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Merit-Based Raises Approved, Will Add to Compensation Efforts Made So Far

The University of Virginia’s 2013-14 operating budget, approved Tuesday by the Board of Visitors, includes funding to raise faculty salaries and increase University staff pay. In addition, the General Assembly factored in a 2 percent salary increase for classified staff in its budget.

For faculty, this is the first year of a multi-year effort to raise average pay to the top 20 of U.Va.’s Association of American University peers, a priority of President Teresa A. Sullivan that is also endorsed by the board. The 2013-14 budget language projects U.Va. can reach the 20th rank via annual merit-based increases for continuing faculty of 4.75 percent. The new budget takes care of the first of four such years by using the state-authorized average 3 percent salary increase as a base and adding 1.75 percent. The increases will be awarded on a merit basis.

The budget also addresses pay for classified and University staff. The General Assembly, which has authority over classified staff compensation, included in its budget a 2 percent salary increase, effective July 1. Staff must have satisfactory performance to be eligible for the increase. The legislature also included a compression adjustment of $65 per year of completed service (to a maximum of $1,950 annually) for classified employees who have at least five years of continuous service.  

For University staff and administrative and professional faculty, U.Va.’s 2013-14 operating budget includes an average 3 percent salary increase, with increases to individual employees varying based on a combination of performance and market pay data. Part-time, salaried employees are eligible; their increases will be pro-rated. (Human Resources provides answers to frequently asked questions here.)

Salary changes will be reflected in the Aug. 2 paycheck for classified and University staff paid on a bi-weekly basis, on Aug. 30 for 12-month administrative and professional faculty paid on a monthly basis, and on Sept. 30 for nine-month administrative and professional faculty paid monthly.

Over the last 18 months, the University has paid out more than $1 million in salary increases to nearly 750 staff members, University Human Resources reported as it closed out strategic adjustments for the academic year 2012-13.  

The most recent round of increases, awarded in February, are part of U.Va.’s multi-year effort to aid the lowest-paid staff on the rolls. With the help of $250,000 in funding from the University in both the 2011-12 and 2012-13 fiscal years, Human Resources has worked with schools and units across Grounds to increase the minimum hiring rate, to create career paths for advancement and to award raises based on performance and market pay ranges, with a focus on supporting the lowest-paid employees.

“We have seen more than $600,000 come from schools and units along with the central funds, bringing us up to $1.1 million in salary increases,” Susan Carkeek, vice president and chief human resources officer, said. “It is so impressive to see schools and units augmenting the money allocated centrally, even as we face budget constraints.”

Compensation initiatives began in 2011 and continued in 2012, when the minimum hiring rate was raised to $11.30. This summer, the minimum rate will rise again, to $11.53 per hour.

The University will again fund $250,000 for strategic salary increases aimed at its lowest-paid employees in the coming year.

In early October 2012, the University gave increases ranging from $200 to $8,400 annually to more than 60 University staff employees whose pay fell below the minimum of their market range. To date, 259 staffers have received $373,000 in increases based on performance and market ranges.

Last fall also saw the implementation of “career paths” in some areas across Grounds, notably Facilities Management, where career paths for housekeeping staff and landscapers began last year. An additional career path for recycling technicians was recently implemented, and a career path is in progress for security guards in the Police Department. Approximately $60,500 so far has been spent awarding promotions to 50 staff members for advancing along these paths. 

Approximately $37,000 went to supervisors earning less than $33,000 in yearly salaries, who were subject to “salary compression,” said Alison Miller, compensation manager in University Human Resources. “Salary compression affects supervisors who earn just slightly more than our lowest-paid staff. When we award salary increases for our lowest earners, those supervisors find themselves earning nearly the same salary as the staff they manage. Compression increases can help with that,” she said.

The last round of adjustments was completed earlier this year, with the remaining funds targeted to low-wage high performers.   

Minimum hiring rate increases and compensation for the lowest-paid are two pieces of the staff compensation puzzle. The University’s goal is to offer University staff salaries at the average market rate, i.e., 50 percent “range penetration,” Carkeek said. University Staff salaries have increased from 34.9 percent in fiscal year 2010-11 to 43 percent in 2012-13. 

“While we have made progress in moving the needle, after four years without staff salary increases U.Va. needs to ensure that it can remain competitive in recruiting staff with the skills we need. Market-competitive salaries are one way to do that,” Carkeek said. 

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