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Administration Policy and Procedure

40.011:  Employee Recognition Awards

Status:Re-formatted on June 16, 2016
Approved on September 16, 2013
Signatures and dates
on archival copy
Effective:30 days after approval 
Initiated by:Colleen Bendl
Chief Human Resource Officer
Endorsed by:Pam Benoit
Executive Vice President and Provost
Approved by:Roderick J. McDavis

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A.   Overview

This policy contains guidelines for providing employee awards as incentives or as recognition of an employee's one-time, exceptional achievement. Rewards and recognition are used to improve performance, motivate employees, build confidence and increase employee retention. Departments may choose whether or not to develop a defined reward program. In absence of a defined reward program, units may give awards in recognition of extraordinary performance or achievement.

B.   Types of awards

1.   Defined reward program

These are documented reward programs developed, communicated, and implemented in consultation with the university human resources (UHR) compensation office. Defined reward program awards may be offered to provide incentives to measurably increase:

  1. Productivity (work quality and or quantity)

  2. Attendance

  3. General employee morale or health.

All such programs or events must be monitored for results, and the program, or event sponsorship, should be continued, adjusted, or terminated as indicated. To be renewed, on-going incentive programs or events must demonstrate measurable positive results within twelve months of inception or occurrence.

2.   Recognition of extraordinary performance or achievement

These are awards offered to provide after-the-fact reward for performance or achievement that is outside the bounds of what is ordinarily expected in the position, in these three areas:

  1. Successful cost savings suggestions or effort

  2. Successful one time project or accomplishment

  3. Exceptional service - performance above and beyond the call of duty

3.   Not allowable

  1. Compensation for the permanent assignment of continuing departmental duties: compensation for continuing duties cannot be addressed through this recognition award policy. If an employee's duties have been permanently altered to include higher level duties, contact the university human resource compensation office, to determine if a position upgrade, or other compensation option, is indicated.

  2. Compensation for the temporary assignment of pre-existing departmental duties: compensation for a temporary assignment that is not related to a one-time-project, but instead involves temporarily doing higher level duties (e.g., to cover for an open position during a lengthy search), cannot be addressed through this policy. Contact the university human resource compensation office to determine if a temporary position upgrade, or other compensation option, is indicated.

  3. Compensation for extra hours or overload duties: Do not submit a request for an employee recognition award based on overtime worked for standard or additional duties performed. Contact the university human resource compensation office to learn about overtime, overload, and additional compensation options.

  4. Recognition of a holiday or personal event: employee awards cannot be given in recognition of a personal occasion or event (e.g., a birthday or a personal accomplishment) or a holiday (e.g., Christmas). See the finance division's "Gift-buying Guidelines" at https://www.ohio.edu/finance/customercare/faq.cfm for further details.

C.   Methods of reward

Award may be via cash or gift, according to the "Employee Recognition Award Guidelines."

D.   Dollar amount considerations

1.   Maximum

Awards may not exceed a total of three thousand dollars (gross) in value, per employee, per fiscal year, unless specifically requested by the department with supporting documentation to be reviewed by the UHR compensation office. Awards over three thousand dollars (gross) in value will be submitted to the president, the vice president for finance and administration, the vice president for student affairs, the vice president university advancement, or the executive vice president and provost for approval.

2.   Taxability issues

Cash awards are always taxable and are required to be reported on employees' W2 forms. Gifts to employees are also taxable, with the exception of retirement gifts meeting value and other requirements. Please contact the tax compliance section of finance for advice.

3.   All awards

All employee award purchases, regardless of dollar amount, must have a business purpose, and are subject to the restrictions listed in this policy, and to all university purchasing and expense policies.

E.   Eligibility

All university employees are eligible for awards as described in this policy, including student employees.

F.   Authorizations and audits

The "Recognition Form Appendix A" and the "Employee Awards Request Form" (EARF) require authorization by the direct supervisor and the planning unit head, and are then forwarded to the UHR compensation office, for approval and submission to payroll for processing.

Requests will be audited by university human resources. Requests not in compliance with this policy will not be processed for payment.

All employee recognition awards, programs, or events are subject to audit, at any time, by university human resources, the finance division, the internal audit office, or external auditors from the state or federal government.


Proposed revisions of this policy should be reviewed by:

  1. Deans

  2. Director of Compensation

  3. Payroll Manager

  4. Director of Procurement Services

  5. Classified Senate

  6. Administrative Senate

  7. Faculty Senate

  8. Vice President for Advancement

  9. Chief Financial Administrative Officers

Forms, References, and History

1.   Forms

The following forms are specific to this policy:

  1. The "Employee Recognition Policy Appendix A" form is available from University Human Resources, or on-line as a Word document, linked from https://www.ohio.edu/hr/forms/index.cfm#e.

  2. The "Employee Awards Request" form is available from University Human Resources or on-line as an Excel file, linked from https://www.ohio.edu/hr/forms/index.cfm#e.

  3. The "Direct Payment" form is available on-line as a Microsoft Excel file, from https://www.ohio.edu/finance/procuretopay/forms.cfm (you may need to scroll down).

  4. The "Requisition" form is available on-line as a Microsoft Excel file, from https://www.ohio.edu/finance/procuretopay/forms.cfm (you may need to scroll down).

2.   References

The following items are relevant to this policy:

  1. Policy 40.058, "Administrative and Classified Compensation."

  2. The Employee Recognition Award Guidelines document is available from University Human Resources, or online, linked through https://www.ohio.edu/hr/compensation/.

  3. Finance Division's Gift-buying Guidelines are online at https://www.ohio.edu/finance/customercare/faq.cfm.

3.   History

Draft versions of this policy that were circulated for review, their cover memos, their forms, and Reviewers' comments on them are available on the password-protected Review site, at https://www.ohio.edu/policy2/40-011/.

Prior versions of this policy were approved on:

  1. February 17, 2005

  2. November 15, 1999

  3. October 19, 1997

  4. February 26, 1990

  5. April 8, 1987

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Dick Piccard revised this page
on July 19, 2016.

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