University Staff HR Plan Details

Below is a detailed description of the core components of the University Staff HR Plan.

At a time when the University of Virginia looks to further distinguish itself, employing strategic vision and bold leadership to transform the University for the 21st century, U.Va. is working to create an equally meaningful future for its staff through the University Staff Human Resources Plan.

The Plan offers state-of-the-art human resources policies and programs for a vibrant, engaged workforce. At the same time, the plan preserves those policies and core values that have made us a stable employer. Key components of the plan are enhanced career development, innovative performance management, and competitive, market-based compensation.

Career Development: Career development is the foundation of the University Staff Plan reflecting the University’s commitment to career enrichment, employee advancement, and life-long learning. This commitment is demonstrated in the integration of career development with performance planning and promotion and pay opportunities. Career development is organized around a series of career paths, providing employees resources and support for career growth and providing managers greater flexibility to reward employee competence and to meet ever-changing demands.

Performance Management: The guiding principle behind the system is managing performance for success. Employees and supervisors work together to set clear goals and evaluate performance and competency development. Supervisors help employees make the connection between individual performance goals, departmental objectives, and University-wide strategies. It is designed to provide employees and supervisors with opportunities for more meaningful performance discussions, supportive learning and development plans, and rewards for performance and accomplishments with compensation and promotions.

Compensation: The overarching compensation philosophy emphasizes the University’s investment in employees and recognizes that employee talent is our greatest asset. The compensation policy supports the University’s goal of attracting, developing, and retaining qualified employees through the use of market-relevant salary ranges and pay practices to reward performance and employee development. It allows employees to influence their pay based on performance and competency and offers supervisors a variety of flexible pay practices to reward employees.

Working together, these elements offer an enriched working experience that encourages continuous learning and motivates employees toward excellence. The plan confirms the University as a wonderful place to work if you want more than just “a job”: it’s a place to build a career, a place to make a difference.

Just as the undergraduates at U.Va. will look back at their time here as one of learning, growth, change, and exploration, so should our staff. When one reflects on a career at the University, it will stand out, as U.Va. does, for its uncommon excellence.

HR Plans and Policies

Working Title

Current employees who elect to move to University Staff retain their previous working title.

Employee Type

There are three University Staff types:

  • Operational and Administrative (O&A): University Staff employees performing office, laboratory, student and library support; building construction and maintenance; equipment services; public safety; and other operational responsibilities. O&A Staff Employees are typically non-exempt employees under the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and therefore are eligible for overtime.
  • Managerial & Professional (M&P): UM&P Staff typically exercise significant professional knowledge, discretion and independent judgment gained through advanced experience or education and/or manage a subdivision or division of a major administrative or academic unit. This category includes coaches and assistant coaches on individually negotiated contracts. M&P Staff are typically exempt employees under the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and therefore not eligible for overtime.
  • Executive & Senior Administrative (E&SA): University staff employees on limited term appointments having significant administrative responsibilities and duties and exercising considerable independent discretion, and having the ability to commit the University to a long term course of action. This category includes:
    • University Executive officers including Vice Presidents and the Director of Athletics, but excluding academic administrators (whose primary responsibility is administrative but who oversee an academic or academic-support unit of the institution) such as the Provost, Deans, University Librarian, and VP Research;
    • Members of the President’s professional staff (e.g. Chief of Staff, Chief Audit Executive; Director, Equal Opportunity Programs; etc.); and
    • Senior administrative officers with a direct reporting line to any of the above-named executives, academic administrators or Presidential professional staff, for example, Associate or Assistant Vice Presidents, Associate or Assistant Deans with administrative responsibilities, Vice Provosts with administrative responsibilities, Executive Directors, Directors, or other key senior staff.
Those who do not elect to become University Staff remain
  • Classified exempt and non-exempt employees
  • A&P Faculty employees

Term Appointments for Executive & Senior Administrative University Staff

A&P Faculty who become University Executive & Senior Administrative (E&SA) Staff continue to hold limited term appointments. Current employees who become E&SA Staff receive new employment letters reflecting their changed status as University Staff. A&P Faculty who become University Managerial & Professional (M&P) Staff (except those with individually negotiated employment contracts) replace their limited term appointments with the standard terms and conditions of University Staff. For those individuals holding restricted positions (positions with an end date in the Integrated System), the designated end date will continue to apply. A&P Faculty with an Expectation of Continued Employment (ECE) who become University E&SA or M&P Staff retain their ECE.

Performance Management

Performance Planning and Evaluation

All staff use a performance management process that emphasizes planning and communications between supervisors and employees, but there are greater opportunities for growth and reward for University Staff. Performance Planning is central to the University Staff Plan, and is designed to provide employees and supervisors with opportunities for more meaningful performance discussions; supportive learning and development plans; and opportunities to reward performance and accomplishments with compensation and promotions. There are 3 sections in the performance management process:

  • Goals; what you do
  • Competencies; how you do it
  • Development plan
  • The guiding principle behind the system is managing performance for success. Supervisors help employees make the connection between individual performance goals, departmental objectives, and University-wide strategies. Employees and supervisors work together to set clear goals and evaluate performance and competencies development.
  • The performance evaluation process has a five-point rating scale. The process begins with employee self-evaluation and includes procedures to build consistency into the way evaluation ratings are applied.
  • University Staff are eligible for pay increases based on their performance evaluation ratings. See the Compensation Section for more detail.
  • As part of the annual performance process, the supervisor and employee agree on the employee’s goals, competencies, and development plans for the year and review progress on an on-going basis.
  • The performance management system also focuses on career development. Supervisors support staff career development goals. Together, supervisors and employees work together to set goals, identify strategies and actions to achieve them, and track and measure progress.
  • Career Development is also an area where employees can directly influence their pay. Acquiring skills listed in the Development Plan can result in bonuses; raises when using new capabilities; and can lead to promotions within career paths. See the Compensation Section for more.
  • Acquiring skills listed in the Development Plan can result in bonuses; raises when using new capabilities; and can lead to promotions within career paths. See the Compensation Section for more information.

Classified Staff also use this system as their performance planning and evaluation and career development planning tool. There is no link between performance, career development and compensation for classified employees, as there is for University Staff. For Classified Staff, the five-point rating scale is converted to the State Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) EWP performance evaluation 3-point system for State reporting purposes, as follows:
5 = 3
4 = 2
3 = 2
2 = 2
1 = 1

The new Performance Management system is also available for use by A&P faculty. See the policy for more information.

Career Development

University Staff may take advantage of career opportunities at the University by enriching their career skills in their current work, developing capabilities to advance in their current career path, or transitioning to other career paths. The system demonstrates the University’s deep commitment to employee career development by: 1) making it a key piece of the performance planning process, and 2) supporting it with pay and promotion opportunities.

The University Staff Plan is designed intentionally so that employee career development, performance management, and compensation work together in a coordinated way. Supervisors and employees identify career goals, the performance management process tracks them, and the compensation process rewards them. The University provides support and resources for employee career development, training, and education. Read more on the Career Web site.

  • A Development Plan is part of the annual performance planning process. Accomplishing a development activity may result in bonuses and/or raises; significant changes in job responsibilities as a result of a goal accomplishment may result in promotion.

  • The University provides information, resources and support to assist employees and supervisors with career development. Employees who wish to support their education may use the Education Benefits program. Supervisors are expected to support employees’ career development goals. Employees are expected to make their own career choices and to keep their capabilities current.
  • University Human Resources’ Employee Development offers training and development courses for employees to gain and renew skills, grow in their jobs, and develop their careers. Supervisor training is provided on career development, as well as the performance management system and compensation guidelines.


Market Pay Ranges

The University Staff Plan is based on a compensation philosophy of using market information on salaries from similar jobs to determine employee pay ranges. A key part of the compensation plan is the University’s commitment to communications and openness, including keeping employees, supervisors, and management aware of employee market pay ranges. As the University Staff Plan matures, the University expects the market pay ranges to become more precise and targeted to School and Department needs.

Market-based pay ranges are used to determine University Staff base salaries. Market pay information comes from more than 25 published and independent salary surveys of related employment markets. Market data includes salary data on pay rates of similar jobs, in relevant sectors (higher education, private, public, etc.) and in similar markets, primarily the entire state of Virginia, including Northern Virginia. National and regional data are used for positions that are recruited nationally and regionally. Relevant local market data is only used when the local market ranges are higher than regional or national ranges.

Market pay ranges are divided into thirds. The beginning third reflects emerging qualifications and competencies, the middle third reflects proficiency and full qualifications, and the upper third is reserved for advanced capabilities, unique qualifications or subject matter expertise, and for those whose performance consistently exceeds expectations. These factors help determine where a salary belongs in a range. Employee salaries typically fall between the lower and upper end of their market range, although it is possible for salaries to be above or below a market range.

Market Pay Range Adjustments

U.Va. market pay ranges are reviewed periodically against market data to ensure that they keep pace with changing market conditions.

Competitive Starting Pay

Market ranges are used to determine competitive starting pay for both internal and external candidates accepting University Staff positions. There are no state-mandated limitations. A starting salary is typically within the first third of the market range.

The University’s Pay Action tool (PA) is used to support informed salary decisions, including determining initial offers. PA assists managers to consider salary decisions systematically, using seven key factors, resulting in more consistent and equitable decision-making across Grounds. The seven factors are:

  • Qualifications (education, experience, unique skills)
  • Job content and individual performance contribution
  • The position of the employee’s pay in the market pay range
  • Employee’s pay relative to similar jobs at U.Va.
  • Employee’s pay relative to average market salary for similar jobs outside U.Va.
  • Pay history
  • Length of total State and University service

Performance Pay

Performance is an area where employees can directly influence their pay. University Staff are eligible for pay increases based on their performance evaluation ratings. Contingent on the availability of funds, higher performance ratings result in higher increases. See Performance Management for more detail on performance evaluations.

  • The University develops guidelines for performance based pay increases.
  • If an employee’s salary is above the market pay range, the increase may be a one-time payment, rather than a base pay adjustment.

Promotion Pay

Promotion pay is available to University Staff in the form of a base pay increase. PA7 is used to support salary decisions. There are no state-mandated limitations on the amount of a promotion pay increase, subject to the availability of funding. If the employee is above the top of the market pay range, the increase is typically provided as a bonus rather than a base salary increase.

Promotion pay may be granted for:

  • On-the-job application of new skills documented in the employee’s Development Plan
  • Significant changes in job duties and responsibilities with no change in market range
  • Significant changes in job duties and responsibilities with a change in market range

Employee Recognition

Employee Reward and Recognition bonus payments, non-monetary awards, and recognition leave (up to five paid days) are available to recognize a University Staff member’s contributions to the overall objectives of the University.

  • The employee’s acquisition of a new skill or skills, documented as part of the Development Plan, may be rewarded. Additionally, the program typically rewards:
    • Teamwork
    • A special project
    • A new or modified business practice
    • Exemplary effort
    • Employee appreciation

There is no cap on the number of bonuses received for skill acquisition, but the total value of employee recognition bonuses received may not exceed $3,000 annually.


Retirement System

Non-exempt Classified Staff who elect to become University Staff remain in the Virginia Retirement System (VRS).

Exempt Classified Staff have a one-time choice to stay in VRS or move into the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) within 60 days of electing to move to University Staff.* Once that choice is made, it cannot be reversed.

A&P Faculty who elect to move to University Staff remain in either the ORP or VRS, whichever they elected upon hire.

*see glossary

Disability Benefit Program

Disability benefit programs depend on employees’ retirement choices. If you do not change your retirement when you elect to become University Staff, your disability will not change. An employee in VRS who stays in VRS continues to keep the plan in which he or she participates, either VSDP or the traditional sick leave plan; an employee who was in the ORP or elects to move to the ORP gets the ORP Short-Term Disability Plan. If you are in…

  • VRS and VSDP, you keep VSDP, with no change to your disability coverage; however, VSDP sick and family personal leave are not available to University Staff, but are folded in the University Staff Leave program.
  • VRS and the traditional sick leave plan, all traditional sick leave balances will be frozen and you will be enrolled in the University Staff Leave Plan. Because we cannot enroll anyone in VSDP due to state regulations, there are no Short-Term Disability benefits available for those employees. If you had an illness or issue that required long absences, you would need to rely on the bank of traditional sick that you accrued.
  • Optional Retirement Plan, you have the ORP Short-Term Disability plan.

For general information visit the Benefits retirement page.

University Staff Leave

The University Staff Leave Plan combines three types of leave - annual, sick, and family/personal - into a consolidated leave program, giving employees more flexibility in how they use their time off. In many cases, University Staff will be able to use their accumulated leave bank for more vacation days. For A&P Faculty who switch to University Staff status, the number of annual leave days could be higher than their current allotment, depending on the years of employment. All University Staff track their leave in Self-Service Time & Leave; non-exempt staff track time worked in 15 minute increments, in order to be eligible for overtime, while time of less than 4 hours is considered discretionary for exempt employees and not reported.

The leave program also includes a cash-out provision. Once the amount of earned leave goes beyond the maximum hours allowed for carry forward, the plan will pay University Staff for those "use-or-lose" hours at 50 percent of their value. Details are available at the University Staff Leave site.

Part-time Health Insurance (at least 20 hours per week, but less than 30)

Part-time salaried University Staff who participate in the Health Insurance Program are entitled to receive a 50% subsidy toward the cost of the employer portion of the health insurance premium.

Supplemental Benefit Credit

A $450 annual supplemental benefit credit is provided to full-time and part-time benefits-eligible University Staff with annualized salaries* at or below $42,000 per year to offset benefit deductions – including the U.Va. Health Plan, parking, supplemental life insurance, Tax Deferred Savings Plans, the VRS 5% contribution, gym memberships, and more.

The amount an employee receives in a specific paycheck depends on how frequently they are paid and the number of months worked per year. Part time (less than 30 hours per week) benefits-eligible employees are eligible for 50% of the credit. Please be aware that this money can only be applied toward the amount needed for benefit deductions in any given pay period. If benefit deductions do not exceed the supplemental benefit credit in any given pay period, the extra supplemental benefit credit funds cannot be received as income.

Employment Policies

Grievance Procedure

All new employees hired as M&P and O&A, and Classified staff electing to become University Staff in M&P or O&A University Staff positions follow the State’s Grievance Procedure. All employees hired as E&SA and those A&P faculty electing to become University Staff have access to the University’s grievance procedure.

Details can be found in the University’s ”Resolving Grievances for University Staff Employees” Employment Policy.

An Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Process is available to resolve employment-related problems and complaints informally and voluntarily without fear of retaliation. Any University employee may request ADR.

Standards of Conduct

The Standards of Conduct policy for University Staff employees adopts the State’s DHRM Policy 1.60 – Standards of Conduct. Examples of Offenses can be found in Attachment A.

Executive & Senior Administrative Staff are governed by the terms of their appointments.

Layoff Policies

The layoff policy for University Staff employees adopts the State’s DHRM Policy 1.30 - Layoff, except:

  • The notice period has been increased to give University Staff, except for Executive & Senior Administrative Staff, a 60-day notice of layoff, rather than the current State policy of 14-day notice.
  • Executive & Senior Administrative Staff are governed by the terms of their appointments.

Severance Policies

The severance policy for University Staff employees adopts the State’s DHRM Policy 1.57 – Severance Benefits.

  • Executive & Senior Administrative Staff are governed by the terms of their appointments.
  • There is also a policy in place regarding temporary workforce reductions for budgetary reasons.


The Telecommuting Policy applies to both University and Classified Staff.

It requires that a formal work plan be developed by the employee and supervisor.

Alternative Work Schedules

The Alternative Work Schedules Policy applies to both Classified and University Staff.

It requires that a formal work plan be developed by the employee and supervisor.

Probationary Period

The University Staff probation policy continues to require a twelve (12) month probationary period for newly hired University Staff or previous employees re-hired after a break in service. This period may be extended an additional six (6) months under exceptional circumstances.

Current A&P Faculty who elect Managerial & Professional Staff status and have completed one year of service are not required to serve a probationary period. Those who have served less than one year will serve the remainder of the 12 months as probationary employees.

  • Executive & Senior Administrative Staff do not have probationary periods and are governed by the terms of their appointments.
  • Extensions and terminations require UHR review.

External Consulting

The new University Staff policy for external consulting allows external consulting and encourages professional service. This policy is not applicable to Operational & Administrative Staff.

Applying for Future Staff Job Openings

University Staff employees who apply for and accept different University Staff positions remain University Staff employees. Classified Staff and A&P Faculty who apply for and accept different University Staff positions may choose to remain in their current status or elect to become University Staff, unless a Classified Staff employee applies and is selected for an Executive & Senior Administrative position, in which case they must become University Staff in order to abide by contractual terms.