Senior HR Partner

  • Salk Institute for Biological Studies
  • San Diego, CA 92121, USA
  • May 25, 2022
Full time Human Resources & Affirmative Action

Job Description


Job location is at 10240 Science Center Dr, San Diego, CA 92121


With general guidance, the Sr. Human Resources Partner is responsible for providing experienced-level Human Resources (HR) support to assigned administrative and/or laboratory client groups with regard to all phases of the employment and personnel lifecycle.  Works closely with department heads, managers, and supervisors to ensure seamless, effective, and timely delivery of HR services.  Provides HR counsel to personnel at all levels.  Duties include leading the assessment, advisement, and execution on a variety of HR matters including personnel planning, select recruitment matters, onboarding, offboarding, employee relations, conflict resolution, investigations, performance management, policy interpretation, and administration.  Coordinates with internal HR specialty functions such as Recruitment, Academic Services, Employment Counsel, Compensation, Benefits, Immigration Services, and HRIS on applicable matters and makes educated decisions related to personnel actions based on legislative and regulatory requirements, internal policies and procedures, and HR best practices in line with organizational needs. May provide mentorship to less experienced HR staff and task direction to HR Coordinator(s) on various personnel transactions.  Consults with Manager, Human Resources and/or Sr. Director, Human Resources on complex personnel transactional and employee relations matters.


1) Business Partnership (50%)

Strategic Partnership

  •  Establishes trusted relationships with managers and personnel to serve as a primary resource on various HR matters, questions, and issues.
  • Understands the business needs of the client groups and recommends short and long-term solutions to address needs.
  • Coaches and provides thoughtful best practice recommendations to client groups.
  • Works with HR leadership to understand institute goals and initiatives and deliver solutions accordingly.

Recruitment and Incoming Personnel (staff, trainee, and academic positions)

  •  Works with client groups and hiring managers to evaluate and advise on incoming personnel needs, including short and long-term staffing initiatives and personnel categories.
  • Drafts and updates job descriptions with hiring managers for open positions.
  • Works with Compensation to determine market pricing and salary grade matches for new positions.
  • Consults with Recruitment team throughout recruitment process. Provides advisement to Recruitment team to ensure job posting accuracy and understanding of timelines and staffing objectives. When needed, advises on matters of candidate quality and fit for the hiring client group.
  • Provides offer analysis and recommendations to hiring manager.
  • Helps facilitate transition from Recruitment to Onboarding activities to include ensuring direction to HR Coordinator(s) on new hire matters, data entry, and communication with hiring managers.
  • Partners with academic services specialists to assess and execute incoming academic personnel requests and onboarding.
  • Coordinates with immigration services on sponsorship matters to include types of sponsorships, impact to start dates and employment status, work authorization and I-9 matters, etc.
  • Assists with onboarding and orientation presentations as needed.

Employment and Personnel Actions

  •  Assesses, analyzes, makes recommendations regarding, and executes various personnel changes to include salary adjustments, reclassifications, promotions, terminations, and other job changes.
  • Reviews and advises managers on various compensation and rewards matters, including merits, bonuses, and stipends.
  • Ensures proper vetting and approval of changes through client group management chain, Finance, and senior HR management.
  • Assesses and administers reasonable accommodation requests. Partners with Benefits team on leave of absence, reasonable accommodation, and workers' compensation matters.
  • Triages termination matters, conducts exit interviews, and coordinates with HR support staff to administer termination actions.
  • Analyzes and advises managers on involuntary separations related to performance, for-cause reasons, end of funding or assignment, changes in business needs, etc. Drafts involuntary termination documents to include letters and separation agreements.
  • Provides direction to HR Coordinator for data entry into HRIS.
  • Reviews and audits data in HRIS, files, and personnel documents to ensure accuracy.

Performance Management

  •  Provides guidance and recommendations to managers for performance management including but not limited to setting expectations, evaluation, coaching, corrective action, disciplinary actions, training and development needs, recognition and rewards, and separations.
  • Reviews, edits, drafts, and/or assists in delivery of performance documentation.
  • Facilitates or moderates performance discussions between managers and employees when needed.

Policy Interpretation

  •  Interprets personnel policy intent and/or acceptable management practices to ensure fair and consistent application of Institute policies. Advises managers and employees at all levels in accordance with policies and all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations. 
  • Advises individual client groups of adaptation of institute-level policies to individualized client groups practices and procedures.
  • Keeps abreast of relevant federal, state, and local legislation, EEO requirements, and the CA labor code.

2) Employee Relations (30%)

  •  Provides objective counsel and advice to management and personnel regarding employee /supervisor disputes, employment law or policy interpretation, job performance, workplace conduct and disciplinary process. Acts with discretion in handling sensitive employee information.  Exercises initiative and sound judgment.
  • Identifies and analyzes problems and issues, researches information/data and verifies facts in order to formulate appropriate alternative courses of action. Identifies solutions to problems by presenting options including a review of the issues, recommendations of an approach to address the situation and an analysis of the risks and liabilities associated with the solution.  Consults with senior HR management, HR employment counsel, and others regarding legal issues and policy/interpretations that may arise during the course of reviewing employee relations issues. 
  • Conducts formal and informal investigations of complaints to include those related to workplace conduct, policy violations, harassment, discrimination, etc. or coordinates with Employee Relations Manager to complete investigation
  • Interprets institute policies and procedures, and applicable laws, and applies them to the facts of a particular situation, ensuring consistency with past practices.
  • Reviews complaints regarding employee relations' decisions, evaluates appropriate action and communicates the disposition.
  • Works effectively with employees, supervisors, administrators and faculty to incorporate their ideas, adapt to their needs within policy, and to encourage them to accept actions and decisions that are appropriate. Mediates differences among a wide variety of faculty, administrators and staff with differing and often conflicting goals and motives.

3) Mentorship and Counsel to other HR Staff (10%)

  • Provides methodical, well-reasoned advice to members of the HR staff and members of department management and other management personnel on legislative, regulatory, policy, and current practices related to the effective operation of an employee relations program. Clarifies issues and explains options available. Recommends steps towards problem resolution and appropriate action.
  • Serves as a best-practice advisor to less experienced staff on how to approach various HR matters.
  • Provides task direction to HR Coordinator or other support staff on tasks and transactions.

4) Various HR Projects and Initiatives (10%)

  •  Assist with development and delivery of HR compliance or related training topics
  • Participates in HR team and inter-departmental meetings
  • Participates in or leads projects as needed, which may include areas such as internal business processes, HR policies and practices, compliance and audits, learning and development, HRIS application and usage, inter-departmental processes, etc.
  • Provides coverage of staffing shortage needs as required.



  •  6 or more years of increasingly complex professional work experience in Human Resources as a Business Partner, Generalist, Employee Relations Specialist, Manager or related role.
  • Experience working with all levels of personnel to include partnering with and advisement to senior level business management.
  • Experience handling routine to highly complex employee relations matters and conducting workplace investigations.
  • Experience in a high-volume transactional HR environment.
  • Experience with common computer system applications and HRIS software.
  • Experience in independent decision-making and execution of quality work with limited direction.


  • Experience with local and CA state employment laws and practices.
  • Experience in a scientific research environment and/or higher education environment.



  • B.A./B.S. in relevant field or equivalent education/experience in HR


  • SHRM-CP, SHRM-SCP, or comparable certification



  •  Strong working knowledge of HR principles, terminology, and best practices, to include human resources management functions, strategies, systems, policies and practices. Must have a general breadth of knowledge in various HR disciplines to include employment, employee relations, recruitment, compensation, and benefits.
  • Knowledge of applicable federal and state employment laws, rules and regulations concerning employment, harassment, discrimination, FMLA, FLSA, EEO/AA/CA Labor Code, ADA and workers' compensation regulations.
  • Ability to identify employment issues, identify risk and make recommendations that represent the Institute's best interests at all times.
  • Excellent analytical skills with proven ability to research and present arguments on a variety of issues. Experience developing original resolutions to complex problems and making independent judgments, recommendations and decisions based on policies and applicable employment laws.
  • Excellent written, verbal, and interpersonal communication skills, including the ability to interact constructively and effectively with a diverse group of people to such as faculty, staff, postdocs, students, administration, and external constituents.
  • Ability to speak effectively in public to diverse audiences and to clearly and accurately express substance and nuance in both oral and written communications.
  • Excellent skill and demonstrated experience in negotiating, mediating, and investigating employment issues.
  • Demonstrated skills and ability to work effectively with diverse populations at all levels of the organization, including faculty, staff, middle and senior management, general and outside counsel, and external agency personnel.
  • Demonstrated ability to provide leadership that motivates and promotes team building and creates a positive working environment. Skill to address complex and sensitive problems in a confident and calm manner. Experience in identifying problem areas, advocating institutional position, and initiating appropriate changes.
  • Demonstrated skill coaching supervisors, managers and leaders to integrate effective management principles and practices into their leadership strategies to improve organizational effectiveness.
  • Demonstrated skill in analyzing and identifying the knowledge and skill requirements of jobs, tasks, and roles.
  • Demonstrated ability to use discretion, exercise good judgment and tact, and maintain strict confidentiality.
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently, organize and establish job priorities, meet deadlines in a high-volume environment. Able to develop realistic action plans to support business goals and objectives and constantly changing priorities.
  • Extensive knowledge of risk factors in employment law and employment litigation procedures.
  • Knowledge of external agencies and their roles in the employment complaint process (DFEH, EEOC, etc.)
  • Strong computer proficiency with the use of various software applications including, but not limited to, Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Adobe Acrobat Professional, and HRIS.
  • Demonstrated ability to follow detailed oral and written instructions, seeking answers to questions from available written resources and colleagues as necessary, in order to facilitate accurate, independent work. Desire to continually learn and apply new skills and concepts and to wear many hats as needed.


  •  Must be willing to work in an animal-related research environment.
  • Satisfactory completion of the Institute's background investigation.
  • Must be willing to sign a confidentiality agreement.
  • Must be willing to work extended hours as need to meet business needs.


This position will be constantly hearing, keying, seeing, sitting, talking, analyzing, communicating, reading, reasoning, writing and working inside. 



Application Details

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 Equal Opportunity Employer/Protected Veterans/Individuals with Disabilities


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