Minutes: June 13, 2012
Members Excused: Karen Murphy (District 2), Susan Zarebicki (District 6), Linda Nimtz (District 7)
Others Present: Jerry Cutler (Director, Human Resources) and Lisa McInnis (UD Downtown Center)
Along with Tom LaPenta, Marge Hadden offered to take minutes.
Tom stated that he thought the new format for SSAC meetings was a good format. He is making efforts to move SSAC meetings around and see different parts of campus, and he brought up how informative our visit was to Lewes and Georgetown last year. There are many spots on campus some of us have never seen. Most of the time meetings will be on the main campus, and perhaps sometime we can have a meeting at the Library—Ladonna nodded her head that she would check into this. Moving these meetings is a great opportunity for us to become familiar with the different areas of campus.
Tom recognized Derrick Allen, Lisa Sorantino and Lisa Collins. Mike Dimauro has retired from UD and Derrick Allen from the Department of Chemistry has graciously agreed to finish out his term, and Lisa is filling in for Theresa Henderson. Lisa Collins came all the way up to Wilmington from Georgetown and was recognized for her travel time, and was thanked for making the trip for her constituents.
One of the things that salaried staff talked about was the apparent secretiveness with which it was rolled out. Why? No one came to SSAC to say they finished the study or made any presentation of their findings to SSAC. The biggest thing now is no one seems to know anything about it. There was a nice letter, but nothing else—no job descriptions. It would have been nice if more information would have been put up at the website upon the release of the letter. With no information available, it just gives people that much more time to stress about it and stew about it, and decide they don’t like it. It would have been better to have all ducks in a row when something like this is rolled out. At least have job progressions and descriptions available at the website, staff are asking for this as well.
Also mentioned was the issue of salary compression that will be occurring with new hires. One staff member mentioned that they used to be at a different level than their office mates, and now they’re all at the same level. Does that mean that she’s not earning enough, or too much? Because now they’re all on the same playing field, and she knows they make more than she does. Tom stated that private companies generally have fewer classification levels than public organizations and large non-profits and the salary of employees can be increased with the level occupied by the employee’s position. UD is attempting to modernize its class and comp system to benefit employees.
Everyone agreed that there should have been more information available when the new system was rolled out.
Although there are meetings that are to be held the next week, it would have been nice to have more information out there when everyone received their letter.
One concern was about compressing ranges--it appeared that salaried staff were the most compressed. Tom advised us to save those questions for the upcoming meetings through HR.
Tom stated that although he is not the expert, the big thing is, you don’t have to be reclassified to get a raise now with the new system. Historically, classification and compensation staff would get a lot of pressure from managers to reclassify people rather than losing them. So, they were reclassified sometimes incorrectly, in order to effect a salary increase or to retain them.
SSAC discussed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which differentiates between exempt and nonexempt staff. The hard part is, what jobs are protected by the federal law? If you are exempt from the law (as professional classifications would be), hours are not tracked and the employee is not compensated for work in addition to 40 hours. However, if you are nonexempt (salaried staff) from the law and your supervisor knows about it, and you are not properly compensated then the organization is not properly applying the law. The idea is to compensate employees in positions designated by the federal government for work beyond a regular work week. That’s why there are time sheets and there are exemptions. Classification and compensation staff have the responsibility of applying the federal law accurately. The challenge is the law was set in the 1930s and it is often difficult to apply in today’s world.
Tom stressed to everyone that they and their constituents should attend the meetings that HR are offering, to clarify any confusion and to allow employees the opportunity to ask questions. He said he will bring the issues discussed at SSAC back to HR and let them know about them. He also stressed that no one will be losing any money as a result of this new classification and compensation system, and also reminded us that classification and compensation wants to hear from people if they feel their classification is incorrect. You can email your concerns to the email address provided in the letter you received.
Tom stated that this is the third time that reclassification has occurred on campus, and it’s nice that we are being brought into the modern world with this most recent effort.
Additional New Business
The good news is he’s seen very few reductions this year. And we still have a strong workforce of approximately 4,300 employees.
Discussion was presented about the new ranges, where it’s possible that one was at the midpoint of their old range and now they’re not--they’re below the midpoint with the new range. When new employees are hired, it’s possible that compression will happen for a short while, which is completely understandable but will cause upset. With time this will most likely go away.
Tom stated that UD made available a 4% pool for salary increases this year. This is an excellent number given the tough economic times. After much discussion by and with higher administration about whether or not to give the 4% pool, it was decided to do so, given the tremendous contributions of the UD workforce.
Classification and Compensation
One person brought up the issue about specific job titles such as cashier, etc., and with the new system how do you know who to call or contact for specific duties in a unit if everyone is called the same thing. Jerry said part of the issue was trying to achieve consistency with the generic job class titles that contain a hierarchy of career progressions within them. The question is: how do we sort of harmonize all that? How do we have the appropriate descriptors that tell people what they do within a particular unit? These things all still need to be addressed regarding the structure, and Jerry’s group is currently looking at different options to discuss and address them.
Another member asked when will the new descriptions be available on the website? Jerry stated they are hoping by the fall semester—if not then, by the end of the calendar year; they are currently working on them.
A member mentioned that it looks like only the Salaried Staff levels (or Nonexempt) were compressed from a nine to a five or four; it didn’t look like the professional levels were compressed as much. Jerry stated that it’s all one structure now—there are no distinctions.
The member also stated that before, there were few ways to get a raise except to get reclassified; now it seems that those opportunities are trumped because there are less salary levels. Jerry stated that reclassification really is supposed to be a reflection of duties that have changed over the course of time; so if a raise was tied to a reclassification, then there is something wrong with the system. With the new system, you can move laterally along that salary range without being reclassified, and there are significant chances for improvement within that salary grade. There is substantial opportunity for improvement within a grade. It advances the mission of the units that we work in to move the people along those ranges.
The next phase of the process will be bringing people who are below the minimum to the minimum—we will target a 15% percentile as an ideal hiring salary; it may be lower if you don’t have the resources, but that’s the target. You still may bring people in lower, but you also have the flexibility to bring them in higher based on their education and experience. Now you have that flexibility, and now it’s all based on what the market really is.
Tom mentioned compression issues, and Jerry indicated that yes, that exists, although there was no market information when people were hired. Now, it is an opportunity for you if you are more to the left of the grade the more chance you have for advancement to move to the right of the grade.
It was asked what if you are above the max? Jerry stated that for this year, everyone will be part of the 4% pool. However, no decisions have been made for moving forward. Although we don’t want to take their incentive away by not rewarding employees for their service, many of them are valued employees and we want to retain them. They will be having discussions about this over the summer into the fall, and will come to a decision. Kim Doucette stated that she hoped that UD will keep in mind that many of those employees have been UD employees for a very long time and it probably contributes to their position on the new salary guides.
It was stated to Jerry that the way it was rolled back was perceived as secretive—whether it was or not, with no information available when it was rolled out and the “hush hush” way it was presented, could have an effect on how people are accepting this new system. Was there a particular reason this was rushed? Jerry responded that it was supposed to be released earlier; and also, it was a resource issue. There are only two people (besides management) who were working on this project. They had to go in and review each of the 2300 positions—how do they do entitlement? How do they assign these positions into grades? It was astonishing how few people were involved, and how far they’ve come. This will be covered at the meetings next week. It is a credit to the senior administration and upper leadership that they allowed his group to proceed with this daunting project.
Derrick also stated that there seems to be general frustration with the time-consuming nature of the employee appraisal process. Employees are essentially given one month to work on their performance appraisals which contain one years’ worth of information. The solution was discussed that the online appraisal form should be editable throughout the year, not just at performance time. This would enable employees to document changes in their goals, duties and responsibilities as they occur, as opposed to holding on to this information all year long. Jerry Cutler thought this was a wonderful idea, and will be looking into the possibility of providing this to employees.
Derrick asked about the change in naming from “Salaried Staff/Professional” to “Nonexempt/Exempt” and how it will affect the name of SSAC—will the name of the group change? Tom stated this was an excellent question and will look into this. Jerry stated that it’s not just about SSAC and PAC, there are many documents and policies that will be affected by this, and said they’re moving in that direction already with the meetings that are occurring on campus about the new classification and compensation system.
Lisa Collins asked if the classification and compensation meetings will be videotaped and Jerry said that they will be in entirety, and available online after the meetings are concluded.
Theresa Henderson asked why doesn’t the UD offer special awards to nonexempt staff? Gifts are offered to management and faculty. Tom stated that we have a new program in the works and are going to possibly be offering awards more towards the end of the calendar year. It will be very simple and straightforward in fashion. People will be able to nominate over the website, and a small committee will get together and decide who the recipients will be. Tom explained why the old system was done away with, and the different award programs that were offered in the past. Tom agreed that we are at a point where nonexempt employees deserve to be recognized for meritorious service.
Theresa also brought up a program offered in Maryland called House Keys 4 Employees. It’s a matching program. They will match up to $2500 of a participating employer’s contribution. She found out that UD is one of the participants of the program. However, at UD you must be a professional to receive the support. Jerry stated that he just found out about the program too, and it’s true that you must be a professional to participate. He was surprised to find that it’s restricted to them only—Jerry and Tom will look more into this program and advise SSAC of what they find out.
Theresa had a concern about the shuttle bus that serves the General Services Building. The frequency of the bus is every 45 minutes. Several employees attend regular meetings in Hullihen and other locations on the east side of campus. Because of the infrequency of the bus it is usually not a viable option. Cathy Corsi offered to take this before the transportation committee and will report back.
Kimberly Doucette asked Jerry if it’s standard practice for a prospective employer to contact an applicant’s current employer for a reference (or even insist on it), if the applicant hasn’t provided them as a reference but is in the final running for a job. Jerry said he would not do it if they were not listed. He stated that he would be surprised if that was the case, but would find out if the practice indeed does exist.
Lisa McCormick asked what does one do if one feels their description is not reflective of their duties any more. Jerry stressed that people should always update their job descriptions. It should be done in collaboration with your supervisor. He stated if your duties are approaching a 50% difference than the description then your description should be updated. It does not necessarily lead to a reclassification—they get requests from employees all the time and provide the descriptions electronically for updating. However, your first point of contact is your supervisor.
Staci Truitt submitted a concern from a constituent after the SSAC meeting regarding the new compensation system, who were the senior leadership involved in the process, will the form used to place incumbents into the accurate job title be available for review and additional questions; Staci recommended to the constituent that they attend one of the compensation initiative meetings.
Meeting adjourned at 4:45 p.m.