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Classification and Compensation

Special Consultant

Special Consultants

Individuals appointed to the Special Consultant classification are employees of the California State University and as such are required to complete appropriate employment paperwork such as an Employment Application, the Form I-9, Oath of Allegiance, original social security card, etc.

A Special Consultant performs special assignments of a temporary nature (not greater than 12 months), based on a particular knowledge, ability or expertise. This classification should only be used when no other appropriate classification exists in the CSU system and should be used for work that meets the “exempt” criteria, unless the assignment will not meet the exempt salary threshold, of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  Incumbents working in the exempt capacity in this classification are paid on a daily rate regardless of the hours worked in a given day. Incumbents will be paid hourly if they earn less than $684 per week or the equivalent of $2,964 per month or $35,568 per year. The Special Consultant classification is not represented by a collective bargaining agreement.  The Special Consultant is taxed (unlike the compensation for independent contractors, which is not taxed).  Departments may not use the Special Consultant classification to appoint a Fresno State non-exempt employee to a temporary appointment.

Current CSU employees who accept additional employment as Special Consultants are subject to the Additional Employment Policy and the terms of the applicable collective bargaining agreement, which limit total employment within the CSU to a maximum of 125% of full time (includes all auxiliary organizations). The work must be of a significantly different nature from an individual’s normal or primary work assignment. 

CSU Retired Annuitants who are appointed as Special Consultants are subject to CalPERS regulations which limit total employment to 960 hours (120 days) annually on a fiscal year basis. The consultant’s supervisor is responsible for monitoring the total time worked and total amount paid.

Hiring Instructions

Please sign the Special Consultant Agreement form below:

  1. Special Consultant Agreement Form - (Adobe Sign)
    Special Consultant Agreement - Fillable PDF

    The Special Consultant Agreement Form must be completed and fully approved for all appointments and reappointments before their work begins. 

    The form requires the information below:
    • Special Consultant Name, phone number, home address (must not perform work outside of California per Technical Letter HR/Employment 2021-04).
    • Information detailing current CSU or Fresno State employment.
    • Description of the specific purpose and outcomes of the project, the primary duties and responsibilities and specialized and unique skills, knowledge and experience the consultant possess or must have to perform duties.
    • The beginning and ending date of appointment as a Special Consultant (not greater than 12 months).
    • The daily rate/hourly and estimated number of workdays.
    • After the Special Consultant has signed the agreement, all signed approvals must be obtained from the Appropriate Administrator assigning the work and the Dean/AVP if different than the Appropriate Administrator and the AVP of Human Resources.  Departments will be notified once the contract has been approved.
  2. Background Check Questionnaire (this is included in the agreement form).

  3. Human Resources will receive the request for hire and review if the classification is appropriate for the Special Consultant.
  4.  If the Special Consultant is a new hire to Fresno State, an I9 must be completed prior to start date. They will also be required to complete New Hire Paperwork. This will be sent to the consultant upon receipt of the completed Special Consultant Agreement.


The Special Consultant Voucher is required to request payment to employees with the Payroll classification of Special Consultant. This form must be completed each month that a Special Consultant works and is due in the Human Resources at the end of the pay period or upon completion of assignment.

The Special Consultant Voucher must be completed and signed by the employee for each pay period worked.  The date worked, description of services provided and daily/hourly rate are required.  If the Special Consultant is a Retired Annuitant, the number of hours must be listed to track the limit of 960 hours (120 days).
All Vouchers must be signed by the employee, Department Chair/Manager assigning/reviewing the work and the AVP/Dean if not the Appropriate Manager.

Independent Contractor

It is critical that the university comply with State/Federal laws governing reportable/taxable income and CSU policy regarding the proper classification of employees and independent contractors. Misclassification of a worker as an independent contractor can result in serious financial penalties in an audit and/or may result in the university being unable to legally procure services and pay the independent contractor.

Pursuant to Federal/State laws and CSU policy, independent contractors may not be used in lieu of hiring individuals as employees. An individual may only be retained for personal or professional services as an independent contractor if a determination has been made, in accordance with these guidelines. The responsibility for determining if the individual providing the service should be classified as an independent contractor or an employee rests with the department seeking services. Verification of independent contractor status must be obtained from the AVP of Human Resources prior to contracting for services.

As a general rule, individuals should be classified as independent contractors on an exception basis only. Departments must follow the appropriate hiring procedures established by Staff Human Resources or Faculty Affairs if it is determined the necessary services must be performed by a university employee.

Definition of Independent Contractor

Independent contractors are individuals who are subject to the control or direction from the university only as it relates to the results of the work performed. Independent contractors are engaged in a distinct profession and are in the business of providing services related to the job being contracted. They have total control over the work being performed, set their own hours, pay for their own business expenses, and provide their own equipment, liability insurance, and office space. It is typically of such a specialized or technical nature that the knowledge, experience, or abilities are not available through the normal hiring process. Independent contractors may not be a CSU employee (with exceptions). Services to be performed as an independent contractor must not displace the work of any bargaining unit employee or fall into one of the CSU Classification and Qualification standards. Payment for services is based upon completion of specific work, rather than time worked.

Federal Guidance

Determination Factors - Contractor or Employee?
The U.S. Internal Revenue Code requires the presence of specific characteristics between the employer and the contractual provider of personal services before an independent contractor relationship can exist. Before services are performed, departments desiring to contract for personal services must assess the relationship with the individual provider and the university to ensure that the individual is properly classified.

Limitations and Restrictions

State/CSU Contract Restrictions – for CSU Current and Former Employees
It is the university’s practice not to contract with university employees (with exceptions). This is supported by Technical Letter HR 2003-21 (Senate Bill 41).

Misclassification of Workers

It is important to determine the correct classification of workers as employees or independent contractors. This distinction is significant because an incorrect determination could result in the following:

  • Loss of reimbursement under Federal contract and grant funds;
  • Penalties for violation of State and Federal tax withholding laws;
  • Penalties for violation of Federal laws pertaining to the employment of nonresident aliens (Form I-9).

In addition, the following employment-related requirements may be violated:

  • State Oath of Allegiance, as required by the California Constitution;
  • State Political Reform Act financial conflict of interest rules;
  • Workers' compensation and unemployment insurance coverage requirements.

Independent Contractor vs Employee Electronic Form
Independent Contractor vs Employee PDF