Permanent civil service original or promotional appointments can only be made from eligible lists comprised of candidates who have taken and passed a civil service examination for the position in question, such as firefighter, police officer, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, etc.. However, under certain circumstances, a City or Town covered by Massachusetts Civil Service Law, G.L. c. 31, may make a provisional appointment to fill a vacant civil service position.
Provisional civil service promotions can only be made if no promotional examination has been given and, therefore, no active eligible list for the position exists. Appointing Authorities can also make provisional promotions when there is a “short list,” which is a list contains that contains an insufficient number of names to satisfy the 2N+1 rule. Under 2N +1, N is the number of vacancies. If there is one vacancy, the civil service list must contain the names of 3 candidates who are willing to accept the promotion. If there are 2 vacancies, the civil service promotional list must contain 5 names of those willing to accept the position.
Promotions can only be made to the next highest civil service rank. For example, only sergeants can be considered for promotion to the rank of lieutenant and only lieutenants can be considered for promotion to the rank of captain. However, if there no qualified employers in the lower rank who are and willing to the provisional promotion, HRD may allow the provisional promotion to come from other ranks, so long as there are sound and sufficient reasons for the promotion. Candidates for provisional promotions must have permanency in their civil service titles to be eligible for promotion.
Provisional promotions automatically expire once the Massachusetts Human Resources Division (HRD) certifies the new eligible list, so long as that list contains a sufficient number of names of candidates who are eligible for and willing to accept promotion to the position.
Provisional appointments and promotions are markedly different from permanent civil service appointments and promotions. Those who are provisionally appointed do not have “tenure” or “permanency” in their provisional job titles. A permanent appointment to a position covered under G.L. c. 31 can be either “original” or “promotional.” If there is a suitable eligible list, the positions must be filled from candidates appearing on that list, if a valid eligible list exists.
In addition to making provisional appointments or civil service promotions, a city of town can also make a “temporary” appointment. There are 2 types of temporary appointments under Massachusetts Civil Service Law. The first is an appointment to a “temporary position.” This would be a position approved by HRD as “temporary” to meet an appointing authority’s temporary personnel needs. The other type of temporary civil service position is used by an appointing authority to fill a temporary vacancy in a permanent position. For example, a permanent full time police sergeant may be out of work due to a long term illness and the employer may need to use a temporary position to fill her vacancy. When a situation like this occurs, cards will go out for the position of “temporary civil service sergeant,” and eligible candidates will have an opportunity to sign the promotional list indicating their willingness to accept the position.
Under Mass. Civil Service Law, appointing authorities are not required to fill any particular vacancy by either a temporary or permanent means. See, e.g. Mandracchia v. City of Everett (first case) and Mandracchia v. City of Everett (2nd case). In these cases, the City of Everett claimed that there was no need to promote a patrolman to the rank of sergeant, due to a lack of work and lack of money, until a Sergeant who had left submitted a request for re-employment / reinstatement pursuant to G.L. c. 31 § 46. The City suddenly decided that there was a need to fill the position and it re-hired the Mayor’s boyhood friend.