IT employees question job reclassifications

The project is meant to better define job duties and pay ranges.

by Hailey Colwell

In the midst of a job reclassification haul meant to better define job duties and pay ranges, some employees in the University of Minnesota’s Office of Information Technology are questioning whether their new job descriptions and salaries are appropriate.

The Information Technology Job Family Project is using University and industry employment trends to redesign the job classification and salary structure for every OIT employee. Having more distinct job positions is meant to help the University make sure salaries are consistent and appropriate for corresponding job titles.

The changes will take effect in mid-June.

About 500 OIT employees will be reclassified to Professional & Administrative from Civil Service, which employees say typically has higher job security and flexibility with more vacation time. While most employees’ salaries will stay the same, almost 60 will receive less than the minimum salary for their new job group, and about 50 will be paid more than their new group’s maximum, according to the Office of Human Resources. In time, OHR will align these salaries with the minimum or maximum of their new job group. 

When completed, the study will reclassify about 1,100 employees, said OHR Director Lori Lamb.

Initiated in 2009, the IT Job Family Project is the fourth of 18 studies in OHR’s Job Classification System Redesign, a product of University President Eric Kaler’s emphasis on “operational excellence,” which will look at all Civil Service and P&A jobs at the University.  The remaining 14 studies will be conducted by a third-party consultant and should be completed in the next two years, according to OHR.

OIT employees were asked to fill out a form acknowledging their job reclassification.

The deadline was extended to Tuesday due to a large number of people trying to meet with benefits counselors to discuss how their benefits would change with the reclassification, Lamb said.

“It was important to us that they got full information,” she said.

By setting minimums and maximums to every position’s pay range, the reclassification will help OHR become more specific about what salary applies for each type of work, Lamb said. It will also help supervisors understand how to give pay increases as employees move up the career ladder.

This is one of OHR’s larger job studies, Lamb said, and “there’s a lot of work to be done.”

“Our focus has been on trying to get employees the information they need to understand this and to make the decisions they need to make,” she said.

IT professional Peter Gutierrez said regardless of duties, almost everyone working for OIT is currently called an IT professional.

Gutierrez said his job reclassification remained in the Civil Service group under the new job title End User Support 1. Though his salary wouldn’t be affected under these arrangements, he said both he and his manager don’t think this was an appropriate classification for his position and that he should at least be classified as a 2.

“I found it a little insulting considering that I’ve worked for the University for about 19 years, and I’ve done all kinds of different duties that are a lot higher than that User Support 1 classification,” he said.

Gutierrez said other employees with the same duties as him who received the same reclassification are “not too happy about it.”

“I think they under-classified me in my opinion,” he said, “and I have a reason to believe that there’s  a lot of folks that feel the same way.”

Gutierrez said he plans to meet with his manager to discuss the best strategy, which could include filling out an appeal form or looking into ways he could work toward a level 2 classification. As he goes through the process, he said he doesn’t want to make too big of deal of the situation by completely refusing his reclassification.

“I’m kind of just taking this with a grain of salt,” he said. “I don’t want to jeopardize my employment at the University.”

Matthew Kauffmann, an IT professional who’s worked for the University for 18 years, said he was reclassified as a level 3  System Database Design Administrator, but his current  salary is above that — meaning he’d have a lower salary when the changes go into effect.

He said he will appeal the reclassification.

Kauffmann said he and his co-workers are “a little confused” about why the University decided to reclassify the positions and pay ranges.

“We get that they’ve got to fix something,” he said, “but we’re trying to figure out how and why they came to this conclusion.”