Sample Material of Public Administration Study Kit (Paper -
Chapter IX - Personnel Administration: Position
Meaning and Definitions
“A position is a group of a current duties and responsibilities, assigned or
delegated by competent authority, requiring the full time or part time
employment of one person.”
Under this definition a position is composed of assignments
of duties and delegations of responsibilities. It may be part time or full time,
temporary or permanent, occupied or vacant. It does not depend for its existence
or identify upon whether or not it is occupied by an employee. It often exists
as a vacancy before it is occupied by anyone and it resumes its status as a
vacancy when an incumbent is separated from it.
The duties and responsibilities of a position are, however,
not always fixed and immutable. They may change from time to time, abruptly or
gradually and because of anyone of a number of different reasons. Hence, since a
position is characterised by its current duties and responsibilities, it follows
that a material change in the duties or responsibilities of a position has the
effect of creating a new position different, to the extent of the change, from
the old one.
As we have observed that the process of classification
consists of placing things in classes; that the nature of a class of items in
any system of classification implies that each individual item which the class
contains shall be like every other item in certain respects; that these respects
depend upon the basis of the particular classification concerned; and that in
position classification we select as the basis of classification duties and
responsibilities of the positions being classified. Hence, a class of positions
is a group of positions which, irrespective of the particular operating units in
which they are located, are sufficiently alike in their duties and
responsibilities to justify group treatment in nomenclature, selection, pay and
other personnel processes.
Thus the term ‘Class’ is defined as: “The term ‘Class’ means
a group of positions established under these rules sufficiently similar in
respect to the duties, responsibilities, and authority thereof that the same
descriptive title may be used with clarity to designate each position allocated
to the class, that the same requirements as to education, experience, capacity,
knowledge, proficiency, ability and other qualifications should be required of
the incumbents, that the same tests of fitness may be used to choose qualified
employees, and that the same schedule of compensation can be made to apply with
equity under the same or substantially the same employment conditions.”
It appears from above definition that if two or more
positions are “sufficiently similar in respect to their duties and
responsibilities”, they belong in the same class; otherwise they belong in
different classes. It is the decision whether or not positions are in fact
‘sufficiently similar’ that constitutes the essence of classification. We should
note that equality of rank is not alone sufficient to establish positions in the
same class. Two positions that may properly be paid according to the same pay
scale-one composed of stenographic work and the other statistical work-are not
allocable to the same class of positions, because they do not conform to the
other standards of sufficient similarity.
A ‘class of positions’ is, of course, a group concept, as
contrasted with ‘position’, which refers to duties and responsibilities
performed by an individual employee. In a given organisation there are as many
positions as there are employees and vacancies waiting to be filled, but there
are only as many classes of positions as there are distinct kinds of positions,
one compared with another. The duties and responsibilities making up a position
may make it anything from peon to the Secretary. The duties and responsibilities
of a class of positions can, however, properly include only those having
essential features of similarity.
Thus, every employee occupies a ‘position’ in the service. A
position of an employee depends upon the duties and responsibilities of the post
which the employee is occupying. The group of persons who have the same position
or nature of duties and responsibilities, is a class. The duties and
responsibilities of the positions and the consequent qualification requirements
are considered to be the criteria by which the classes are determined. According
to Morstein Marx, “By Classification is meant the grouping of positions on the
basis of similarity of duties and qualifications required.” In the words of
Dimock and Dimock, “Classification may be defined as the systematic sorting and
ranking of positions in a hierarchical sequence according to comparative
difficult and responsibility.” Pfinner says, “Position with like functions and
like responsibilities are grouped into a single class without regard to the
department or service in which they are located.”
Simon observes, “The position classification plan is device
widely used in public civil service jurisdictions to simply and standardize
personnel procedures. The position, the fundamental building block in such a
classification, is a group of duties and responsibilities that are to be
assigned to a single employee. The basic idea in a position classification is
that all these positions in an organisation which involve closely similar duties
and responsibilities should be grouped together for purposes of recruitment,
compensation and other personnel matters.”
In brief, positions are classified on the basis of what the incumbents do,
not how well they do it. Classification is of the position and not of the person
who is currently holding it.
The civil services are placed into various classes,
categories and grades. This classification is made of all the employees of
government. It is not confined to the employees of any one department. It is of
the positions on the basis of common duties and responsibilities. Positions
performing similar duties and responsibilities are placed in the same class.
Advantages of Position Classification
The movement for position classification started with the
demand of equal pay for equal work. In the words of L.D. White, “The position
classification plan of whole is the skeleton on which the personnel requirements
of the services are build.” Some of the advantages of position classification
are as follows:
1. Classification leads to standardization of salaries on the principle of
‘equal pay for equal work’.
2. Classification facilitates budget making. The budget office calculates
salaries on the basis of class position of the employees.
3. Only under a classification plan salary could be determined keeping in mind
the duties and responsibilities of an office.
4. The work of recruitment is greatly facilitated by position classification
system. It provides a basis for determining recruitment procedures.
5. Position classification leads to uniformity of treatment in promotions.
Employees know the lines of promotion and consequently the avenues of promotion
are always discernible.