Base/Living Wage FAQs

UVA Base Wage Increase


The University of Virginia is raising its base wage for employees (sometimes called a living wage), effective January 1, 2020. This includes full-time and part-time benefits eligible employees in the Academic Division, Medical Center and UPG.

In addition, several major contractors who work with the University are following suit and plan to raise the base wage for their employees who are working at UVA.

UVA is committed to improving the lives of our employees, and President Ryan established the UVA Community Working Group to address efforts at reducing inequities including salaries and affordable housing in the area.

Below you will find answers to commonly asked questions about these increases.

Base Wage Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1. Who is eligible and not eligible for the base wage increase?

    Full-time and part-time benefits eligible staff in the Academic Division (including Classified Staff, and the School of Medicine), Medical Center, and the University Physicians Group are eligible. 

    Those not eligible at this time are wage employees, temps, students, and College at Wise. If any of these groups will be included in the future it will be communicated immediately.

  • 2. What is the definition of benefit eligible employee?

    Any employee in a benefit eligible category as defined by their job classification and in a full or part-time status with standard hours of 20 per week or more.

  • 3. Why is the University focusing on benefits-eligible employees?

    This is the first phase of increasing UVA’s base wage. UVA will continue to review different employee types and work with contractors for possible future incorporation within the Base Wage. 

  • 4. How did UVA determine the new base wage rate of $15 per 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.

  • 5. 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. (See more detail on how the calculator is used at bottom of webpage.)

    In addition to the base wage adjustment, the University offers regular increases to meet market demands and rewards employee performance. 

  • 6. How will promotions and demotions consistently be administered across UVA once the Base Wage has been implemented?

    UVA will continue to follow the same applicable policies regarding promotions and demotions after the Base Wage has been implemented. 

  • 7. Is Compression included with this increase?

    Approximately 770 eligible employees who are currently paid between $15 and $16.25 per hour will receive compression adjustments to recognize their continued service and to keep pace with salaries of peers who will be brought up to the $15 level in January 2020. Supervisors of those employees will speak with them individually to discuss their increase.  

    Determining compression is not an exact science. The Total Rewards Compensation Department reviewed the distribution of employees that would be most impacted by the Base Wage increase of $15.00. After reviewing that list, it was determined those employees close to $15.00 / hour will receive a larger increase (e.g. $0.40/hour), and those who already have a higher hourly rate will receive a smaller adjustment (e.g., up to $0.10/hour). This is called a “compression adjustment”.

  • 8. How will affected employees be notified of their increase?

    Starting the week of December 9, affected employees will receive an email from UVA HR, and Supervisors will directly notify their employees. This includes those receiving a base wage increase or a compression increase. 

  • 9. What are the payroll effective dates?

    Those in the Medical Center and UPG will see the increase in their January 17 paycheck. Those in the Academic Division will see the increase in their January 24 paycheck. 

  • 10. Where can employees find their pay increase information in Workday?

    Eligible employees can see this information in their Workday profile.  After clicking on your picture in the upper right-hand corner of Workday, select view profile, then compensation. On the compensation screen, there is a tab called pay change history.  Clicking on that tab will provide information on any adjustments you have received since January 1, 2019, including this base wage adjustment.

  • 11. Will UVA be providing Base Wage increases in the future? If so, how will they be determined?

    This will be reviewed by UVA leadership. The base wage is determined by economic indicators, while other compensation adjustments are determined for other reasons (e.g. employee performance – “merit,” career growth – “promotional increases”).  Overall, we anticipate that economic conditions will continue to be monitored, however there is not a set schedule to when the Base Wage for UVA will be updated. 

  • 12. Will UVA be providing compression compensation in the future to those who are not currently in the compression range?

    Job categories will continue to be reviewed by leadership to determine if additional adjustments should be implemented. It is UVA’s goal to provide a fair wage to all employees, so compensation is consistently evaluated based on internal UVA, and external market, factors. As decisions are made they will be immediately communicated.

  • 13. Which contractors that work with UVA are also raising their base wage? How many contracted employees does this include?

    The major contractors listed below provide services that the University chooses not to provide internally and who have employees on Grounds on a daily and long-term basis. Like the University, they are increasing their base wage for full-time employees to $15 per hour effective January 1, 2020. Some contractors also are adjusting their base wage for part-time employees. Employee counts change daily for some organizations. The numbers below represent October 2019 counts provided by each contractor. 

    In the Academic Division, these contractors are:

    • Dining Services, Aramark:
      • 259 full-time employees will benefit from the base wage adjustment; Aramark also will increase its minimum hourly wage to $13 per hour for 208 part-time employees beginning January 1, 2020
    • Mail Services, Exela Technologies
      • 17 full-time employees will benefit from the base wage adjustment
    • Child Care, KinderCare Education
      • 44 full-time employees will benefit from the base wage adjustment
    • Custodial Service, BMS
      • 12 full-time employees will benefit from the base wage adjustment

    At UVA Health, these contractors are:

    • Food and Nutrition Service, Morrison (under the CompassOne umbrella)
      • 144 full-time and 14 part-time employees will benefit from the base wage adjustment
    • Environmental Services, Crothall (under the CompassOne umbrella)
      • 316 full-time and 10 part-time employees will benefit from the base wage adjustment
    • Valet Services, Towne Park
      • 41 full-time employees will benefit from the base wage adjustment
    • Malcolm Cole Child Care Center, Bright Horizons
      • 7 employees will benefit from the base wage adjustment
  • 14. How many contracted employees will this affect?

    This change will increase the wages of more than 1000 full-time and part-time contract employees, which represents nearly 90% of contract employees who work regularly on our Grounds and currently earn less than $15 per hour.

    When combined with earlier-announced raises to full-time employees of the University, this means that roughly 96% of the University’s contracted employees, and benefits-eligible employees, combined will earn at least $15 per hour as of January 1, 2020. 

Additional Information About Benchmarking Living Wage

Every household is different and, therefore, it is hard to assess each individual and family circumstance. 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 per hour will continue to receive more than $12,000 a year in health insurance benefits and retirement contributions. 

There is no single living wage, because it depends on family circumstances. According to the MIT Living Wage Calculator for Charlottesville and the surrounding counties, it can range from $12.49 for a single adult to $30.29 for a family with two adults and three children with only one adult working.  That said, $15 per hour is a living wage for the bulk of our employees, given what we know about the average demographics of UVA employees.  It is also the base wage set by the City of Charlottesville, five states, and the District of Columbia. 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.

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:

If you have questions about the content in these FAQs please contact the HR Solution Center at 434.243.3344 or AskHR@virginia.edu.