State Universities Civil Service System
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1.1 Overview

Manual: Exemption Procedures

Subsection: General Overview of Exemption from State Universities Civil Service System

The State Universities Civil Service Act (Act) (110 ILCS 70/36e) states that all employees shall be covered by the State Universities Civil Service System (University System), except the following persons:

  1. The members and officers of the Merit Board and the board of trustees, and the commissioners of the institutions and agencies covered hereunder;
  2. The presidents and vice-presidents of each educational institution;
  3. Other principal administrative employees of each institution and agency as determined by the Merit Board;
  4. The teaching, research, and extension faculties of each institution and agency;
  5. Students employed under rules prescribed by the Merit Board, without examination or certification.

As part of its statutory responsibility, the Merit Board has approved criteria that are to be used as guidelines for determining appropriate civil service exemptions.  These criteria were originally drafted in 1972 by members of the Human Resource Directors Advisory Committee and the State Universities Civil Service Advisory Committee and circulated to all the Designated Employer Representatives and members of the University Civil Service Advisory Committee for comment and input.  At that time, the Merit Board also approved an Administrative Advisory Committee’s resolution recommending that the Merit Board’s authority to approve exemptions based on the criteria be delegated to the Executive Director of the University System.  The employer would then be allowed to appeal the Executive Director’s decisions to the Merit Board.  These criteria were expanded in 1975 and 1990.  The current criteria for the exemption of positions provides as follows:


  1. Whose primary duty is administrative management of a Campus or Agency division or like unit, and who reports to the Chief Executive Officer of the Campus or Agency; or
  2. Who performs an independent administrative function and reports to the Chief Executive Officer, President, Vice-President, Chancellor, Vice Chancellor or Provost of the Campus or Agency



  1. Whose primary responsibility is the administration of an academic unit engaged in academic instruction or research (e.g., Dean, Associate and Assistant Dean, Department Head, Associate and Assistant Department Head.



  1. Who is charged with high level administrative responsibilities and whose decisions are based on administrative polices; and
  2. Who performs these duties with only general administrative supervision or direction and who exercises discretion and independent judgment (e.g., Director, Associate or Assistant Director)



  1. Who is in a position requiring a knowledge of an advanced type in a field of science or learning customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction and study (as distinguished from a general academic education) and which requires the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment (e.g., physician, attorney, engineer, architect, archeologist, physicist, biochemist)

In 1997 and in 1998, the Merit Board approved position standards that would allow the employer to exempt positions from civil service without prior approval from the Executive Director if the position description fits within the defined position standard.  This exemption process would be subject to audit by the University System office.

The following sections contain the guidelines and criteria to be used in properly validating and designating those positions, and employees in those positions, as exempt from State Universities Civil Service System coverage, as categorically defined above.  It is important to note that a significant amount of attention and careful consideration was taken to insure that these standards most accurately reflect and preserve the historical intentions of related statutory provisions and Merit Board actions.

Exemption status is determined primarily by a thorough and comprehensive review of the position description.  It is therefore extremely important that employers maintain an updated, accurate and complete position description for all positions.  A routine and regular position review program is necessary in order to properly assign classification designations and accurately validate exemption status.

When the standards for each exemption category was established, appropriate attention was given to insure that the examples and types of positions listed were consistent with statutory intention and Merit Board actions.  At the same time, the examples and types of positions listed remain broad enough to hopefully encompass future positions that would be appropriate for designation under each category.

Within any complex classification plan, there are instances of overlap in position specifications, assigned duties, and responsibilities.  However, there was never any intent to permit or condone the conversion of traditional civil service positions to exempt status by virtue of the fact that the positions may appear to correspond to the general definitions of positions contained in these exemption categories.  If a position description matches the specifications for any civil service classification, the position must be designated as civil service.

(Reference section 36e of the Act (110 ILCS 70/36e))
Issued 6/1/2009