Academic Professional Salary Equity Review Process

Petition and review process for academic professionals who believe their salaries are too low by reason of sex, race, color, national origin, or religion.

This procedure is similar to the one established for the review of salaries of faculty members who believe their salaries are too low by reason of one of the aforementioned factors. The development of a process for the review of salaries for academic professionals was prompted by the 1978 Conciliation Agreement between Urbana-Champaign and the Department of Labor, which specifies that in cases where discrimination may be an issue:

“UIUC agrees to institute a campus-wide salary review system that includes … a system of salary reviews available to individuals who petition for formal reconsideration of salary, particularly as judged against the salaries of mutually acceptable counterparts. Reviews are conducted by department/unit executive officers following campus guidelines and in consultation with a standing or ad hoc committee and with due regard for providing petitioners with ample opportunity to be heard on the issues of selection of proper counterparts and the bases for salary allocations. Such reviews are subject to the scrutiny and recommendation of officers at the next higher level of administration.

“The primary consideration in salary determination at UICU is merit … academic-professional employees assignments vary considerably, but salary increase policy clearly relates salary increments to the extent to which performance matches job specifications. The objective of salary policies at UIUC and the reviews described … above is that of assuring a substantial relationship between performance and salary …”

The purpose of this communication is to set forth a salary review system for academic professionals analogous to that which has recently been established for faculty members. The system, as described herein, is available to any academic professional employee who believes his/her salary is too low because of his/her sex, race, color, national origin, or religion. This review process, in fairness to the petitioner, should take no longer than six (6) months. It should be recognized that shorter review periods are preferable and that longer ones may be necessary.

Section I. The Equity Review Process

  1. The Petition, the Determination of Counterparts, and the Identification of a Potential Inequity

    A review of a complainant’s salary will be undertaken upon receipt of a written petition for review which will involve a comparison of the petitioner’s record with the records of appropriate counterparts (e.g., a member of a racial minority group would be compared with counterparts who are members of a different race; a female with counterparts who are male, etc.).

    Each department/unit will make available for inspection by any academic professional member of its staff (a) information showing, by years of pertinent experience, current salaries for all of its academic professionals in the same job category, and (b) a file of job classifications, descriptions and individual resumes of all of its academic professionals within each job category.

    The establishment of these files is intended to allow a staff member to compare his or her salary with those of others in comparable jobs and with comparable qualifications and experience. Then if it is felt that a salary inequity exists, the files are intended to make it possible for the staff member to identify a specific group of peers (preferably two or more). The salaries of this group will be used as the support for the petition.

    For the purpose of comparison, the individual should present information which delineates job responsibilities and salary differentials for himself/herself and the counterparts selected for comparison. In many cases the job titles will not be exactly the same, since individual academic professional positions are frequently unique. However, the ranges and levels of responsibilities between various positions can be compared. For example, the number of persons supervised, critical nature of responsibilities, and requirement for individual decision making would constitute some bases for making comparisons. After determining the comparability of responsibilities and the differential in salary between himself/herself and the counterparts of another group (e.g., race, sex), the individual academic professional may file a petition with the executive officer of his/her unit. The petition, in the form of a letter, must:

    • Describe the peers (counterparts) with whom comparison of salary and accomplishments was made and with whom comparisons should be made, in the judgment of the petitioner. These persons may be in the same or different units (see page 3 of the Appendix for additional comments on obtaining information on counterparts who are external to the home unit).
    • State the amounts, in dollars, of the perceived salary discrepancies. All salaries should be stated for a twelve-month period. (To convert a nine-month salary to a twelve-month equivalent, add 2/9’s of the nine-month salary to that salary.) To be acceptable for review, the petition must describe a discrepancy that exceeds 10% of the salary of the petitioner.

    After receipt of the petition by the departmental/unit executive officer, a meeting will be arranged between the petitioner and his/her supervisor. At this point the matter will be resolved if a proposed solution is acceptable to both parties.

    If it is not possible to resolve the issue at the supervisor level, it will be returned to the departmental/unit executive officer who will proceed to consider the appropriateness of the proposed counterparts. In cases where the supervisor responsible for determining the individual’s salary is the same as the departmental/unit executive officer, this individual must consider the matter of appropriate counterparts with the petitioner, informally, then

    formally with the standing or ad hoc committee referred to on page one. The members of this committee will be appointed by the executive officer.3 The petitioner must have the opportunity to offer substantive objections to the service of any committee member, and such objections must be considered by the executive officer in the final determination of the committee’s composition. The petitioner has the right to be heard by this committee. If the peer group chosen is found to be appropriate, and if a discrepancy in salary exists between that of the petitioner and the counterparts that is larger than 10%, further review is warranted.

  2. The Review

    When a set of counterparts has been identified and it appears that a salary inequity may exist, the petition is referred to the standing or ad hoc committee appointed by the executive officer for the purpose of advising the executive officer as to the appropriateness of proposed counterparts and whether in their judgment a salary inequity does or does not exist. The committee may need to meet with the executive officer to collect information, but should operate independently otherwise.

    It is important that the departmental executive officer consult with a committee that is credible to all affected parties. An ad hoc committee should be used if a standing committee, which otherwise would be consulted, has been significantly involved in the previous determination of the petitioner’s salary. Similarly, if an ad hoc committee is appointed for the purpose of a review, care should be taken to select persons who were not involved in the petitioner’s previous salary determination.

    The review should focus upon those factors that are important determiners of salary in the unit of the petitioner (some general comments on such factors may be found in the Appendix), but it is expected that the weighting of various factors will vary from unit to unit. When the committee has completed its review, its recommendations are communicated in writing to the executive officer, who is charged with making a decision in the matter.

    In ascertaining whether salaries are or are not equitable, due consideration should be given to overall plans or special circumstances that may be in effect with respect to salary structures within the department. There may be temporary salary discrepancies that are to be remedied within a reasonable time, for example two years, and the decision should take into account such definite plans.

    In addition, market factors, when these are appropriate, should be taken into account by the review committee, as it seeks to make a determination concerning the existence and size of an inequity. Additional comments relating to such factors are set forth in the Appendix.

    The decision of the unit executive officer is communicated in writing to the petitioner and for the purpose of information to the administrator to whom the unit executive officer reports (hereafter referred to as “the reviewer”). If the petitioner is not satisfied with the decision of the unit executive officer, he/she may appeal to the reviewer. In such cases, the reviewer will consider the merits of the petition in view of all materials examined at the departmental level. The reviewer also will assess whether fair and proper procedures were followed and whether the decision at the departmental level was sound. The review finding, sent as a letter to the unit executive officer with a copy to the petitioner, will either confirm or reverse the decision of the executive officer.

    The reviewer’s decision will be final. The petitioner and the committee have the right to discuss the reviewer’s decision with him or her, but higher administrative appeal will occur.

Section II. Correction of an Established Inequity

  • When a salary inequity has been found to exist, the unit executive officer will make a salary increase recommendation through administrative channels. Upon receiving final approval, the adjustment will be made in the next pay period. Retroactive salary increases will not be allowed.
  • If the petitioner is not satisfied with the outcome of the Salary Equity Review Process, he or she may file a grievance on the basis of discrimination under the Urbana-Champaign Campus Administrative Procedures for Complaints of Discrimination Faculty-Academic/Professional Staff. It is not necessary to use the salary equity procedure before filing such a grievance.


Determination of Counterparts

For purposes of salary review, there are a number of bases on which one may judge whether any two persons are or are not counterparts. These include

  1. quality of performance,
  2. nature of duties to be performed,
  3. title, when appropriate,
  4. seniority at Urbana-Champaign and professional experience elsewhere, and
  5. responsibility of position.

In some instances it may not be possible to identify a set of counterparts for a given petitioner such that every counterpart is the equal of the petitioner in all of the previously noted terms; but, counterparts can be ranked and may be selected to bracket the petitioner. That is, it may be determined that counterpart Y ranks higher than the petitioner overall or on the average, while counterpart X ranks lower.

Because market factors can vary to a considerable degree among academic professional positions, it is essential to look for counterparts for a petitioner within similar positions. In the case of small departments, however, counterparts may need to be sought outside the petitioner’s department and in rare cases outside the campus, but in closely related jobs in institutions of higher education with which Urbana-Champaign is traditionally compared. The use of external counterparts will be permitted only upon the presentation to the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Access of demonstrable evidence of the elimination of internal prospects for the selection of appropriate counterparts. Further, the acceptance of any proposed set of external counterparts will be predicated upon the aforementioned criteria and the appropriateness of the settings (i.e., institutions) from which the proposed counterparts are selected.

Major Factors Determining Salary at Urbana-Champaign

Statistically speaking, differences in salaries are correlated with such measures as quality of performance, title, years of experience since highest degree, years at Urbana-Champaign, etc. Yet within any group of academic professionals of roughly the same seniority there can be large differences in salary. The differences can be categorized in terms of the effects of merit (which might include such things as quality of performance, level of responsibility, educational requirements, number of staff supervised, budget administration, etc.), market factors and unique and distinctive contributions to the furtherance of the University’s mission.

  1. Merit FactorsMerit factors consist of the indications of relative merit of performance of the tasks which are part of one’s job expectations. Objective indicators of merit in the areas of performance must be evident in order to recommend salary increases above a minimum. It should be noted that the specification of indicators of performance and the assessment of these varies greatly among the large number of units on campus.
  2. Market FactorsIn addition to merit and seniority considerations, individual and overall Urbana-Champaign salaries are influenced by other factors.
    • Job-Related Factors
      1. Different positions which involve different skills, and people with certain skills may have substantially better alternate employment opportunities in industry or government. In order to retain high quality personnel in such positions, campus salaries must be competitive.
      2. Positions in some areas, considered overall, will be in greater demand within academic institutions than will those in other areas. Areas in which many desirable positions are available in prestigious academic institutions, then, can also be expected to have higher salaries overall.
      3. Some positions require persons who have had particular types of experience in other settings; e.g., public agencies or industry. In those instances, starting salaries tend to be higher, and those somewhat higher salaries may be maintained relative to salaries of other positions.
    • Market Factors Affecting IndividualsAs in the case of job-related factors, market factors affecting the compensation of individuals have to do both with merit and supply/demand. More meritorious academic professionals in all areas are more “visible” off-campus and have the opportunity to obtain employment elsewhere. Higher salaries may be required for Urbana-Champaign to attract and retain such individuals.

All of the foregoing factors (i.e., merit, job-related, and market) are legitimate considerations in the determination of whether an individual’s salary is appropriate. All of them will be considered when the salaries of a petitioner and his/her counterparts are compared. In some cases, it should be noted, it may be useful to analyze the impact of these factors on salaries over several years.

Means for Comparing Salaries Among Academic Professionals

  1. Position DescriptionDescriptions of the responsibilities, duties, special skills and particular tasks attendant to their respective academic professional positions will be available in departmental offices. In instances where persons need to seek counterparts outside of their departments (i.e., acceptable counterparts are not available within the department, but are believed to exist elsewhere on the campus), the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Access (1004 South Fourth Street, Champaign, (217 333-0885)) will obtain the needed materials from the departmental office(s) for the prospective petitioner’s review.
  2. Salary DataThese data are available in, among other locations, departmental offices, the Library, and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Access. The names of persons for whom salary data are maintained are also available.
  3. ResumesEach department is to have these prepared and updated each year by its academic professionals. These will be available for review in the departmental office. Again, as noted above, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Access will obtain needed resumes for prospective petitioners who are required to identify counterparts external to their home departments.

Other Review Mechanisms

As noted previously, an employee may file a discrimination grievance under the Urbana-Champaign Urbana-Champaign Campus Administrative Procedures for Complaints of Discrimination Faculty-Academic/Professional Staff. These procedures may be used independently of the Salary Equity Review Process which is described here. The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Access should be informed in writing that such a grievance is being filed.