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Merit System Updates | Printer Friendly Version

Navigating the FAQs

The FAQs are listed below and broken down by categories. To access the answer, click or tap the corresponding question.

A. Union Dues Collection

  1. Will I be able to continue having my AFSCME union dues payroll deducted by UNI each month?
    No. Effective July 1, 2017, 70A.19 Iowa Code no longer allows UNI to collect union dues directly from AFSCME employees. AFSCME employees may contact AFSCME Local #2659 for information about union dues beyond June 30, 2017.

B. Benefits

  1. What is happening to my benefits? [Updated: 6/7/2017]
    For AFSCME employees, health and dental insurance options will change effective January 1, 2018. AFSCME employees will need to enroll in the University’s self-insured health and dental plans during open enrollment. Wellmark is our health insurance vendor and Delta Dental is our dental insurance vendor.
  2. What is open enrollment?
    Open enrollment is the one time of year where an employee can change their benefits without experiencing a qualified life event. During open enrollment Merit employees will have an opportunity to learn more about the plans, premiums, and any changes for 2018. Employees may choose to enroll in or decline coverage during open enrollment.
  3. When is open enrollment?
    Open enrollment happens in the Fall of each year. These dates will be communicated through email, Inside UNI and MyUNIverse Announcements as soon as the dates are established. Any benefits enrollments or changes that are made during this time will be effective January 1, 2018.
  4. What plans will we be moving to? [Added: 6/2/2017]
    All UNI employees, effective January 1, 2018 will be on the same University health and dental plans. For health insurance, UNI offers two plans: UNI PPO (Wellmark Alliance Select) plan and UNI Blue Advantage (Wellmark HMO) plan. These health plans are comparable to two of the most popular plans currently offered to AFSCME employees. The University also offers a Delta Dental plan which is similar to AFSCME's current dental plan.
  5. What does "self-insured" mean? [Update: 6/2/2017]
    The current state plans offered to AFSCME employees are not self-insured. The University's health and dental insurances are self-insured. Self-insured means the employee and employer premiums go into a health plan account instead of being sent to Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield or Delta Dental (our insurance vendors). The difference between being self-insured and not being self-insured is how claims are paid, and not based on covered services or network coverage. Whereas for the state plans, Wellmark takes the risk on the claim costs; being self-insured, the University takes this risk. When an employee goes to a doctor or dentist, the fee the provider is allowed to charge the employee is negotiated by our vendors. The employee pays a portion for those services and our health plan account pays the remaining amount. This means how employees use the plan impacts future premiums and the health plan account.
  6. What do I need to do between now and December 31, 2017?
    Although coverage will not change for AFSCME employees until January 1, 2018, the Benefits team is initiating a communication campaign to educate all Merit employees on how our plans work and how to find savings. Multiple forms of communication will be used. Email will be the primary means of communication and will be sent from hrs-benefits@uni.edu. Employees will also be receiving information in the mail, so we can inform dependents on how they can positively impact future premiums and the health plan account. Please do not ignore these communications as they will educate, provide up-to-date changes, and answer questions.
  7. What plans will be offered to me if I retire after 6/30/2017? [Added: 6/27/2017]
    For any employees retiring after 6/30/2017, the University self-insured health and dental plans will be offered. For health insurance, UNI offers two plans: UNI PPO (Wellmark Alliance Select) plan and UNI Blue Advantage (Wellmark HMO) plan. These health plans are comparable to two of the most popular plans currently offered to AFSCME employees. The University also offers a Delta Dental plan which is similar to AFSCME's current dental plan.
  8. Where can I get more information?
    HRS My Benefits web page.

C. Overtime Pay and Compensatory Time

  1. When am I eligible to earn overtime?
    Overtime is earned for all Hours Worked over 40 hours in a workweek (e.g., Sunday-Saturday).
  2. At what rate is overtime pay calculated?
    Overtime is calculated at the rate of one and one-half times the regular rate of pay.
  3. Am I still eligible to accrue compensatory time in lieu of cash overtime pay for Hours Worked over 40 in a workweek?
    Yes. For public employers, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) allows for the accrual of compensatory time in lieu of cash overtime at a rate of one and one-half hours for Hours Worked over 40 in a workweek.
  4. What is the maximum number of compensatory time hours that can be earned before the overtime must be paid in cash?
    Compensatory time accruals will be limited to 80 hours at any given time. As compensatory time is used, additional compensatory time may then be accrued up to the 80 hour limit. Compensatory balances in excess of 80 hours will be paid as Comp Time Pay on the following month’s paycheck.

    In addition, compensatory time shall be paid to the staff member if they separate employment, transfer to a different agency or regents institution, or move to a position designated as FLSA exempt (not eligible for overtime). In addition a move to a different department will result in a payout of any compensatory time earned unless approved otherwise by the receiving department head.
  5. Who determines whether I am compensated for Hours Worked over 40 hours in a workweek in the form of cash overtime or in compensatory time?
    The decision whether to utilize overtime pay or compensatory time rests with the employee, however management may require overtime hours to be paid in cash compensation.
  6. If my weekly work schedule is part-time (i.e. 20 hours per week), as a non-exempt (hourly) employee if I work more than 20 hours in a particular week, are those extra hours paid at an overtime rate?
    No, the additional hours would be paid at a straight time rate. Only Hours Worked over 40 in a workweek are eligible for overtime pay or compensatory time.
  7. Can I work overtime without the approval of my supervisor?
    Whether approved or not, all hours of work must be recorded on the timecard and compensated, including overtime. However, employees are encouraged to discuss overtime approval processes for their department with their supervisor and to receive prior approval from their supervisor before working overtime hours. Disciplinary action may result if supervisor approval is not properly obtained for working overtime.
  8. Will supervisors still have to equalize overtime or distribute it in a particular manner as of July 1, 2017?
    There is no Regents Merit System Rule or Iowa Code provision requiring overtime equalization or for overtime to be distributed in a particular manner. Supervisors should distribute overtime in a fair and equitable manner based on their business needs and appropriate rationale.
  9. What are the procedures for compensatory time usage?
    Each department should have a process for requesting the use of compensatory time. Employees who have accrued compensatory time must be allowed to use that time off within a reasonable period after making a request so long as the use does not unduly disrupt the operations of the department. The supervisor of an employee who has accrued compensatory time may require the employee to use accrued compensatory time.

    Compensatory time shall be paid to the staff member if they separate employment, transfer to a different state agency or regents institution, or move to an FLSA exempt (not eligible for overtime) position. In addition, a move to a different department will result in a payout of any compensatory time earned unless approved otherwise by the receiving department head.

D. Hours Worked Calculation

  1. What constitutes “Hours Worked” for the purposes of calculating overtime? [Updated: 06/29/2017]
    With the timecard for week ending July 8, 2017, only actual Hours Worked are used for the purposes of calculating overtime. This includes Regular, Excused Duty, and Call Back. Paid absences such as Holiday, Sick Leave, Vacation, Compensatory Time Used or Jury Duty are not considered Hours Worked for the purposes of calculating overtime and therefore will be paid at a straight time rate.
  2. How will I be paid for Hours Worked in a week that due to vacation, holiday, or sick leave I have more than 40 hours coded?
    For staff paid on an Hourly Paid Salary basis:

    These hours will be paid to you as a ‘Salary Adjust’ for hourly paid salary employees on your paycheck based on the Payroll Periods and Paydays schedule. For example, the week including the Independence Day holiday (Tuesday, July 4), you should code 8 hours of Holiday for July 4. If you work 10 regular hours on Monday, and 8 regular hours each on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, you will have a total of 42 hours for the week. The 2 hours over 40 are not overtime because holiday hours are not Hours Worked for the purposes of calculating overtime. Assuming timely submittal and approval of the timecard, you will be paid for these 2 extra hours at straight time on your July 31 paycheck because the week including July 4 is prior to the July 8 pay period cutoff in the Payroll Periods and Paydays schedule. As a reminder, you should always receive approval from your supervisor to work additional hours above your normal scheduled hours.

    If there is a similar situation to the example above for the Thanksgiving holidays, the extra straight time hours will be paid on your December 31 paycheck based on the Payroll Periods and Paydays schedule.

    For staff paid on an Hourly basis:

    These hours should be coded on the timecard as Regular and will be paid the same as the Regular hours are currently paid. They will be paid at the employee’s base rate of pay based on the Payroll Periods and Paydays schedule.

  3. Can I elect to work unpaid hours in my regular job to help get the job done without incurring additional cost to my department?
    No, there is no change to this practice. All Hours Worked must be recorded on the weekly timecard. Working “off the clock” is strictly prohibited.
  4. Do break and meal periods count as Hours Worked?
    There is no change in how break and meal periods are counted as Hours Worked. Bona fide meal periods of 30 minutes or more where no work is performed do not count as Hours Worked. Breaks or meal periods of less than 30 minutes or if spent performing work should be considered Hours Worked.
  5. I received 3 hours of Call Back time but only worked 1 hour. Do all 3 hours count for the purposes of calculating overtime? [Added: 06/30/2017]
    Yes, all 3 hours of Call Back are considered Hours Worked for the purposes of calculating overtime.
  6. Can my supervisor make adjustments to my normal work schedule in a given week, such as limiting time worked on certain days if extra hours are worked other days, for the purpose of ensuring that my total Hours Worked do not exceed 40 in the workweek?
    Yes, effective July 1, 2017, this is an option for managing work time and the departmental budget.
  7. How will I record hours for the week ending July 1, 2017?
    Employees should record hours for the week ending July 1, 2017 as they have in the past. The changes related to timecard coding for overtime will take effect Sunday, July 2, 2017. The University follows a Sunday-Saturday work week.

E. Holidays and Vacation and Sick Leave Accruals

  1. Is the list of UNI holidays changing?
    No, there are no changes to the list of UNI holidays. For the list of UNI holidays, see the HRS supporting web page.
  2. How are holiday hours calculated? [Added: 06/30/2017]
    Full-time merit employees receive 8 hours of holiday pay for each University holiday. If the University holiday falls on a normally scheduled day off, they will receive 8 hours of holiday pay or may bank the holiday for use later. Part-time merit employees receive prorated holiday pay based on their FTE (Full Time Equivalent). For example, an employee who is half-time, or .5 FTE, will receive 4 hours (8 x .5) of holiday pay. An employee who is on phased retirement with a .65 FTE will receive 5.2 hours (8 x .65) of holiday pay. Another way to calculate your holiday pay is to take the number of hours normally scheduled in a week and divide by 5 days. For example, someone with a 24 hour/week schedule, no matter how those hours are scheduled throughout the week, would receive 4.8 hours (24 / 5) of holiday pay.
  3. I don’t have a traditional Monday through Friday schedule. What happens when I am scheduled to work on an actual holiday and not the UNI observed holiday? [Added: 06/30/2017]
    Merit employees with a work schedule other than Monday through Friday who are scheduled to work on an actual holiday may take their holiday on the actual holiday instead of the UNI observed holiday. For example, an employee who normally works Sunday through Thursday and where an actual holiday falls on Sunday and Monday is UNI’s observed holiday would take the holiday on Sunday and not Monday.
  4. How do I record my holiday hours if I am normally scheduled to work more than 8 hours on a holiday (for example, a schedule of 4 ten hour days)? [Added: 06/30/2017]
    Full-time employees with a schedule such as 4 ten hour days would code 8 hours of Holiday on the holiday. ‘Hourly paid salary’ employees need to account for the other 2 hours you normally work and therefore should consult with their supervisor to determine whether to use 2 hours of Vacation or Comp Time Used, work 2 extra hours another day that same workweek, or to code 2 hours Off Duty (this option will reduce the employee’s pay).
  5. How do I record my holiday hours if the UNI holiday falls on a day I normally don’t work? [Added: 06/30/2017]
    When a UNI holiday falls on a day you normally don’t work, you will code either Hol Pay (sch day off) or Banked Hol Earned. If you code Banked Hol Earned you will be able to take that time off, coding Banked Hol Used, at a future date within one calendar year. If you code Hol Pay (sch day off) you will be paid these hours at your regular rate.
  6. Do I receive a premium if I work on a holiday? [Added: 06/30/017]
    Any non-temporary merit employee working on a holiday will receive their holiday pay plus time and one-half for hours worked, either as Holiday Premium pay or Comp Time Earned. Employees working on a holiday should code Holiday for the hours of holiday benefit (as described in Section E, Question 2) and also either Holiday Premium or Comp Time Earned for the hours actually worked on the holiday.
  7. If I work 8 hours on a holiday and also work another 40 hours that same work week, do I receive overtime for the extra 8 hours I worked? [Added: 06/30/2017]
    Federal regulations require employers to pay covered employees for hours worked over 40 in a workweek at a rate no less than time and one-half the regular rate. In this situation, the employee would receive pay at one and one-half times their regular rate for working on the holiday. In order for hours worked other than those worked on the holiday to qualify for overtime, those hours would need to equal more than 40 hours. In the asked example, the employee would receive 40 hours plus 8 holiday hours at their regular rate plus 8 hours at the premium rate (1.5 times their regular rate) or 8 hours of compensatory time earned. If compensatory time is elected, this would translate to 12 hours of compensatory time to use at a later date.
  8. I work a shift from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., spanning two calendar days. When a holiday falls on the second calendar day, how many hours of Holiday Premium pay do I receive? [Added: 06/30/2017]
    In this example, the employee would receive Holiday Premium (or Comp Time Earned) for hours worked from midnight to 7:00 a.m. on the holiday. 7 hours of Holiday Premium or Comp Time Earned should be coded. If the employee works again at 11 p.m. on the holiday they would code an additional hour as Holiday Premium or Comp Time Earned because it also falls on the observed holiday.
  9. Will my vacation and sick leave accruals change?
    Merit vacation and sick leave accrual rates are not changing on July 1, 2017.

F. Other Pay Questions

  1. Are there changes to shift differential, standby pay or call back pay?
    Shift differential rates and the hours associated with being eligible for shift differential remain unchanged effective July 1, 2017. Standby rate or "on-call rate," as well as, call back pay also remain unchanged.
  2. Will I continue to receive annual across-the-board pay increases? [Updated: 6/13/2017]
    For employees covered by collective bargaining agreements, base wages are negotiated as part of the collective bargaining process. Any base wage changes, including across-the-board increases, are governed by those agreements. The 2017-2019 collective bargaining agreement provides for a one percent (1.0%) increase on July 1, 2017 and July 1, 2018. As approved during the June 8, 2017 Board of Regents meeting, the July 1, 2017 one percent (1.0%) wage increase will also apply to Regent Merit System Supervisory and Confidential staff.
  3. Will I continue to receive annual "step" increases if my pay isn’t already at the maximum of my pay grade? [Updated: 6/13/2017]
    Merit annual step increase amounts, also known as merit increases, will be set annually by the Board of Regents as a set percentage. As a result of the June 8, 2017 Board of Regents meeting, the salary policy for fiscal year '18 (e.g., July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018) does not include a merit/step increase.For future reference, per the Regents System Merit Rules, merit increases will only be awarded with satisfactory performance. Consistent with current practice, no merit increase will be granted above the maximum of a pay grade.
  4. If I am promoted to a position in a higher pay grade, how will my pay be affected? [Updated: 06/30/2017]
    The Regents Merit System Rules allows for a promotional pay increase of up to 5% for a promotion to a position one or two pay grades higher and up to 10% for a promotion of three pay grades or higher. As of July 1, 2017, UNI will be observing a pay increase of 4.5% for promotions to a position one or two pay grades higher and either 4.5% or 9% for promotions of three pay grades or higher, however this percentage is subject to change in the future.
  5. How will lead worker pay be handled? [Added: 06/30/2017]
    The Regents Merit System Rules does provide for lead worker pay. Effective July 1, 2017, the Regents Merit System Rules provides for lead worker pay of at least 4.5%, but no more than 5% at the discretion of the institution. For FY ’18, UNI will maintain the current rate of 4.5%.

G. Seniority

  1. What happens to my seniority date?
    Effective July 1, 2017 the items prescribed previously by the AFSCME Collective Bargaining Agreement regarding employment actions based on seniority will no longer be in effect. After June 30, 2017 seniority lists will no longer be posted on the UNI webpage.

H. Hiring Procedures

  1. Can I still contract transfer to another position?
    The Regents Merit System Rules does not include provisions for automatic transfers to other positions based on seniority. Employees interested in an advertised position will need to apply for the position. The process will be the same as is currently in place for promotional opportunities.
  2. Will reassignments be allowed?
    Reassignments determined by management are allowed under the Regents Merit System Rules with the approval of the Resident Director (Human Resource Services (HRS) Director for UNI).
  3. How long will Merit positions be posted on Jobs@UNI?
    Positions will continue to be posted for five working days for positions open to internal Merit employees only to apply or ten working days for positions open to internal and external applicants to apply.
  4. What forms need to be submitted to HRS to apply for a Merit position?
    To apply, the Promotion, Transfer, Voluntary Demotion form will need to be submitted to HRS before the application deadline date. In addition, employees are encouraged to submit a new Merit Employment Application. Applications will continue to be valid for six months from the date of receipt in HRS.
  5. Will the typing test still be required for designated classifications?
    For positions posted on or after July 1, 2017, the typing test will no longer be required to meet the minimum eligibility requirements for Merit classifications including the Secretary series.

I. Grievance Procedures

  1. How will grievances be handled after June 30, 2017? [Updated: 06/30/2017]
    Grievances arising after June 30, 2017 may be filed pursuant to Regents Merit System Rules grievance procedures. In accordance with these rules, grievances may be filed based on disputes or complaints regarding the interpretation or application of institutional rules governing terms of employment or working conditions (other than general wage levels) or the provisions of the merit system rules. Effective July 1, 2017, the Regents Merit System Rules grievance procedure is being changed in that grievances are to be filed with the department head or designee instead of the supervisor, streamlining the process from five to four steps.
  2. If a grievance meeting is held at any step in the grievance process, who is allowed to attend with me? [Updated: 6/29/2017]
    In addition to management, an employee may elect to have a UNI co-worker attend with them, provided that the co-worker’s attendance would not constitute a conflict of interest.

J. Layoff Procedures

  1. Should there ever be a need for a layoff, what process will be followed?
    The Regents Merit System Rules layoff procedures will be utilized should there be a need for layoffs - https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/ACO/chapter/03-21-2012.681.3.pdf
  2. Does an employee still have a right to recall (or re-employment) if laid off (reduction in force) or due to recovery from long-term disability or injury?
    The Regents Merit System Rules allow for recall (or re-employment) for a period of two years for employees who have been laid off under these rules or recover from long-term disability or illness to a position within the layoff unit in the classification(s) previously occupied or to lower classes in the same series. The Regents Merit System Rules does not allow the employee to designate up to fifteen other classes or "Pick 15."

Note:

Please remember to check this page for new updates and the most current information. Updates are noted in each question with the date of the update.