New Jersey Civil Service Resignations and Job Abandonment Appeals
How a New Jersey Civil Service employee’s separation from service is characterized, either “in good standing” or “not in good standing,” has significant consequences, particularly on the employee’s ability to obtain future government employment, and may even effect her employment in the private sector. Moreover, if the employee is found to have abandoned her position she may be involuntarily terminated. Thus, the right to appeal these characterizations is important.
When a Resignation is Considered to be in Good Standing
Obviously, civil service employees want their separations to be considered in good standing, which will allow them to be reemployed. This will also allow them to answer that they resigned in good standing when asked at job interviews even for private sector jobs. For a resignation to be considered “in good standing” the requirements under New Jersey civil service law are that the employee actually was in good standing when she resigned and that she gave her employer at least 14 days notice, either verbally or in writing (the employer may consent to shorter notice which would allow the resignation to be in good standing despite a shorter notice period). The resignation is considered accepted when the notice is received by the employer. The employer may allow an employee to rescind her resignation prior to the employee’s last day.
When a Resignation is Not in Good Standing and Job Abandonment
Under New Jersey civil service law, if an employee gave the appointing authority less than 14 days notice the resignation shall be deemed “not in good standing.” An employee is deemed to have abandoned her job if she has been absent for five or more straight business days without approval, or if she has not returned to duty for five or more straight business days after approved time off. In these circumstances, the employee will be deemed to have resigned not in good standing. Requests for extensions of leave or time off shall not be unreasonably denied.
This type of resignation results from the settlement of a disciplinary action on appeal. It must be clearly agreed to in the settlement agreement. An employer may not unilaterally impose this type of resignation on an employee.
Notice and Appeal Rights
Since job abandonment and resignation not in good standing have the effect of ending the employee’s employment, they are considered major discipline triggering all the appeal rights that New Jersey civil service employees have to appeal any major discipline. Thus, when an employee is deemed to have resigned “not in good standing” or to have abandoned her job she must be provided given a preliminary notice of disciplinary action (known as a PNDA or Form 31-A) giving notice of the charges and an opportunity for a departmental hearing. The employee will be in unpaid status pending the departmental decision. If the discipline is upheld, she will be given a final notice of disciplinary action (known as a FNDA or Form 31-B) and has the right to appeal to the New Jersey Civil Service Commission. Appeals must be filed within 20 days, as with all major discipline. The employee may also appeal if she alleges that her resignation was the result of duress or coercion. If the resignation is reversed, the employee may receive back pay, benefits and seniority. The New Jersey Civil Service Commission may also modify the resignation from “not in good standing” to “in good standing”, or to an appropriate, lesser penalty.
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