Monday, November 27, 2006

In which I give Payroll a major headache

For your amusement, here's the copy of an e-mail I sent to Payroll today regarding my transition from a faculty to a staff job. So far, no response--imagine that!

I'd love to hear your thoughts. What's really at stake here is that my salaries for the two jobs are HUGELY different, with the new job's being much higher. So of course I'd like to have the majority of my paycheck coming from the new job. At the same time, I don't want to compromise the union's position that teaching one class takes a lot of time. Keep your fingers crossed for me, OK?)

BTW, I came up with the 16.5% figure by dividing 66% (my percentage of full-time employment) by 4 (the number of courses I was to have taught). I'm really lousy at math, so I may have made a fool of myself. . .

Dear [Payroll Specialist],

I left you a rather convoluted phone message a few minutes ago, so I thought I’d follow up with a clearer explanation of my dilemma.

I am a part-time lecturer in American Studies for this academic year. My original contract with American Studies had me working 66% time, with my classes divided as such:

2 classes fall quarter
1 class winter quarter
1 class spring quarter

However, this month I was offered a full-time position with [XXXXX] as the faculty technology liaison. I begin working in December at 34% time (66% American Studies + 34% tech = 100%).

The chair of American Studies has released me from my spring quarter class. Therefore, I have only one class remaining to teach: the one in winter quarter.

My question concerns the distribution of my employment between American Studies and the tech job during winter quarter. If we look at that one class from the perspective of the entire year, then I’ll only be working 16.5% time because it’s my understanding that one class = 16.5% time. If we look at it from the quarter perspective, however, I’ll be working 50% time because two classes per quarter is, if I’m interpreting this correctly, full time.

So, do I divide my American Studies + tech responsibilities 16.5% + 83.5% or 50% + 50%?

Also, there’s the matter of pay over the course of my American Studies contract. So far, I’ve satisfied half of the original contract in terms of course load, yet only been paid for 1/3 of it because my pay was to be distributed equitably over all three quarters at 66% of a full-time salary. However, now that I’ve dropped the spring quarter class, it gets more complicated because that puts me at 50% time for the year instead of 66%.

Would it make the most sense to get rid of the original American Studies year-long contract immediately, then sign a new contract for the coming quarter? In that case, we’d still need to make adjustments to my winter quarter salary, I think. If we go with the winter quarter class representing 50% time, then I need to be paid what I’m due for teaching full-time in fall quarter. If the winter quarter class represents 16.5% time, then we’ll need to reduce my American Studies pay accordingly to reflect the fact that I’m now on a 50%, not a 66%, contract for the year.

Also, my benefits are going to be confusing. I so far haven’t qualified for health insurance and other benefits because my American Studies contract was for less than a year. Once I meet 50% time in my tech career position, I’ll be able to sign up for benefits immediately because that’s my first true month of eligibility, yes?

Thanks so much for helping me to sort this out.




Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

_I_ completely understood what you were saying. got a headache, but I followed it.

IF the payroll person does the same I think you'll be ok. But I think we all know that's a pretty big IF.

That being said, I don't know a different way to present it unless you just bullet-point the whole thing.

Debra said...

Someone from payroll is going to be visiting you soon. You will identify this person by:

the ragged hair.. torn out in hunks;

the family-sized bottle of pepto grasped firmly in hand;

the reams of accounting paper;

that crease in the forehead.

Logically, it looks like they should void the old contract and figure out a final pay on that, write a new contract for the winter class, and work out the details from there. But logic in payroll??

~profgrrrrl~ said...

Good luck with getting this fixed with minimal ... umm, frustration! It all makes sense to me, and if you have good payroll folks it'll work. Ours would never figure this out ...

Anonymous said...

wow, yah that is complicated.

and please do let us know what happens when the person debra describes shows up. that sounds like it could be fun. for you at least.

Anonymous said...

Academic bureacracy is a beautiful thing.

At my place, the distribution of effort would be settled by negotiations between the chair of American Studies and the chair of XXX dept where you are the tech liasion (or the relevant dean's office(s)).

I am amazed at least weekly by how hard dealing with people who are already hired is. I've spent a lot of time down in our school's financial office sorting out family leaves for faculty, so those e-mails seem quite familiar.