Glossary

Compensation Glossary of Terms

  • A
  • Academic Year: The period established by the U.S. Department of Education for postsecondary institutions that begins August 16 and ends on May 15 of each year and is made up of 195 working days or 1,560 working hours.
  • Across-the-Board Increase: A wage or salary increase where either a common flat rate or a common percentage of salary is used.
  • Acting Assignment: Assignment of additional and/or different level of responsibilities (usually while a search is being conducted to fill a vacant position) for a temporary period of time not to exceed three (6) months.
  • Additional Pay (also known as Supplemental Compensation): Compensation that an individual who is already employed by the university receives in addition to his/her base rate of pay. Supplemental compensation is typically given for rendering services to other units of the university and/or performing duties on a short-term basis that are substantially outside the scope of the individual’s position. This form of compensation applies primarily to exempt salaried faculty or staff. Non-exempt employees receive overtime for additional work performed.
  • Administrative Leave (or “Administrative Pay”): A situation when an employee is temporarily relieved of his or her normal responsibilities, continues to receive regular pay and benefits, and is normally required to remain at home during regular work hours. Administrative leave is not a category of leave, like sick leave or annual leave, but describes a person's work status. Requires advanced approval from the President or Chief Human Resources Officer.
  • Appointment: The placement of a person into a position.
  • B
  • Backfill Position (or “Replacement Position): A position that does not have an incumbent, but was vacated by a previous incumbent during the current or previous budget year. A backfill position may be filled without position approval if the following two situations apply: 1) there is no change to the current position data AND 2) the position description has been certified within the past 12 months. Any changes to the position data or a position description with a certification date older than 12 months must receive position approval prior to submittal of a Hire ePAR.
  • Base Pay Rate (or “Base Salary”): The fixed compensation paid to an employee for performing specific job responsibilities. Base pay is exclusive of additional payments or allowances.
  • Base Salary (or “Base Pay Rate”): The fixed compensation paid to an employee for performing specific job responsibilities. Base pay is exclusive of additional payments or allowances.
  • Benchmark Job: A job with duties that are well-understood and for which market pay information is readily available from published salary surveys.
  • Benefits: Benefits are a form of compensation, outside of base salary, paid by employers to employees. Benefits can include health insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, a severance package, tuition assistance, annual leave, and more.
  • C
  • Classification: The systematic arrangement of jobs into groups or categories according to established criteria and an analytical system for objectively and accurately defining and evaluating the duties, responsibilities, tasks, and authority level of a job. The job classification, done correctly, determines the relative compensation for a job.
  • Compensation: A methodical approach to assigning a monetary value to employees in return for work performed. Compensation may include any or all of the following: base pay, overtime pay, commissions, stock option plans, merit pay, profit sharing, bonuses, housing allowance, vacations and all benefits.
  • D
  • Demotion: The downward movement of a current employee who transfers from one position to another with less responsibility.
  • E
  • Educational Incentive Award: A bonus paid to an employee at the completion of an approved certificate/licensure and/or degree program.
  • Essential Personnel: Employees who are expected to report for work even if the University is otherwise closed or operating under atypical conditions due to events such as adverse weather or other emergencies. "Essential personnel" include employees who have been issued advance written instructions on a standing basis by the appropriate department head requiring that they report to work on their regular schedule in spite of closing—generally because they are in positions designated as “required for the essential operations of the institution. “Essential personnel” also includes any other employee who is notified by an appropriate supervisor on a situation-specific basis to report to work in spite of a closing. Employees are responsible for ensuring they can be reached via valid contact information.
  • Equal Effort: The amount of physical or mental exertion used in performing a job. It is the degree of effort, not the type of effort that is measured.
  • Equity Adjustment: A salary adjustment given to an employee to ensure that the employee’s salary appropriately reflects his/her skills, competency, job knowledge, education, experience, and sustained contribution in relation to similar positions within the classification. A salary adjustment may also be granted to maintain an appropriate relationship in the supervisory hierarchy.
  • Exempt Employee: An employee who, because of his or her positional duties and responsibilities and level of decision making authority, is exempt from the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
  • Exempt Position: A position in the organization that is not subject to the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • F
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): An act passed by Congress in 1938 that mandates a national minimum wage and requires overtime to be paid to hourly employees who work more than 40 hours in a workweek.
  • FTE: The percentage of time an employee is designated to work in a 40 hour work week. A full-time employee has an FTE of 1.0; a half-time employee has an FTE of .5, etc. It is also the multiplier by which leave and other benefits are determined.
  • Fellowship: A graduate student determined to be eligible for support of resident tuition and/or designated tuition charges. A scholarship is not compensation for services rendered by the student and is not paid through the PeopleSoft HCM system or Payroll.
  • Full-time Employee (or “FTE”): The percentage of time an employee is designated to work in a 40 hour work week. A full-time employee has an FTE of 1.0; a half-time employee has an FTE of .5, etc. It is also the multiplier by which leave and other benefits are determined.
  • G
  • Generic Job Description: A generic job description describes the basic information about the roles and responsibilities of an employee on the job. “Generic job descriptions” are not specific to a position but can be used to create a more specific “Position Description”.
  • H
  • Honorarium or Award: A payment given to a current faculty or staff person for services for which fees are not legally or traditionally required, e.g., speaking at a conference or winning an iPAD at an event.
  • I
  • Independent Contractor: A person or a business that performs services, produces a particular outcome, or produces a product for a person or a business under a written or implied agreement or contract. Independent contractors are paid through the Accounts Payable process as opposed to through the PeopleSoft HRM system or Payroll.
  • In-range adjustment: An adjustment to salary within the existing salary range.
  • Institutional Base Salary (“IBS”): The annual compensation paid by the University through a school or college or an administrative unit for an individual’s professional services, whether they consist of research, teaching, clinical or other activities, and whether the individual is employed full-time or part-time. The IBS is established annually and confirmed by letter to each faculty member who falls under the scope of the policy, and is identified in the PeopleSoft system for all University employees. IBS may not be increased solely as a result of the University having received an externally sponsored award. For members of a faculty practice plan in the Health Sciences, the IBS may be the same as or may be less than the Total Allowable Salary. The IBS for faculty members may include the following salary components as defined below:
    • University base salary
    • Clinical base salary
    • Administrative Stipends
    The IBS excludes the following salary components:
    • Temporary extra compensation
    • Incidental payments or honoraria
    • At-risk portion of clinical salary under a faculty practice plan
    • Incentive payments under a faculty practice plan
    • Veterans Administration (VA) salary
    The IBS must be used in any submission related to funding for sponsored work including grant applications and reports to sponsors relating to salary of any University employee. (Ref. University Policy 100-103: Institutional Base Salary)
  • Interim Assignment: Assignment of an additional role at the director or above level for a temporary period of time not to exceed one (1) year.
  • Internal Equity: Refers to the pay relationships among jobs or skill levels within a single organization and focuses attention on employee and management acceptance of these relationships. It involves establishing equal pay for jobs of equal worth and acceptable pay differentials for jobs of unequal worth.
  • Internal Equity Adjustment: Pay action that is taken to correct a salary inequity among employees in the same job with comparable qualifications and performance levels.
  • Involuntary Termination: The ending of the employer-employee relationship as initiated by the employer. This action is involuntary on the part of the employee.
  • J
  • Job Analysis: The process for identifying the roles, responsibilities, competencies and requirements to successfully perform a job. A “job analysis” may be the review of a job description questionnaire, or may take the form of an interview, observation or a desk audit. The result is a “position description”.
  • Job Description (or “Generic Job Description”): A job description describes the basic information about the roles and responsibilities of an employee on the job. “Job descriptions” are not specific to a position but can be used to create a more specific “Position Description”.
  • Job Evaluation: The process for assigning a role, level, and salary range to a job and for assessing the FLSA status for a job.
  • Job Evaluation Factors: Evaluative factors based on competencies identified as most valued by the university. Each job is evaluated based on these competencies, or factors, and is used to determine the most appropriate position classification, or grade level.
  • Job Family: A macro grouping of jobs in which the work performed is of a similar nature, e.g., Financial Services or Information Technology.
  • Job Function: Groups positions that have a common specialty and/or set of competencies within a job family.
  • Job Title: Official name or designation for the title of an employee performing a specific job. Job titles designate a specific role, in a specific job, that has a particular status, at a particular level in the hierarchy of an organization. Job titles are generic to groups of positions, as opposed to specific to the position.
  • L
  • Lateral Reclassification: Change from one job classification to another with the same level of responsibility and the same pay grade level.
  • Lateral Transfer: A transfer of an employee from one position to another position in the same grade level.
  • Letter of Resignation (or “Resignation Letter”): A letter that notifies the employer that the employee wishes to terminate the employment relationship. The resignation letter is the official document for the employee’s personnel file that demonstrates the employment ending was voluntary and employee initiated.
  • Lump Sum Payment: A non-recurring payment consisting of a single sum of money.
  • M
  • Manager: Generally, an individual employed by a department in a position, the duties and responsibilities of which influence the policies of the department.
  • Market Analysis: The process of identifying the relevant worth of a specific position compared to a broadly-applied industry standard. Typically involves comparing an individual job to similar jobs in higher education and/or comparable-sized universities with similar budgets that are located in the same geographical area. The comparison process will typically result in a range of dollars rather than a single dollar point.
  • Market-Based Adjustment: A change in pay given to an employee to appropriately place the employee’s salary in relation to market as determined by salary survey information and approved by the Compensation Department for the specific job.
  • Market-Based Promotion: The type of promotion where an employee assumes a position that has a higher value in the marketplace and has been assigned a higher grade level.
  • Market Reference Point: The average median salary that is paid to similar jobs in the marketplace as reported in salary surveys.
  • Maximum of the Range: The highest value of a reported salary range. The maximum typically represents the value given to an employee with a significant amount of or the maximum set of qualifications, experience and education in accordance with the position specifications. Employees should not be paid above the maximum rate of the range.
  • Midpoint of the Range: The middle value of a reported salary range. The midpoint typically represents the value given to an employee with an above-average set of qualifications, experience and education in accordance with the position specifications. Newly-hired employees should not be offered salaries above the midpoint of the range without authorization by the Compensation Department.
  • Minimum of the Range: The lowest value of a reported salary range. The minimum typically represents the value given to an employee with a minimum set of qualifications, experience and education in accordance with the position specifications. Employees should not be paid below the minimum rate of the range.
  • Minimum Wage: The minimum hourly rate that can be paid to an employee based on federal and/or state regulations. The federal minimum wage for covered nonexempt employees is $5.15 an hour. The federal minimum wage provisions are contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The District of Columbia also has a minimum wage as per the D.C. Code. The DC minimum hourly rate for 2013 is $8.25.
  • N
  • New Position: A newly-created position, whether submitted as part of the current fiscal year budget or in addition to the current fiscal year budget that has never been activated or filled. This definition also applies to “proposed” or “frozen” positions in PeopleSoft.
  • Non-Benchmark Job: A job in which a Market Reference Point is unavailable due to insufficient or absence of market data. A pay range for a Non-Benchmark job is established by slotting the job and is assigned a “Rate Arranged” Level. Slotting involves comparing the job against similar jobs in the University and assessing how the job fits within the University’s organizational hierarchy.
  • Non-exempt Employee: An employee who, because of the type of duties performed, the usual level of decision making authority, and the method of compensation, is subject to all FLSA provisions, include overtime pay provisions.
  • Non-exempt Position: A position that is subject to the minimum wage and overtime pay provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Examples include clerks, maintenance workers and administrative assistants.
  • O
  • Official Personnel File (or “OPF”): An employer’s saved documentation of the history and status of the entire employment relationship with an individual employee.
  • Organizational Chart: A graphic representation used to delineate the lines of authority, supervisory, and reporting relationships within an organizational unit.
  • Overtime: Time, in excess of 40 hours in the workweek, worked by an employee who is non-exempt by definition of FLSA guidelines. “Hours worked” refers to the amount of time actually worked in a work week. Exempt employees are not eligible for overtime pay.
  • P
  • Pay: Money received in exchange for work performed. Pay does not include “services” such as participating in a survey or research study.
  • Pay Grade: The levels within a “salary structure” that establishes the hierarchy of jobs and salary ranges.
  • Performance Evaluation: The formal process by which a manager evaluates employee job performance, usually during the period of the “performance management cycle”.
  • Performance Improvement Plan: The formal plan implemented by a manager designed to provide employees with constructive feedback, facilitate discussions between an employee and supervisor regarding performance-related issues, and outline specific areas of performance requiring improvement.
  • Performance Management: A cycle designed to align individual performance with the organization’s mission and goals. The cycle includes:
    • Performance Planning and Goal Setting
    • On-Going Coaching
    • Gathering of information regarding performance from multiple sources
    • Performance Evaluation
  • PeopleSoft System: A brand name of the software application that is used by the University for processing Human Resources, Financial, and Procurement transactions.
  • Phased-Retirement: Phased retirement or being semi-retired occurs when an employee reduces his or her hours of employment. The semi- retired employee may work part-time. The employee who opts for phased retirement gradually reduces over time the hours that he or she works.
  • Position: A job performed by one specific employee. If an organization has 20 employees performing jobs as administrative assistants, it has 20 administrative assistant positions. Only one person may occupy a single position at one time.
  • Position Description: The official document which describes the essential and marginal duties, extent of supervision received and given, physical requirements, educational and experience requirements, and other pertinent factors for a given position. Supervisors (or employees with supervisor validation) are responsible for creating or revising position descriptions, while the Department of Compensation & Performance Management must certify all position descriptions.
  • Position Title: The descriptive title defined by the employing unit and employee member used for identifying a specific position. Position titles must be approved by the Department of Compensation & Performance Management.
  • Position Data Update: The action taken to affect a change in the duties and details of a position that maintains the current title, but may have changes in hours of work, department, location, and/or duties.
  • Principal Investigator (or “PI”): A faculty member who serves as the primary researcher/administrator on a funded grant or sponsored project.
  • Pro-rated Merit Increase: An increase given at the time of an employee’s promotion that reflects a partial year award for past performance from an employee’s last annual salary increase.
  • Promotion: The upward movement of a current employee who transfers from one position to another with greater responsibility.
  • Promotional Increase: An increase in compensation due to a promotion to a higher level position.
  • R
  • Rate Arranged (or “DEF”): A position that has no formal salary range assigned but is assigned a working range based on its comparability with other like positions.
  • Realignment: An action which affects the internal structure and/or functions of a department and/or division; but which does not constitute a full reorganization. Realignments are coordinated with the Department of Compensation & Performance Management and must be approved by the Chief Human Resources Officer. If there is a fiscal impact of the change, the realignment must also be approved by the Chief Financial Officer.
  • Reclassification: A reallocation of a position in one classification to a different classification based on a change in the job duties. This action may or may not result in an increase in salary. Positions are classified and reclassified by the Department of Compensation & Performance Management.
  • Reclassification—Demotion: Change in job classification to another one with lower level of responsibility and lower pay grade.
  • Reclassification—Job Family: Change in job classification to another classification within the same job family with a higher level of responsibility and a higher pay grade, e.g., Accountant I to Accountant II.
  • Reclassification—Promotion: Change in job classification to another classification with a higher level of responsibility and a higher pay grade.
  • Reduction-in-Force (or “RIF”): Occurs when changing priorities, budgetary constraints, or legislative actions require the University to abolish positions. A RIF can also occur when a position changes so significantly that the employee is no longer able to perform the required duties.
  • Reorganization: An action which results in the transfer, consolidation, abolishment or authorization with respect to functions and hierarchy, between or among divisions, and which affects the structure or structures thereof; which reorganization is subject to adoption by the Howard University Cabinet.
  • Resignation (or “Voluntary Termination”): The voluntary action of separating the employment resignation as initiated by the employee.
  • Resignation Letter (or “Letter of Resignation”): A letter that notifies the employer that the employee wishes to terminate the employment relationship. The resignation letter is the official document for the employee’s personnel file that demonstrates the employment ending was voluntary and employee initiated.
  • Retirement: The point in time when an employee chooses to permanently leave his or her employment. Retirement generally coincides with the employee's eligibility to collect retirement resources such as Social Security, a company pension, or distributions from a 403(b) or other retirement plan.
  • Retroactive Pay: Payment made for work already performed. Retroactive payments must be approved by the Department of Compensation & Performance Management and will be processed on an exceptional basis.
  • S
  • Sabbatical (Off-campus Scholarly Assignment): A period of unpaid administrative leave in which faculty members assume scholarly assignments off campus.
  • Salary: Regular payment for services on a weekly monthly or annual basis. Usually refers to positions that are exempt from the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • Salary Range: The range of salaries, from minimum to maximum, that is assigned to a group of jobs within “pay grades” within a salary structure that have similar pay rates in the market.
  • Scholarship: An amount given to or on behalf of a student for purposes of educational activity. A scholarship may include, but is not limited to: tuition, required registration fees, room, board and books/supplies. A scholarship is not compensation for services rendered by the student and is not paid through the PeopleSoft HCM system or Payroll.
  • Separating an Employee from the University: The act of ending an employee from employment with the University. A separation can be voluntary (resignation), mandated (retirement) or involuntary (dismissal). Managers are responsible for separating employees from the University.
  • Separation Checklist: A checklist to ensure retrieval of University assets when an employee separates from employment.
  • Shift Differential Pay: Compensation given to employees for working a designated shift (evening or nights) according to departmental operational needs.
  • Social Security Number (SSN): A number issued to citizens, permanent residents and temporary (working) residents under section 205(c)(2) of the Social Security Act (http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/ssact/comp-toc.htm) by the Social Security Administration. The primary purpose of an SSN is tracking working individuals for taxation purposes and to track Social Security benefits.
  • Student Employee (or “Student Intern”): Individuals enrolled at Howard for 9 credits or more, but are not full-time employees, who work to provide support to University departments. Included in this category are the following:
    • College Work Study Program participants
    • HU Student Employment (HUSEP) Program participants
    • Undergraduate Students
    • Graduate Students
    • Graduate Teaching Assistants
    • Doctor Students
    Student employees are limited to working 20 hours (from all departments) during the academic year and 40 hours during the summer term. All student employees who perform work in accordance with IRS rules are paid through the University Payroll system.
  • Summer Session I: The first summer academic period that begins May 16 and ends June 30.
  • Summer Session II: The second summer academic period that begins July 1 and ends August 15.
  • Supervisor: An individual having delegated authority to hire, direct, assign, promote, reward, transfer, furlough, lay off, recall, suspend, discipline, or remove employees.
  • Supplemental Compensation (also known as Additional Pay): Compensation that an individual who is already employed by the university receives in addition to his/her base rate of pay. Supplemental compensation is typically given for rendering services to other units of the university and/or performing duties on a short-term basis that are substantially outside the scope of the individual’s position. This form of compensation applies primarily to exempt salaried employees. Non-exempt employees receive overtime for additional work performed.
  • Suspension without Pay: A disciplinary action in which an employee may be suspended without pay for Unsatisfactory Job Performance, Grossly Inefficient Job Performance or Unacceptable Personal Conduct. The Department of Employee Relations must be contacted to approve the action prior to placing an employee on suspension without pay status.
  • T
  • Time-Limited Appointment: A full- or part-time appointment of an employee into a position that is funded by a contract or grant for a specified period of time. Time-Limited Appointments shall be limited to the duration of the grant.
  • Total Compensation: An individual’s complete pay package that includes cash, benefits, services and other perquisites.
  • Transfer: The movement of a current employee who transfers from one position to another position with same or similar responsibilities. Transfer applies to movement from one department to another or within the same department.
  • V
  • Vacant Position: A position that does not have an incumbent. All vacant positions will automatically carry over into the new budget year if they were created or filled during that budget year. A position must be vacant for a full budget year to NOT carry over into the next budget year. When a position does not carry over, the department budget cap will be reduced by the amount of the position budget cap.
  • W
  • Wage Employee (or “Temporary Employee”): An at-will temporary employee who is paid by the University on an hourly basis and is not entitled to leave or other benefits. Wage appointments are limited to six month increments.
  • Working Title (or “Position Title”): The descriptive title defined by the employing unit and employee member used for identifying a specific job. It can be unique to individual positions. Working titles must be approved by the Department of Compensation & Performance Management.

Any additional questions regarding this Glossary of terms should be directed to Michelle Lamb Moone, Director of Compensation & Performance Management, at Michelle.Moone@howard.edu or (202) 806-2930.