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Types of Employment

The first step to determine which career path is best for you is to understand the differences between the types of state employment--classified and unclassified, also referred to as merit and non-merit employment.

The majority of employment positions in the Executive Branch of Kentucky state government are within the classified service or "merit system".  Positions outside the merit system are in the "unclassified service".  The merit system is administered by the Personnel Cabinet under the Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS Chapter 18A).

Merit Employment (Classified Service)

In general, merit positions are selected from a register and the selected candidates must meet the minimum requirements for the job classification.  Vacancies for merit positions are posted on the Career Opportunities System (COS) website.   

The merit system emphasizes making personnel decisions (hiring, promoting, assigning work, and other matters) based on an individual's qualifications and performance. The merit system also protects state employee against arbitrary actions and discriminatory practices. For example, as discussed below, any disciplinary actions brought against a merit employee with status must provide specific written notice of the reasons for the action and provide a right of appeal to a neutral decision-maker, such as the Personnel Board.

Merit system employees serve a probationary period when they begin working for the state. Usually, the probationary period lasts six months, but may be as long as twelve months depending on the classification. When the probationary period is over, employees gain merit system "status," which gives employees certain additional rights and privileges.

The Personnel Cabinet and the Personnel Board administer and enforce the merit system. The merit system is codified in Chapter 18A of the Kentucky Revised Statutes, and in various administrative regulations. Additionally, KRS Chapter 16 and Title 502 of the Kentucky Administrative Regulations govern sworn officers in the Kentucky State Police. Certified and equivalent employees of the former Workforce Development Cabinet, now part of the Education Cabinet, are governed by KRS Chapter 156.

Non-merit (Unclassified Service)

Non-merit or unclassified service includes positions not under the merit system hiring process and generally includes the staffs of the governor and lieutenant governor, policy-making managers and agency leaders. (SeeKRS 18A.115.) These positions have no formal selection criteria and are not appointed from a register.  Employees in these positions may be terminated 'without notice of cause' without recourse.   Click here for Non-merit vacancy announcements.