Base Wage FAQs

Base Wage Frequently Asked Questions

The University of Virginia is raising our base wage for employees. Below you will find answers to commonly asked questions about this increase. More information will be available over the coming months as this program rolls out. 

Base Wage FAQs

  • 1. The first phase of base wage adjustments applies to full-time, benefits-eligible UVA employees in the Academic Division and Medical Center. How many people fall into this category?

    There are 17,451 full-time, benefits-eligible employees in the Academic Division and the Medical Center as of March 1, 2019.

  • 2. How many employees will receive adjustments to bring them up to the new $15 an hour base wage in January?

    Based on current figures, approximately 1,400 Academic Division and Medical Center employees will receive increases to adjust their base wage to $15 an hour effective January 1, 2020. For someone making the current base wage of $12.75 an hour, the base wage adjustment will mean an annual gross pay difference of more than $4,500. 

  • 3. What about current employees already making $15 an hour? Will they receive an adjustment?

    Employees who are currently paid between $15 and $16.25 an hour will receive compression adjustments to recognize their continued service and keep pace with salaries of peers who will be brought up to the $15 level in January 2020.  

  • 4. Why will the base wage adjustment be effective on January 1, 2020?

    The University is currently developing its 2019-2020 fiscal year budget. The timetable for the base wage adjustment will allow departments to plan for these costs as they set their spending plans for the year.

    Some employees currently earning less than $15 an hour may earn more than $15 an hour after merit increases, tied to performance, take effect in the summer and fall of 2019.

  • 5. When will all new full-time, benefits-eligible employees be hired at a rate of at least $15 an hour?

    All new full-time, benefits-eligible UVA employees will earn at least $15 per hour starting January 1, 2020.

  • 6. Why is the University focusing on benefits-eligible, full-time employees for this base wage adjustment?

    This is the first phase of increasing UVA’s base wage. Providing this adjustment to our full-time, benefits-eligible employees will have a significant impact on our largest staff population. Over the next few months, we will be working on plans to extend this to other University employees and contractors.

  • 7. How did UVA determine the new base wage rate of $15 an hour?

    Setting a base wage is an inexact science since there is not an agreed-upon standard. In setting our base wage at $15 an hour, we decided to follow the most common example set by others. In addition to the City of Charlottesville, five states and the District of Columbia have all agreed to raise their minimum wages to $15 an hour.  Major cities such as Seattle and San Francisco have also adopted a $15 minimum wage, as have major companies including Amazon and Target, and academic institutions such as Duke University and the University of California. 

  • 8. Will this be enough for most employees?

    Every household is different and, therefore, it is hard to determine what each individual/family may need. Census data for Albemarle County indicates that the average UVA employee affected by this change lives in a two-person household, and in about 70% of those households, the second member is also working—raising the total household income significantly.  UVA employees making $15 an hour will continue to receive more than $12,000 a year in health insurance benefits and retirement contributions. 

    While a $15 hourly base wage will not cover every type of household, it is above the poverty wage for every family type in our region according to the MIT Living Wage Calculator. The MIT calculator also counts it as a living wage for single wage-earners and families living in Charlottesville and the surrounding counties with two working adults who are childless or have one child.

    In addition to the base wage adjustment, the University offers regular increases to meet market demands and reward employee performance, generally occurring in the summer and fall. 

    Rates for City of Charlottesville, according to the MIT Living Wage Calculator:




  • 9. Which groups of employees will have base wages reviewed next?

    Phase 2 will consider employees of UVA’s Academic Division and Medical Center who are not in Phase 1, as well as an approach to increasing the base wage for contracted workers.

    The UVA HR team also is working with colleagues at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise to evaluate the appropriate base wage for its employees in southwest Virginia.

  • 10. Where are you in discussions with contractors about adjusting their base wage rate?

    Over the next few months, we will study what it would take to extend the same commitment to contracted workers. According to an official opinion of the Attorney General that was issued in 2006, the Virginia Public Procurement Act does not allow a state agency like the University to require a contractor to pay a living wage as a condition of a contract. Only the General Assembly can grant the authority for a state agency like the University to negotiate wages paid by a contractor. While this opinion prevents us from making the payment of a living wage a condition of a contract, we will work with our major contractors to negotiate appropriate changes to our current agreements that will achieve the University’s objective. Conversations have already begun with some contractors regarding how to achieve a $15 base wage, but it will take time to bring them to successful conclusion.

  • 11. How frequently will the University evaluate its base wage?

    UVA reviews compensation annually and makes pay adjustments tied to performance as part of its Total Rewards Program. The method for ongoing adjustments to UVA’s base wage is still being determined.

  • 12. How much will this cost the University each year?

    The initial cost to bring approximately 1,400 employees to $15 per hour is approximately $3.5 million. We anticipate that another $500,000 will be needed to make adjustments for employees who earn between $15 and $16.25 an hour. This investment in salary will carry over each year since it is a permanent change.

  • 13. How is the University paying for this?

    The University will cover the costs of the base wage adjustment through existing resources, which will require identification of cost savings and efficiencies across Grounds.

  • 14. When will employees be notified if they will receive either a base wage adjustment or a compression adjustment in January?

    In November, UVA HR will notify all employees who will receive an adjustment in January.

    If you have questions about the content in these FAQs please contact the HR Solution Center at 434.243.3344 or