Toolkit FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

The Frequently Asked Questions provide answers to common questions managers ask regarding policies, standard procedures, and processing specific transactions. Expand the accordions to learn more about each topic.

General FAQs

Q: What type of work can a casual employee perform?

A: Short-term casual employees are limited to non-exempt work. Six pre-defined job descriptions have been developed to assist you in hiring and classifying casual employees.  If the department has work that falls outside of these 6 job descriptions, please contact your HR Client Manager for assistance.


Q: How long can a casual employee remain on casual payroll?

A: Short-term casual employees are limited to a maximum of 560 hours or 4 months from initial hire date, whichever comes first, in a 12-month period.

Examples:

Jane Columbia is hired on 5/31/2010 and works 40 hours per week. She will reach the 560-hour limit before she reaches the 4-month limit.  In this case, Jane can only work 14 weeks (40 hours *14 weeks = 560 hours), and therefore must stop working as a casual employee by 9/3/2010.

John Columbia is hired on 5/31/2010 and works 25 hours per week. He will reach the 4-month limit before he reaches the 560-hour limit. In this case, John can only work as a casual employee through 9/30/2010.


Q: When can a casual employee be rehired?

A: Any short-term casual employee who has worked the maximum number of hours/months within 12-months of his or her hire date may not be employed as a short-term casual employee anywhere within the University for 12 months from his or her termination date.

Examples:

A short-term casual employee works 560 hours in 3 months, from 10/1/2010 – 12/31/2010.  He must be terminated as a casual employee in December or hired as a regular or temporary University employee. He is ineligible to be rehired as a short-term casual employee until 1/1/2012 (12 months from his termination date).

A short-term casual employee is hired 5/1/2010 and works 10 hours per week for 4 months through 8/31/2010 (180 hours). She must be terminated as a casual employee in August or hired as a regular or temporary University employee. She is ineligible to be rehired as a short-term casual employee until 9/1/2011 (12 months from her termination date).


Q: How do I indicate that the casual employee is filling in for an employee on an approved leave?

A short-term casual employee may exceed the 4-month/560-hour limit if he or she is hired to replace a specific employee on an authorized leave of absence. The employment may continue on the short-term casual payroll until the regular employee returns, but cannot exceed 999 hours in a 12-month period. Please refer to the applicable collective bargaining agreement (CBA) for limitations and notice requirements for work that might otherwise be covered by a CBA.

When completing the template-based hire form for a short-term casual who will be filling in for an employee on an approved leave, you must attach a memo (which can be an email) that provides the name of the employee being replaced, the dates of the leave and the approval of your HR Client Manager. The end date of the leave will be used as the expected end date for the casual employee.


Q: What documents do I need to attach to the hire/rehire transaction for a non-student short-term casual employee?

A: The following documents must be attached to the template-based hire/rehire transaction or paper PAF:

  • Completed and signed W-4
  • Completed and signed IT 2104 (or IT 2104.1 or IT 2104.E)
  • Completed and signed Casual Hire Form & NYS 195
  • Application
  • If new hire/rehire is a non-resident alien:
  • Visa Designation
  • Tax treaty Claim Form 8233 and Statement
  • In addition to the above documents, a Form I-9 must be completed in I-9 Express by the employee and processed by one of the I-9 Processing Centers prior to submitting the hiring paperwork to HRPC.

Q: Why are short-term casual employees limited to 4 months or 560 hours, whichever comes first?

A: University collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) define temporary employees as one who is hired for a period of up to four (4) months and who is so informed at the time of hire. The casual employment policy closely aligns University policy with the CBAs.


Q: How do I hire an employee for a temporary assignment of more than 4 months?

A: There are several different options available to hire an individual for a temporary assignment of greater than 4 months.

  • Temporary Full-time – individual is hired onto Columbia University payroll. Position requires a start and end date. Work hours are 35 hours per week. Duration is typically less than 1 year
  • Temporary Part-time – individual is hired onto Columbia University payroll. Position requires a start and end date. Work hours are less than 35-hours/week. Duration is typically less than 1 year

Please contact your HR Client Manager for assistance in creating a temporary position and information regarding processing.


Q: Do the hours worked as a student casual count once the individual graduates?

A: Students who have recently graduated can be hired or retained in a short-term casual employee position. The hours they worked as a student do not count toward the 4-month/560-hour limit on short-term casual employees. However, once the student graduates the individual will be limited to 4 months or 560 hours, whichever comes first.

Example:

A full-time undergraduate student graduates on May 18, 2016. She worked as a student casual 15 hours per week for the last 2 years performing general office support. She may continue on the short-term casual payroll for 4 months or 560 hours from graduation.


Q: Can a department retain a student casual after graduation if he/she is performing exempt-level work?

A: Once a student graduates, if he is continuing employment with a department and has been doing work that would be considered exempt-level work, he must be hired as a part-time or full-time temporary employee. The position must be appropriately reviewed and graded. Short-term casual employment is limited to non-exempt work. For assistance in determining the exempt/non-exempt status of a position, or for assistance in creating a new temporary position, please consult with your department’s HR Client Manager.


Q: How will departments be notified that a casual employee is approaching 4 months or 560 hours?

A: Departments will continue to receive the automated HRIS notification for short-term temporary employees approaching 560 hours. The list will include all non-student casual employees who have 420 or more hours and all non-student casual employees who have worked for 3 months.


Q: How does a department determine if a student is full-time, part-time or half-time?

A: Enrollment status is defined by the Student Information System (SIS) based on the program of study for the individual student. Please confirm the registration status with the student prior to completing the hire.


Q: Casual employees are limited to one position at a time. How does a department know if the employee already holds a casual position elsewhere in the University?

A: All short-term casual employees are required to complete a job application through TalentLink prior to hire. The application for employment asks if the individual is currently, or has ever been, employed at Columbia University in any capacity. If the department is still unsure whether or not a potential casual employee is active in another department at the University, please contact the HR Client Manager.


Q: Casual employees are limited to 4 months or 560 hours in a 12-month period. How does a department know if the employee has worked elsewhere at the University in the last 12 months?

A: All short-term casual employees are required to complete a job application through TalentLink prior to hire. The application for employments asks if the individual is currently, or has ever been, employed by Columbia University. If the individual has been employed by the University in the past, the applicant must list when, the department, and the reason for leaving on the application. If the department is still unsure whether or not a potential casual employee has worked at the University in the past, please contact the HR Client Manager.


Q: A casual employee just submitted a timesheet but FFE indicates that he/she has been terminated. How do I pay the employee for the hours worked?

A: When a short-term casual employee reaches 4 months from hire date or 560 hours, whichever comes first, he or she will be automatically terminated in PAC. Short-term casuals should not work after the termination date. If it is determined that a short-term casual has worked past his or her termination date, the department must immediately discontinue the casual’s employment. To process the final payment for the casual employee, the department must submit the request for final pay on a time entry form (link is external) with a note that this is final pay for work completed from [relevant date] to [relevant date]. Only one final paycheck will be issued. The employee will remain terminated.


Q: Can I rehire a former regular University employee as a casual?

A: If an individual was employed at the University as a regular employee, he or she can be rehired only into a regular or temporary administrative position. He or she may not be rehired as a casual. If a department wishes to rehire a former employee who has separated from the University, please work with your HR Client Manager to create a new position. 

Q: What is E-Verify?

A: E-verify is a web-based employment authorization verification system, operated by U.S. Citizenship and immigration Services (USCIS), part of the Department of Homeland Security, in partnership with the Social Security Administration.


Q: Why is Columbia participating in E-Verify?

A: Effective September 8, 2009, the Federal Government requires all federal contractors agree to use an electronic employment eligibility verification system (E-Verify), as a condition of the contract. Columbia University, as a recipient of federal contracts, is subject to this new requirement.


Q: Who must be E-Verified?

A: All existing personnel – officers of instruction, officers of research, officers of the libraries, officers of administration, student officers and support staff (including casual employees) – who perform substantial duties on a qualifying federal contract are required to be E-Verified.  This includes all current employees hired after November 6, 1986, who are performing work in the United States under a contract or sub-contract that includes the E-Verify clause.


Q: Are there any exceptions to the E-Verify rule?

A: Yes, there are some exceptions to the E-Verify rule:

  • Any employee who was hired by Columbia University prior to November 6, 1986 and has been continuously employed at the University.
  • Any employee who has been granted and holds an active federal agency HSPD-12 compliant credential or a U.S. Government security clearance for access to confidential, secret, or top secret information in accordance with the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual.
  • Any employee who may be working under a covered contract, but who normally performs support work, such as indirect or overhead functions, and does not perform any substantial duties applicable to the contract.

Q: Are employees who work on a qualifying contract for a minimal amount of time, or intermittently, subject to E-Verify?

A: Yes. The rule does not exempt employees based on the intermittent nature of the work or the length of time spent performing the work. Therefore, student employees, Federal Work Study students and casual employees are all subject to E-verify.


Q: I have an employee currently working on a federal contract. When should he/she be E-Verified?

A: Columbia University Human Resources works with Sponsored Projects Administration and several other departments in order to identify new contracts that come into the University with the E-Verify language. Once a contract is identified, departments will be notified and should contact employees with instructions on when and how to complete the E-Verify process, including a new Form I-9.


Q: What does an employee need to do to be E-Verified?

A: Once the employee receive notification that they must complete the E-Verify process, they will have 15 calendar days to complete the necessary steps:

Complete an electronic Form I-9. The Form I-9 has two required sections:

  • To complete section 1 of the Form I-9, please refer to Eligiblity To Work: Form I-9.
  • Section 2 of the Form I-9 must be completed at one of the campus I-9 Centers. They must appear in person, with original documents that verify both their identity and their work authorization. They should bring the required documents (the list of acceptable documents is provided to them at the end of section 1) with them to one of the campus I-9 Centers in order to complete Section 2 of the I-9.


The E-Verify query will be run automatically by the I-9 system once they have completed section 2 of the Form I-9. They will receive the result of the query immediately, while they are in the I-9 Center.


Q: What happens if an employee completed their original I-9 electronically, through I-9 eXpress?

A: They will be required to complete a new electronic I-9 as part of the E-Verify process.


Q: What happens if an employee completed their original I-9 on paper?   

A: They will be required to complete a new electronic Form I-9 via I-9 Express. E-Verify will be processed concurrently.
 


Q: What happens if an employee is E-Verified for one contract, and then they begin work on a different qualifying federal contract?

A: Once the employee has been E-verified by the University and employment authorization has been confirmed, they do not need to be e-verified again while at the University.


Q: What happens if an employee's previous employer ran their information through E-Verify?  Must the employee do it again?

A: Yes. Under the rule, all federal contractors are required to enter the worker’s identity and employment information into the E-verify system following completion of the Form I-9 at the time of hire.


Q: What happens if the employee does not have a Social Security Number?

A: An employee working on a qualifying federal contract is required to provide his or her SSN in order to complete the E-Verify query.  If s/he does not have a Social Security Number they should work with their Departmental Administrator in order to obtain a Social Security Number. Once they receive a number, they can then complete the I-9 and E-Verify process.


Q: What if an employee is working at Columbia University on a optional practical training through an F-1 Visa? Can they complete the E-Verify process and extend their OPT STEM status?

A: Yes. The employee should contact the International Students and Scholars Office for more information.


Q: What are the possible responses received when an E-Verify query is run?

A: There are 6 possible initial responses that could be returned when the I-9 information is submitted to E-Verify:

Employment Authorized – the employee is authorized to work in the United States.  This is the most common initial response received from E-Verify.  When this response is received, the employment eligibility process is complete.  No further action is required.

Employment Authorized with Additional Verification Optional – the employee is authorized to work in the United States. However, DHS can perform a more in-depth verification on this employee at the request of the employer.  Columbia University policy is to not request additional verification once an employment authorized response is received. No further action is required.

Initial Verification not Processed – The I-9 has been completed, but a response has not been received from E-Verify. The system will proved a response within a short period of time.  The employee should remain at the I-9 center until the transaction is processed.

Employment Authorized with Additional Verification Automatic – the employee is authorized to work in the United States. However, the DHS will perform a more in-depth verification on this individual. No action is required by the employee. The system status will automatically be updated to DHS verification in process.  DHS will respond within 3 government work days. Once the status has been updated by DHS, the PAC Service Center will notify the department and your Departmental Administrator will notify you of the result.

SSA or DHS Tentative Nonconfirmation – the information on the employee’s I-9 did not match the information on file at the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). IT DOES NOT MEAN THE EMPLOYEE IS NOT AUTHORIZED TO WORK. The employee may choose to contest (correct the problem) or not contest (forfeit and terminate employment).

DHS Verification in Process
– a definitive answer is not yet available. DHS responds to most of these cases within 24 hours, but has up to 3 government business days to respond.  Once the status has been updated by DHS, the PAC Service Center will notify the department and your Departmental Administrator will notify you of the result.


Q: The employee received an SSA or DHS Tentative Nonconfirmation result.  What should they do?

A: Receipt of a tentative nonconfirmation simply means that the information on their I-9 does not match the information in the Social Security Administration database or the Department of Homeland Security database.  If they believe this result is an error, they should take the following steps:

  • Work with the I-9 processor to indicate that they are contesting the results from E-Verify.
  • Read the information provided to them by the I-9 Center regarding the actions they must take to clear up the discrepancy. This information will include information on how to contact SSA or DHS.
  • The employee must continue to work. If they are a new hire, they should go ahead and attend orientation, sign up for benefits, obtain the employee ID, etc.
  • Contact the appropriate office (Social Security Administration or Department of Homeland Security) within 8 government work days.
  • Once the employee has contacted the appropriate government office, Columbia will receive a response to their employment eligibility within 10 government work days from the initial indication that they were contesting the finding.

The Human Resources Processing Center will notify the department of the final E-Verify result.


Q: The employee received an SSA or DHS Tentative Nonconfirmation result.  However, they did not contact SSA or DHS within the proscribed 8 government work days. What should they do?

A: Once the University receives a final nonconfirmation due to a no-show at the government agency, the University is required to terminate their employment. 


Q: If I have additional questions, who do I speak with?

A: Please call the Human Resources Service Center at (212) 851-2888.

Additional Information on E-verify can be found through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) E-Verify.

Q: We are hiring a foreign national who does not yet have a Social Security Number (SSN). How do we submit their paperwork?

A: A paper New Hire Personnel Action Form (PAF) for Administrative hires or a paper Nomination Form for Academic hires is used. 

A copy of the letter from the Social Security Office confirming they applied (in person) for an SSN must be submitted with the new hire paperwork (along with all other required documents).

Personnel awaiting a Social Security Number cannot be hired using Template-Based Hire (electronic hire templates).  

  • For Morningside/Manhattanville/Lamont new hires, submit the complete new hire paperwork to the HRPC (Human Resources Processing Center) who will assign the temporary SSN.
  • For CUMC new hires, submit the complete new hire paperwork to the CUMC-Payroll Office. They will validate the paperwork and contact the HRPC (Human Resources Processing Center) to obtain the temporary SSN and submit the paperwork. 

Once the permanent SSN is received, submit an active PAF to the HRPC to update the employee's record. Note: If the new hire completed any tax forms with their temporary SSN, then once they receive their permanent SSN, they must complete new tax forms with their new SSN.

Q: I have an employee who has another paid position in a different department. Will they receive two paychecks every pay period?

A: Faculty and staff with multiple positions receive a single paycheck with their total pay from all  positions, regardless of whether or not the positions are all in one department or in multiple departments.

Q: Who should complete the NYS 195 form?

A: New York State 195 notice must be provided all faculty and staff upon hire, when there is an appointment change (for example, casual to support staff or student officer to officer of research), or before a change in pay rate (other than the normal annual merit increase) The law applies to the following employees: 

  • All Academic personnel (excluding Student Officers and Postdoctoral Fellows)
  • Officers of Administration (both regular and temporary)
  • Union and Non-Union Support Staff (both regular and temporary)
  • Casuals
  • Work-Study

Q. Where can I find the pay calendar?

A: The Pay Calendar is a campus-specific chart listing of all fiscal year pay dates. The calendar also includes key dates and deadlines for electronic or paper transaction submissions and when the paychecks can be viewed by the employees online. See the Payroll Calendars.


Q: When should I use the Time Entry Form?

A: The Time Entry Form is used in rare situations when time for an employee cannot be submitted via FFE or another approved time entry system. For example, when a new casual employee does not appear in FFE, although the Template-Based Hire electronic form/new hire paperwork has been sent to the HRPC and the employee needs to be paid for their work. Visit the Time Entry Form section in the Managing Salary and Pay page for more information and access to the form.


Q. Does a foreign national need a social security number (SSN) in order to get paid?

A. If an employee is to receive a paycheck, they will need to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN). If the international employee will not be receiving pay (a $0 salary appointment), a permanent SSN is not required and the employee will be hired using an HRPC-assigned placeholder SSN. See the General Hiring/Reappointments section for information on hiring and SSNs.

Q: How do I change my UNI password?

A: To change your password, please go to the CUIT Manage My UNI page. Please note that Columbia University requires that all users of the PeopleSoft application change their password every 90 days. This is a precaution to help protect the sensitive personal and payroll data of all faculty and staff.


Q: Why can’t I see my own job record?

A: Access to view and/or update your own job information in Manager Self-Service is restricted; your Department Administrator can generate PAFs for your position. If you are in a department where only one person has PAC access, please contact your client manager and they can assist with the transaction.


Q: What happens to my PAC access if I transfer departments?

A: If you transfer departments, your PAC access is automatically removed. This includes transfers between levels 6, 7, and 8 departments within the same home department (e.g., your position is moved from one level 8 department to another within the same division). To reinstate your access, please complete a new PAC Security Application requesting  the required roles and departments once the transfer has been completed in PAC.

Q: Where can I find the online performance appraisal form?

A: Go to the CUHR online performance appraisal form.


Q: What are the benefits of the online performance appraisal form?

A: The online performance appraisal form has the following benefits to both managers and staff:

  • Simple, clear, easy to use with drop-down menu options
  • Online so managers and staff can access anytime, anywhere
  • Section for clarifying main job duties and responsibilities
  • Section for goal setting for the upcoming performance year
  • Choose from a performance attributes library (also known as competencies library) that the University has selected based upon best practices. Therefore, performance can be described in terms of how the job duties and goals were achieved, and not just what was achieved
  • Section for developmental planning for staff members for upcoming year
  • Sections built in for staff and manager comments throughout the form
  • Simplified overall performance rating scale

Q: Do I have to use the online performance appraisal form this year?

A: The online form is the recommended format. There is also a MS Word version of the form which you can access from the home page of the online form.

Q: What if my school or department uses a different performance appraisal form?

A: As in previous years, schools and departments may elect to use their own performance review forms that they have developed internally.


Q: How do I use the online performance appraisal form?

A: CUHR has created online tutorials for both managers and non-managers. These tutorials are available once you log in to the form by clicking the Help button. 


Q: Do I have to fill in every section of the online performance appraisal form?

A: No. The form has been designed so managers can easily build the sections of the form that are applicable to the jobs in their area. For example, managers may elect to use the section of the form that outlines job duties and responsibilities for the position or not by simply clicking on a button to add details to that section of the form.

CUHR strongly recommends that managers use the goals, performance attributes, and developmental plan sections of the form. For more information on how to use the form, see the online performance appraisal form job aid.


Q: Can I transfer information that I was already using from another form into the new online performance appraisal form for this year?

A: Yes. You can easily copy and paste the appropriate information you wish to select from another form into the online performance appraisal form.


Q: Can I use the online performance appraisal form to set goals for next year?

A: Yes. The online performance appraisal form can be used to either wind up the current performance year, or for goal setting for the upcoming fiscal year. The goals you create are saved and can be revisited at any time if changes are needed.


Q: Does Columbia University have a separate staff self-appraisal form?

A: The form allows either the manager or staff to start the process. Therefore, the staff member can open the form and start the process, then release to their manager to edit and review. However, both manager and staff edit the same document.


Q: What are performance attributes (also known as competencies)?

A: Performance attributes are a part of the online performance appraisal form. A performance attribute is defined as a skill, knowledge, ability or behavioral characteristic that is associated with job performance.

Simply stated, performance attributes assist both managers and staff in defining what job success looks like in terms of how the work is performed, not just in terms of what was achieved. For example, performance attributes such as adaptability, collaboration, communication, decision-making and valuing diversity may be used to describe how a staff member needs to perform in their position along with their main job duties and stated objectives for the performance year.

These attributes can be used in various ways and at different levels:

  • School/Department level - What skills, knowledge, abilities or behavioral characteristics are required for success across the entire school or department for the performance year?

  • Position Level - What skills, knowledge, abilities or behavioral characteristics are required for success across all Staff members in the same position for the performance year?

  • Individual Level - What skills, knowledge, abilities or behavioral characteristics are required for individual staff member success for the performance year?

The online performance appraisal form has a library of 54 performance attributes that managers can select from built into the form. As described above, these performance attributes can be used in various ways and at different levels at the choosing of the school/department or the manager.

For more information on performance attributes and how to use them, please contact your CUHR Client Manager or the local HR representative in your school or department. 


Q: Who is eligible to use the online performance appraisal form?

A: The online performance appraisal form is for Administrative Officers only. Academic Officers and staff members who belong to a union group do not use this form. 


Q: Is there any training available, and if so, who should attend?

A: Yes. HR offers a one-day training program to assist with the performance management process. The program at this time is being offered to managers who have Administrative Officers reporting to them.


Q: What if I am not a manager or supervisor - can I still attend the training program?

A: If you are not a manager, the online training tutorial accessed via logging into the online form provides an overview of the performance management process, as well as steps to complete the form.


Q: Do I have to attend the training before completing my year-end reviews?

A: You are not required to attend training in order to close out the year. Your school or department will be rolling out the training program at varying times throughout the summer. Additionally, ongoing training will be available for new and newly promoted managers.


Q: How do I register for training?

A: Training is provided through the HR Learning & Development's course offerings.


Q: Who can I contact if I have further questions?

A: Please contact your CUHR Client Manager or the local HR representative in your school or department for more information that is not covered in these pages.

If you experience any technical issues in completing this course, please contact the HR Service Center. You can log an incident or request a service by using a self-service web form, or you can contact the HR Service Center by phone: (212) 851-2888.

Q: A current employee has applied to a position my department is recruiting for. They have worked at Columbia University for less than a year. Can we still hire them?

A: In general, university employees who have completed one year of service in their current position may apply and be considered for a posted job opportunity at the University.  If the employee has completed less than one year, you must consult with your Client Manager first.

Q: Which documents should accompany TBH for a new hire/rehire?

A: You can find a complete list of documents on Required Hiring Documents page or in the Attaching Documents in TBH Job Aid.    


Q: Where can I find the complete list of PAF action/reason codes?

A:  The complete list can be found in Forms & Documents.

Time & Attendance FAQs

Q: What if an employee calls to say they are going to be late and gets in an hour or so after the start of their work day? How is the time counted/charged?

A: If it's not a pattern that requires some form of management follow up, and if it's just a matter of minutes or a couple of hours, the supervisor should see if the Support Staff member can make up the lost time. Remember, for Support Staff, the lost time must be made up within the same work week or deducted from wages.


Q: What if an employee fails to call in when late or absent?

A: An employee who is going to be late and/or unable to attend work must call their supervisor. Most collective bargaining agreements require that the call be made within the first hour of the work day. Unless excused by sufficiently serious extenuating circumstances to explain the failure to call, the employee may be subject to discipline.


Q: What if an employee misses a lot of work time for reported illness or personal emergencies or is habitually late?

A: Attendance records should be reviewed periodically. When the record of absenteeism and lateness appears excessive or abusive, bring it to the attention of your departmental HR representative and/or to Labor Relations or HR Employment & Client Services for review and action, as appropriate.

Q: Do employees earn sick leave, vacation or personal days while on a leave of absence?

A: Support Staff members do not earn sick leave, vacation or personal days nor are they entitled to holiday pay while on an unpaid leave of absence; however, these benefits continue to accrue during a paid leave. Adjustments in sick leave, as necessary, are either made within the same anniversary year as the leave of absence if the employee has sick leave available upon their return to work, or in the succeeding anniversary year.

Officers do not accrue vacation or personal days during a leave of absence, paid or unpaid. The salary continuation period for an officer on a documented disability leave of absence includes any paid holiday that may occur during the period of disability. An officer is not paid for holidays that occur during an unpaid leave of absence.


Q: Can an employee "borrow" sick leave, vacation and/or personal days not earned?

A: No. Under no circumstances can an employee "borrow" unearned sick leave, vacation and/or personal days. The level of benefit is exactly as it is defined under University policy or the respective collective bargaining agreement.


Q: Can sick leave or vacation be used in the case of an on-the-job accident?

A: The employee should be credited with salary continuation only to the extent dictated by University policy or the applicable collective bargaining agreement relating to on-the-job accidents or illness (Workers' Compensation). Some contracts provide a separate salary continuation plan for Workers' Compensation cases. Note: The 1199 agreements have no salary continuation for Workers' Compensation cases. However, it has been agreed that the first week (5 days), not covered under Workers' Compensation, can be charged to sick leave to the extent the employee has such time available.

Under University policy, the same sick leave schedule is used for both occupational and non-occupational illness/injury.

In no case may vacation or personal days be used to cover absences due to reported on-the-job illness or injury. Once the applicable benefit is exhausted, the employee should be taken off payroll. Further compensation in all cases will be to the extent to which the employee is entitled in line with the provisions of New York State Workers' Compensation law.


Q: What date should be used to determine the appropriate accrual of vacation and personal days (and for Support Staff, sick days)?

A: Normally, the hire date and seniority date are the same and either could be used to determine the accrual of time. However, if those dates are different and the department is unsure about which date to use, they should contact their HR client manager manager for direction.


Q: How are time accruals calculated for regular part-time Support Staff?

A: Regular part-time Support Staff members are entitled to pro-rated sick leave, vacation and personal days based on the number of hours worked per week. For administrative purposes, regardless of the number of hours a regular part-time employee works per day, his/her earned benefit "day" is equal to 1/5th the total hours of the work week. Accumulations, therefore, should be maintained in hours.

Actual time lost should be charged against the appropriate hourly balance.


Q: Do regular part-time Support Staff members get paid for holidays?

A: Yes, but only if the holiday occurs on a day the regular Support Staff member would ordinarily be scheduled to work.


Q: Do short-term casuals get paid for University holidays? Do they receive other benefits?

A: Short-term casuals are only paid for holidays, at straight-time pay, if they work on that day. They are not entitled to other benefits (sick leave, vacation, or personal days).


Q: While on an official leave of absence from the University, can an employee work for compensation with another entity or employer?

A: Generally, no. Any such case should be discussed with Labor Relations or HR Employment & Client Services.

Q: Can I deny make-up time to an employee?

A: While you should not unreasonably deny make-up time, it must be operationally feasible—as determined by you, the supervisor—and made up within the same work week. An employee with a chronic lateness or absenteeism problem should not be granted make-up time until the problem is corrected.


Q: Can an employee use their lunch hour to make up time or shorten the work day?

A: Under New York State Labor Law, it is the responsibility of the supervisor to provide at least a 30-minute lunch break for all full-time employees. A full-time employee cannot work during their lunch break or forgo a lunch break and use it to shorten their work day. An employee should not work more than five consecutive hours without at least a 30-minute meal break. See the applicable collective bargaining agreement for contractual language regarding meal breaks.


Q: Can an employee use their breaks to make up time or shorten the work day?

A: No. The breaks cannot be used to make up time or shorten the work day. They are what the term suggests: "breaks" during the course of the morning or afternoon for employees who work a full half or whole day. 

Remember: Employees covered under the collective bargaining agreements with Local 2110 UAW and SSA do not get scheduled breaks unless they occupy a position for which the supervisor has to supply a relief person in order for the employee to leave the work area, i.e., telephone operators. All other staff covered under the agreement can leave the office with supervisory approval for a "break" during the morning or afternoon (for no more than the allotted 15 minutes).

Q: What if an employee comes in early and counts that time towards their number of hours worked that week, possibly resulting in overtime?

A: Overtime is only authorized time worked, meaning authorized by the supervisor. However, if an employee begins work early and marks the additional time worked on their timesheet, they must be paid for it (and receive overtime, if applicable). The employee should be advised that, going forward, they must record their starting time as of the beginning of the regularly scheduled work day unless otherwise authorized by you. If the hours are worked without supervisor approval, the employee may be subject to disciplinary action. Remember that full-time Officers and part-time Officers who meet the salary level test under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are exempt employees under FLSA and are not eligible for overtime.

Employee Classification (FLSA)

Q: What is changing? 

A: New York State increased the 2019 salary exemption threshold to $1,125 per week ($58,500 annually). Therefore, beginning December 31, 2018, administrative employees earning less than $1,125 per week will be eligible for overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours in a week. An employee must earn $1,125 per week to be exempt from overtime, regardless of the number of hours worked.

Q: How do the changes impact Columbia University?

A: The University has reviewed the amendments and evaluated positions University-wide to determine the proper status (exempt from overtime and minimum wage requirements or non-exempt) in accordance with the changes. Officers of Administration and Officers of the Libraries across the University who currently earn less than $1,125 per week ($58,500 per year)* will be impacted by the changes as follows:

Full-time Officers of the Libraries and Administration: Salary increases must be processed to bring the employee up to at least the minimum for their salary grade (e.g., GR 10 / GR 103 must earn at least $58,500).

Part-time Officers of the Libraries and Administration: Part-time officers who earn less than $1,125 per week ($58,500 annually) will be converted to the new Hourly Officer employment category.

*Officers of Administration who work a 9-, 10- or 11-month employment may still be exempt from the overtime rule even though they earn less than $58,500 per year, as long as they earn at least $1,125 per week in any work week in which they perform work. E.g., a 10-month employee who earns $48,750 per year will remain exempt, as long as they continue to meet the duties test, because they are paid more than $1,125/week for the 10 months they are working ($48,750/43.3 weeks = $1,125 per week).

Q: What does it mean that a position is an "Hourly Officer"?

A: Hourly Officers are employees who perform Officer-level work but are categorized as an Hourly Officer because they earn less than $1,125 per week ($58,500 annually)

Q: Does this change affect benefits?

A: No. The designation as an Hourly Officer does not impact the benefits eligibility rules established for officers.

Q: What are the differences between Hourly Officers and exempt Officers?

A: There are two areas of difference between Hourly Officers and exempt Officers:

Record of Hours Worked:

  • A record of hours worked must be completed and submitted in accordance with the department’s process on a bi-weekly basis. 

  • If you anticipate needing to work in excess of your standard hours, you must first obtain approval from your Manager.

  • You are entitled to be compensated for all hours worked. Any hours worked between your standard hours and 40 in a work week will be paid at your regular hourly rate. Any hours worked in excess of 40 in a work week will be compensated at the overtime rate.

Pay Frequency:

  • Hourly Officers will be paid on the bi-weekly pay calendar, or every other Friday.

  • See Time & Attendance for payroll schedule. Please note: some departments have earlier deadlines; please confirm with your manager or your department’s HR manager.

Q: How and when will affected officers be notified of any changes?

A: Communications will take place at the department level between managers, HR representatives and the impacted individuals. This should include information on how to report time for any individuals being reclassified as Hourly Officers.

Q: Where can I get more information?

A: Complete information on the new rules is available from the NYSDOL(link is external). Please contact your manager, departmental administrator or department HR with any additional questions.

Q: Are all campuses affected by the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) Wage Order changes?

A: Yes. The NYSDOL Wage Order is a state regulation, and therefore the changes apply to all of the University’s campuses.

Q: Are there exceptions to the new salary threshold under the FLSA or NYSDOL Wage Orders?

A: Yes. See the DOL guidance for a full list. In brief, salaried employees at the University who are not subject to the salary threshold test include:

  • Faculty: whose primary duty is teaching, tutoring, instructing or lecturing in the activity of imparting knowledge, and if they are employed and engaged in this activity as a teacher in an educational establishment.
     
  • Medical Doctors and Attorneys: holding a valid license or certificate permitting the practice of law or medicine if the employee is actually engaged in such a practice. An employee who holds the requisite academic degree for the general practice of medicine is also exempt if he or she is engaged in an internship or resident program for the profession. The salary and salary basis requirements do not apply to bona fide practitioners of law or medicine.
Q: What should I discuss with my Hourly Officers who are becoming eligible for overtime?

A: Materials for communicating the change to the new Hourly Officers will be provided to managers and department HR for meetings with impacted officers.

Key Messages:

  • State regulations are changing the way we need to pay officers; this does not impact the officer’s value to the department, the campus or the University. Employee’s pay will remain the same, but they are now eligible to be paid on an hourly basis and eligible for overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a work week.
     
  • Hourly Officers must first obtain approval from their Manager before working in excess of their standard hours.
     
  • All Hourly Officers are entitled to be compensated for all time worked. Any time between the standard hours and 40 hours will be paid at their regular hourly rate. Any time in excess of 40 hours in a work week will be compensated at the rate of one-and-one-half times their regular hourly rate.

Managers may need to set new expectations and change department schedules or behaviors in order to manage time worked within budgets. It is important to clearly communicate all changes to new Hourly Officers, especially if their duties will not be changing. All affected part-time Officers of the Libraries will need to receive revised appointment letters specifically outlining the number of hours they will be expected to work weekly and indicating that they should not exceed this number of hours without the prior approval of their department. Considerations include:

  • Guidelines for after-hours work, e.g., regular use of mobile devices outside of normal work hours to respond to calls or emails
     
  • Expectation to seek approval for overtime
     
  • How to track and report time worked and exception time
     
  • Adjustments to work schedules when work must occur outside of employee’s regular work schedules

Communicating a clearly defined overtime approval process to your Hourly Officers can assist you in managing both time and budget resources.

Q: Does an Hourly Officer need to be paid for overtime if I did not approve it?

A: Yes. All time worked by the Hourly Officers, even if unapproved, must be paid. Therefore, it’s important to establish overtime rules and communicate them. You can help by establishing protocols in your department for seeking approval in advance for projects or events that may be deadline driven and require additional hours. Since Hourly Officers in your department may now be eligible for overtime, you will need to consider this impact when planning your salary budget. If an Hourly Officer works unauthorized time, they may be subject to disciplinary action. However, this discipline may NOT include non-payment of wages, such as overtime pay.

Q: Will an Hourly Officer still get a check if I don’t approve and submit their timesheets on time?

A: Hourly Officers will only be paid for their standard hours per the HR system if you fail to submit their bi-weekly timesheet prior to the cutoff. If a late time report is received, any exception time (i.e., additional hours worked in excess of their standard hours, or any paid time off for which they are eligible) will be processed in the next bi-weekly payroll following your approval. Therefore, you must submit bi-weekly time reports prior to the cutoff dates to avoid a delay in pay for all hours worked within the pay period. The general payroll calendar can be found on the HR website. However, some schools/departments have alternative deadlines. Please confirm the timesheet deadlines with the Departmental Administrator or HR Manager for your local department.

Q: When do Hourly Officers get their last semi-monthly check and their first bi-weekly check?
  • The last semi-monthly pay date will be on December 28, 2018 for employees transitioning to Hourly Officers. This covers the December 16 - December 31, 2018 pay period.
     
  • The first bi-weekly pay date for Hourly Officers will be January 11, 2019. This covers the January 1 - January 6, 2019 pay period.
     
  • Hourly Officers must begin reporting their time worked as of January 1, 2019.
Q: Can my Hourly Officers be paid for overtime but remain on a semi-monthly pay schedule?

A: No. The University pays all Hourly Officers on a bi-weekly payroll to ensure compliance with applicable laws.

Q: The Officers in my department are used to having flexibility in their work hours. Can this continue if some or all of them become Hourly Officers?

A: Yes. Special or alternate scheduling is allowed within the same work week, provided the total time worked is less than 40 hours. For example, if an Hourly Officer normally works 4 hours on Monday, but needs to miss work for a personal appointment on Monday, the manager and the Hourly Officer can agree that those 4 hours will be made up on a different day in the same work week. 

Another example would be if a typical schedule is 7 hours a day during the day and the department needs an Hourly Officer to work a special event for 4 hours during the evening. The schedule may be changed to give the Hourly Officer 4 hours of time off at another time during the same work week, provided that the Hourly Officer does not work more than 40 hours in the work week. To ensure compliance with applicable laws, the University does not provide “comp time” to Hourly Officers working more than 40 hours in a work week.

Q: Can I require overtime for Hourly Officers?

A: Yes. Managers can require overtime work when necessary and with overtime pay. Whenever possible, you should give advance notice to the employee.

Q: I am in the process of hiring new staff. What should I say and what should I put in offer letters about the position’s exemption status?

A: Please work with your local Human Resources contact. If the salary will ultimately determine the exemption status of the open position, the job posting should state that the position is subject to FLSA review and that the classification and exemption status could change as a result. Offer letters to candidates made prior to January 1 should also state that the position is subject to FLSA review and that the classification and exemption status could change as a result.

Q: How do I handle the situation where an Hourly Officer performs other duties within the university?

A: Please contact your department HR for additional guidance.

Q: Do I have to pay Hourly Officers overtime for hours worked above their standard hours?

A: Hourly Officers are paid straight time for all time worked above their standard hours, and at time-and-one-half of their regular hourly rate for any time worked in excess of 40 hours in a week.

Q: Does time spent answering emails or using a mobile phone for work outside of standard hours (e.g. during meal break, after hours, etc.) count towards work time for Hourly Officers?

A: Hourly Officers must record on their time sheets all time worked during and outside of their regularly scheduled working hours, including any time spent checking work-related e-mails and voicemail messages, other than "de minimis" time that is not administratively practical to record for payroll purposes – ordinarily involving just a few seconds or minutes duration. 

Make sure you convey to Hourly Officers what after-hours work is allowable, if any, and what is not, to limit overtime expenses.

Q: What happens if Officers move from full-time to part-time? Can they remain exempt?

A: As long as the employee performing officer-level work is paid at least $1,125 per week ($58,500 annually) he/she can remain exempt. If the change to a part-time schedule results in the employee earning less than $1,125 per week ($58,500 annually), he/she must be reclassified to an Hourly Officer. Managers should be sure to discuss this implication with their Human Resources representative and any officer considering a reduced schedule.

Q: Why does the University require that records be kept of time worked and time-off for Support Staff and Hourly Officers?

A: The University tracks the time worked and time-off of non-exempt staff (Support Staff and Hourly Officers) in order to comply with federal regulations, including the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and FMLA, to comply with collective bargaining agreements, and to accurately administer benefits.


Q: Why does the University require that records be kept of time-off for all Officers?

A: The University tracks the time-off of all Officers in order to comply with federal regulations, including the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), and to accurately administer benefits.


Q: What are my obligations to an employee who transfers from my department to another University department in terms of sick leave, vacation and/or personal days?

A: An employee's attendance records—including unused, accrued sick leave, vacation and personal days—transfers with them when they move from one University department to another without a break in service. If in transferring, an employee moves from one bargaining unit to another or from Support Staff to an exempt Officer status, the supervisor or Human Resources representative should contact the Department of Employee & Labor Relations to review the calculation of benefits in the year of transfer.

Q: What are flexible hours?

A: Flexible hours refer to regularly assigned working hours that are different from the normal departmental schedule. Under the terms of the contract with Local 2110, an employee can request a change in schedule for compelling personal reasons such as child care and educational consideration. The department can grant such a request as long as the department's functioning will not be adversely affected. When granted, the department should allow for a review of the agreed-upon schedule at the end of a reasonable period of time to assure operational feasibility?


Q: What is my responsibility if an employee asks for a change in their work schedule for their religious observances?

A: Under the law, a department must reasonably accommodate an employee's request for a change in their regular work schedule for religious observances unless such accommodation constitutes an undue hardship. Questions as to the requested accommodation and what constitutes a "hardship" should be discussed with Labor Relations or HR Employment & Client Services.


Q: What are the rules for taking daytime classes under tuition exemption?

A: A department can grant a change in work schedule for the semester to accommodate a daytime class if the change will not adversely affect the department's functioning or, in the case of an officer, affect the employee's ability to fulfill their job responsibilities. For Support Staff, any change in schedule must still allow the employee to work a full work week with at least a 30-minute lunch break each day. An employee should not work more than six consecutive hours without at least one 30-minute meal break.