Salary Review Standards

Article 17 of the 2010-13 Collective Agreement contains significant changes to Article 17 with respect to salary review procedures and the awarding of merit. In this issue we summarize these important changes and provide some guidance for their implementation.

These changes are aimed at improving the process, the reasons for the award of special increases, and openness and transparency by: (a) requiring the development of standards for the award of special increases based on the reasons stipulated in the Collective Agreement; (b) making Salary Review Committees mandatory; and (c) requiring that these committees report their recommendations, rankings and reasons to affected faculty members. In addition, departments in departmentalized colleges will directly award some special increases thereby permitting units more flexibility to make awards across the entire range of faculty duties.

In order to permit meaningful awards at each of the levels of department, college and President’s Review Committee, the number of CDIs provided annually for salary review has been increased from 290 to 600, with half of the CDIs in departmentalized colleges allocated at the department level.   In addition, two-thirds of the special increase money must be awarded as full special increases, and thus the award of merit will be more substantial than in the past.   All of the changes noted above should make the salary review process fairer and more inclusive.

Standards for the Award of Special Increases. Academic units must develop standards for the award of special increases. Article 17.2 of the Collective Agreement provides details about the establishment of these standards, including the various categories for which special increases may be awarded.

There are now ten categories for the award of special increases. They are: (1) Teaching; (2) Research and scholarly work; (3) Practice of professional skills; (4) Extra university work and public service; (5) Administrative work; (6) Administrative service as Department Head or Assistant Dean; (7) Improvement in qualifications; (8) Offer of employment from a comparable institution; (9) Performance of the full range of assigned duties; and (10) Improvement and development.

In departmentalized colleges only, CRCs formulate college standards based on department standards. It is important to note that while CRCs approve department standards, that approval is based on Article 17.2 of the Collective Agreement and not, as is the case for renewal, tenure and promotion, on college standards. There are no university standards for the award of special increases.

Salary Review Committees. The Collective Agreement no longer allows the option to have Department Heads or Deans make decisions about who to recommend for special increases. It is mandatory that each department and non-departmentalized college form a Salary Review Committee. The Committee is composed of the Department Head, or Dean, as chair, and a minimum of three eligible members of the unit. There is nothing to prevent composing a committee of more members, or for that matter, all eligible members of an academic unit. In fact, a committee of all members may be a very good way to go, particularly for small units.

Department Salary Committees are responsible for developing standards for the award of special increases and communicating the approved standards to department members and the CRC. The Committee is also responsible for making awards of up to one special increase, recommending faculty members to the CRC for the award of additional special increases, and recommending faculty members to the CRC for the award of special increases if the unit does not have sufficient funds to make such awards.

In non-departmentalized colleges, the College Salary Committee has the responsibility of developing standards and communicating these standards to department members in the college. The College Salary Committee may make awards of up to two special increases and make recommendations to the President’s Review Committee for an additional special increase for those faculty members who have already been awarded more than one special increase. A CRC is not part of the salary review process in non-departmentalized colleges.

Departmentalized colleges must also have a salary review committee for Department Heads and Assistant Deans. This committee has the same responsibilities as other departmental salary committees.

The Department and College Salary Committees must report their rankings, decisions, and reasons to all members of the unit.

In departmentalized colleges CRCs have the responsibility of communicating college standards to faculty and Department Salary Committees, awarding special increases so the combined maximum number of special increases awarded to a faculty member is no more than 2 and recommending faculty members to the President’s Review Committee (PRC) for the award of additional special increases.

A faculty member does not have to be awarded a special increase at the department level in order to be awarded a special increase by a CRC.

With the exception of overseeing the distribution of more funds allocated for the award of special increases, PRC does not change. PRC continues to be the body which deals with “˜appeals’ of awards of special increases and expedited procedures (Article 17.5.7).

Salary committees may award half or full special increases. However, at least two-thirds of special increase money must be awarded as full increments. For example, if a unit has 3 full increments to award, then either 2 full increments and 2 half increments or 3 full increments must be awarded. An individual may receive up to a maximum of 3 special increases per year.

Any funds for the award of special increases not used by Department Salary Committees will be allocated to CRCs and any funds not used by CRCs will be allocated to PRC. Should PRC not make use of all of the funds available to it, the unused funds will be allocated to the salary review process for the next academic year.

Information and Feedback. The provision of information about decisions is an important part of the new process for awarding special increases. It will help ensure transparency and at the same time help members understand what is considered meritorious.

Salary review committees at the unit level must report their decisions and reasons to members of their unit. In departmentalized colleges, in addition to providing information about decisions to members of the department, the committee must provide this information to the CRC. The CRC cannot change decisions made by departmental committees, but part of CRC responsibility is to review the departmental decisions for consistency and appropriateness and provide the results of the review to the department salary committee.

This feedback loop provides a measure of oversight that standards are being followed and helps departmental committees better understand how CRC views its decisions. It also helps department salary committees with future salary review processes.

Awarding Special Increases for the Full Range of Academic Responsibilities. There are two concerns about our merit system that are most often raised by members. The first one is that the system does not reward members for anything except research. The second is that many members perform good and valuable work, but the current system does not provide a means through which that work can be recognized by merit.

Allowing academic units to award special increases as opposed to only being able to recommend members for an award, creates an opportunity for those closest to the work being performed by members to make the decision to reward the excellent work of colleagues. This, in conjunction with the two new categories in the Collective Agreement – “Performance of the Full Range of Assigned Duties” and “Improvement and Development,” are intended to change the system for awarding merit so you can reward your colleagues. Note that you do not have to be “excellent” in all of the categories in order to be awarded special increases (17.1.3).

So what else can we tell you?   Many members are asking for information and advice about Salary Review Procedures, particularly related to the development of standards. In response to some of the questions being posed we offer the following advice:

Do what makes sense for your unit. Using the 10 categories described in Article 17.2 develop standards around the work that is performed by faculty in your unit. Come up with what the work in the categories looks like for your unit and consider including suggestions of what information will help inform the salary committee deliberations. Keep in mind that because salary review is based on information provided by the employee, other information may be just as useful as what you may suggest should be provided.

A College Review Committee cannot impose standards on departments. Article 17.4.4 is explicit. CRCs must “approve departmental standards of performance if they are consistent with Article 17.2.” It is also explicit that CRCs must “receive and review departmental standards for the award of Special Increases and use them as the basis for formulating College standards.” If a CRC is unwilling to approve your departmental standards, be sure to find out what about them the CRC views as inconsistent with Article 17.2 and contact the USFA. Likewise, if you believe that your college standards are not based on departmental standards, contact the USFA.

Give serious consideration to including distribution parameters in your standards. One of the biggest reasons behind making these changes to Article 17 is to provide a way to ensure that the full range of your work can be rewarded. We believe that one of the best ways to do that is to include directions in your standards about how to distribute available funds across the areas of your work. One way might be to state that your committee will award a specific proportion, say 1/3 or 1/2, of your unit’s total special increases first in one category with the remainder to be awarded in other categories and any unused awards in the designated category can used for awards in any other category. Another way might be to state that only a maximum proportion of awards will be made in any one category.

Standards are not cast in stone. You certainly have the ability to regularly review your standards for the award of special increases and make changes to them as you see fit – as long as they remain consistent with the provisions in the Collective Agreement.

Be sure to use all of the funds available to your unit. Unused funds get moved up to the next committee – CRC or PRC – and whatever is not used in one year will go forward for use in the next. This is especially important for the next two years because the new process was deferred for one year and the increase in funds for the award of special increases that was to have been available this year (2010-11) was divided equally and allocated to each of the succeeding two years (2011-12 and 2012-13). This means there is the equivalent of 755 CDIs available per year.

Our past experience has been that in years when PRC has had more funds available for special increases, not all of the funds are used. These funds are part of our negotiated financial settlement and should not go unused.

Do not hesitate to appeal decisions for the award of special increases. Provisions exist for you to make an appeal to PRC for special increases if you were not awarded any by your Department and/or College or for additional special increases if you believe the award made by your Department and/or College was too low.

USFA representatives, Jim Cheesman or Johanne Brassard, are happy to meet with departments, colleges or salary committee members to discuss the development of standards and answer any questions you have about Salary Review Procedures.