Bonuses, Rewards and Recognition
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Sam Wilkins, Director
South Carolina Office
of Human Resources
8301 Parklane Road
Suite A220
Columbia, SC 29223
Phone: (803) 896-5300


(State Agency fraud only)



Annual Appropriation Act, Section 117.59

SC Code of Laws §§ 8-1-170, 8-1-180 and 8-11-190

State HR Regulations 19-705.07 G. Adobe Acrobat and 19-706.05 Adobe Acrobat

Employee Referral Bonus Program Sample Adobe Acrobat

Employee Bonus Guidelines, July 1, 2008

Bonus Legislation Adobe Acrobat

Employee Bonus Form for Proviso 117.61 / FY14-15 (Individual Recipient) Adobe Acrobat

Employee Bonus Form for Proviso 117.61 / FY14-15 (Multiple Recipients) Excel

More information on special rules for various types of fringe benefits can be found at the link provided.

Bonus Program Under Proviso 117.61

Q: What are the limitations of amount and frequency placed on bonus programs under the Annual Appropriation Act, Section 117.61?

A: Bonuses cannot exceed $3,000 per employee in a fiscal year. Employees may receive more than one bonus in a fiscal year as long as the total amount of bonuses does not exceed $3,000.

Q: Who is eligible to receive a bonus under the Annual Appropriation Act, Section 117.61?

A: All employees in full time equivalent positions are eligible to receive bonuses. Employees earning $100,000 or more are not eligible to receive bonuses.

Q: Are temporary grant and time-limited project employees eligible to receive bonuses?

A: Temporary grant and time-limited project employees are eligible to receive bonuses within the State Budget and Control Board's guidelines for employee bonuses. The bonuses must be funded by the grant or time-limited project.

Q: What are the reporting requirements for an agency that implements a bonus program under the Annual Appropriation Act, Section 117.61?

A: An agency must report the following information to the Human Resources Department when bonuses are awarded:
  • Name of Employee;
  • Social Security Number;
  • Class Code/Slot Number;
  • Amount of Bonus;
  • Date Awarded;
  • Source of Funds; and
  • Reason for Awarding Bonus

  • Q: Who is responsible for approving bonus payments under an agency's bonus program under the Annual Appropriation Act, Section 117.61?

    A: The agency director is the final authority responsible for approving an employee's bonus.

    Q: What employee accomplishments or contributions may qualify for a bonus payment under the Annual Appropriation Act, Section 117.61?

    A: The employee accomplishments or contributions that may qualify for a
    bonus payment are as follows:
  • Contributions to increased organizational productivity;
  • Development and /or implementation of improved work processes;
  • Exceptional customer service;
  • Realized cost savings; or
  • Other specific contributions to the success of the organization.

  • Rewards and Recognition Program

    Q: Under what authority can an agency develop a rewards and recognition program for their employees?

    A: Each agency can develop recognition programs that meet its needs. Sections 8-1-180 and 8-11-180 of the South Carolina Code of Laws allows State agencies and institutions to spend public funds on employee recognition. There is a $50 limit on the amount that can be spent on each employee per award. The Annual Appropriation Act, Section 117.16, provides authority to fund employee award programs..

    Q: What restrictions should an agency be aware of when developing a rewards and recognition program?

    A: All Internal Revenue Services (IRS) regulations must be adhered to when implementing a program. Under IRS regulations, all cash or gift certificate awards are taxable income unless considered a de minimis fringe benefit. The IRS has provided a list of FAQ's for government entities regarding de minimis fringe benefits at the link provided.

    Q: What assistance is available if an agency wants to develop a rewards and recognition program?

    A: The Human Resources Division (HRD) provides various levels of assistance to agencies at no charge. Agencies can contact HRD to find out more details about the type of help available.

    Q: What are some of the programs offered by state agencies to reward and recognize employees?

    A: Here are some examples of the programs:

    Vocational Rehabilitation's "Celebration of Success": Peer-to-Peer and Supervisor Spontaneous Rewards

  • Peer-to-Peer Rewards — Employees within a department may nominate other employees or teams/groups of employees within a department for certificates of award. Upon receiving three certificates, an employee will become eligible to select an award from the Department's Celebration of Success Awards Catalog. The Celebration of Success Awards Catalog offers a variety of items for reward recipients and is updated periodically with new items.

  • Supervisor Spontaneous Rewards — Forms of informal recognition that can be administered by a supervisor are:
    * Post a thank you note on the employee's office door
    * Volunteer to assist an employee with their work
    * Recognize an employee in an office meeting
    * Write a letter of praise about the employee with a copy to the next level supervisor
    * Photo collage on bulletin board about successful projects

  • Department of Natural Resources' "You're a Natural": Thank You Post-Its, Spot Awards, and Team-Based Awards

  • Thank You Post-Its - Employees can choose to use their first thank you card received each quarter to enroll in a lottery for prizes. Each quarter, DNR gives out various gift baskets to those employees chosen from the lottery.

  • Spot Awards - Managers at the Section Level and above are permitted to give Spot Awards ($50 bonus on the employee's next paycheck) for good performance that is considered worthy of more than a "thank you."

  • Team-Based Awards - Natural Team Awards are presented to any ad-hoc (project) team or work unit for outstanding team achievement (examples: meeting challenging deadlines; saving money; or improving teamwork or communication in the agency). The team will receive a food reward (i.e. catered lunch or breakfast).

    * Labor, Licensing, and Regulation's TRIBUTE (acronym for Timely Recognition Inspired By Uniquely Talented Employees) Program: Peer-to-Peer, Supervisor-to-Employee, and Management-to-Employee Awards

    * Peer-to-Peer: Postcards displaying a TRIBUTE medal - Employees receive ten postcards displaying the TRIBUTE medal to present to other employees at his/her discretion based on the criteria for receiving TRIBUTE recognition.

    * Supervisor-to-Employee: TRIBUTE certificate - Based on the TRIBUTE criteria, supervisors can recognize employees with a certificate (first time employees will receive the certificate in a Lucite frame for displaying). If an employee already has a certificate, the supervisor can present to the employee an additional recognition(s) with a sticker(s) of the TRIBUTE medal to be placed on the certificate. Individuals are promptly recognized for their achievement at staff meetings or other appropriate employee gatherings.

    * Management-to-Employee Awards: Quarterly Socials - Employees who have received a TRIBUTE certificate/sticker during the quarter are invited by the Agency Director to a quarterly social where they are recognized. At the social, a drawing is held and the winners of these drawings are given a $50 cash certificate to be redeemed in the Office of Human Resources with receipt (less appropriate withholdings) in subsequent paycheck.

    State Service Pin Awards

    Q: Who has the responsibility for administering the employees′ State service pin awards?

    A: Each agency is responsible for administering the State service pin awards.