Departmental Recognition Policy


Departmental Recognition Policy



Describe the purpose of this document, along with any background information that may be relevant to the reader.

Scope of Applicability

This document applies to all UNC-Chapel Hill departments.


Policy Statement

It is the policy of UNC-Chapel Hill to promote programs that enhance employee morale by motivating employee initiative and excellence. Departments are encouraged to develop programs that recognize extraordinary work performance and collaboration as well as outstanding service within the University and in the community.

Recognition Program Establishment

Departmental recognition programs for employees must be written, with copies provided to/or publicly accessible by, all covered employees. All departmental recognition programs must be registered on the University's Awards Registry administered through the Benefits & Leave Administration Department in the Office of Human Resources.

Programs that include monetary awards or paid time off awards must be approved by the Benefits Services Department prior to the implementation of the program. To register a program, complete a Recognition and Awards Registry Data Form.

Employee participation in designing recognition programs is strongly encouraged. At a minimum, descriptions of recognition programs must include:

  • purpose of the recognition program
  • awards categories
  • awards eligibility
  • frequency of award
  • nomination procedures
  • selection procedures
  • type/amount of award given (both cash and non-cash items)

Awards may be designed to recognize extraordinary achievements by an employee or group of employees and may highlight performance, customer service, initiative, innovation, teamwork, career milestones, or other important accomplishments.
Guidance for developing a recognition program is available in the Employee Recognition Program Handbook.

Presentation of Awards

Departments are required to announce the recipient(s) of the award(s) publicly in order to promote both the program and the achievements of the recipient(s). Departments are encouraged to use department-wide meetings, newsletters, or websites, as well as the University Gazette, to further acknowledge employees honored through the program(s).

Monetary Awards (Cash & Non-Cash)

State budget guidelines preclude the use of State-budgeted funds for employee awards. If permitted by the individual funding authority, awards may be made from non-State funds. Within any calendar year, an individual employee shall not receive more than $2,000 (gross) in cash and non-cash awards through University department recognition award programs. Employee monetary awards (both cash and non-cash awards) are considered taxable income.

Please read the Policy on Taxation of Gifts, Prizes, and Awards for more information.

Exceptions to Monetary Award Limits

Departments seeking to establish a departmental monetary award greater than the limits set under this policy must file an appeal for exception with the Vice Chancellor for Finance & Administration, CB# 1000. The appeal must include a completed Recognition and Awards Registry Data Form and cover letter of support from the Vice Chancellor who oversees the requesting department.

Paid Time Off Awards

Under State policy, an SHRA employee may receive an award of paid time off only if the award program contributes to the statewide Governor's Award for Excellence program. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill contributes to this program through the Chancellor's Award program (recipients of the Chancellor's Award are nominated for the State Employees' Award). Therefore, only those University recognition programs that are explicitly made a part of the Chancellor's Award may give paid time off as an award.

To participate in the Chancellor's Award program, departmental recognition program descriptions must state specifically that award recipients will be considered for nomination for the Chancellor's Award.

If an employee receives a departmental award and/or the Chancellor's Award, then subsequently receives the Governor's Award for Excellence, the combined paid time off cannot exceed 24 hours in any 12-month period.

Processing Monetary Awards

SHRA monetary awards may be submitted only using the ConnectCarolina Lump Sum Payment form. If the awarded employee is on payroll outside of awarding department, the awarding department must contact the employee's home department and request completion of the form.

Benefits Services will approve SHRA monetary awards only for departmental award programs that are registered on the University's Awards Registry. Awards submitted for an unregistered program will not be approved. On the Lump Sum Payment form, departments must specifically identify the name of the applicable awards program as it is appears in the Awards Registry.

The Benefits Services Department will review all SHRA monetary award requests for approval prior to forwarding the request to payroll for processing. Awards processed through the Lump Sum Payment form will be referred to the Benefits Services Department without further action required by the awarding department. Departments should allow at least five business days for Benefits Services to review the request in addition to the regular processing time through Payroll.


Paid time off awarded through these programs is in addition to the vacation leave that permanent SHRA employees accrue and may be used in the same manner as vacation leave. The recipient's department must maintain a separate record of awarded paid time off. This time is not counted as part of the maximum annual vacation leave accumulation.

For both SHRA exempt and non-exempt employees, Paid Leave Awards must be used within 12 months of receipt of the award, or the leave is forfeited. If an employee leaves the department in which the Leave Award was earned, the leave award is forfeited. Departments should make every effort to grant such paid time off awarded to employees at the employee's option. See the TIM Website for information on recording Paid Leave Awards.

Accrual and use of Paid Leave Awards shall be recorded and tracked by the department's School/Division HR Office or TIM Administrator.

Related Requirements

External Regulations and Consequences

University Policies, Standards, and Procedures

Contact Information

Policy Contact

Office of Human Resources
CB #1045
UNC-Chapel Hill

104 Airport Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
(919) 843-2300

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Article ID: 131731
Thu 4/8/21 9:15 PM
Tue 10/31/23 1:19 PM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Office of Human Resources
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Associate Vice Chancellor, Human Resources
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
04/22/2021 12:00 AM
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
04/22/2020 7:49 PM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
04/22/2020 7:49 PM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
04/22/2020 7:49 PM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
07/01/2007 12:00 AM