The General Assembly has passed three bills amending the civil service provisions of the First Class Township Code, Borough Code and Third Class City Code. Gov. Tom Corbett has signed into law the amendments to the First Class Township and Third Class City Codes, and is expected to sign the amendment to the Borough Code. Generally, these amendments mandate that municipalities conduct background investigations, which can be conducted after the list of applicants is certified. In addition, the amendments make the agility test, the psychological examination and the medical examination optional for promotions.
Amendments to the First Class Township Code & Borough Code
The changes to the Civil Service requirements within the First Class Township Code and Borough Code are identical. Both Acts require the municipal Civil Service Commission to conduct a background investigation on applicants for an appointment to an original position. The commission can limit the background investigations to the candidates placed on the eligibility list or to the candidates on the certified list. With the background investigation requirement, applicants for an original civil service position are now subject to each of the following:
- A physical fitness or agility examination that is job-related and consistent with business necessity
- A physical and psychological medical examination after a conditional offer of employment is made
- A background investigation (restricted to candidates included on the eligibility list or to those to be certified to borough council for appointment)
The amendments to the First Class Township Code and the Borough Code also amend the requirements for applicants seeking a promotion. Civil Service Commissions are no longer statutorily mandated to require applicants for promotion to undergo a physical fitness or agility examination when applying for a promotion. However, first class townships and boroughs may conduct physical fitness or agility examinations that are job-related and consistent with business necessity, and may also conduct physical and psychological medical examinations, but are not required to do so for promotions.
Amendments to the Third Class City Code
The amendments to the Third Class City Code deal exclusively with civil service promotions. The amendments clarify that the mayor or another appointed city official has the authority to promote a civil service candidate, where such authority has been granted to the mayor or other appointed official pursuant to one of the following:
- A charter adopted under the Option Third Class City Law
- An optional plan of government pursuant to 53 Pa. Code § 3001, et seq. or 53 Pa. Code § 3101 et seq.
- Any other law authorizing or permitting the mayor or other elected or appointed official to promote a candidate
The language validates the promotion of a candidate by a mayor or other elected or appointed official despite the language of Act 77, which authorized city council to promote if an examination was conducted. The legislation is retroactive to October 19, 2010, which is the date of enactment of Act 77 of 2010. Act 77 brought the civil service procedures into compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 by amending provisions to expressly authorize the establishment of an eligibility list comprised of the top three scoring candidates of a promotional examination. For a more detailed analysis of the impact of Act 77 of 2010, you can refer to a previous Reed Smith Employment Law Watch post here: Pennsylvania Governor Signs Amendments to the Civil Service Laws.