Payroll change is intended to increase efficiency

by Jennifer Niemela

University employees have to deal with a 10-day delay in payroll this year. For many, this may seem like a hardship. For Christine Kim, the compulsory change in payroll scheduling is a welcome relief.
Currently, the University has two different payroll systems: biweekly, in which employees are paid every 14 days; and semimonthly, in which employees are paid twice a month. That means department accountants like Kim, who works in the Department of Political Science, have to deal with double the normal number of pay days because semimonthly and biweekly employees have different pay periods.
Soon, only the biweekly system will remain at the University.
“It will make (my) job easier,” she said. “It doesn’t make sense to have two systems.”
In July, University President Nils Hasselmo sent a letter to all faculty and staff members, and graduate student employees announcing the compulsory switch from semimonthly to biweekly payroll. Employees can switch at any time before the September 1997 deadline. The switch is intended to save money by reducing the number of paydays from 50 to 26.
No individual employee will lose paydays, but because the two systems now have different payday schedules, eliminating one system will cut the number of University paydays nearly in half.
“The biweekly payroll system is more flexible and can accommodate students better than semimonthly,” said University payroll manager Helen Pladsen.
The semimonthly system is designed to accommodate salaried employees because time cards are collected three or four days before the end of the pay period. Student workers and other employees who are paid by the hour can’t be accommodated with the biweekly system, which collects time cards on the last day of the pay period.
Pladsen said that though some faculty members are still confused by the new system, implementation is going as planned.
“For the most part, people are satisfied,” she said, adding that when the system is explained to employees, “they see that it makes sense.”
An interest-free loan of up to $3,000 is available to employees to help them through the 10-day delay. The loan would have to be paid back within three years. So far, about 4,500 employees have taken advantage of the offer.
Kim switched from the semimonthly to the biweekly payroll system in September, and said she’s satisfied with it. She also took the interest-free loan. “It helped me get from the last (semimonthly) to the first (biweekly) payday,” she said.
Some staff and faculty members in the political science department were among those reluctant to switch systems at first, Kim said. But when they found out about the loan option, they were more willing.
“The faculty (thought) they weren’t going to get all their pay,” she said.
Kim said that most faculty members in her department are going to wait until the September deadline to switch systems.
The University payroll department will mount a campaign in March to encourage employees to make the switch. The University attempted a similar drive in July.