Subject:                        University Human Resources

Policy:                           Employee Categories

Effective Date:             January 1, 2019         


Review Date:                Three (3) years from Effective Date above

Responsible Party:      University Human Resources

Applicability:              This policy applies to all employees as noted


The purpose of this policy is to identify and define the categories of employees of Montana State University. Leave and benefit eligibility and retirement programs are dependent upon the employment category, FTE, and duration of employment. For more information see Choices Active Book, Summary of Benefits, and Retirement Information website. Any individual who works for Montana State University, regardless of funding source, is an employee of Montana State University.


Classified employees are employees performing duties normally assigned to positions covered by the MUS Staff Compensation Plan (MUS Staff Compensation Plan.pdf). Classified employees include employees who are represented by a union [“Union Employees”] as well as employees who are not represented by a union [“Union Exempt”]. Union employees are subject to Collective Bargaining Agreements which govern the terms and conditions of employment included within the agreement.

Classified employees include the following subcategories:

a. Classified with Probationary Status

i. Classified employees must serve a probationary period which is meant as an opportunity for the department to determine whether the employee should be provided permanent status.

ii. Classified union employees will serve the probationary period established in their respective collective bargaining agreement.

iii.  Classified union exempt employees will serve a probationary period of six (6) calendar months.

b.  Classified with Permanent Status

Classified with Permanent Status employees are classified employees who have completed the applicable probationary period. This could include appointments that are of an ongoing nature which are only for a portion of each year due to the seasonal or cyclical nature of the work.

c.  Classified Temporary Fixed Term

Classified Temporary Fixed Term is a classified employee who:

i.  is hired for a definite period of time, not to exceed twelve (12) months; or

ii.  performs temporary duties or permanent duties on a temporary basis. 


Classified Temporary Fixed Term employees are not eligible to become a classified employee with permanent status unless selected as the successful applicant in an approved, open, and competitive selection process and upon successful completion of the probationary period. 


Contract employees are nonfaculty “professional and administrative employees” who are employed by a Board of Regents (BOR) Employment Contract, a Montana University System (MUS) Employment Contract, or a Letter of Appointment under the criteria established in BOR Policy 711.2 and BOR Policy 711.1, respectively. Coaches are contract employees who are employed under approved coach’s contracts or letters of appointment.


Faculty members are tenurable and nontenurable employees in designated faculty positions, who are appointed on either a Montana University System Contract for tenurable faculty or Letter of Appointment for nontenurable faculty. A complete list of faculty categories may be found in the MSU Faculty Handbook.


A short-term worker is an employee who is hired to perform duties to address short term needs of the work unit. A short-term worker:

a.  may not be employed by MSU for more than ninety (90) work days in a continuous twelve (12)-month period (beginning the first day of the first appointment);

b.   is not eligible to become a classified employee with permanent status unless selected as the successful applicant in an approved, open, and competitive selection process; and

c.  is not eligible for leave, paid holidays, or benefits.


Student employees are students who work for the university as temporary, part-time employees who either receive federal work-study funds or are paid as student labor to perform limited tasks for the university. Student employees should not work over twenty (20) hours per week during periods when the university is in session. Graduate students who are appointed as Graduate Research Assistants or Graduate Teaching Assistants are not student employees and are subject to the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement.