University of California, Riverside

Human Resources

Staff Appreciation & Recognition Plan

Revised July 3, 2018

Taxability of Certain Employee Achievement Awards - Effective January 1, 2018

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (P.L. 115-97) impacts the taxability of certain types of employee achievement awards provided by an employer. Effective January 1, 2018, gift cards are excluded from the definition of tangible personal property, therefore the value of gift cards provided by the University to an employee for an employee achievement may be considered taxable wage income. For more information, view the UC Office of the President Memo. For more information on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, please click here.

University of California Local Guidelines for the Staff Appreciation and Recognition Plan
For Plan Year July 1, 
through June 30, 2019

These guidelines serve as a framework for implementation of cash recognition awards for employees under the Staff Appreciation and Recognition Plan (the “STAR Plan”) at the Riverside campus.
 Plan Eligibility
Policy-covered career PSS and MSP employees as well as exclusively represented employees in the Clerical unit (CX) are eligible for STAR Plan cash awards if, at the time of the award, they:
  • have successfully completed their probationary period, if applicable;
  • are on active pay status or on an approved unpaid leave; and,  
  • as of July 1, 2018, earn an annualized base salary of $175,000 or less; and,
  • received a “successfully meets performance expectations” or better overall rating on their most recent annual performance evaluation. (PPSM 23 and the collective bargaining agreement between UC and the Teamsters require that written performance evaluations be completed annually.) Employees who have not yet received an annual performance evaluation may be eligible for an award if their manager confirms on the nomination form that they are “successfully meeting performance expectations.”

In addition, policy-covered and CX represented employees with the following types of appointments are also eligible to participate in STAR at this location, provided that they meet the above requirements: contract, per diem, limited, and casual restricted. See the STAR Plan for additional eligibility criteria.

All other exclusively represented employees and Senior Management Group (SMG) members are not eligible for recognition awards under the STAR Plan. An employee may not receive an award under the STAR Plan if the employee is a participant in an incentive award plan that prohibits the receipt of a recognition award.

An employee’s receipt of an award under the STAR Plan does not establish any right or guarantee that the employee will be eligible for or entitled to an award in any subsequent Plan year.

 Award Limits and Restrictions

 The following limitations apply to STAR Plan cash awards. No exceptions will be made to the monetary award limits.

  • Cumulative STAR Plan cash awards paid to an employee in a Plan year may not exceed 10% of the employee’s base salary or $5,000, whichever amount is lower.

  • STAR Plan cash awards are strictly discretionary and may not be promised or guaranteed in advance.

  • STAR awards may not be provided for work that has been compensated for via a stipend.

  • “Across-the-board” type awards (e.g., awards to a category of employees without regard to a recipient’s performance or relative contribution) are not allowed under the STAR Plan. Awards must be based on the recipient’s achievement as an individual or as part of a team.

 Nomination Process
 All STAR Plan award nominations must be documented on the STAR Nomination Form to ensure consistent and thorough recordkeeping. 
  • Individual Spot Awards
    Use of Spot awards are encouraged to recognize significant one-time accomplishments as close as possible after the event. Spot awards require approval by the employee’s immediate supervisor and the next level manager (1 over 1 approval) up to $500 and may be processed immediately. Receiving a spot award does not preclude nomination of the employee/accomplishment for an additional individual or team award.
  • Individual Award Nominations
    Individual employees may be nominated for STAR awards based on one or more of the performance standards set forth in the STAR Plan and outlined below in Plan Criteria. Input will be required from the employee’s manager/supervisor if someone other than the employee’s manager/supervisor is nominating the employee. In all cases the performance standard and the UCR 2020 strategic objective supported by the employee’s efforts should be detailed in the nomination.
  • Team Award Nominations
    Team Awards may be granted to teams of eligible employees who meet one or more of the performance standards set forth in the STAR Plan and outlined below in Plan Criteria, for work on a project within the same department or for work on the development and/or implementation of inter-departmental projects. Input will be required from the team leader and each employee’s supervisor/manager if someone other than the manager/supervisor is nominating the team. In all cases the performance standard and/or the UCR 2020 strategic objective supported by the team’s efforts should be detailed in the nomination.

The employee’s department head is responsible for confirming that the employee is eligible for an award and must approve the employee’s award, regardless of the funding source for the award.

 Plan Criteria
The STAR Plan provides a mechanism to recognize, acknowledge and reward employees for exceptional performance and/or significant contributions related to and supportive of individual, departmental, divisional and or organizational goals and objectives. Individuals and teams may be nominated for demonstrating:
  • Exceptional performance: Demonstrated and sustained exceptional performance that consistently exceeds goals and work expectations in quantity and/or quality.
  • Creativity: One-time innovation or creation that results in time/dollar savings, revenue enhancement, and productivity improvement; and/or ongoing innovative/creative activities that benefit organizational systems, protocols, and/or procedures
  • Organizational abilities: Exhibiting extraordinary skills in leadership resulting in the accomplishment of significant departmental or divisional goals and objectives; effective project management, which could include developing a project and/or implementing a project with substantial success; and/or demonstrating organizational capability leading to a greater level of effectiveness.
  • Work success: Significantly exceeding productivity, customer service, quality of care or similar goals, including demonstrating superior interactions with managers, peers, supervisors, subordinates, the University community, and/or clients and customers served.
  • Teamwork: Acting as an exceptionally effective and cooperative team member or team leader for a team that has significantly exceeded the goals/objectives of the department/unit. 
In addition to meeting one of the standards of performance, every STAR award should support and further the accomplishment of at least one of UCR’s 2020 Path to Preeminence strategic goals. These goals are:
Developing a Preeminent Research University
for the 21st Century
Enhancing Opportunity for Graduate, Professional and
Undergraduate Students
  • Increasing Extramural Grant Funding
  • Fostering Interdisciplinary Centers
  • Optimizing Organizational Structure in Support of Research and Creative activity
  • Building the Infrastructure in Support of Research and Creative activity
  • Identifying and Hiring in Areas of Strategic Priority
  • Investing in New Professional Schools
  • Growing Graduate and Professional Enrollment
  • Increasing Graduate Student Diversity
  • Increasing Graduate Student Support
  • Enhance Undergraduate Student Success
  • Realign Admissions Criteria & Recruitment
  • Managing Enrollment
  • Creating Honor Experiences for High-Achieving Students
Serving as a National Exemplar for Diversity, 
Inclusiveness and Community
 Shaping Our World
  • Expanding Opportunities for Intellectual Stimulation
  • Strengthening the Sense of Community
  • Increasing Diversity of Faculty, Graduate Students & Staff
  • Enhancing a Sense of Place
  • Enhancing the Quality of Life for Students
  • Assessing & Addressing Climate
  • Establishing New Alliances
  • Creating meaningful Engagement Opportunities for Faculty & Students
  • Building Institutional Capacity for Engagement from Regional to Global
Resources & Infrastructure
  • Diversifying Resources (Funding)
  • Increasing Administrative Efficiency & Effectiveness
  • Enhancing Transparency in Budgeting Planning and Resources Allocation
  •  Building a Sustainable Culture of Philanthropy
  • Heightening UCR’s National Profile
  • Planning & Executing a Comprehensive Campaign

STAR Nomination Form

  • Open File:  You will be prompted to open the file with word - click OK
    • When the file is open, select View > edit file
    • Save to your desktop and Fill in the appropriate fields
 Award Review and Approval Authority
The process for all STAR Plan cash awards requires an endorsement from the employee’s immediate supervisor and approval of the next level manager, awards over $500 also require department head approval.
 Timing and Processing of STAR Award Payments

STAR awards may be presented at any time during the Plan year and should be awarded as soon as possible after the accomplishment or event in order to provide immediate recognition to employees.

The assigned Description of Service (DOS) code XSC, specific to the STAR Plan, must be used when paying IAP funded awards to employees. All STAR Plan cash awards for the Plan year should be processed in accordance with year-end closing schedules.

For instructions on how to process STAR award payments, please visit the STAR Plan Payment Guidelines web page.

Funding Requirements and Restrictions
STAR awards will be funded locally. Available funds for awards will be based on a fiscal year cumulative payroll assessment of .89 percent. Awards may not be supplemented by departmental funds. Unused funds assessed during the previous year may be rolled over and used in the current year.
Recordkeeping and Compliance

A copy of each organizational unit’s implementation procedures should be sent to Human Resources. Documentation concerning nominations and approved awards must be maintained by each organizational unit. Each organizational unit is responsible for maintaining appropriate budget tracking and controls.

The Office of the President will conduct periodic audits to ensure that locations are in compliance with the STAR Plan. Copies of documentation must be made available to Human Resources upon request.

Plan Contact for Questions
Questions regarding the STAR Plan should be directed to John-Stephen Henderson at extension 2-2256 or email

More Information

General Campus Information

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900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

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Department Information

Human Resources
1201 University Ave., Suite 208
Riverside, CA 92507

Tel: (951) 827-5588
Fax: (951) 827-2672