Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to the HR Design FAQ page. The questions answered here were asked at public information sessions, or were submitted via email. If you have a question about HR Design, click on “send us feedback” above.


Q: What is the relationship between HR Design and the proposed state budget?

A: The proposed state budget does not impact HR Design’s implementation dates, including the HR Design components scheduled for July 1, 2015 implementation. Further, there is no relationship between HR Design and the Governor’s proposal for the university to become a public authority. The legal authority to develop a UW-Madison personnel system was originally granted to us in the 2011-13 biennial budget and is a completely autonomous, separate initiative from the public authority proposal. For more information on the background and timeline of HR Design, see hrdesign.wisc.edu. (Back to top ↑)

Q: Will all supervisors be required to take supervisory training?

A: Training for managers and supervisors is not required. However, managers and supervisors are strongly encouraged to sign up for supervisory and management courses offered by the Office of Human Resource Development in its “Fully Prepared to Manage” professional development program. (Back to top ↑)

Q: Will there be financial consequences for not participating in the performance management program?

A: Yes. There will be financial consequences for managers and supervisor who do not comply with the requirements of the program. (Back to top ↑)

Q: Who does annual performance evaluations for faculty? Would it be the department chair?

A: It is subject to the post-tenure review process overseen by Deans or Department Chairs. (Back to top ↑)

Q: Will the new performance management system include performance improvement documentation, or will it be a tool for evaluations only?

A: Setting goals and expectations is a key part of the new performance management policy. Rather than simply providing critical measures, or evaluative criteria, the new policy was developed to help employees improve their skills, do their best work, and discuss their work in ongoing formal and informal conversations with their supervisors throughout the performance year. (Back to top ↑)

Q: Will employees changing from Classified Staff to Academic Staff be able to retain their existing leave benefits at the same level?

A: No, staff do not retain existing leave benefits. They will be eligible for the benefits depending on the length of their employment according to their employee designation. This Employee Choice: A Side-by-Side Comparison chart shows how employees can compare benefits if they make the change. (Back to top ↑)

Q: Our department created our own electronic performance management evaluation tool. We would like to keep using it. Will that be possible with the new campus-wide performance management policy?

A: Yes, as long as your tool meets all the requirements of the central campus performance management policy.  We recommend sending it to Angela Rosas, arosas@ohr.wisc.edu Office of Human Resources for review. (Back to top ↑)

A: Could you give examples of work place flexibilities?

A: There are many forms of work place flexibility.  Telecommuting, job-sharing and job-splitting, alternative work schedules, flex time, reduced FTE schedules, and leave of absence and career breaks are a few of the most popular flexibilities. Employees can take advantage of work place flexibilities depending on supervisory approval and operational need. (Back to top ↑)

Q: Does the new UW-Madison minimum living wage of $12.62 an hour apply to student hourly employees?

A: No, student workers will not be covered by the living wage starting July 1, 2015. (Back to top ↑)

Q: How long will employees be given the opportunity to choose between University Staff and Academic Staff?

A: There is no cut-off date at present for exempt Classified Staff employees to choose between University Staff and Academic Staff. (Back to top ↑)

Q: How will Classified/University Staff layoffs be determined?

A: Both now and post-July 1, 2015, seniority is and will be the primary factor in determining layoffs. (Back to top ↑)

Q: Are benefits like vacation, sick leave, etc., going to change for non-exempt Classified Staff when they change to University Staff? How is Academic Staff sick leave, vacation, personal days and ALRA affected by HR Design?

A: There will be no benefit or leave changes for either employee designation. For more information about a comparison of employee benefits, go to: http://hrdesign.wisc.edu/content/uploads/2015/01/CS-to-AS-sheet-011215.pdf (Back to top ↑)

Q: I know that information about HR Design at webinars and quarterly information sessions is for the UW–Madison campus. Does this also apply to other UW System campuses?

A: HR Design applies specifically to the new personnel system at UW–Madison. (Back to top ↑)

Q: What affect will the $300 million budget cut have on HR Design?

A: HR Design is moving forward to the launch date of July 1, 2015.  At this time the proposed 2015-17 budget cuts will have no effect on HR Design’s implementation. (Back to top ↑)

Q: If you are a project employee, will you have to go through the normal recruiting and hiring process or can you become a permanent academic staff as of 7/1/15?

A: If a current project employee wishes to hold a permanent position, they must go through the normal recruitment process for a vacant permanent position. (Back to top ↑)

Q: When will the job title and compensation study will be done?

A: The job title and compensation study is expected to begin after July 1, 2015. At this time, we do not know how long the study will take. (Back to top ↑)

Q: On living wage adjustments: what, exactly, is meant by “compression of wages?”

Please see Topics in HR Design: Living Wage (Back to top ↑)

Q: On the choice for some classified exempt employees to choose to be academic staff: who will be providing the counseling regarding changing from classified to academic staff? OHR? Division HR offices? Other?

A: The decision on who will be providing the actual counseling has not been determined yet although we anticipate a collaborative effort from many offices including the Office of Human Resources and Divisional HR Offices. (Back to top ↑)

Q: Regarding living wage adjustments: what is considered a living wage by the UW-Madison?

A: Please see Topics in HR Design: Living Wage (Back to top ↑)

Q: On Performance Management: Will individual departments and schools still use their own performance review forms? Or, will the university create a form for everyone to use?

A: The campus will provide a small number of performance evaluation templates for use across campus. Additionally, colleges/schools/divisions will have the flexibility to develop and use tools which meet the unique needs of their department. (Back to top ↑)

Q: On Performance Management: Who will make sure the performance management policies are getting done?

A: The campus identifies that Deans and Directors of the colleges/schools/divisions are responsible for ensuring that evaluations are completed in compliance with the policy within their college/school/division. Campus HR will also work closely with those colleges/schools/divisions to assist and will also be tracking completion of employee performance evaluations across campus. (Back to top ↑)

Q: On Performance Management: What is your plan to hold faculty who supervise staff accountable for completing annual performance reviews?

A: This area is currently under discussion with the University Committee and faculty. (Back to top ↑)

Q: On Performance Management: Will employees be able to conduct a 180/360 review or provide meaningful feedback on their managers?

A: This decision is at the discretion of the college/school/division policy. Although 180/360 reviews are typically developmental and feedback exercises rather than evaluation, the method used to evaluate employees is at the discretion of the college/school/division, so long as it complies with the broad requirements of the campus policy. I do not see any reason why the 180/360 evaluation would not comply with the campus policy. (Back to top ↑)

Q: On Performance Management: Couldn’t the end-of-year evaluation and the beginning of the year goals discussion be part of the same talk? Unless the job requirements change, saying what the goal/task is, is what they are being evaluated on, is it not?

Yes, the summary evaluation conversation may very well include goal setting for the upcoming year and be conducted in a single meeting. (Back to top ↑)

Q: What are some of the options regarding transition of classified employees to academic staff?

A: HR Design teams looked at all options regarding the transition of classified employees to academic staff. These options included grandfathering current classified sick leave/vacation accrual schedules or paying employees for the reduction in benefits when transitioning to academic staff. It was ultimately decided that inequities and complexities created with implementing these options outweighed the benefits. The option of “choice” emerged as way for classified employees (FLSA exempt) to ultimately decide. The resources being created to aid exempt employees in making a “choice” are scheduled for completion in the latter part of 2014. This will include side-by-side comparisons of benefits, group informational sessions, and opportunities for one-on-one counseling sessions. These resources will be rolled out in spring of 2015 providing employees adequate time to make decisions by July. The “choice” window will not close. Keep in mind the “choice” window would not have opened until the end of 2013 if the legislature approved the July of 2013 implementation. When the implementation delay occurred, resources were shifted to other aspects of the HR Design strategy (performance management, onboarding, etc) not requiring legislative approval. Thus, the development of employee “choice” resources was pushed back to late summer of 2014. (Back to top ↑)

Q: Has there been any discussion about streamlining the pay calendar?

A: The discussion on aligning the pay calendars has been going on since the design and implementation of HRS. While it seems logical, there are additional factors that must be considered including the programming of HRS, the number of calendars that exist system-wide, and the timing of benefit payments. We agree that it would be easier to have one pay calendar however these additional considerations must be resolved prior to making a change. (Back to top ↑)

Q: For an employee that has been here long enough as Classified Staff to switch to Academic Staff, they currently would lose the ability to put hours into sabbatical. For example, I’ve been here for 10 years as Classified Staff, and I understand the ability to put hours into sabbatical would be reset, so that I would have to work another 10 years as Academic Staff in order to put hours into my Annual Leave Reserve Account (ALRA). Is this still correct or is it something that the new plan is fixing?

A: To clarify, a person does not separately need 10 years of academic staff service to qualify for ALRA. The following counts toward the ALRA total:

      • Classified permanent service
      • Unclassified service covered by Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS)
      • Approved leaves of absence from these appointments
      • Partial months will be counted as a whole month.
The following does not count toward the ALRA total:
      • Breaks in state service, positions not eligible for leave or unclassified service not covered by WRS.
The differences you identified in the area of sabbatical are just some of the differences that have been identified between Classified and Academic Staff. Sick leave and vacation accrual are two others. For those positions that are currently classified and exempt, we will be conducting a FLSA review. If after the review, those positions remain exempt, employees will be provided with comprehensive information on the impact of moving from Classified to Academic Staff. Employees will then have the option of choosing to move to academic staff or not moving based upon that information.
(Back to top ↑)

Q: What is included in the six-month probationary period?

A: The probationary period is an opportunity for the employer and employee to determine if they have a good fit. During this time an employee acclimates to the new position and learns the required tasks and responsibilities of the job. The employee is also at-will during this time, meaning they do not have access to grievance or layoff rights. Upon passing probation, an employee gains all the rights of permanent staff including layoff and grievance rights. It is important to note that probationary periods do not affect access to healthcare or benefits. (Back to top ↑)

Q: Who do employees go to when they have concerns about a lack of advancement and development opportunities during the evaluation process of performance management?

A: Hopefully, simply bringing the oversight to the attention of the evaluating supervisor will be enough to correct any oversight. In the event that speaking with the supervisor does not correct the situation, the appropriate individual to contact is the College, School or Divisional Human Resources Representative. If the concern is not adequately addressed by that Human Resources Representative, contacting campus Employment Relations would be appropriate. Campus will take the necessary steps to determine whether the policy was not being complied with and could assist in taking steps to remedy the issue. It is our goal to provide training to supervisors and managers that will assist in avoiding a failure to comply with a policy. In those instances where notification and training do not correct the issue, it is the responsibility of the supervisor’s supervisor to take the necessary steps, either through their own evaluation, or other corrective measures, to ensure that the policy is being complied with. (Back to top ↑)

Q: When will non-classified staff be able to apply for classified positions that are now open to only classified transfers?

A: Currently non-classified staff can apply and take the exam for classified permanent positions if the vacancies are announced as open recruitments on WiscJobs.com. Effective July 1, 2015, the majority of vacancies will be publicly posted and applicant materials will be accepted from all interested individuals regardless of their employment status. (Back to top ↑)

Q: If I become a permanent employee after July 1, 2015, will I have a 2 month probation period with no ER paid health insurance premiums?

A: UW–Madison is attempting to eliminate the 2 month delay in health insurance premiums but must seek approval from outside the campus to do so. There has been no word as to a specific timeline for the decision but we will notify the campus when things become clearer. (Back to top ↑)

Q: I am currently a classified project employee, and am wondering how the HR Design project will affect me July 1, 2015 as far as benefits and employee classification?

A: Classified staff, including project classified staff, will remain Wisconsin state employees after the conversion to university staff in 2015. This means that WRS access and benefits will remain largely unchanged. Additionally, the current titling structure will be utilized until a compensation and classification survey can be completed, so it is unlikely that you will experience a significant title change. (Back to top ↑)

Q: I keep hearing that classified exempt employees will be given the choice to convert to academic staff. How would I choose between making the switch or not? What would I gain and what would I lose in each scenario?

A: Effective with the implementation of HR Design on July 1, 2015, employees identified as working in classified permanent exempt positions will be given the option to convert to academic staff. In the future, all exempt vacancies will be filled as academic staff. Currently the HR Design team is working to develop informational tools to address these questions, and the information will be provided to employees with sufficient time to make an educated decision as to whether to become academic staff or stay in the classified exempt position. In addition, employees eligible to move to academic staff will have an opportunity to have an individual counseling session to learn about the specific impacts on his/her benefits if the person decides to move to academic staff. Please watch for more information on the option to move to academic staff in early 2015. (Back to top ↑)

Q: Where can we find a list of specific titles that will receive the market adjustment? Is there information on how much the adjustment will be?

A: The titles are available on the OSER website (Compensation Plan) at  http://oser.state.wi.us/docview.asp?docid=7651 (Back to top ↑)

Q: Are there any layoff concerns regarding the state’s new authority to privatize or sell state and University properties?

A: We do not expect any layoffs related to this. (Back to top ↑)

Q: What is the process for determining Discretionary Merit Compensation raises? What is the funding source for the DMCs?

A: DMCs are requested from the division to the Office of Human Resources. The funding sources will vary depending on the how the employee’s position is funded. (Back to top ↑)

Q: What are the plans for the new layoff process? What has been proposed in that regard?

A: The new university staff layoff process will include a 60-day notice period before layoff and mandatory placement back in the division from which the employee was laid off, if a vacancy occurs. There will also be enhanced job placement services for employees facing layoff. (Back to top ↑)

Q: Can I get a DMC now? If so, how?

A: Yes, see the new DMC policy at http://www.ohr.wisc.edu/Forms/dmc-policy-instructions.pdf (Back to top ↑)

Q: Who are all the people involved/or members of Joint Finance Committee? Is there a roster of contact for them?

A: The Joint Finance Committee website is here: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lfb/jfc/Pages/default.aspx. (Back to top ↑)

Q: Many academic staff teach courses as faculty members do. Under the new HR Design what will their status be? Will they be treated and compensated as faculty members? What about their job security?

A: Instructional academic staff (e.g, lecturers) will continue to be academic staff, not faculty. The definition of faculty is in the Wisconsin state statutes (i.e., Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Professor). Job security will remain the same as it is now. (Back to top ↑)

See archived FAQs »