If I attend a Staff Council meeting, where should I sit?
There are always chairs set up for visitors. Please remember that the table is for Staff Council members only.
If I attend a Staff Council meeting, can I bring up new business?
YES!!! We invite participation of guests at meetings but we do ask that you raise your hand and wait to be called upon.
How do I receive the Staff Council emails that include agendas and meeting minutes?
Staff Council agendas and minutes are distributed via RITstaff on Monday afternoons. Agendas are sent the Monday before the bi-monthly Thursday meetings and minutes are sent the Monday afternoon following approval during the most recent Staff Council meeting. If you are not receiving these emails, please verify that you have not filtered RITstaff emails out of your inbox.
Isn't there a better way to reward long-term employees who get high performance reviews but are at the top of their pay band than the current bonus system (small sum that gets hit hard by taxes) which doesn’t build their salary from year to year for retirement, etc.?
HR is looking at other alternatives to the single payment process currently used to potentially lessen the size of the initial tax withholding. If someone’s salary is over-withheld due to the taxes on the lump sum merit, it should be corrected when they submit their annual tax return. All lump-sum merit payments are included in calculations for retirement contributions – both the employee’s contributions and RIT’s match portions.
Each individual at RIT is valued and we appreciate the hard work of all employees, but different positions have different market dollar targets. For staff positions, the wage grade provides the market target (midpoint) as well as the minimum and maximum payment levels for that position. Sometimes individual pay rates reach the top (or maximum) of the wage grade range. There are a number of factors that may cause this to happen including:
HR will regularly review RIT’s wage grade bands against the market and if there is upward movement in the market, our wage grade bands will be shifted upward. This movement will provide additional base salary growth opportunities for individuals who were previously at the maximum of the wage grade band.
How many people are in this situation?
In 2014, 5% of the non-exempt staff and 4% of the exempt staff were at or above the maximum of their grade.
Is this method consistent with other institutions of higher learning?
This is a standard practice in the field of compensation.
If the merit increase is not added to base salary, will that effect the amount of Social Security that people will be eligible for?
No. The information RIT submits to the federal government for Social Security calculation includes total compensation (earnings); it is not broken down into categories like base pay and lump sum merit payments.
Could HR share job descriptions from one department/unit with other departments/units to increase standardization of jobs across the university and save hiring managers from having to develop new descriptions?
HR encourages more standardized job descriptions (JDs) across the university. However, in order to ensure accuracy, it is important for individuals to work with their supervisor capture their work assignments and contribute to the creation of the job description. The first goal is to accurately reflect the responsibilities of the position. HR offers a CPD class for managers on how to write a JD.
Why is the pay for the same position significantly different from one college to another? Shouldn’t it be close to the same?
It should be within the same wage grade but many factors influence what an individual is paid, including performance, experience, and time in a position.
The appraisal process begins with a self-appraisal, then discussion between supervisor and employee, then supervisor’s formal written review with employee’s signature / response. Does the dean receive all of these parts for final review including the original self-evaluation?
HR should receive everything for the employee’s personnel file including the original self-evaluation. Processes may vary from college to colleges; however, if the dean signs off on the appraisal, s/he should receive all relevant documents.
What does RIT do in the way of upward appraisals?
RIT currently does not have a formal expectation for 360° appraisals, but as a best practice, strongly encourages supervisors, department heads, directors, and vice presidents to use upward appraisals to facilitate two-way performance communication with their staff. HR offers instructions for upward appraisal process.
Is there a process in place for Staff Assistants who are seeking to advance in their careers?
For staff who work less than 12 months, RIT doubles deductions for benefit contributions such as health care and dental insurance when you return to work to recoup the missed payments. Why can’t the make-up deductions be spread out over the entire period of time that you work to prevent hardships? Also, mistakes are frequently made in this process.
In the past, this calculation was all done manually and as a result there have been occasional errors. Recent system changes have made this work automated; deductions will now be made up automatically for the same number of paychecks as the number missed – with the caveat that it must be completed in the same calendar year. For instance – if an employee works 10 months, they will skip 4 paychecks. To recoup their benefits contributions, their benefits deductions will be doubled for the first 4 paychecks after they return to work.
Does RIT have a recommended tax firm for employees to use for tax return preparation?
We do not. But RIT does offer a great benefit in the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). They offer assistance with a vast array of issues, including financial resources, retirement planning, and could probably offer some suggestions for tax preparers. Their services are free to employees, and employees are encouraged to take advantage of this resource.
For every medical plan offered, there is a huge difference between Tier 1 and Tier 2 employee contributions, and much smaller increments between Tiers 2, 3 and 4. Why is Tier 2 hit so hard?
The purpose of moving to the tiered contributions was to prevent our lowest paid employees from dropping coverage because it was too expensive, and to have people who earned more money pay a somewhat higher share of the cost. We have worked hard to keep Tier 1 contributions as low as possible. Tier 2 is what could be considered “normal,” which is reflective of the overall increase in annual costs. So, for instance, if the overall increase from one year to the next is 6%, then we generally would increase Tier 2 by 6%. The spread has gotten much wider over time between Tiers 1 and 2 principally because we’ve tried to pass on very low increases to Tier 1; these have been offset for the most part by larger increases to Tiers 3 and 4. Tier 2 reflects more or less what would have been the case for everyone had we not tiered the contributions.
I received a raise that moved me from Salary Level 1 to Salary Level 2. This resulted in an increase in medical insurance premiums so my take-home pay is no higher than before the raise.
It may be helpful to review why RIT has tiered its health care contributions by salary levels.
Before RIT introduced the salary levels for health care contributions, all full-time employees paid the same amount for the same coverage, regardless of their pay. We came to realize that with that approach (which is most common), low-paid employees were paying a larger percentage of their pay each year for health care coverage compared to higher-paid employees, who were paying very small percentages of their pay. We introduced the salary levels with the goal of financially protecting the employees who had the lowest salaries, to avoid their dropping health care coverage if it became unaffordable. We believe we have been successful in that regard, and we have been pleased that our employees overall have been extremely supportive of this approach, whichever salary level they happen to be in.
If we had not taken this approach, and stayed with the former model, contributions for all full-time employees would likely be in the Salary Level 2 range.
In order to maintain stability for people, we have intentionally increased the salary level amounts by the same percentage as the prior year’s merit increase pool. In other words, the salary levels move with the merit pool. That way, if a person has an average pay increase, they would remain in the same level; and, in fact, the majority of our employees remain in the same salary level from one year to the next. However, if a person’s salary is near the top of their level and they have a salary increase that is higher than the merit pool amount, the result may be that the person will cross into the next salary level; most often, we have seen this occur when an employee receives a promotion. Likewise, people have gone to a lower salary level when the reverse occurs.
We recognize that this situation occurs for a very small number of people every year. It’s a one-time adjustment, similar to crossing into a higher tax bracket. However, since the medical contributions are contributed on a pre-tax basis, the impact on the take-home pay is not as high as the difference in the premium contribution.
An option some employees have is to select a less expensive health care plan to bridge some or all of the difference. For example, an employee enrolled in POS A may be able to minimize the impact of the salary level jump by switching to POS B – unless there is a need for hearing aids or the replacement of a functioning cochlear implant processor, in which case, remaining in POS A may make more sense. It is important to calculate the overall cost of each plan based on coverage and anticipated need for the coming year. The prescription drug coverage is exactly the same in POS A and POS B. While the medical copays are a bit higher in POS B, a person would need to use a lot of services to actually make POS B a higher overall cost.
In addition, it is important to consider the big picture impact of a higher salary increase (which often is the result of a promotion) in the context of all the benefits and professional opportunities, not just health care contributions, and in terms of future salary growth. RIT’s matching contribution to the Retirement Savings Plan will be greater since it is a percentage of the higher pay. The employee will be eligible for higher levels of coverage for life, AD&D, and Long-Term Disability insurance, providing better protection for their family. The employee’s future salary growth also has the potential to be more rapid, since future increases will be calculated on a higher amount.
Why is holiday pay prorated for employees scheduled to work fewer than 12 months per year?
Response from Renee Brownstein, Associate Director, Human Resources – Benefits: In 2012, we changed the methodology for calculating how much paid time off employees scheduled to work less than 12 months per year receive to make the process fairer for all employees. Paid time off (including vacation, sick/personal, and holiday time) is now prorated to reflect a percentage of the year that the employee is scheduled to work. (see Time Off Benefits) Previously, there was no differentiation in the amount of paid time off for a 12-month employee versus someone scheduled to work less than 12 months. For example, an employee who was scheduled to work 75% of the year (9 months) received the same number of hours of paid time off as an employee scheduled to work 12 months (assumes the same weekly work hours).
This change was introduced for those hired on or after August 1, 2012, and for those who change to a job that has a work schedule of less than 12 months per year. We did not make the change for existing employees already scheduled to work less than 12 months per year.
There are several ways a new employee learns about their pro-rated time:
We do not believe that holiday time should be treated any differently than any other paid time off. We believe this methodology is a much fairer and more consistent approach from one employee to another because it accomplishes that objective.
Who decides what company RIT will use as the provider for prescription drug benefits, and on what do they base the decision?
Response from Renee Brownstein, Associate Director, Human Resources – Benefits: A transition to a new Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) is a very major move. It impacts many more employees and family members than when we change almost any other benefits vendor and it is labor-intensive on the part of our benefits group. That is why we do not do it frequently or lightly, only when there is a significant reason. In this case, the savings for RIT and employees was significant and one of the main reasons RIT was able to freeze employee contributions for 2016 was this change.
Considering the magnitude of this change, HR has experienced very low volume of calls into our benefits group by plan participants experiencing problems. The majority of issues have been relatively minor concerns and we have worked with our providers to resolve the issues as quickly as possible.
Here is some additional background about how we got to the point of switching PBMs from Express Scripts to OptumRx and the results we’ve had since the switch.
Since 2005, RIT has belonged to a coalition of universities called the Preferred University Rx Purchasing Coalition (PURPC) for prescription drug products and pharmacy benefit management (PBM) services. As a group purchasing coalition, PURPC delivers value by aggregating the covered membership of its member institutions to achieve enhanced pricing, services and account management beyond what would be achieved by any of the institutions individually. PURPC has provided various advantages for member institutions, including:
Participation in the coalition has evolved over the years. Currently, the following universities participate in PURPC:
When RIT first joined PURPC in 2005, we created our self-funded prescription drug plan separate from our medical plan. Initially, the PBM for PURPC (and therefore for RIT) was Medco. Several years ago, Medco merged with another large PBM, Express Scripts. During the 10+ years that RIT has been a member of PURPC, there have been several times when a full Request for Proposals (RFP) process was conducted by PURPC on behalf of its member institutions. In previous RFP processes, Medco/Express Scripts, the incumbent PBM, emerged as the PBM providing the best pricing and required services. In 2015, PURPC undertook an RFP process, and for the first time, a different PBM called Catamaran prevailed. Soon after the decision was made by PURPC to move to Catamaran, it was announced that Catamaran was merging with OptumRx. We were still receiving the best pricing and required services by the new OptumRx, so the decision was made by the PURPC member institutions to proceed with this move. At RIT, I recommended the change and our senior administration approved.
We worked on the implementation with OptumRx for several months, having weekly calls with a cross-functional project team, documentation of decisions, issues, timelines, etc. Our main consideration and focus during the implementation was to make sure that things went as smoothly as possible for plan participants. We understand there would be some people who would experience some disruption. There are differences in the excluded drug lists and the formulary that determines whether a drug is in Tier 2 or Tier 3. If a participant was using Express Scripts mail order, the participant needed to register on the Optum website and set up a payment method before refills for covered medications could be processed. Finally, if a particular medication needed special approvals, the details for those approvals might not have been transferred to Optum as of January 1 due to the timing of when they were set up at Express Scripts.
The benefits open enrollment newsletter had a lot of information about this change. In addition, we published on the benefits open enrollment website the list of excluded drugs as well as the OptumRx formulary list which shows what tier a covered medication is in. OptumRx also had a special website as well as a phone number (we included the contact details in the newsletter) for people to get the information they needed before the implementation date. We sent a reminder email to employees in mid-December about the change since the new ID card were being issued at that time.
Since RIT does not have any details about what medications participants take, we did not communicate detailed information to participants who would be impacted by this change. OptumRx sent letters via home mailing to the participants who were likely to experience some disruption, based on data provided to them directly by Express Scripts. A second batch of data was sent to OptumRx by Express Scripts in January to capture anything that had changed after the initial data had been sent in October (e.g., new prescriptions).
Of the relatively low volume of calls we’ve received, most of them have been around more minor concerns, like not using the correct phone number to reach the dedicated phone line for RIT at OptumRx, or having problems logging into their website. We’ve worked with several people who initially had incorrect information from OptumRx’s general customer service number instead of the dedicated phone line we communicated during open enrollment about their need to redo a prior authorization process they’d already gone through with Medco/Express Scripts. When we had calls about these situations, we intervened immediately with the appropriate people at OptumRx and the matters were fixed very quickly. Anyone who had a prior authorization in place with the prior PBM does not have to go through it again with the new PBM. If anyone tells you this is happening to them, please urge them to contact our office and we will assist them. The person does not need to disclose any details about their medications to RIT.
As for purchasing covered medications at Wegmans, all a person needed to do was to provide Wegmans with their new prescription drug ID card they received in the mail. This information was not provided to Wegmans by the new PBM because no assumption could be made about where people were going to choose to fill their prescriptions. I myself experienced this when I was filling a prescription on January 2 at Wegmans. I received a call at home telling me they tried to process my claim and received a message from Express Scripts that coverage had changed. So Wegmans reached out to me to find out what my new coverage was. Someone else in HR had the same experience, so we assumed that was how Wegmans was handling it for everyone. We did hear that there were different situations with Wegmans where it was not this neat and easy. As a result, I reached out to our Wegmans pharmacy contact and asked him to alert all his area pharmacies to be on the lookout for RIT people who have new coverage. Since then, we haven’t heard of anyone having problems at Wegmans.
The employee who had logged into OptumRx and was in the wrong account did notify us and we contacted our OptumRx team immediately. They took this issue very seriously and elevated it to their highest level management. They have reported that they were able to identify the problem and fix it.
If anyone is having problems with OptumRx that they have been unable to resolve on their own, please contact your benefits representative in Human Resources, and we can see what help we can provide. It is important to understand that we will not ask about the medications you (or your family member) are taking nor will OptumRx share that information with us.
Is it possible to sign a waiver to be released from the rules restricting non-exempt employees’ number of consecutive hours and/or number of consecutive days worked; or the need to be paid to “volunteer” at University events?
These rules are set by federal law. You cannot “opt out” of the law of the land.
Important Parking Information and Process announced 5/31/17.
RIT is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for all students, faculty, and staff. This includes ensuring that everyone in the RIT community adheres to the university’s policy regarding parking on campus, which includes the following responsibilities:
In support of this commitment, RIT is implementing a new parking enforcement process for all faculty and staff on July 1, 2017. Details of the new process, which has been reviewed by all of the university’s governance groups, are available on the parking web page.
Should you receive a parking citation, please pay the citation online as soon as possible by visiting Your Parking Account. Email notification reminders will be sent to you to inform you of the citation, due date, and will provide instructions on how to pay your fine.
Faculty and staff members who currently have outstanding citations dating back to January 1, 2016, will be responsible for paying their account balance by August 1, 2018.
Adherence to RIT’s parking policies assists the university in maintaining a safe environment for everyone. Thank you for your support.
How was it decided to apply the enforcement steps to tickets issued after 12/31/2015? How was that date chosen?
The Parking and Transportation Office has data regarding outstanding citations that dates back to 2006. The Parking and Transportation team recommended that 18 months was a reasonable look-back period. The team also felt it was important to require accountability for those individuals who have accrued consistent parking citations as a result of not following RIT policies. Senior management supports this recommendation.
Has there been any discussion of amnesty for those with a large number of tickets, or those with a large balance due?
Significant numbers of tickets were provided amnesty (those between 2006 and December 31, 2015). If an employee has a concern regarding the ability to pay existing balances, please have them contact the Parking and Transportation Office to discuss alternative payment options. We are happy to work with people on an individual basis to address their concerns.
Is it possible to pay balances gradually via payroll deductions?
Where can I find a Notary Public on campus?
Where can I find information on RIT policies?
What other governance groups are there at RIT?
What training and professional development opportunities are available to RIT employees?
Is there a way to find out how to sign a word in ASL (American Sign Language)?
I have an idea that I think will help RIT save money. With whom should I share my idea?
If an employee passes away, and colleagues would like to inform the campus and/or ask that the flag be lowered in their memory, whom should they contact?
You can contact the Chief Communications Officer Bob Finnerty (Marketing & Communications), who will coordinate with University Communications to distribute an announcement and arrange to have the RIT flag lowered.
Why does RIT not allow employees to donate unused sick or vacation days to other employees who may need them?
Response from Renee Brownstein, Associate Director, Human Resources – Benefits: While the motivations of people who ask about this are well-intentioned, this type of program is very unusual among employers for good reasons. The reasons fall into the categories of legal and tax concerns and employee relations.
One example of a legal concern is that the program would have to ensure it is non-discriminatory in practice under a variety of statutes. That may sound easy, but is very difficult to ensure. Another consideration is how the money is treated for tax purposes. If the program does not meet the strict criteria established by the Internal Revenue Service to qualify for favorable tax treatment, then the donor of the paid time off may end up with taxable income for the time he or she gave away. Something intended to be a positive could be fraught with negative implications depending on these things.
Another issue is that employees are paid different amounts. So one employee who may have unused sick or vacation time may be paid $25,000 a year and another employee who may want additional days may be paid $50,000 a year. So the liability for the paid time is doubled.
RIT provides very competitive vacation, sick leave/salary continuation and short-term disability benefits. These benefits should generally provide enough paid time off to cover most people’s situations. Employees are responsible for managing their paid time off thoughtfully to ensure they have enough to cover unforeseen situations. We need to keep in mind also the intent of vacation benefits to ensure employees have time away from work to relax and unplug.
Why do non-exempt staff get less vacation time than exempt staff in the first 10 years of employment?
Having this difference is very common, and the extra time acknowledges the difference in work patterns i.e.: exempt staff are expected to work extra hours whenever necessary without extra pay, while non-exempt staff get overtime pay. Also, there can be some direct costs for non-exempt vacation such as hiring a temp or paying others overtime to cover the work – costs that are not incurred with exempt staff.
HR did a study a few years ago to compare RIT’s vacation time to that of other employers. They found that RIT was out of sync for non-exempt vacation time for 10-14 year staff. At that time, RIT raised non-exempt vacation time to 20 days (4 weeks) after 10 years. The current vacation allotment:
Annual Vacation Prior to 5th Anniversary (prorated in 1st year of hire, if hired after July 15th)
Annual Vacation after 5th Anniversary
Annual Vacation after 10th Anniversary
Annual Vacation after 20th Anniversary
Can we carry over up to ½ of our vacation time annually – or is it up to managers to make that determination?
The HR policy governing vacation carry-over has been revised to remove the language, “at manager discretion.” It is RIT’s policy that employees may carry over up to ½ of their annual vacation allowance. It is RIT’s desire that all employees use their vacation time during the year to help them refresh and rejuvenate.
Why can’t we buy more vacation time?
The IRS has complex rules around the use of “elective” and “non-elective” vacation:
Non-exempt staff’s vacation days are tracked in Oracle. Who tracks exempt staff’s vacation time?
In response to a recent employee suggestion received through RIT’s Suggestion Program, RIT introduced online vacation tracking for exempt staff and 12-month faculty through Oracle Employee Self-Service in July, 2016. The announcement of this new feature, an Employee User Guide, Manager User Guide and FAQs can all be found on the Benefits, Health and Wellness page of the HR website.
Different departments have different protocols for work hours on the day before Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. One department may give all their staff a day off with pay on Christmas Eve while other departments may let staff leave at 2:30; others have to stay until 4:30 or 5:00. Is there a standard expectation for these days? It seems it should be consistent across campus.
Dr. Destler recently announced an administrative policy change to address this issue. RIT now designates two dates as “early release and closure” dates – the day before the Thanksgiving holiday and the day before the December holiday break. On these dates, the university will officially close at 2:00 p.m. If an employee wishes to leave earlier, s/he must use vacation and/or sick/personal time with manager approval.
What about those who are required to be here all the time, such as Public Safety and FMS?
Essential personnel who must work during the official early release closure periods will be provided with the equivalent amount of time off as “approved with pay” within 30 days of the early release and closure date with manager approval.
Why are we penalized if we don’t use our sick/personal days i.e.: we lose them?
Non-exempt staff’s unused sick/personal time is cashed out at the end of the year – currently, 75% of the value is deposited into the employee’s retirement account, or the employee may opt to receive 50% of the value in cash.
Why are non-exempt staff reimbursed at the end of the year for unused sick days at 50% or 75%, instead of 100%?
RIT used to have a “sick bank” whereby unused sick days were ‘banked’ to be used to supplement disability payments during extended absences due to illness. At that time, RIT’s short-term disability payment was the NYS statutory $170.00 per week. In July of 2005, RIT’s short-term disability was greatly improved. It is now 100% of regular wages for 8 weeks, then 80% for the remaining 18 weeks. The improved STD makes the sick bank unnecessary. The 2005 sick banks were not taken away, but unused sick days are no longer added to the bank.
In considering what to do with unused sick days in lieu of banking them, two possibilities were weighed:
Trying to reach the right balance, the two options were blended. Non-exempt staff are paid 50% of the value of unused sick time at the end of the year. At around the same time, HR had begun a campaign to encourage employees to increase their retirement savings. To further incentivize this, it was decided to raise the buy-out to 75% if the employee chose to deposit it directly into their retirement account.
Why is exempt employees’ sick time different than non-exempt?
By law, non-exempt employees are paid for the time they are actually performing work for RIT. In order to allow them the option of taking time off without suffering financially when they are sick, RIT pays them for up to 9 days of sick/personal time off. Also by law, exempt employees receive a regular salary that is not contingent upon the number of hours worked. Whether they work extra time because of the work load or less time because they stay home sick, their salary remains constant. Because of this, there is no need for them to have designated sick days.
Why do 10- and 11-month staff get the same sick and vacation time as 12-month staff?
They don’t – it is prorated. This was not always the case, and there are some staff who are grandfathered under the old system.
If you have a vacation day scheduled and RIT closes due to weather, why do you have to use the vacation day instead of being able to take shut-down pay and save the vacation day?
Shut-down pay is given based on the fact that the employee is available to work that day. If you have a vacation day scheduled, you are not available to work, and therefore are not eligible for shut-down pay.
If an employee works for RIT full-time or extended part time for 9 months, and their year is completed right before graduation, can they still volunteer to work graduation weekend? Would they get paid?
Based on RIT policy, yes the person would be paid for this work (see previous question). They should let their supervisor know that it is their intention to volunteer so that the supervisor is aware and signs off on their time card.
What is the procedure for a non-exempt employee to ‘volunteer’ to work for university events such as Imagine RIT and Commencement?