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Compensation & Classification FAQs

Compensation Function Defined
What is the function of HR Compensation?

HR Compensation evaluates and researches job classifications in comparison to like jobs in the marketplace to ensure industry competitiveness. HR Compensation classifies new positions, reclassifies positions, performs job audits, facilitates merit and market increases, maintains job descriptions and compensation data, and manages completed staff performance evaluations.

Assigning Pay Grades and Hiring Ranges
What is a job audit?

A job audit can be requested to ensure internal equity or ensure the incumbent is being paid according to the functions and requirements of the position. The process includes Compensation staff conducting interviews and position surveys to have a more in depth review of the duties and responsibilities of the position in question.

What is internal equity?

Internal equity is the fair pay distribution of employees in a department or similar position. HR Compensation ensures employees are paid fairly and competitively based on the distribution of salaries within departments and like positions and based on industry market salaries for similar positions.

What is reclassification?

A reclassification is warranted when the functions of a position have changed significantly to align the position differently in the market.

How long does it take for HR compensation personnel to evaluate a position review?

Review of Typical Positions

For straightforward, common positions that are easily compared to other positions on campus or in the labor market, review and recommendation by the Class/Comp Office should take no more than five working days. If the position is vacant and if the department wishes to post and recruit immediately, every effort will be made to provide an even more expedited review.

Review of Unique Positions

For positions that are unique or complex, or that reflect an unusual combinations of duties, review by the Class/Comp Office might take somewhat longer, in order to sufficiently analyze and comparatively evaluate the position. In such cases, a Class/Comp representative may request follow-up information by email, phone, or an on-site visit with the unit manager (and the incumbent if there is one). Even in such cases, our goal is to convey a recommendation within 10 working days. If the position is vacant, and if the department wishes to post and recruit immediately, every effort will be made to provide an expedited review. In such cases the goal will be to provide an expedited review within 5 working days.

When conducting a classification review, is an individual's performance a factor?

No. Compensation personnel do not consider an individual’s performance at all. Only actual job duties that are required of the job, regardless of an incumbent, are considered.

An employee's responsibilities have changed because there is more work, or a greater volume of work - is this a factor in review?

Changes in quantity of work are not considered in a classification review.

For example: If a position is responsible for answering approximately 50 phone calls a day, and opening and distributing 100 pieces of mail a day, and after a year the incumbent is now responsible for answering 100 phone calls and opening and distributing 200 pieces of mail, although the quantity has increased the actual duties have not changed. The duties would have changed if after a year, the position is now required to order supplies, and track the budget in addition to answering phone calls and opening and distributing mail.

What is a market rate?

A market rate is a salary that represents an industry and/or location average that other institutions are paying for a particular job. Market data used is reported by the organization not the employee and collected by nationally-recognized third-party vendors.

How does HR compensation ensure salaries are in alignment with industry rates?

HR Compensation staff participate in compensation surveys that are administered by third parties and receive market data from these vendors. Data is stored and referenced when evaluating positions.

Am I paid at the market rate?

Being paid at market depends on several factors. One factor is the consideration of internal equity. In order for employees to be paid fairly and equitably, salaries are reviewed in conjunction with salaries of similar roles and roles within the department to ensure alignment. Another factor is location. Jobs that are recruited on a state-wide or national scale pay differently than local salaries due to the difference in salaries among state and local economies. Another factor is applicable experience level.

My salary is funded by a grant. Do the market rates and classification process still apply to me?

Yes. The same processes are applicable for all fund sources. It is important to note that employees funded entirely by external grants are still employees of UNG, with institutional policies applicable (i.e. the granting agency is not the employer).

As a manager, how much do I budget for a specific job?

Managers can complete the job description template to outline the functions, responsibilities and minimum requirements of a position and submit to HR Compensation.

HR Compensation will then evaluate the submitted job description, perform best practice, market, and internal equity research to align the requested position to industry market, and assign a grade and hiring range.

Once the market rate is determined by HR, the department manager must contact the UNG Budget Department to confirm if additional funds are needed.

Job Descriptions
Can I review my job description?

Yes. Accurate job descriptions are necessary to ensure staff performance is evaluated properly and ensure jobs are aligned to market. Please contact HR compensation personnel to obtain.

Should I be concerned whether my job description is accurate?

Yes. Performance appraisals and salaries are based on the data provided in job descriptions. To ensure an employee is compensated according to the functions and requirements of a position, the job description must be correct and representative of the position.

FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) and Pay Rules
What is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)?

The FLSA requires employers to compensate covered employees (non-exempt employees) for all hours worked and requires overtime compensation for hours worked beyond 40 hours per work week. The law also requires non-exempt employees to be paid at least the federal minimum wage. In addition, the act sets guidelines for employment of minors and includes wage and hour record keeping requirements.

What does the term "non-exempt" mean?

Non-exempt employees (sometimes referred to as hourly employees) are required to be compensated with an overtime premium of time-and-one-half for actual time worked in excess of 40 hours per week under the FLSA.

Employees in non-exempt positions must be paid for overtime worked and are generally required to report time worked more frequently and in more detail than those in exempt jobs.

What does the term "exempt" mean?

Exempt employees are salaried employees who are required to fulfill the duties of their positions regardless of the number of hours worked. Employees who meet a salary test, a salary basis test, and duties basis test are identified as exempt. Exempt employees to not earn compensation for time worked in excess of 40 hours per week.

Can I request a change in my FLSA status (exempt vs non-exempt)?

When a staff position is reviewed, it is designated as exempt or non-exempt by the compensation/classification reviewers in accordance with FLSA guidelines. This status cannot be changed for administrative convenience or employee/supervisor preference.

Can my non-exempt (hourly) employee work extra hours during the first week of a two-week pay period to make up for time off they cannot work during the second week of the pay period?

No. Each work week must be considered independently of the next. We must calculate based on the single pay week, not the two-week pay period.

Do work weeks during which we have holidays have any impact on overtime?

Yes. Only hours actually worked each week count as time. For example, the 8-hour holiday for Labor Day is not time worked, but an official campus-closed holiday. Overtime is NOT due during such a week unless/until an employee physically works more than 40 hours during that week first.

Q. Do work weeks during which we have unexpected official campus closings (due to unexpected weather events, for example) have any impact on overtime?

For official campus closings, such as inclement weather closings, employees are not docked pay, but the payment is considered like a holiday would be. The hours of the official closing are not counted as hours worked. Only hours worked are used to calculate toward an employee being eligible for payment at time and a half. Hours worked during the campus closing will be paid at straight time until they reach 40 hours that are actually worked.

Incidentally, if the campus does not officially close, but an employee feels it is not safe enough to travel, or an employee needs to provide child-care because of a closing, the employee will have to take vacation time for the time they are out of the office.

Are there exceptions to the new salary threshold under the FLSA?

Yes. Salaried employees not subject to the salary threshold test include instructional faculty (including lecturers), physicians and lawyers. In addition, specifically identified academic support roles (see HR for determination) are subject to a different salary threshold requirement.

What does the term "compensable" mean?

Compensable refers to the status of allowable hours to be paid or “on-the-clock” hours or that is to be or can be compensated.

What is compensable waiting time?

Whether time the employee spends waiting is hours worked under FLSA depends upon the circumstances. If employee is engaged to wait, the employee is considered to be on duty and the time is hours worked. On the other hand, if the employee is waiting to be engaged, the employee is considered to be off-duty and the time is not hours worked.

What is engaged to wait?

Employee is waiting for work to do; e.g., a receptionist who reads a book while waiting for customers or telephone calls or a fireman who plays checkers while waiting for alarms. When employee is waiting for work to do while on duty, the employee is engaged to wait and the time is hours worked.

What is waiting to be engaged?

Off duty waiting time or layover time is a period during which the employee is waiting to be engaged and is not hours worked.

Off duty waiting time or layover time is not hours worked if:

  • The employee is completely relieved from duty.
  • The period(s) are long enough to enable the employee to use the time effectively for his or her own purposes.
  • The employee is definitely told in advance that he or she may leave the job, and,
  • The employee is advised of the time that he or she is required to return to work.
Does an employee need to be paid for overtime if I did not approve it?

Yes. If overtime hours are worked by non-exempt employees, even if unapproved, they must be paid. Therefore, it’s important to establish overtime rules and communicate them to everyone in your unit.

The guidance for affected employees reiterates that they should seek approval before working any overtime, but you can help by establishing rules in your unit for seeking approval in advance for projects or events that may be deadline driven and require additional hours.

Since more employees in your unit may now be paid for overtime than may have previously been the case, you will need to consider this impact when planning your salary budget.

Can my staff be paid for overtime but remain on a monthly pay schedule?

No. The university pays all non-exempt employees on a biweekly cycle.

The employees in my unit are used to having flexibility in their work hours. Can this continue if some or all of them become non-exempt?

Yes. Special or alternate scheduling is allowed within the same workweek.

For example, if an employee normally works 8 hours a day, and has a personal appointment on Monday that only allows him to work 6 hours, the supervisor and employee can agree that the employee will make up the 2 hours later in the same work week.

Another example would be if a typical schedule is 8 hours a day during the day, and the department needs an employee to work a special event for 4 hours during the evening. The schedule may be changed to give the employee 4 hours of time off at another time during the same work week.

If I require evening work in my unit for an event or other function, can I reduce a non-exempt staff member’s daytime hours and replace them with evening work as long as they don’t work more than 40 hours per week?

Yes, you can adjust the work hours of an employee to meet needs.

Advance notice of such changes should be given to the employee if possible. You can rearrange hours from day to day within the same week, but the regulations do not provide you with the discretion to move hours from one week to the next without incurring overtime for the week in which the hours worked exceed 40 (even if the hours worked in the preceding week were less than 40).

FLSA Travel Pay Chart (Non-Exempt Employees)
Travel Category Compensable Time Non-compensable Time
  • Performing authorized work related errands while commuting from home to work or from work to home.
  • Transporting or delivering materials or equipment to a job site prior to the start of the work day and/or returning materials or equipment after the end of the work day.
  • Transporting other employees to work sites, to the office, or to their homes either before or after the workday at management request.
  • Ordinary travel from home to work (commuting time)
Travel During the Work Day
  • Time spent in travel as part of the member’s principal job activity (i.e., travel between job sites).
One-Day Assignment in Another Town or City
  • Time spent traveling to and returning from a one day required assignment in another city or town regardless of whether employee is the driver or the passenger, regardless of whether the travel cuts across the normal work schedule.
  • Time spent at required conference, meeting, etc.
  • Normal commuting time will be subtracted.
  • Time not worked even if it cuts across the employee’s regular work schedule (e.g., employee goes sightseeing instead of attending a conference session, the conference sessions are only from 9a.m. to 3 p.m., etc.).
  • Meal periods and social activities where attendance is not required and work is not performed
Travel Away From Home Community (Overnight Travel)
  • Any portion of authorized travel, including time spent waiting at an airport, bus station, etc., that cuts across a member’s normal work schedule, including non-work days.
  • If an employee travels between two or more time zones, the time zone associated with the point of departure determines whether the travel falls within normal work hours.
  • Riding as a passenger when the member is required to perform work assistant or helper, respond to (for example, to serve as an email, take business related phone calls, etc.).
  • Driving a vehicle, regardless of whether the travel takes place hours within or outside normal work.
  • Time spent attending authorized conferences, meetings, etc.
  • Required attendance at meals or meal breaks where work is performed.
  • Attendance at social functions during work hours and is job related.
  • Any portion of authorized travel, including time spent waiting at an airport, bus station, etc., that falls outside of normal work hours.
  • Riding as a passenger outside of normal work hours where work is not required.
  • Travel between hotel and meeting site.
  • If an employee drives a car as a matter of personal preference when an authorized flight or other travel mode is available and paying for travel by car would exceed the cost of the authorized mode, only the estimated travel time associated with the authorized mode will be counted as hours worked.
  • If the University authorizes hotel accommodations for overnight travel but the employee prefers to drive home each evening.
  • Regular meal periods where work is not performed and attendance is not required.
  • Voluntary attendance at social functions if all 4 criteria are met:
  1. It is outside normal work hours.
  2. It is voluntary, not job related and no other work is concurrently performed.
  3. Time spent outside of the conference or meeting
  4. Time spent sleeping unless the member has the primary responsibility for the safety and welfare of students.
Does time spent answering emails or using a mobile phone for work outside of normal hours count towards overtime for non-exempt employees?

Work performed remotely, such as responding to e-mails on a smartphone or drafting a report on a laptop at home, is counted as work time for overtime purposes, and may push an employee’s work hours in a given week beyond the 40-hour threshold. An employee need not have been asked to work beyond the 40-hour work week to be entitled to overtime pay.

Recent court cases have emphasized that FLSA violations can unexpectedly occur when non-exempt employees work outside the office using mobile devices. It is important for units to communicate clear policies spelling out the authorization employees must obtain before working remotely using their mobile devices. If an employee continues to work overtime without supervisor approval, then the supervisor could begin taking possible disciplinary action with the employee.

Will switching from exempt to non-exempt impact an employee’s leave accrual or retirement benefits?

No. This regulatory change will not change how an employee earns leave time. Retirement plan participation will not change, and affected employees will not have an opportunity to change retirement plans.

Does the term non-exempt mean non-professional?

No. The term “nonexempt” simply means that the individual holding the position is eligible for overtime. There are many nonexempt jobs that have professional responsibilities at UNG.

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