A voluntary demotion is a movement to a class with a lower salary range upon the request or concurrence of an employee. This is distinguished from an involuntary demotion, which is not at the concurrence of the employee and which may occur due to a rejection on probation, in lieu of layoff, or disciplinary action.

It is the policy of the Department of General Services (DGS) that permanent or probationary employees are allowed the opportunity for voluntary demotion to a vacant position as long as the employee and management are in mutual agreement.

Pursuant to Government Code (GC) section 19253, subject to approval by the department, an appointing power with the concurrence or at the request of an employee may request the voluntary demotion of such employee to a vacant position. If the class to which the demotion is proposed requires qualifications, knowledges, or abilities not measured by the examination for the class from which demotion is proposed, the department may examine the employee for the possession of those additional qualifications, knowledges, and abilities.

A voluntary demotion may be:

  • within the department
  • between departments with the concurrence of the appointing department
  • initiated by the employee
  • initiated by management
  • can only occur when both the employee and management mutually agree

The following reasons are some of the instances that may constitute a request for a voluntary demotion:

  •  Employee’s illness or poor health
  • Change of career; employee development, greater chance for a promotion, better utilization of education or training, different field of work
  • Relocation of residence; such as transfer of spouse, desire to work near family, climate change for family health reasons
  • Transportation difficulty; such as desire to work near residence, commuting to another office is easier
  • Conditions of employment, such as:
    • desire for a different shift
    • less than full-time work
    • desire for field assignment or office assignment
    • desire for less or no supervisory responsibility
    • desire for a job with less pressure
    • loss of license required to perform in the class
  • To further education or personal development
  • Stipulation after appeal from adverse action
  • Action to correct the misallocation of position

To qualify for a voluntary demotion, an employee must have permanent or probationary status.

A voluntary demotion to a lower class CANNOT be made under the following circumstances as transactions are considered new appointments and are governed by other laws, rules and policies.

  • Between general civil service and exempt positions
  • Between general civil service and Career Executive Assignment (CEA) positions
  • Between CEA and exempt positions

Regardless of the relative salary levels of the general civil service and exempt or CEA positions, any movement between these types of positions are not considered to be a demotion. Such transactions must involve the termination of the current appointment and appointment to the new position.

Other issues related to a voluntary demotion may include:

  • Time base change
    If the employee's time base is also being changed upon voluntary demotion, the employee must be eligible for the change in time base as outlined in State Personnel Board (SPB) Rule 277.
  • Limited-term demotion
    Voluntary demotion of an employee to a class with a lower salary range is normally made on a permanent basis; however, a demotion on a limited term basis may be made. An employee who wishes to accept a limited term demotion without a break in service must be informed prior to accepting such demotion whether s/he will have the right of return at the termination of that demotion.
  • CEA
    A CEA may demote to another CEA position at a lower level even if the employee had never held an appointment at the level. However, for an example, when an employee demotes from CEA B to CEA A, the employee SHOULD be terminated from the CEA B position, reinstated to his/her former general civil service position and then appointed to CEA A. Reinstatement of the employee to his/her former position preserves the employee's reinstatement rights upon subsequent termination from CEA A.

    The employee should also be advised of all rights of return when terminated from a higher CEA level.


Responsible Control Agencies

  • California Department of Human Resources
  • State Personnel Board

Laws and Regulations

  • Government Code section 18525.2, 19253


Classification and Pay Analyst

Department of General Services
Office of Human Resources

707 3rd Street, 7th Floor
West Sacramento, CA 95605
Contact your assigned Classification and Pay Analyst.