Spot Awards

Spot Awards are designed to recognize special contributions, as they occur, for a specific project or task. Spot Awards are generally for a special contribution accomplished over a relatively short time period. A Spot Award lets employees know that someone has noticed their noteworthy contribution. At the same time, it recognizes and reinforces the behaviors and values that are important at UC Berkeley.


The Berkeley Operating Principles are the criteria for both the Achievement and Spot Awards. Staff participate in activities throughout the year that contribute to the mission of the university and the goals of their units. In some cases, the activity rises to the level of a major achievement as part of a big project, in other cases a staff member engages in a sustained effort to take responsibility for professional development in an area that adds value to his or her work, and to a high performing culture.

Whatever the contribution that is being recognized, at either the Spot or Achievement Award level, it should reflect at least one of the Operating Principles:

  • We include and excel, together
    We cultivate trust, treat one another with respect and assume good intentions. We actively include different perspectives and work cooperatively within and across departments. We thrive when we celebrate the diversity in our community and our common commitment to equity, inclusion and equal access to all.
  • We imagine and innovate
    We develop sustainable solutions that help us meet campus goals. We are willing to take intelligent risks, make mistakes, and learn from our experience.
  • We simplify
    We reduce unnecessary steps and make it easier to get things done. Our solutions are common where they can be, custom where it counts.
  • We are accountable to each other
    We measure supervisor, individual and team performance, make transparent decisions, and follow through on our commitments. We recognize excellence, and give and receive constructive feedback at all levels to help us improve.
  • We focus on service
    We provide timely, excellent service to students, staff, faculty, alumni and other stakeholders. We emphasize service over bureaucracy whenever possible.


Employees eligible for Spot Awards must meet all of the following requirements:

  • PPSM (PSS or MSP) or an employee in the Clerical (CX) bargaining unit in one of the following appointment types:
    • Career
    • Partial-Year Career
    • Contract (where eligibility is incorporated into the terms of the contract)
    • Limited
    • Casual Restricted (student employees)
    • Per Diem
  • Have successfully completed their probationary period, if applicable;
  • Are on active pay status or on an approved unpaid leave; and,
  • Received a “meets expectations” or better overall rating on their most recent annual performance evaluation (PPSM 23 requires that written performance evaluations be completed annually).
    Employees who have not yet received an annual performance evaluation may be eligible for an award if their manager confirms on the nomination form that they are "meeting expectations."


  • An employee may not receive an award under the STAR Plan if the employee is a participant in an incentive award plan that prohibits the receipt of a recognition award.
  • An employee's receipt of an award under the STAR Plan does not establish any right or guarantee that the employee will be eligible for or entitled to an award in any subsequent Plan year.
  • Senior Management Group (SMG) members are not eligible for awards.
  • Exclusively represented employees are eligible for recognition awards under the Plan only if the applicable collective bargaining agreement authorizes participation in the STAR Plan.

Timing & Amount

Awards may be presented at any time during the Plan year and should be awarded as soon as possible after the accomplishment or event in order to provide immediate recognition to employees. The Recognition Award Administrator and supervisor should ensure that communication to the employee is coordinated so the recipient is informed of the award before it is deposited to their bank account. Providing an employee the award along with a Thank You Letter and an Award Certificate will reinforce UC Berkeley's appreciation for the special achievement.

The assigned Description of Service (DOS) code XSL, specific to the STAR Plan, must be used when paying awards to employees.


Managers, Supervisors, peers, or other campus individuals may nominate staff for Spot Awards. Nominations should be submitted via the Berkeley STAR Nomination Form.

Nominations will be accepted throughout the fiscal year. Nominations should generally be submitted within three months of the accomplishment.

  • APPROVAL OF NOMINATION - The signatures of the supervisor and next level manager on the Berkeley STAR Nomination Form represent an endorsement of the nomination.
  • CONFIRMING ELIGIBILITY - Completed nomination forms should be submitted to the Recognition Award Administrator who will review it for eligibility.
  • REVIEW PROCESS - Each unit establishes its own review and approval process with timelines to ensure the award funds are distributed within the fiscal year.
    • The decision maker(s) designated by the Dean or VC has approval authority for Spot awards. The Recognition Award Administrator or designee notifies the nominator of the decision (approved or denied).
  • AWARD LETTER & CERTIFICATE – Approved nominees receive an award letter and a certificate presented to the recipient by the manager or supervisor.
  • PAYMENT OF THE AWARD - Should be requested via Berkeley Regional Services (BRS) or your local HR. The award is processed via a one-time payment in UCPath and will be reflected in the following paycheckCoordinate the communication with the employee so they are informed of the award before it is deposited to their bank account