1707 - Hiring Above Minimum (HAM)



Audience List

  • Personnel Officers
  • Personnel Transactions Supervisors
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Officers
  • Labor Relations Officers


This policy

  • Describes standards that apply to recruiting new employees above the minimum salary rate of a classification for a person who has extraordinary qualifications.
  • Provides guidance on hiring current state employees, legislative employees, and former exempt employees for a rate above the minimum salary of a classification.
  • Describes specific documentation requirements to qualify for a rate above the minimum salary of a classification.


Effective January 1, 2018, AB 168 added Labor Code section 432.3 which prohibits employers from requesting salary history information from an applicant seeking employment. For this reason, the Hiring Above Minimum (HAM) process is modified to reflect this change.

The HAM procedure allows payment above the minimum rate in the salary range of a classification for situations when it is necessary to obtain a person with extraordinary qualifications. The Department of Human Resources (CalHR) provides policy and guidance to departments regarding HAMs.


Government Code section 19836 authorizes CalHR to allow payments above the minimum rate in the salary range of a classification for situations when it is necessary to obtain persons with extraordinary qualifications. A HAM salary rate must be requested and approved prior to the candidate accepting employment. For all employees new to state service, departments are delegated to approve exceptions to HAM criteria for extraordinary qualifications that do not meet the HAM criteria for extraordinary qualifications without review/approval by CalHR’s Personnel Services Branch.

The ability to offer a competitive salary above the minimum salary rate of a class allows the employer to obtain the services of extraordinarily qualified employees. Department personnel applying these standards to candidates with extraordinary qualifications should strike a balance between the need to hire highly qualified individuals and the need to keep the cost to the state as low as possible. In most cases, entry level classifications would not be considered appropriate for a HAM.


In accordance with Labor Code section 432.3, prior salary, current salary, or competing job offer salary may not be used to set a HAM salary rate. This means departments and/or hiring managers may not inquire, directly or indirectly, about a candidate’s salary history information, including compensation and benefits.

In exercising delegated authority for extraordinary qualifications, prior to approving a HAM request, the request should meet all of the following standards:

  1. Contribution to the Agency

    Persons with extraordinary qualifications should contribute to the work of the department significantly beyond that which other applicants offer.

    a.       Extraordinary qualifications may provide expertise in a particular area of a department's program. This expertise should be well beyond the minimum qualifications of the class.

    b.       Unique talent, ability, or skill as demonstrated by previous job experience may also constitute extraordinary qualifications. The scope and depth of such experience should be more significant than its length.

    c.       The degree to which a candidate exceeds minimum qualifications should be a guiding factor, rather than a determining one. When a number of candidates offer considerably more qualifications than the minimum, it may not be necessary to pay above the minimum to acquire unusually well-qualified people.

    d.       The qualifications and hiring rates of state employees already in the same class should be carefully considered, since questions of salary equity may arise if new higher entry rates differ from previous ones.

  2. Recruitment Difficulty

    Recruitment difficulty is a factor to the extent that a specific extraordinary skill should be difficult to recruit, even though some applicants are qualified in the general skills of the class.

Prior State Employment

Prospective employees with prior state service should be evaluated in the same manner as other applicants. However, to qualify for a higher rate of pay than they received in prior state employment, they should clearly have enhanced their qualifications above those they possessed in the prior state employment.

Current State Employees

Appointing authorities may request HAMs for state employees with extraordinary qualifications under certain circumstances as outlined below:

  1. A promotional relationship should not exist between the employee's current class and the prospective class.

  2. Hires made under these standards should represent a career change for the individual.

  3. It is typically necessary to offer an extraordinary HAM to recruit candidates for the class.

Departments must obtain approval from CalHR in all cases. Delegated HAM authority does not apply to current state employees.

Former Legislative Employees

Appointing authorities may request/approve HAMs for former legislative employees who are appointed to a civil service class and received eligibility for appointment pursuant to Government Code section 18990. The salary received upon appointment to civil service shall be in accordance with the salary rules specified in the California Code of Regulations. A salary determination is completed comparing the maximum salary rate of the former legislative class and the maximum salary rate of the civil service class to determine applicable salary and anniversary regulation. Typically, legislative employees are compensated at a higher rate of pay; therefore, they will be allowed to retain the rate they last received, not to exceed the maximum of the civil service class.

Former Exempt Employees

Appointing authorities may request/approve HAMs for former exempt employees appointed to a civil service class. The salary received upon appointment to civil service shall be competitive with the employee’s salary in the exempt appointment. For example: An employee appointed to a civil service class which is preceded by an exempt appointment may be appointed at a salary rate comparable to the exempt appointment up to the maximum of the salary range for the civil service class.

HAM Plus Rate

The HAM plus rate applies to authorized classifications which are located in defined geographical areas and are granted for recruitment difficulty. See Section 5, Hiring-Above-Minimum Authorization, of the Pay Scales for salary “plus” adjustment procedures.

Delegated HAM authority does not apply to this type of HAM.


Departments with delegation shall internally vet and justify all HAM requests through the appropriate personnel, which may include human resources, labor, and/or legal staff. This internal vetting process will ensure Human Resources Offices maintain compliance with this policy, the civil service merit principle, and all applicable laws, rules, regulations, or other legal requirements. Departments should document the basis for each HAM request as stated in the criteria, and retain the documentation in a separate file as well as maintain a tracking log for audit purposes. A link to a tracking tool is provided in the forms section at the bottom of this policy. The tracking log is to be updated on a flow basis and is to be made available to CalHR’s Personnel Services Branch upon request. Documentation should include:

  • HAM for Extraordinary Qualifications Documentation (either CalHR 684, CalHR 685, for former exempt employees, or CalHR 691, for former legislative employees, as appropriate); and
  • The individual’s current signed and dated employment application (STD 678).

HAM requests that do not meet the standards outlined in this section must be submitted to CalHR for approval. Send HAM requests to the Personnel Services Branch at CalHR at psb@calhr.ca.gov. All requests sent to CalHR should include a memorandum requesting the HAM and the individual’s signed and dated employment application (STD 678).


Not Applicable.





  • PML 2010-005: PML 2010-005 - 2/8/2010 - Hiring Above Minimum Standards for Extraordinary Qualifications

Web Pages

Authorized By

Melissa Russell
Chief, Personnel Management Division

Contact Person

Personnel Services Branch
Personnel Program Consultant , Personnel Services Branch
Phone: 916-909-3702
Fax: 916-327-1886
Email: psb@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