In years past, staff and student employees were paid on the 1st and 15th of every month. As we enter the new year, this will no longer be the case.
Effective Jan. 1, 2019, the payday calendar for these workers will be shifted to the 7th and 22nd of every month. Adjunct faculty will also be adopting this new pay calendar. They currently receive their paychecks once, at the end of the month.
The change, however, has created a one week delay in January where staff and student employees will not be paid, since their first paychecks of the year — which are usually on Jan. 15 — will now be on Jan. 22.
Staff are hit hardest with the delay, since they are still working during winter break, as opposed to adjunct faculty and a majority of student employees. The University has offered two options to staff to make up for the week-long delay in pay.
The first option is for staff to give up seven of their vacation days in exchange for these hours being paid and included in a December paycheck. For those who may not have enough vacation time to do this, the University is allowing employees to go into negative days if needed.
The other option is a $3,000 interest-free loan. The loan will be paid back to the University in equal installments, with $125 subtracted from each paycheck, for one year.
Martha Peugh-Wade, associate VP of human resources, said the University did not change the pay cycle to save money.
“Currently, seven different payroll cycles are in use at USF,” Peugh-Wade said. “Moving to a single semi-monthly pay schedule will help streamline the university’s time-keeping systems, keep sick leave balances current, and increase timesheet accuracy.”
The deadline to select between the vacation days and the loan was Nov. 1. Staff were notified of these options in September. According to Peugh-Wade, 202 staff members chose the vacation option, 152 chose the loan — a total of $456,000 — and 850 chose not to take either option.
The overall reaction from staff about the pay cycle change, and specifically the two options they have been offered, has been negative, according to multiple interviews. Three of four staff members interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity, out of fear of being reprimanded for speaking out.
“It’s really poor timing,” one program assistant said. “Especially around Christmas time and the holidays.” She chose to use the vacation option to cover the week gap, since she had some saved up over time. The program assistant was concerned for newer employees, however, who do not have vacation time saved up and may be in a tighter financial situation.
“Asking employees to take on this additional financial burden is really irresponsible of the institution,” another program assistant, who took the loan option, said. She said she now feels stuck in her position at the University for the next year because if she left before the loan was paid off entirely, she’d have to pay the remaining amount in a lump sum.
A third program assistant who did not choose either of the options the felt similarly about the loan. “Do I have to remain here until I can pay [USF] back?” she said. “I [didn’t] want to be indebted to the University.”
“If an employee leaves prior to their loan being fully repaid any outstanding balance will be withheld from their final paycheck,” Dominic Daher, associate VP for tax compliance and internal audit, said in an email.
“I was surprised and confused,” David Garcia, an Honors College program assistant, said in an email. “It felt like I was being handed a financial problem to solve, due to changes that had nothing to do with me.” Garcia, who graduated from USF in December 2017 and started working at the University in the same month, chose to take the loan since he “didn’t want to sacrifice vacation days.”
He said other colleagues at the University have similar feelings about the pay cycle change. “As time has passed, however, I’ve noticed that there seems to be more apathy, a general acceptance of just having to deal with it. No one’s happy about the change, but it also feels like nothing can be done about it. It doesn’t feel great to be affected so strongly by something beyond your control.”
On the other hand, adjunct faculty, who will now be receiving two paychecks instead of one per month, could benefit from the change. School of Management adjunct professor Amy Martin said that she saw the calendar change as “positive” and “helpful” since she will be paid more frequently.
As for students, an email was sent out at the beginning of October about the pay delay. “If this change creates any hardships for those working the first two weeks in January please notify your supervisor and payroll in writing and the university will review the situation on a case by case basis,” the Office of Accounting and Business Services said in an email. One of the ways the University planned on filling this potential gap for student employees was to temporarily increase paid working hours in November and December.
According to Michael Devera, who oversees student payroll for the University Center’s fourth floor, no student employees have come to him so far with concerns about the pay cycle change.
A previous version of this article described Michael Devera’s role as overseeing all student pay. This is not accurate. Devera is in charge of student pay for specifically the fourth floor of the University Center. The article also misstated that David Garcia’s office shared his sentiments about the pay change. The article has been updated with these corrections.