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 award funds may not be supplemented by department, division, or college funds.


The Berkeley “Achieve Together” criteria are the criteria for the Spot Awards. Staff participates 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 their work and results in a significant improvement in their unit or contributed to the unit’s achievement of a broader goal.  

Whatever the contribution that is being recognized, it should reflect at least one of the Achieve Together Criteria

  • Collaboration - Enhances individual work by soliciting contributions from others and enhances others’ work by contributing to their success to more effectively meet unit goals.

  • Goal Accomplishment - Achieves individual goals that contribute to unit priorities.

  • Inclusion & Belonging – Demonstrates respect for people and their differences, regardless of race, ethnicity, class, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, ability, country of origin, cultural, political, religious, or other affiliations. Understands the benefits of a diverse workforce, is trusted and respected by others, includes and welcomes others, and works to understand the perspective of others.

  • Innovation - Uses knowledge, skills, and professional experience to seek efficiencies and improve work outcomes.

  • Job Mastery - Demonstrates the knowledge, skills, and abilities that result in high performance and contributions within the scope of the employee’s job description.


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 employee classes:

    • 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 an approved unpaid leave; and,  

  • Received a “meets expectations”, “well done” 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” Or “well done” or better. 

  • Employees may not nominate themselves for an award.

Policy-covered and CX represented employees with the employee classes listed in the above Plan Eligibility are eligible to participate in the STAR Plan at UC Berkeley. All other exclusively represented employees are not eligible for recognition awards under the STAR Plan.

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 Spot or Achievement awards.

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 with 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.

Spot Awards are up to $500 regardless of the percentage of time of the employee’s assignment. Part-time employees are eligible for the full amount of the award if all other eligibility criteria are met. The award is taxable.

Employees may receive up to four Spot Awards per fiscal year.

No exceptions will be made to the above monetary award limits.

STAR Plan cash awards are strictly discretionary and may not be promised or guaranteed in advance.

Across-the-board type awards (e.g. awards to a category of employees without regard to a recipients’ performance or relative contribution) are not allowed under the STAR Plan. Awards must be based on the recipient’s achievement as an individual or as part of the team.


Managers, Supervisors, peers, or other campus individuals may nominate staff for Spot Awards. Nominations should be submitted via the Berkeley STAR Nomination Form The form should be submitted to the home department Recognition Award Administrator. Please note: If you nominate someone outside your department you need to first reach out to ask the nominee's department manager to pay for the award before you complete and submit the 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 them 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 paycheck. Coordinate the communication with the employee so they are informed of the award before it is deposited into their bank account.