By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News
Long-serving state employees may be eligible for pay increases of up to 10% over the next few years.
The State Personnel Board last week voted to add four steps of 2.5% to employees’ pay structure. The increases are tied to job performance and employees could increase two steps, or 5%, on his or her employment anniversary date. Agencies are not required to give the increases.
“By increasing the number of steps in the salary ranges, agencies have a way to reward long-term employees based on performance, and provide a mechanism to allow employees growth in their respective salary ranges,” State Personnel Director Jackie Graham told Alabama Daily News.
In a letter to agencies explaining the increases, the board said about 7,500 employees are topped out in their current pay range, and the turnover rate exceeds 17%. Additionally, the State’s workforce has declined by more than 1,500 employees in the last two years.
Last year, Graham told ADN agencies were struggling to find employees and her department was reviewing ways to keep them. In 2020, state employees were paid an average of $50,312.
On Friday, she said it’s the board’s hope that the step increases assist recruitment and retention efforts.
Graham said the majority of employees at the top of their current pay structure will not see an immediate increase, “but will at least be eligible for a pay increase within the next few years.”
Graham said the possible costs of the increases are not available. She said agencies don’t have to increase employees’ pay if it would be a financial burden to the office.
The merit raises are separate from cost of living increases sometimes approved by the Legislature. For 2023, lawmakers approved a 4% raise for state employees.
State law gives the board the autonomy to change employee classifications and pay plans. It is unclear whether Gov. Kay Ivey approved of the step changes prior to the board’s decision. Her office did not respond to questions seeking that clarification.
Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Range, the Senate General Fund budget committee chairman, said he wasn’t aware of the increases until after their approval.