1105 - Eligibility Withhold Process



Audience List

  • Human Resources Chiefs
  • Personnel Officers


This policy:

  • Provides guidelines for processing eligibility withholds
  • Defines the two types of eligibility withholds: Failing to Meet Minimum Qualifications and Withhold for Cause


The California State civil service hiring process is merit based, and requires the conduct of a fair and competitive selection process. Candidates who are successful in an examination/assessment process are ranked based on score, and are placed on an eligibility list used for hiring.

A person who successfully completes an examination process may not be, in fact, eligible for appointment. During the hiring process, the appointing authority must diligently verify a person’s eligibility prior to appointment. During this process, the hiring authority may determine that a person does not have eligibility for appointment. Once determined, the department, agency or other appointing authority who discovers this ineligibility during a recruitment process has an obligation to withhold the person’s eligibility for appointment and to diligently complete the withhold process. In all instances, placing a withhold on a candidate’s eligibility requires the appointing power to promptly provide a written notice to the candidate.


A permanent withhold does not necessarily permanently restrict a candidate from retaking the examination for the same classification in the future. However, the department may place a withhold on the candidate’s subsequent eligibility record if the candidate still does not meet the minimum qualifications of the classification or if the candidate continues to be unsuitable for employment in the classification. (Unsuitability typically involves discovery of negative information during pre-employment background or reference checks.)

There are two types of withhold actions that may be placed on eligibility records:

  • Withhold for Failure to Meet Minimum Qualifications (MQs)
  • Withhold for Cause 

Withhold For Failure to Meet the MQs

The following is an example of a scenario of not meeting the MQs and of the procedure that selection staff would be required to perform once this determination is made:

A candidate has been placed on an eligibility list for a classification by participating in and successfully passing an examination. The examination was administered using a self-assessment process to determine MQs. The candidate then submits an application to be hired. While reviewing applications to fill a vacancy, the hiring authority determines the candidate does not meet the MQs of the classification. The department promptly notifies the candidate, in writing, of the pending Permanent Withhold action.  

The notice must specify which minimum qualifications are not met and the reason(s) why, and it must inform the candidate that he or she has ten working days to establish meeting the minimum qualifications. This would be accomplished if the candidate responds by submitting qualifying information as prescribed in the notice. If the candidate fails to submit additional qualifying information or if the candidate submits qualifying information after the specified ten working day timeframe, the candidate is considered to have abandoned the selection process. For completing this withhold process, candidates whose eligibility was based upon list eligibility must be removed from the employment list. The appointing power must apply a Permanent Withhold. This includes sending another notification to the candidate. This notice would again convey the reason(s) why the candidate did not meet the MQs of the classification, and it will also advise of the removal of his/her name from the employment list. The notification of Permanent Withhold must also inform the candidate of his or her appeal rights.

The appeal rights information in the notice must include all of the following information:

  • Information about the right to appeal the withhold action with the State Personnel Board (SPB)
  • Appeal timeframe: thirty calendar days from date of the Notification of Withhold
  • Direction that the appeal must be in writing
  • Explanation why the appellant was withheld
  • Contact information for SPB (physical and/or electronic address)
  • Direction to also submit a copy of the Notification of Withhold letter

For eligibility lists resulting from servicewide examinations, departments should contact the lead Department (e.g., CalHR) to request the withhold be processed.

Withhold For Cause

The following is an example of placing a Withhold for Cause:

An applicant applies for a position that requires driving. As a condition of employment, the applicant must have a clean driving record. Prior to appointment, the applicant’s background investigation uncovers a negative motor vehicle record. Based on this finding, the appointing power must place a withhold on the applicant’s eligibility “For Cause”.

The appointing authority must send the candidate a notification of a Withhold for Cause which includes specific reason(s) and the applicable law(s) that authorize the Withhold for Cause. In addition, the notification must include SPB appeal rights information. Reasons for processing a Withhold for Cause vary greatly. Individual state agencies are responsible for creating Withhold for Cause notifications explaining the decision to withhold eligibility.

Departments may have specific laws, rules and/or policies that apply to their department specific classifications and hiring processes. Departments should consult their legal divisions if they have questions regarding their internal policies for placing a withhold on a person’s eligibility for a department specific classification.


Both the Minimum Qualifications Withhold process and the Withhold for Cause process are conducted through the Examination and Certification Online System (ECOS). (See resources section.)

Human Resources offices processing withhold actions must use the appropriate Withhold Determination Worksheet to document the withhold decision. They are:

  1. CalHR Form 272 – Minimum Qualifications Withhold Determination Worksheet
  2. CalHR Form 267 – Withhold for Cause Determination Worksheet

Documentation and Retention

State agency human resources offices are required to maintain withhold documentation. Below is a list of documents that must be retained for a period of five years:

  1. Withhold Determination Worksheet
  2. Job vacancy posting
  3. Candidate’s application package (including the STD Form 678, and all received documents)
  4. Supporting documentation for the withhold determination
  5. Copies of all non-system generated correspondence

All documentation is subject to review by the State Personnel Board and the California Department of Human Resources.




Authorized By

Chris Dainard
Chief, Selection Division

Contact Person

Selection Division
Phone: 916-909-3757
Email: SDPolicy@calhr.ca.gov

Superseded Policies

Not Applicable.


View History

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Table of Contents

1000 - Equal Employment Opportunity

1100 - Selection

1200 - Appointments

1300 - Exempt Employees

1400 - Benefits and Insurance

1500 - Work Schedules

1600 - Third Party Pre-Tax Parking

1700 - Compensation

1800 - Savings Plus

1900 - Bona Fide Associations

2000 - Collective Bargaining

2100 - Leave

2200 - Travel/Relocation

2300 - State Owned Housing

2400 - Employee Recognition

2600 - Layoffs

2700 - Retirement

2800 - Training

2900 - Workforce Planning

3000 - Examination and Hiring

3100 - Drug-Free Workplace

3200 - Medical Screening

3300 - Apprenticeships

3400 - Temporary Assignment

3500 - Classification Plan