• U.S. Department of Energy
  • Fermilab


Section Head:
Kay Van Vreede x3396

Deputy Head
Barbara Brooks x5021

Administrative Support Assistant:
Christine Johnson x3381

Facsimile 630-840-6654
Section Office WH15SW

Senior Safety Officer:
Dave Esterquest x4604

Terms, Definitions and Legal Acts

Active Employee Employees in pay status.
Affirmative action (AA) Any program, policy or procedure that an employer implements in order to correct past discrimination and prevent current and future discrimination within the workplace.
Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA ) of 1967 The ADEA protects workers age 40 and over by prohibiting discrimination against workers 40 and over in any employment or employment-related decision. The Act applies to most employers with 20 or more employees. One of the main provisions of the Act is that employers, with very few exceptions, can no longer force an employee to retire.
Americans with Disabilities Act ( ADA) of 1990 The ADA is a federal anti-discrimination law which prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment. This law (covering employers with 15 or more employees) is designed to remove barriers that prevent qualified individuals with disabilities from enjoying the same employment opportunities that are available to persons without disabilities. When an individual's disability creates a barrier to employment opportunities, the ADA requires employers to consider whether a reasonable accommodation could remove the barrier.
Anti-nepotism policy An employer’s policy that restricts the employment of two or more family members at the same time. Policy may be limited to restriction of family members in a supervisory relationship.
Background check/investigation The process of verifying information supplied by applicants who are being considered for employment, including, but not limited to, contacting former employers, obtaining educational records and requesting criminal or consumer credit reports.
Career Development Plan Provides employees who are meeting performance expectations with a tool for ongoing learning, growth and motivation. Includes training (on-the-job or classroom), job experiences, cross-training or formal education that prepares an employee for the future. Development may include: honing existing skills to a higher level; preparing for changes in the current job that result from new technology or work redesign; acquiring new skills for anticipated department needs; formal education for moving along a career path.
Civil rights The rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and federal and state statutes enacted to protect a wide range of individual rights, such as right to vote, freedom of speech, the right to assemble, the right to equal treatment, etc.
Civil Rights Act of 1964 A federal statute enacted to further guarantee the constitutional rights of individuals and prevent employment discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin or age.
Civil Rights Act of 1991 A federal statute that amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 enacted to strengthen and improve federal civil rights laws by providing for damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination, clarifying provisions regarding disparate impact actions and for other purposes.
Coaching A training method in which a more experienced or skilled individual provides an employee with advice and guidance intended to help him or her develop skills, improve performance and enhance the quality of his or her career.
Competencies The knowledge, skills and abilities required to perform a specific task or function.
Condition of employment An organization’s policies and work rules that employees are expected to abide by in order to remain continuously employed.
Conflict of interest Refers to situations when an individual has other competing financial, professional or personal obligations or interests that interfere with his or her ability to adequately perform required duties in a fair and objective manner.
Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act (COBRA) of 1985 Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, if an employee terminates employment with the company, the employee is entitled to continue participating in the company’s group health plan for a prescribed period of time, usually 18 months. (In certain circumstances, such as an employee’s divorce or death, the length of coverage period may be longer for qualified dependents). COBRA coverage is not extended to employees terminated for gross misconduct.
Cooperative Education Students Students who attend a four-year Institution with an accredited co-op program.
Core competencies The skills, knowledge and abilities which employees must possess in order to successfully perform job functions that are essential to business operations.
Cross training The process of developing a multi skilled workforce by providing employees with training and development opportunities to ensure they have the skills necessary to perform various job functions within an organization.
Defined benefit plan A retirement plan that is not an individual account plan and pays participants a fixed periodic benefit or a lump-sum amount, calculated using specific formulas that include such items as age, earnings and length of service.
Defined contribution plan An individual account plan in which the employer contributes a specific amount of money into each year that is to be distributed among the accounts of each plan participant.
Demotion A permanent reassignment to a position with a lower pay grade, skill requirement or level of responsibility than the employee’s current position.
Developmental counseling A form of shared counseling where managers or supervisors work together with subordinates to identify strengths and weaknesses, resolve performance-related problems and determine and create an appropriate action plan.
Development program Training or educational programs designed to stimulate an individual’s professional growth by increasing his or her skills, knowledge or abilities.
Disability Defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of an individual’s major life activities (i.e., walking, talking, standing, sitting, etc.)
Disability management The process of coordinating efforts between employees, management, physicians, rehabilitation service providers and insurance carriers to reduce the impact of work-related injuries or illnesses and assisting injured employees in continuing to successfully perform their jobs.
Disabled individual Under the ADA guidelines, an individual with a disability is a person who: has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such impairment; or is regarded as having such impairment. Disability under Social Security rules are defined as an individual who is unable to perform work that he or she was previously able to perform and the individual cannot adjust to other work because of his or her medical condition(s), which is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.
Discharge The termination of an employee.
Disciplinary action The means of applying corrective action to employees who fail to abide by the organization’s performance standards, policies or rules.
Discrimination Any policy or action taken related to recruiting, hiring, promotion, pay or training practices that result in an unfair disadvantage to either an individual or group of individuals who are considered part of a protected class.
Disparate impact Under Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) law, a less favorable effect for one group than for another. A disparate impact results when rules applied to all employees have a different and more inhibiting effect on women and minority groups than on the majority.
Disparate treatment Such treatment results when rules or policies are applied inconsistently to one group of people over another. Discrimination may result when rules and policies are applied differently to members of protected classes.
Diversity A broad definition of diversity ranges from personality and work style to all of the visible dimensions of diversity such as race, age, ethnicity or gender, to secondary influences such as religion, socioeconomics and education, to work diversities such as management and union, functional level and classification or proximity/distance to headquarters.
Diversity training A fundamental component of a diversity initiative that represents the opportunity for an organization to inform and educate senior management and staff about diversity. The purpose of training is not only to increase awareness and understanding of workplace diversity, but also to develop concrete skills among staff that will facilitate enhanced productivity and communications among all employees.
Documentation Refers to written notices, records, forms, memos, letters and so forth used during disciplinary proceedings.
Dotted-line Responsibility See matrix organization
Downsizing The process of reducing the employer’s workforce through elimination of positions, management layers, processes, functions, etc.
Dress code An organizational policy or rule to be used by employees as a guideline as to what is considered appropriate attire for the workplace.
Drug Free Workplace Act of 1988 Requires federal contractors and all federal grantees to agree that they will provide drug-free workplaces as a precondition of receiving a contract or grant from a federal agency.
Drug testing The process of testing employees to detect the presence of illegal drugs or alcohol within their system. Drug testing can be conducted on a pre-employment, random or post-accident basis, as well as for cause or suspicion, in accordance with the employer’s policy and any governing state law.
Early return to work program Modified work programs designed to get employees who have been out of work due to injury or illness to return to the workforce sooner by providing them with less strenuous alternative jobs until they are able to resume their full regular duties.
Employee assistance program (EAP) A confidential work-based intervention program designed to identify and assist employees in resolving personal problems (i.e., marital, financial or emotional problems, family issues, substance/alcohol abuse) that may be adversely affecting the employee’s performance.
Employee handbook A written or electronic document containing summaries of the employer’s policies and benefits designed to familiarize employees with various matters affecting the employment relationship.
Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974 ERISA sets requirements for the provision and administration of employee benefit plans. Employee benefit plans include health care benefits, profit sharing and pension plans, for example.
Employee referral program A recruiting strategy where current employees are rewarded for referring qualified candidates for employment.
Employee relations A broad term used to refer to the general management and planning of activities related to developing, maintaining and improving employee relationships by communicating with employees, processing grievances/disputes, etc.
Employee retention Organizational policies and practices designed to meet the diverse needs of employees and create an environment that encourages employees to remain employed.
Employee self-service A trend in human resource management that allows employees to handle many job-related tasks normally conducted by HR (such as benefits enrollment, updating personal information and accessing company information) through the use of a company's intranet, specialized kiosks or other Web-based applications.
Employment-at-will A legal doctrine that states that an employment relationship may be terminated by the employer or employee at any time and for any or no reason.
Employment verification Basic employee information (such as name, dates of employment, job title, etc.) released to a lender when an employee is applying for a mortgage or other loan or credit. The employee must authorize release of information.
Employment visas An immigration-issued document that allows aliens to obtain temporary residency for the purpose of pursuing employment opportunities within the United States.
Empowerment Enabling an individual to have responsibility, control and decision-making authority over the work he or she performs.
EEO A policy statement that equal consideration for a job is applicable to all individuals and that the employer does not discriminate based on race, color, religion, age, marital status, national origin, disability or sex.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) The federal agency responsible for publishing guidelines, enforcing EEO laws and investigating complaints of job discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age or disability.
Equal Pay Act of 1963 A federal law prohibiting employers from discriminating between male employees and female employees in terms of pay when they are performing jobs that are essentially the same or of comparable worth.
Equal Treatment A legal doctrine used in discharge cases to determine whether an employer’s policies and practices are applied in a fair, consistent and nondiscriminatory manner.
Equity Adjustment A base pay increase that occurs when an employee's pay rate is determined to be inequitable when compared with the external or internal market for employees with similar skills, knowledge, etc.
Equivalent position According to section 825.215 of the FMLA regulations, an equivalent position is one that is virtually identical to the employee's former position in terms of pay, benefits and working conditions, including privileges, perquisites and status. It must involve the same or substantially similar duties and responsibilities, which must entail substantially equivalent skill, responsibility and authority.
Ergonomics The design of the equipment, furniture, machinery or tools used in the workplace that promotes safety, efficiency and productivity and reduces discomfort and fatigue.
Essential functions The primary job functions or tasks that an individual must be able to perform with or without a reasonable accommodation.
Executive Order An official presidential directive that has the same force as a law.
Executive Order 11246 of 1965 Administered and enforced by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), Executive Order 11246 prohibits federal contractors and federally-assisted construction contractors and subcontractors, who do over $10,000 in government business in one year, from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The Executive Order also requires government contractors to take affirmative action to ensure that equal opportunity is provided in all aspects of their employment.
Exempt employees Employees who meet one of the FLSA exemption tests and who are paid on a fixed salary basis and not entitled to overtime pay.
Exit interview An interview conducted at the time of an employee’s resignation, used to identify the underlying factors behind an employee’s decision to leave.
Expatriate An employee who is transferred to work abroad on a long-term job assignment.
External Equity Adjustment An adjustment to establish a pay rate that corresponds to the same or a similar job’s relative value in the market.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 An act that covers public agencies and businesses engaged in interstate commerce or providing goods and services for commerce. The FLSA provides guidelines on employment status, child labor, minimum wage, overtime pay and record-keeping requirements. It determines which employees are exempt from the Act (not covered by it) and which are nonexempt (covered by the Act). It establishes wage and time requirements when minors can work. It sets the minimum wage that must be paid and mandates when overtime must be paid.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows employees who have met minimum service requirements (12 months employed by the company with 1,250 hours of service in the preceding 12 months) to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for: (1) a serious health condition; (2) to care for a family member with a serious health condition; (3) the care of a child born or to be placed with an employee for adoption or foster care; (4) the care of a family member who is an injured servicemember or veteran; or (5) qualifying exigency aring from a family member being called up to covered active duty.
Feedback Positive or negative information provided to an individual in the form of coaching or counseling regarding his or her performance or behavior.
Fetal protection policy An employer policy meant to protect a pregnant woman’s unborn fetus by excluding pregnant women from engaging in jobs requiring exposure to or the use of hazardous chemicals or materials.
Fitness for duty A document provided by a medical practitioner following a post-offer medical examination containing information used by the employer to determine a candidate’s ability to perform the functions of a job. Also used to refer to documents or notes from medical providers releasing individuals under their care to resume full or modified duties following a leave of absence due to illness or injury.
Fixed Term Employment is for a stated period of time greater than six months and generally in no more than 3-year increments; is eligible for benefits
Flexible benefit plan A benefit program regulated under IRC 125 that offers employees a choice between permissible taxable benefits (including cash) and nontaxable benefits such as life and health insurance, vacations, retirement plans and child/dependent care. Although a common core of benefits may be required, the employee may determine how his or her remaining benefits dollars are allocated for each type of benefit from the total amount offered by the employer.
Flexible scheduling An alternative work arrangement providing employees with greater flexibility in meeting their own personal needs by allowing them to work nontraditional schedules (i.e., compressed workweek, summer hours or flextime).
Flexible Spending Account A benefit plan designed to allow employees to set aside pre-tax dollars to pay for eligible medically related expenses and/or dependent care expenses.
Focus group A small group of individuals who are interviewed through structured facilitator-led discussions in order to solicit opinions, thoughts and ideas about a particular subject or topic area.
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) of 1966 A federal law providing guidelines for access and disclosure of government documents and materials to the general public.
Fringe benefit Employment benefits granted to employees in addition to their current base salary or wages (i.e., cash, merchandise, services, health insurance, pension plans, holidays, paid vacations, etc.).
Full-time equivalent (FTE) A value assigned to signify the number of full-time employees that could have been employed if the reported number of hours worked by part-time employees had been worked by full-time employees instead.
Furlough The placing of an employee in a temporary nonwork, nonpay status because of lack of work or funds, or other nondisciplinary reasons.
Garnishment A court order requiring an employer to withhold a certain percentage from an employee’s pay in order to settle a debt with a creditor.
Glass Ceiling Act of 1991 An act meant to raise public awareness regarding the underutilization of females and minorities in certain positions within the U.S. workforce and eliminate barriers preventing advancement.
Goal A statement outlining the long-term results, accomplishments or objectives an organization seeks to attain.
Goal setting The process of setting and assigning a set of specific and attainable goals to be met by an individual, group or organization.
Green card A card issued in accordance with immigration laws to an alien granting him or her the right to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States, including the right to work legally.
Grievance A formal complaint or allegation by an employee or group of employees made to unfair treatment or violation of a union contract.
Grievance procedures The process and guidelines to be followed by employees, management or the union when resolving differences or conflicts.
Handicapped individual Based on the definition provided by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, an individual is "handicapped" if he or she has: a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person's major life activities; has a record of such; is regarded as having such impairment. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 amended this definition to exclude individuals who are currently engaged in the use of illegal drugs. Individuals who are rehabilitated drug users or engaged in a supervised drug rehabilitation program and are no longer using drugs are also covered by the definition. The term “individual with handicaps” does not include any individual whose current use of alcohol prevents such an individual from performing the duties of the job in question or whose employment, by reason of such current alcohol abuse, would constitute a direct threat to property or the safety of others.
Hazard Communication Standard of 1988 An occupational safety and health standard intended to comprehensively address the issue of evaluating the potential hazards of chemicals and communicating information concerning hazards and appropriate protective measures to employees. Such communication may include, but is not limited to: developing and maintaining a written hazard communication program for the workplace, including lists of hazardous chemicals present; labeling of containers of chemicals in the workplace, as well as of containers of chemicals being shipped to other workplaces; preparation and distribution of material safety data sheets to employees; and development and implementation of employee training programs regarding hazards of chemicals and protective measures.
Head count Refers to average number of people employed directly by the company on a full-time and part-time basis.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA ) of 1996 The Act was enacted to make health insurance more "portable" from one employer to another. The law mandates procedures for both new hires and for existing employees who are leaving the company. Employees who are new to a company can use evidence of previous health care coverage that is provided by their former employer to reduce or eliminate the new employer's preexisting condition requirements. Employees who are leaving a company must be provided a certificate of prior creditable health care coverage to use for this purpose. The law includes other provisions regarding restrictions on preexisting conditions, special enrollment rights and privacy rights and protections.
Health savings accounts (HSA) A tax-free account that can be used by employees to pay for qualified medical expenses. Contributions do not have to be spent the year they are deposited. Money in the account earns interest and accumulates tax free, so the funds can be used now and in the future. If an employee leaves the job, he or she can take the account with him or her and continue to use it to pay for qualified healthcare expenses. To be eligible for a Health Savings Account, an individual must be covered by a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP), must not be covered by other health insurance (does not apply to specific injury insurance and accident, disability, dental care, vision care, long-term care), is not eligible for Medicare and cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.
Hidden disabilities Disabilities which are not of a visible nature, such as learning disorders, , depression, etc.
Highly compensated employee For the purposes of retirement plans, a highly compensated employee is defined by the IRS as an employee who owns 5% or more of a company or receives compensation in excess of a predetermined amount. To qualify for tax advantages, retirement plans cannot be overly favorable to highly compensated employees. The definition of HCE is crucial in determining whether plan benefits are allocated to HCEs in a discriminatory manner compared to non-highly compensated employees.
Hostile environment harassment Sexual or other discriminatory conduct that is severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile, abusive or intimidating work environment for a reasonable person.
Human resources The function dealing with the management of people employed within the organization.
Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) prohibits the employment of individuals who are not legally authorized to work in the United States or in an employment classification that they are not authorized to fill. The IRCA requires employers to certify (using the I-9 form) within three days of employment the identity and eligibility to work of all employees hired. IRCA also prohibits discrimination in employment-related matters on the basis of national origin or citizenship.
Impairment A physical or mental condition resulting from injury or illness, which diminishes an individual’s faculties such as ability to hear, see, walk, talk, etc.
Impatriate Foreign nationals who are hired by U.S. employers under the H1-B visa program to fill highly skilled vacancies due to a labor shortage of skilled U.S. applicants.
Inactive Employee Employee not on active pay status (such as long-term disability).
Incentive pay plan A plan providing additional compensation intended to serve as an incentive for excellent performance, exceeding productivity goals or standards, as well as other contributions in accordance with prescribed goals or standards.
Intermittent/reduced schedule leave Under FMLA, intermittent and reduced schedule leave is used to describe leave that is not taken on a consecutive basis but rather taken in increments of days or hours.
Internal Equity Adjustment An adjustment to establish a pay rate that corresponds to the same job’s relative value within the organization.

Used during the selection process, an interview is a face-to-face meeting with an individual or group, which involves asking questions to elicit information from the applicant to determine whether or not an applicant is suitable for a position of employment.
Job analysis The systematic process of gathering and examining and interpreting data regarding the specific tasks comprising a job.
Job classification A method of evaluation used for job comparisons, which groups jobs into a prearranged number of grades, each having a class description and a specified pay range.
Job codes Identification numbers assigned to specific jobs or job tasks.
Job description A written description of a job which includes information regarding the general nature of the work to be performed, specific responsibilities and duties, and the employee characteristics required to perform the job.
Job enlarging A method used to keep workers motivated, the process involves adding new tasks which are of the same level of skill and responsibility to a job.
Job enrichment The practice of adding tasks to a job as a means of increasing the amount of employee control or responsibility.
Job evaluation Used for compensation planning purposes, it is the process of comparing a job with other jobs in an organization to determine an appropriate pay rate for the job.
Job grade The group into which jobs of the same or similar worth are placed for determining appropriate rates of pay.
Job offer letter A formal written document that is provided by an employer to a candidate selected for employment which outlines information regarding the employment terms, such as the date employment is to commence, the position the individual is being hired to perform, the agreed upon salary, benefits to be provided, etc. The employer usually requires the candidate to sign and return the letter as a formal acceptance of employment.
Job posting The method of advertising for vacancies internally by posting a notice of the opening on a bulletin board, etc.
Job-relatedness The requirement that an employer be able to demonstrate that a particular action, policy or job requirement is related to the actual job.
KSA’s The attributes (knowledge, skills, and abilities) required to perform a job; generally demonstrated through qualifying experience, education or training.
Lump Sum A non-base payment in the form of a single payment that is not added to the employee’s base pay.  It must be “re-earned” annually the same way the performance base pay merits are earned.
Mandatory Retirement Age Law of 1978 A statute which prohibits (with the exception of exempted employees and positions) employers from having policies or practices that call for mandatory retirement of employees under the age of 70.
Matrix Organization Organizational structure where an employee reports to more than one manager or supervisor who are jointly responsible for the employee's performance. For example, an employee reports to a Project Manager and a Manager for the home department. Matrix structures may be applied to an entire organization, select divisions, select job functions, or to smaller projects. Also known as dotted-line responsibility.
Matrix-level Manager Manager with responsibility for the performance, work priorities and assignments for employees who are shared on projects or varying departmental functions. Provides feedback for the performance review process to the "home" department manager or supervisor. A "dotted line" or "parenthesis" management relationship on an organizational chart or otherwise indicated by assignment.
Medical Emergency (Vacation Donation Program) The medical condition of the employee; the care of a child, spouse, or parent (as defined in the Family Medical Leave Act) with a medical condition; birth of the employee’s child; or placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care that would require the prolonged absence of the employee from duty and would result in a substantial loss of income to the employee because the employee would have exhausted all paid leave available apart from the vacation donation program.
Medical examinations/testing A medical evaluation conducted on a post-offer basis by a company physician or an independent physician to ascertain whether or not a candidate is able to perform the physical requirements of a particular job.
Medicare A health insurance program administered by the Social Security Administration which is broken into two distinct categories: 1) Medicare Part A helps with hospital costs; and 2) Medicare Part B requires a monthly fee and is used to pay medical costs for people 65 years of age and older, some disabled people under 65 years of age and people with end-stage renal disease (permanent kidney failure treated with dialysis or a transplant).
Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA) of 1996 Prohibits group health plans and insurance companies that offer mental health benefits from setting annual or lifetime limits on mental health benefits that are lower than those limits set for any other condition.
Mentoring A career development method whereby less experienced employees are matched with more experienced colleagues for guidance either through formal or informal programs.
Merit pay A compensation system whereby base pay increases are determined by individual performance.
Non-exempt Employee Employee whose compensation is calculated on a per-hour basis and who receives rate of pay equal to one and one half times the regular rate of pay for each hour worked in excess of 40 hours per week.
Occupational illness/disease Defined by OSHA as "any abnormal condition or disorder, other than one resulting from an occupational injury, caused by exposure to factors associated with employment."
Occupational groups Used to classify specific occupations into a specific category, such as professionals, technical/hi-tech, administrative/clerical, sales, service, retail, etc.
Occupational injury An injury sustained during the course of employment, which results in the employee requiring medical treatment other then minor first aid and which results in the employee being absent from work as a result of such injury for one or more work days or results in work restrictions.
Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) of 1970 A law setting forth standards that employers must comply with in order to provide working conditions that are safe and free from any health hazards for all employees. Additionally, the law also requires employers to provide employees with protection against workplace hazards that could result in illness, injury or death to an individual, as well as to communicate to employees the information on hazardous materials or chemicals they may be required to handle.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration A Department of Labor office responsible for overseeing and assuring the safety and health of America's workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health.
Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) of 1990 OWBPA amended the ADEA prohibiting all employers from age discrimination in employee benefits programs by either providing equal benefits for older and younger workers or by spending an equal amount on benefits for both groups. It also provides specifications on the requirements for ADEA waivers.
On-call Worker On-call employees are a group of support personnel who work on an "as needed" basis. The group consists of professionals, retirees and others who wish to work temporary assignments. There are no guaranteed numbers of hours an on-call employee will work. Assignments are dependent upon laboratory needs and the employee's ability to fill the assignments. On-call employees must work less than 1,000 hours a year.
On-call (Fixed Term) Must work less than 1,000 hours per year; is not eligible for benefits
Open enrollment period The period of time designated by the employer’s health or other benefit plan when employees may enroll in new benefit plans or make changes to existing benefit plans.
Oral reprimand A verbal warning given to an employee by a manager or supervisor as a means of correcting inappropriate behavior or conduct.
Organization chart A graphic representation outlining how authority and responsibility are distributed within an organization.
Orientation The introduction of employees to their jobs, co-workers and the organization by providing them with information regarding such items as policies, procedures, company history, goals, culture and work rules.
Outplacement A benefit offered by the employer to displaced employees that may consist of such services as job counseling, training and job-finding assistance.
Overtime In accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), it is the term used to define work that is performed in excess of 40 hours per week.
Part-time employee An individual who continually works less than 40 hours per week (standard workweek hours are based on individual employer policy, therefore, a 40-hour workweek is only a guideline; this number could be higher or lower). Benefit eligibility is also limited.
Pay adjustment Any change made to the pay rate of an employee, such as an increase or decrease to the rate of pay.
Pay compression A situation occurring when only a small difference in pay exists between employees, regardless of their knowledge, skills, abilities or experience. Oftentimes, it is the result of a market-rate for a given job surpassing the increases historically awarded to long-term employees.
Pay grades A method used to group jobs together that have approximately the same relative internal worth and are paid at the same rate.
Pay range Associated with pay grades, the range sets the upper and lower compensation boundaries for jobs within that range.
Payroll records Documentation created and maintained by the employer, which contains information regarding hours worked, salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, vacation/sick pay, contributions to qualified health and pension plans, net pay and deductions for all employees on the employer’s payroll for the year.
Pay structure A series of job grades/pay ranges established by an organization to enable pay administration. Each grade/pay range has a minimum and maximum pay rate.
Pension plan An employer benefit plan funded through insurance, a trust, general assets or other separately maintained funds designed to provide employees with a monthly income benefit upon retirement.
Perceived disability A person who does not meet the definition of a disabled individual in accordance with the Americans With Disabilities Act but is regarded by his or her employer as having a mental or physical disability.
Performance appraisal A periodic review and evaluation of an individual's job performance.
Performance counseling The process of improving employee performance and productivity by providing the employee with feedback regarding areas where he or she is doing well and areas that may require improvement.
Performance improvement plan(REVIEW) A plan implemented by a manager or supervisor that is designed to provide employees with constructive feedback, facilitate discussions between an employee and his or her supervisor regarding performance-related issues, outline specific areas of required performance improvement and specifying the consequences of failing to achieve and maintain satisfactory performance.
Performance management/review process The process of maintaining or improving employee job performance through the use of performance assessment tools, coaching and counseling as well as providing continuous feedback.
Performance standards The tasks, functions or behavioral requirements established by the employer as goals to be accomplished by an employee.
Personnel records All information pertaining to individual employees, which is collected and maintained by the employer and is essential to the employer for handling various employment-related matters.
Phased retirement A work schedule arrangement that allows employees to gradually reduce their full-time hours over a period of time.
Phased retiree An active part-time employee who meets the retirement eligibility criteria and is approved to participate in the Laboratory’s phased retirement program.
Policy A written statement that reflects the employer’s standards and objectives relating to various employee activities and employment-related matters.
Position in range A ratio comparing a base pay rate to the minimum and maximum within a grade range.  The position in range determines the employee’s pay zone.  PIR = (Pay Rate – Range Min) / (Range Max – Range Min).
Post-accident testing The process of testing an employee involved in a workplace accident for the presence of drugs or alcohol.
Pre-employment testing The practice of issuing tests to potential employees on a pre-employment basis in order to determine an applicant’s suitability for a certain position. These tests may include, but are not limited to, drug and alcohol tests, medical examinations, skills tests, physical agility tests, honesty/integrity tests or personality tests.
Preexisting condition Any condition for which a person is currently receiving treatment, has been advised to receive treatment or for which a prudent person would seek treatment.
Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978 An amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibiting discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, requiring pregnancy or related conditions to be treated in the same manner as any other temporary disability.
Premium pay Additional compensation paid for work performed outside of regularly scheduled work hours.
Professional Letter of Recommendation A letter of recommendation provided by professional staff for a colleague or student who is pursuing employment at another organization.
Promotion Career advancement within an organization, which includes increased authority, level of responsibility, status and pay.
Protected class A legal term describing certain groups, such as women, older and disabled individuals, Vietnam-era veterans and minorities.
Qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) An order, decree, judgment or administrative notice (including a settlement agreement) that establishes the rights of another person (the “alternate payee”) to benefits; issued by a domestic relations court or other court of competent jurisdiction or through an administrative process established under state law.
Qualified medical child support order (QMCSO) An order, decree, judgment or administrative notice (including a settlement agreement) requiring health coverage for a child; issued by a domestic relations court or other court of competent jurisdiction or through an administrative process established under state law.
Qualified plan A defined benefit or defined contribution pension plan covered by ERISA and IRS regulations qualifying for certain tax advantages for both the employer and the participant.
Qualified special disabled veteran A special disabled veteran who satisfies the requisite skill, experience, education and other job-related requirements of the employment position such veteran holds or desires and who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of such position.
Qualifying Exigency Under FMLA, non-medical activity that is directly related to the covered military member's active duty or call to active duty status.
Quid pro quo Legal terminology essentially meaning “what for what” or “something for something.” It is the concept of getting something of value in exchange for giving something of value.
Quid pro quo harassment Quid pro harassment involves expressed or implied demands for sexual favors in exchange for some benefit (a promotion, pay increase, etc.) or to avoid some detriment (termination, demotion, etc.) in the workplace. By definition, it can only be perpetrated by someone in a position of power or authority over another (i.e., manager or supervisor over a subordinate).
Quit A voluntary resignation from employment that is initiated by the employee.
Random testing Drug and alcohol tests administered by an employer that selects employees to be tested on a random basis.
Reasonable accommodation Modifying or adjusting a job process or a work environment to better enable a qualified individual with a disability to be considered for or perform the essential functions of a job.
Reasonable person standard (Review overly narrow) A standard used in sexual harassment and discrimination suits, referring to conduct or behavior so offensive in nature that any reasonable person, regardless of sex, age, race, religion or other protected class would agree the conduct or behavior should be illegal.
Reasonable suspicion testing A drug or alcohol test administered to an employee due to a series of observed behaviors (such as decline in performance, policy infraction, or poor or erratic behavior).
Reassignment Transferring individuals to alternative positions where their talents or skills may be best utilized to their own or the organization’s benefit or where they are better able to perform the job in accordance with required standards.
Reclassification The reassignment of a job to a higher or lower grade/pay range due to a job content re-evaluation and/or a significant change in the going rate for comparable jobs in the external market.
Recognition An acknowledgement of an employee’s exceptional performance or achievements expressed in the form of praise, commendation or gratitude.
Recordable illness/injury All occupational injuries and illnesses that require more than basic first aid treatment, or deaths that occurred in the workplace.
Recruitment The practice of soliciting and actively seeking applicants to fill recently vacated or newly created positions using a variety of methods (i.e., internal job postings, advertising in newspapers or electronic job boards/sites, utilizing search firms, or listing position with trade and professional associations, etc).
Red circled pay rate A pay rate that is above the maximum range assigned to the job grade. Employees are usually not eligible for additional pay increases until the range maximums exceed the individual pay rate.
Red lined pay rate A pay rate that is at the maximum range assigned to the job grade. Employees are generally not eligible for additional base pay increases until the range maximums exceed the individual pay rate.
Reduction in force An involuntary separation of an employee or groups of employees due to economic pressures, lack of work, organizational changes or other reasons of business necessity that require a reduction in staff.
Reference checking The process of verifying information supplied by applicants on an application or resume.
Regular Employment for an indefinite period of employment; is eligible for benefits.
Religious accommodation An accommodation made for an employee, such as time off from work, so that he or she may observe a religious holiday or attend a religious ceremony or their day of Sabbath such as Saturday or Sunday.
Repatriate The process of returning to the United States after being placed on a long-term international assignment.
Reprimand An oral or written reproach given to an employee as part of disciplinary action.
Resident alien A resident alien is a lawful permanent resident of the United States at any time if he or she has been given the privilege, according to the immigration laws, of residing permanently as an immigrant. This status usually exists if the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services has issued a green card.
Restructuring Changing an organizational structure in order to make it more efficient and cost effective.
Resume A written document outlining an individual’s work experience, skills, educational background, accomplishments and other related information supporting his or her career goal.
Retired Guest (Fixed Term) Retained retirement status while a guest to a supervisory organization; is eligible for benefits.
Retirement plan A written qualified or nonqualified benefit plan, funded by employer and employee contributions, that provides retirement income benefits for employees.
Right-to-know An OSHA standard providing workers with protection from hazardous substances in the workplace by requiring employers to keep employees informed of any hazardous substances that they may be working with, as well as the hazards and symptoms associated with the substance.
Right-to-sue letter A letter issued by the EEOC, once a charge has been recorded and processed, informing individuals who filed the charge that they have the right to further pursue their charges in a federal or state court.
Rolling year Under FMLA regulations, a rolling year is defined as a 12-month period measured backward from the date an employee first uses leave.
Salary Management Fund (SMF) The sum of base and non-base pay increases approved by DOE for each fiscal year. The amount is indicated by the level of expected pay increases in the labor market and enables management of employee pay rates in that year.
Scientific Letter of Recommendation A letter of recommendation provided by scientific staff for a colleague or student who is pursuing employment at another institution or applying for a graduate position.
Seasonal (Fixed Term) Summer and holiday temporary assignments; is not eligible for benefits.
Serious health condition An illness, injury, impairment or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care in a hospital, hospice or residential medical care facility; or continuing treatment by a health care provider.
Service award Part of a formal or informal recognition program that rewards employees based on length of service.
Severance pay A form of short-term salary continuation awarded to employees who are being terminated.
Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 The Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 prohibits discrimination against individuals based on sex or marital status in areas of employment, education, the provision of goods, facilities and services or in the management of premises.
Sex discrimination Discriminatory conduct or actions based on sex or pregnancy, as it relates to conditions of employment, benefits, pay and opportunities for advancement.
Sexual harassment Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.
Sexual preference The focus of a person's amorous or erotic desires and feelings toward members of the opposite or the same gender.
Shift differential Additional compensation, usually expressed as cents per hour, paid as an incentive for employees to accept working a less-then-desirable work shift (i.e., 2 nd or 3 rd shift).
Short-term disability A benefit designed to provide temporary income replacement for worker absent due to illness or injury, but who is expected to return to work within a specified timeframe.
Sick leave Paid time off granted to employees who are out of work due to an illness or injury.
Social Security A federal program under the Social Security Act which provides for retirement, disability and other related benefits for workers and their eligible dependents.
Social Security card A card issued by the Social Security Administration displaying an individual’s full legal name and social security number assigned to the individual.
Spot rewards Cash and noncash awards given to employees for ideas submitted or accomplishments benefiting the organization.
Substance abuse Defined as a destructive pattern of substance (i.e., narcotics or alcohol) use leading to clinically significant social, occupational or medical impairment.
Summary material modifications A summary of modifications or changes made to an employee benefit plan that is not included in the summary plan description.
Summary plan description A written statement that contains information regarding participation, coverage and employee rights for any ERISA-covered benefit plan.
Summer Employee High school and college students hired to work in technical, administrative, and laboring positions for the specified time during the summer months.
Surviving Spouse For use by the Benefits Office only; is not eligible for benefits.
Suspension A form of disciplinary action resulting in an employee being sent home without pay for a specified period of time (the Fair Labor Standards Act contains stricter rules relating to suspending salaried exempt employees without pay.
360-degree feedback An appraisal process whereby an individual is rated on his or her performance by people who know something about the individual’s work. This can include direct reports, peers, managers, customers or clients. The individual usually completes a self-assessment exercise on his or her performance, which is also used in the process.
Team building A training program designed to assist a group of people to work together as a team while they are learning.
Teamwork Described as the practice of individuals working together in order to bring a variety of talents and experiences to achieve a common goal.
Telecommuting Working from a remote location (often one’s home workstation) using computers, telephones, facsimile machines and other remote capabilities, rather than commuting via automobile or other mode of transportation to and from an employer's work site to perform equivalent work.
Teleconferencing A conference established between two or more people or groups of people who are in different locations; made possible by the use of such telecommunications equipment as closed-circuit television.
Temporary employee An individual who works on either short- or long-term assignments (generally not to exceed six months) with an employer without being treated as a permanent employee. Temporary employees receive all benefits with the exception of long term disability and tuition reimbursement. Normally utilized by employers to meet seasonal or other demands that they do not have the internal resources to meet.
Temporary (Fixed Term)

Works either short- or long-term assignments, generally not to exceed six months; is not eligible for benefits.

Termination Separation from employment due to a voluntary resignation, layoff, retirement or dismissal.
Third-party sexual harassment Harassment of an employee by someone other than another employee, such as a client, customer, vendor or service provider.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII is a provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits discrimination in virtually every employment circumstance on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, pregnancy or national origin. In general, Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees. The purpose of Title VII's protections is to "level the playing field" by forcing employers to consider only objective, job-related criteria in making employment decisions. Title VII must be considered when reviewing applications or resumes, when interviewing candidates, when testing job applicants and when considering employees for promotions, transfers or any other employment-related benefit or condition.
Total compensation The complete pay package awarded employees on an annual basis, including all forms of money, benefits, services and in-kind payments.
Tuition assistance A program designed to provide financial assistance to employees taking educational courses at an accredited college or university.
Underutilization As part of the affirmative action process, this report is used to determine whether certain members of protected groups are being inadequately represented within the workforce. The report uses information based on the geographic area and positions within the organization.
Unemployment insurance (UI) A statutory benefit. Unemployment insurance is designed to provide workers who have been laid off a weekly income during short periods of unemployment. The system is run and funded by state and federal taxes paid by employers.
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) of 1994 The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA, or the Act), signed into law on October 13, 1994, clarifies and strengthens the Veterans’ Reemployment Rights (VRR) Statute. USERRA is intended to minimize the disadvantages to an individual that can occur when that person needs to be absent from his or her civilian employment in order to serve in the uniformed services. USERRA makes major improvements in protecting service member rights and benefits by clarifying the law and improving enforcement mechanisms. USERRA expands the cumulative length of time that an individual may be absent from work for uniformed services duty and retain reemployment rights.
Union A formal organization certified by the National Labor Relations Board and authorized to act on behalf of employees regarding wages, benefits, working conditions, conditions of employment and job security.
Unsafe acts Any action, such as horseplay, fighting, failing to abide by a safety rule, etc., that results in accident or injury to another.
Unsafe conditions Hazards, such as faulty equipment or tools, improper safety procedures, failure to improperly guard equipment, etc., that result or have the potential to result in an accident or injury to another.
Unwelcome behavior/conduct Conduct or behavior by peers, subordinates or supervisors that is objectionable or unacceptable to an individual.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) On March 1, 2003, service and benefit functions of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) transitioned into the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The USCIS is responsible for the administration of immigration and naturalization adjudication functions and establishing immigration services policies and priorities.
Vesting An employee’s right to receive present or future pension benefits, even if the employee does not remain in the service of the employer.
Vietnam Era Veteran Defined as an individual who served on active duty for more than 180 days, any part of which occurred during the period between August 5, 1964, and May 7, 1975, and who received other than a dishonorable discharge, as defined in the regulations implementing the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974.
Vision statement A vision statement is a description of what an organization wants to become or hopes to accomplish in the future (typically in the next 10 years).
Wage and salary survey A benchmark report consisting of market pay data for a variety of jobs conducted either on a local or nationwide basis. Used to evaluate an organization’s own current pay structures and as a future compensation planning tool.
Waiver A document signed by either an employee or prospective employee in which he or she renounces certain specified rights or considerations.
Wellness program Programs, such as on-site or subsidized fitness centers, health screenings, smoking cessation, weight reduction/management, health awareness and education, that target keeping employees healthy, thereby lowering employer’s costs associated with absenteeism, lost productivity and increased health insurance claims.
Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 Whistleblower protection is the federal law that provides protection to employees against retaliation for reporting illegal acts of employers. An employer may not rightfully retaliate in any way, such as discharging, demoting, suspending or harassing the whistle blower. Employer retaliation of any kind may result in the whistle blower filing a charge with a government agency and/or filing a law suit against the employer.
Work/life balance Having a measure of control over when, where and how individuals work, leading to their being able to enjoy an optimal quality of life. Work/life balance is achieved when an individual’s right to a fulfilled life inside and outside paid work is accepted and respected as the norm, to the mutual benefit of the individual, business and society.
Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) of 1988 WARN requires employers (with 100 or more employees) that are planning a plant closing or a mass layoff to give affected employees at least 60 days' notice of such an employment action. While the 60-day period is the minimum for advance notice, this provision is not intended to discourage employers from voluntarily providing longer periods of advance notice. Not all plant closings and layoffs are subject to the Act. WARN sets out specific exemptions and provides for a reduction in the notification period in particular circumstances.
Workers’ compensation State laws enacted to provide workers with protection and income replacement benefits due to an illness or injury suffered on the job. Employers must carry appropriate workers’ compensation insurance, as required by state law, or have a sufficient source of funding for claims incurred.
Workplace bullying Persistent, offensive, abusive, intimidating or insulting behavior or unfair actions directed at another individual, causing the recipient to feel threatened, abused, humiliated or vulnerable.
Workplace violence Assaults and other violent acts or threats that occur in or are related to the workplace and entail a substantial risk of physical or emotional harm to individuals or damage to company resources or capabilities.
Written warning Written documentation given to an employee describing specific disciplinary infractions, such as inappropriate conduct, poor performance or violation of work rules/policies. Such documentation normally includes information regarding past infractions and what action will be taken if employee fails to improve.
Zone A proportion of a grade range.  Fermilab’s pay ranges are divided into three equal zones to establish zone 1, zone 2, and zone3.