 2016-08]
Retirement for civilian employees will be administered in accordance with the Charles County Government Employees' Retirement Plan.
The Sheriff, in coordination with the County Commissioners, shall make any changes to the merit system he deems appropriate.
Any proposed amendments to this article shall first be referred to the Sheriff.
The Sheriff shall review any proposed amendments and shall refer the proposed amendments, along with the Sheriff's recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners.
The Board of County Commissioners upon receipt of proposed amendments:
May decide to adopt all or part of the proposed amendments or the Sheriff's recommendations.
May decline to adopt the proposed amendments.
May decide to hold public hearings on the proposed amendments or changes, provided that at least seven days' notice of the time and place of such a hearing shall be published in a paper of general circulation in the County.
Shall decide to reject or make the proposed amendment or change to this article in accordance with the procedures governing the ordinance-making powers of the Board of County Commissioners of Charles County.