Guide Rights Under Civil Service

Civil service status is often referenced by the procedures outlined in General Law (Chapter 31) and in the Personnel Administration Rules (PARs).
The Civil Service Unit has provided informative guidelines pertaining to a number of common topics.


Under Civil Service Law, Chapter 31, Section 22, the applicant may make a request to the Human Resources Division to undertake one or more of the following:

  • A review of the marking of the applicant's answers to essay and multiple choice questions on a civil service examination
  • A review of the marking of the applicant's training and experience.
  • A review of a finding that he or she did not meet the entrance requirements for the examination.

The applicant has seventeen (17) calendar days after notificiation of his or her examination results or his or her failure to meet the minimum entrance requirements for the position to request this type of review.

The applicant can also request a review of whether the examination was a fair test of the applicant's fitness to perform the primary or dominant duties of the position. This request must be filed within seven (7) days after the date of the examination.

As of 9/14/2017, the applicant must submit a Multiple Choice Item Review or Fair Test Review, by going to the Mass. Civil Service Examinations & Applications area when the application is available and then fill out the online application for “Promotional Exam Review”.  Submission of Multiple Choice Item Reviews and Fair Test Reviews will only be accepted by the online exam review process.

Under Civil Service Law, Chapter 31, Section 24, and the Personnel Administration Rules, PAR .02 and PAR .08 (PARs) an applicant may appeal to the Civil Service Commission regarding the following:

  • A decision made by the Civil Service Unit that the applicant did not meet the entrance requirements for appointment to a position.
  • A decision made by the Civil Service Unit that the examination taken by the applicant was a fair test of the applicant's fitness to actually perform the primary or dominant duties of the position for which the examination was held.
  • A decision by the Civil Service Unit of the marking of the applicants answers to essay questions.

The applicant has seventeen (17) days after the notification of the Civil Service Unit's decision to file an appeal with the Civil Service Commission.

Answer sheet reviews

The Civil Service Unit will forward a copy of your original answer sheet and your answer sheet data string captured from the scanning of your answer sheet. 


Civil Service Law requires appointing authorities to select qualified applicants from civil service lists.

The types of appointments that can be made are: Reserve, Intermittent, Permanent, Temporary.

If there is a no list the following types of appointments can be made: Emergency and Provisional.

Hiring from a Certification List

Hiring from a Certification (Official Service)

The Hiring Department completes a Civil Service Requisition, now submitted in our online system,  to request a certification/referral list to the Civil Service Unit.
The Civil Service Unit issues a certification/referral list of eligible applicants to the Hiring Department.

Official Service - Applicant names are arranged in order of scores.

  • Notices to appear are emailed to applicants whose names appear on the certification/referral list to sign the certification/referral list if they are willing to be considered for appointment. This notice indicates a specific date or time frames by which the applicant must respond to show interest in the vacancy.
  • The Hiring Department ensures that the applicant has access to sign off on the certification/referral list.
  • Entrance requirements are checked, if applicable (Official Service Only).

If an insufficient number of applicants respond to the notice, the Hiring Department sends a request to the Civil Service Unit for additional names to be released to them.

The Hiring Department ensures that appointments are made in accordance with the PAR .09 selection ratio 2n+1, PAR .08 and Civil Service Law Chapter 31, section 27. Appointments should be made in the order for which the applicant's name appears on the certification.

The Hiring Department attaches a copy the signed certification/referral list, the Certification and Report Supplement (Form 16, Form 16 II), Notification of Employment (NOE, municipal only) to close out their hire from the certification/referral list. 

The Hiring Department notifies bypassed applicants of reasons for non-selection or selection.

The Hiring Department should maintain paperwork on file and attach (PDF) copies to the online requisition:

  • Signed certification/referral list
  • Certification and Report Supplement (Form 16, Form 16 II)
  • Notification of Employment (NOE)
  • and any supporting documentation to support their selection from certification. (See PAR .08, .09, .19, MGL Chapter 31, Sections 25, 27, 28)

Making a Provisional Appointment

When there is no active civil service eligible list, a Hiring Department may fill the vacancy on a provisional basis, by either a provisional promotion of someone in your department who has permanent civil service status in the next lower title in the career series or by a provisional appointment of someone outside the department. You must submit a Provisional Appointment Request (Form 15) or a Provisional Promotion Request (Form 15A) with your online Civil Service Requisition form requesting an examination when making either type of appointment.

Additional Resources for Appointment


Requset for Demotion or Change in Status (Form 11) in accordance with Civil Service Law Chapter 31 , section 41, 46.

A permanent, civil service employee's status changed to a lower title due to a voluntary request, budgetary concerns or in response to a disciplinary action is considered a demotion.

The Appointing Authority submits a completed Demotion Request or Change in Status (Form 11) that lists the current position the employee is serving and the position to which the employee is being assigned.

The demotion generally occurs within the same title series. For example, Senior Building Custodian to Building Custodian or Police Lieutenant to Police Officer.

Eligibility for Fire and Police Departmental Promotion

  • The candidate must be an employee of the Department.
  • The examination is open to those who are employed in the next lowest grade or in successive lower grades until there are at least four eligible candidates in the department.  Except when the lowest grade is reached and then you only need one eligible candidate for the examination to move forward.
  • The employee must have permanent civil service status in a qualifying title as of the date of the examination in order to be eligible.
  • Eligibility for Police Officers applying for promotional examination is based on post graduation from the training academy. Academy time may not be counted towards eligibility for promotional examinations.

For municipalities with a population less than 50,000:

An employee is required to have been employed in the qualifying title on a permanent or temporary civil service basis (after appointment from a certification) for twelve months preceding the examination date. A combination of temporary and permanent service can be applied towards meeting this twelve month requirement.

For municipalities with a population of 50,000 or greater:

The candidate is required to have been employed in the qualifying title on a permanent or temporary civil service basis (after appointment from a certification) for three years preceding the examination date. A combination of temporary and permanent service can be applied towards meeting this three year requirement.

Additional Eligibility Information for Fire and Promotional Examinations

In accordance with the Civil Service Commission decision in Dickinson and Hallisey v. Human Resources Division, E-10-274, 278 (2011), eligibility for police and fire promotional examinations will be determined in the following manner:  (1) the individual must be an employee in the department with permanent civil service status in the eligible title(s) on the date of the examination; and (2) the individual must have served in the force at least one year since his/her name was first certified in the eligible title(s), regardless of whether that certification resulted in his/her appointment to the eligible title(s).

Additional Resources for Eligibility for Fire and Police Departmental Promotion

Probationary Period

Employment Probationary Period (Civil Service Law Chapter 31 , sections 46, 61, or 65)

Public safety employees must serve a period of twelve (12) months from the date that they start performing the duties of the position.

Non-public safety employees serve a six month probationary period.


Under Civil Service Law Chapter 31 , sections 33 and 39, the first date of performing the duties in a permanent full time position is considered an employee's seniority date.

A seniority date indicates an employee's length of service in a specific title, department or community.

A seniority date is only affected by the following actions:

  • voluntary reinstatement
  • transfer
  • moving from intermittent or reserve status to full time status
  • voluntary resignations

Generally, an action occurring for a time period of less than six months would not affect seniority. The actions listed previously in this paragraph would require that the seniority date be re-calculated.


Transferring to Another Position (Law Chapter 31, sections 33 and 35)

Any permanent civil service employee may request a transfer from one civil service department to another civil service department.

  • The Appointing Authority has the discretion to allow the transfer.
  • The Appointing Authority from the departing community and the Appointing Authority from the receiving community must both agree.
  • The community requesting the transfer must complete the Request for Transfer form, ensuring that the employee and the releasing Appointing Authority sign the form.

Please note that the transferring employee has a new seniority date and must work three (3) years before the employee gains his or her original seniority date.

Key Actions for Transfers


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