Merit Guidelines Outside of a State of Wisconsin Pay Plan

1. Purpose

These guidelines provide guidance on the distribution of merit pay outside of an approved State of Wisconsin pay plan after July 1, 2015. These guidelines have no effect upon institutional/school/college/divisional policies and procedures that guide the distribution of merit pay as part of a state approved pay plan. For faculty and academic staff, the procedure for granting merit pay outside of a State of Wisconsin pay plan shall mirror the procedure for merit pay as part of a State of Wisconsin pay plan with the exception of the allocation of merit points. Merit increases are designed to recognize and reward contributions by faculty and staff who exhibit continued exceptional performance, the values of the institution and continually strive to further the mission of UWM. UWM seeks to create a culture of performance where faculty and staff seek to improve themselves, their work unit, students, and the campus community.

All merit allocations are contingent upon the availability of funds and come from unit or divisional funds. Merit pay may occur in the form of a base salary adjustment or as a lump sum.

2. Background

Practice Prior to July 1, 2015:

Due to statutory limitations, unclassified staff (Faculty, Limited Title, Academic Staff, etc.) were not eligible for merit outside of a State of Wisconsin pay plan.

Classified staff (permanent and project) were eligible for the Office of State Employment Relations (OSER) Discretionary Merit Compensation (DMC) award program which was suspended effective February 5, 2015.


Practice Post July 1, 2015:

Effective with the 2015-2017 Biennial Budget the UW System has been given authority to provide merit pay outside of a pay plan to all staff regardless of classification. This flexibility was granted by the 2015-17 Biennial Budget and is distinct and separate from merit pay as part of a State of Wisconsin pay plan. The text below describes the guidelines for determining meritorious service and eligibility within this flexibility.

3. Definitions and Roles

Faculty: means persons who hold the rank of professor, associate professor, assistant professor, or instructor in an academic department or its functional equivalent in an institution, persons described under Wis. Stat. § 36.13(4)(c) and such academic staff as may be designated by the chancellor and faculty of the institution.

Academic Staff: means professional staff serving in professional administrative, instructional or research related positions but does not include faculty and staff provided under Wis. Stat. § 16.57.

Limited Appointment: means an appointment to a designated administrative position, the holder of which serves at the pleasure of the authorized official who made the appointment. Certain positions must be designated as limited appointments under Wis. Stat. § 36.17(2), while others may be designated by the appointing authority as limited appointments at the time of the appointment.

University Staff: means para professional, administrative, blue collar and trades employees who are determined to be non-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) due to the nature and function of the position duties.

Base Salary Adjustments or Lump Sum Payments: means reallocated institutional base budget funds used to address strategic salary adjustments specific to institutional needs and priorities.

Solid Performer: an employee who through a current evaluative process has been deemed to meet expectations in all areas of their job performance. Any employee who does not meet minimum expectations or is under a concentrated performance plan will be deemed ineligible for a merit pay adjustment.

Meritorious: employees who through a current evaluation exceed expectations for a sustained period of time; employees who regularly seek new projects while maintaining current workload; employees who are viewed as highly valued members of a department or division due to their performance.

Chancellor’s Designee: this role may have the final approval for any merit increase that exceeds 10% of the employee’s current base salary. Central HR will review and route such adjustments to the designee as appropriate.

Central Human Resources: the CHR office will review and approve merit requests of 10% or less of the employee’s current base salary.

Temporary Employee: for the purposes of these guidelines any faculty, staff or limited appointee in an assignment scheduled to last less than one academic year.

Vice Chancellor: this role within each Division approves and oversees the merit allocation process ensuring equity and fairness in the process.

4. These Guidelines Do Not Apply To

  1. Ad hoc employees
  2. Interns
  3. Interim, acting appointments or employees with a temporary base adjustment
  4. Graduate Assistants and Fellows
  5. Student Hourly Staff
  6. Employees on an approved leave of absence
  7. Temporary Employees

5. Employees Ineligible for Merit

  1. Employees who have begun a new appointment within the preceding 6 months from the request.
  2. Employees currently under a concentrated performance plan.
  3. Employees deemed “unsatisfactory” or “does not meet expectations” in some or all areas of performance.
  4. Employees promoted via a title change or having other salary adjustments within the preceding 6 months from the request.

6. Employee Eligibility for Merit

  1. Employees identified as meritorious performers as defined above. Employees shall have a current (within 12 months) performance evaluation (as defined by the School/College/Division or Executive Committee) or their supervisor/Dean/department chair must otherwise be able to demonstrate that the employee exceeds performance expectations.
  2. Supervisors who have successfully completed annual evaluations of staff within their unit or area as proscribed by University policy, unless otherwise waived by the respective Vice Chancellor.
  3. Merit criteria/factors which should be considered include:
    1. Length or frequency of the outstanding performance.
    2. Overall significance or importance of the employee’s work products to the institution.
    3. Regularity with which the outstanding performance or unique contribution is demonstrated (e.g., an employee who routinely demonstrates exceptional performance and performs special projects on an ongoing basis, as compared to an employee who completes a one-time special project).
    4. Exhibits role model behaviors consistent with University values.
    5. Performs at maximum levels of effectiveness, producing exceptional quality while meeting challenging demands.
    6. Proactively and creatively solves problems resulting in positive change.
    7. Frequently seeks opportunities to accomplish additional goals and transformational goals with significant impact.
  4. Unique circumstances under which a merit adjustment may be awarded include:
    1. Employee has new permanent job duties and /or responsibilities of growing importance to the institution that have been either newly assigned or were an evolution of their originally assigned functions. The new duties are of greater scope, impact and/or complexity compared to the previous functions but are not substantial enough to bring about a title change.
    2. Employee has acquired additional competencies, which are both specialized and critical in carrying out the permanent functions of the position.

7. Other Considerations

  1. Salary increases should not be communicated to individuals until all approvals have been obtained and the approved Merit Request form has been received by the CHR.
  2. Employees at or near the maximum of the pay range will receive their merit distribution via a lump sum payment. No employee may be paid above the maximum of a salary range per UPS Operational Policy: TC 3.

8. Related Documents

Return to Guidelines and Policies