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New laws passed to benefit exempt employees

July 31, 2014

Since 2003, efforts have been made to facilitate the conversion of exempt positions to civil service in the Executive Branch of state government. During the 2014 Legislative Session, we supported the passage of two bills that will benefit exempt employees. We are pleased to report that both bills were signed into law:

  • S.B. 3099 (Act 181) requires the hiring of technical and professional staff within the State Historic Preservation Division, Department of Land and Natural Resources to be in accordance with Chapter 76, HRS (the state’s civil service law). S.B. 3099 also establishes a three-year sunset on exempt positions created after July 1, 2014 unless affirmatively extended by the Legislature.
Without such a sunset provision, exempt positions established by the Legislature remain exempt for an indefinite period. There are more than 100 separate exempt employee statutes spread throughout Hawaii Revised Statutes that allow exempt positions to exist indefinitely. This is contrary to the purpose and intent of Chapter 76, HRS. We will be working with DLNR to ensure the conversion process from exempt to civil service is conducted fairly and employees are provided accurate information about conversion from exempt status to civil service.
  • H.B. 1966 (Act 199), requires the Hawaii State Auditor to review the current civil service exemption process and recommend procedures, guidelines and criteria to ensure that the civil service exemption process is used appropriately and only in extraordinary circumstances. The Auditor is also required to submit a report on this matter to the Legislature before the 2015 Legislative Session.
The report of the Auditor will hopefully provide additional justification to expedite the conversion of exempt positions to civil service and to limit the creation of new ones.

We will continue our efforts to amend the various civil service exemptions in Hawaii Revised Statutes during the 2015 Legislature. More information on these bills can be found at

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