Initiatives to Support Our Lowest-Paid Employees

March 4, 2015 — The University of Virginia continues to look for ways to increase both salaries and benefits for our lowest-paid employees. The University has initiated several strategies to address these issues.

Minimum Hire Rate Increases: In the last ten years, since the University has had the ability to set its minimum hiring rate, we have increased our minimum hiring rate by 83 percent – from $6.44 an hour to $11.76. During that same time period, the General Assembly has provided the equivalent of 17 percent in salary increases for state Classified employees, while the consumer price index for urban consumers (as an indication of cost of living) has increased by 29 percent. The most recent increase, in October 2014, brought eight employees up to $11.76 an hour, and allows for all new hires to be employed at the same minimum rate. The recent merit increases for University staff also brought a significant number of employees to salaries above the minimum hiring rate.

$450 Supplemental Benefit Credit: A benefit credit of $450 per year is provided to University Staff earning $42,000 or less to offset the cost of benefit deductions, including retirement contribution, health coverage, parking or other benefits. 1284 employees receive the supplemental benefit credit.

Internal position posting practice for all staff positions: Since February, 2009, all staff positions at the University are typically posted internally prior to conducting an external search. In Fiscal Year 2013-14, 55 percent of U.Va.’s openings were filled by internal candidates.

Learning wage program:** Adopted in 2007, this program, known as “Essential WorkSkills”, provides entry-level employees opportunities to increase their work skills and advance their careers beyond minimum hiring rate positions. Employees who complete the program receive a $600 per year salary increase, which equates to $.29 per hour or a salary of $12.04 per hour. Since the program launched in the spring of 2007, nearly 300 employees have completed the program.

Career path programs: Adopted in 2011, these programs provide “promotions in place” for staff in entry-level occupations such as housekeeping, grounds/landscaping, and recycling techs, advancing employee salaries beyond the minimum hiring rate.

Continued University funding commitment: In 2014, another allocation of $250,000 was awarded to address critical pay issues. In addition to funding the increased minimum hiring rate, related compression adjustments, and career path progression, these funds adjusted salaries based on increases to market pay ranges. 186 employees received increases based on low market pay range penetration.

In addition to these compensation initiatives, the University has invested in increased training and development opportunities over the past several years. The University administers an education benefit that provides $2,000 per calendar year to benefits-eligible employees to use toward furthering their education. More than 3,100 employees have taken advantage of the program since it was introduced in July 2008, at a value of $5.7 million. U.Va. also provides informal and formal training to help our employees develop their skills and advance in job responsibilities and pay. Classroom and significant on-line training opportunities include: GED classes, Essential Workskills, English as a second language, customer service, IT systems, supervision and leadership, writing for business, cultivating career happiness, Respect@UVa, balancing work and home, assertiveness training, and many more. In addition, University Human Resources offers three levels of leadership programs: Leading Others (supervisory training), Leading Teams (management training), and Leading Strategically (director-level training).