The University Staff HR Plan for YOU

University Staff HR Plan Details

Below is a detailed description of the core components of the University Staff HR Plan, comprised of performance planning and evaluation, career development, compensation, and benefits and leave.


Benefits include retirement systems, a disability benefit program, leave, and a supplement benefit credit.

  • Retirement Systems

    Non-exempt Classified Staff who elect to become University Staff remain in the Virginia Retirement System (VRS).

    Exempt Classified Staff have a one-time choice to stay in VRS or move into the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) within 60 days of electing to move to University Staff.* Once that choice is made, it cannot be reversed.

    A&P Faculty who elect to move to University Staff remain in either the ORP or VRS, whichever they elected upon hire.

    *See Glossary for additional information about this and other terms.

  • Disability Benefit Program

    Disability benefit programs depend on employees’ retirement choices. If you do not change your retirement when you elect to become University Staff, your disability will not change. An employee in VRS who stays in VRS continues to keep the plan in which he or she participates, either VSDP or the traditional sick leave plan; an employee who was in the ORP or elects to move to the ORP gets the ORP Short-Term Disability Plan. If you are in:

    • VRS and VSDP: You keep VSDP, with no change to your disability coverage. However, VSDP sick and family personal leave are not available to University Staff, but are folded in the University Staff Leave program.
    • VRS and the traditional sick leave plan: All traditional sick leave balances will be frozen and you will be enrolled in the University Staff Leave Plan. Because we cannot enroll anyone in VSDP due to state regulations, there are no Short-Term Disability benefits available for those employees. If you had an illness or issue that required long absences, you would need to rely on the bank of traditional sick that you accrued.
    • Optional Retirement Plan: You have the ORP Short-Term Disability plan.

    For general information, visit the Disability Benefits page.

  • University Staff Leave

    The University Staff Leave Plan combines 3 types of leave - annual, sick, and family/personal - into a consolidated leave program, giving employees more flexibility in how they use their time off. In many cases, University Staff will be able to use their accumulated leave bank for more vacation days.

    For A&P Faculty who switch to University Staff status, the number of annual leave days could be higher than their current allotment, depending on the years of employment.

    All University Staff track their leave in Workday; non-exempt staff track time worked in 15-minute increments, in order to be eligible for overtime, while time of less than 4 hours is considered discretionary for exempt employees and not reported.

    The leave program also includes a cash-out provision. Once the amount of earned leave goes beyond the maximum hours allowed for carry forward, the plan will pay University Staff for those "use-or-lose" hours at 50 percent of their value. Details are available on the Paid Leave page.

    HRM-013.01: Paid Leave for University Staff Employees
  • Supplemental Benefit Credit

    A $550 annual supplemental benefit credit is provided to full-time and part-time benefits-eligible University Staff with annualized salaries at or below $42,000 per year to offset benefit deductions – including the UVA Health Plan, parking, supplemental life insurance, Tax Deferred Savings Plans, the VRS 5% contribution, gym memberships, and more.

    The amount an employee receives in a specific paycheck depends on how frequently they are paid and the number of months worked per year. Part time (less than 30 hours per week) benefits-eligible employees are eligible for 50% of the credit. Please be aware that this money can only be applied toward the amount needed for benefit deductions in any given pay period. If benefit deductions do not exceed the supplemental benefit credit in any given pay period, the extra supplemental benefit credit funds cannot be received as income.

Career Development

University Staff may take advantage of career opportunities at the University by enriching their career skills in their current work, developing capabilities to advance in their current career path, or transitioning to other career paths. The system demonstrates the University’s deep commitment to employee career development by:

  1. Making it a key piece of the performance planning process, and
  2. Supporting it with pay and promotion opportunities.

The University Staff Plan is designed intentionally so that employee career development, performance management, and compensation work together in a coordinated way. Supervisors and employees identify career goals, the performance management process tracks them, and the compensation process rewards them. The University provides support and resources for employee career development, training, and education. Read more on the HR Education and Training webpage.

  • A Development Plan is part of the annual performance planning process. Accomplishing a development activity may result in bonuses and/or raises; significant changes in job responsibilities as a result of a goal accomplishment may result in promotion.
  • The University provides information, resources, and support to assist employees and supervisors with career development. Employees who wish to support their education may use the Education Benefits program. Supervisors are expected to support employees’ career development goals. Employees are expected to make their own career choices and to keep their capabilities current.

UVA HR’s Employee Development offers training and development courses for employees to gain and renew skills, grow in their jobs, and develop their careers. Supervisor training is provided on career development, as well as the performance management system and compensation guidelines.


Compensation covers such topics as market pay ranges and adjustments, a competitive starting pay, performance pay, promotion pay, and employee recognition.

  • Market Pay Ranges

    The University Staff Plan is based on a compensation philosophy of using market information on salaries from similar jobs to determine employee pay ranges.  Market-based pay ranges are used to determine University Staff base salaries. Market pay information comes from more than 25 published and independent salary surveys of related employment markets.

    • Market data includes salary data on pay rates of similar jobs, in relevant sectors (higher education, private, public, etc.), and in similar geographic markets (primarily Virginia)
    • National and regional data are used for positions that are recruited nationally and regionally

    A key part of the compensation plan is the University’s commitment to communications and openness, including keeping employees, supervisors, and management aware of employee market pay ranges. As the University Staff Plan matures, the University expects the market pay ranges to become more precise and targeted to School and Department needs.

    Market pay ranges are divided into thirds:

    • The beginning third reflects emerging qualifications and competencies
    • The middle third reflects proficiency and full qualifications
    • The upper third is reserved for advanced capabilities, unique qualifications or subject matter expertise, and for those whose performance consistently exceeds expectations.

    These factors help determine where a salary belongs in a range. Employee salaries typically fall between the lower and upper end of their market range, although it is possible for salaries to be above or below a market range.

  • Market Pay Range Adjustments

    UVA market pay ranges are reviewed periodically against market data to ensure that they keep pace with changing market conditions.

  • Competitive Starting Pay

    Market ranges are used to determine competitive starting pay for both internal and external candidates accepting University Staff positions. There are no state-mandated limitations. A starting salary is typically within the first third of the market range.

    The University’s Pay Action tool (PA) is used to support informed salary decisions, including determining initial offers. PA assists managers to consider salary decisions systematically, using 7 key factors, resulting in more consistent and equitable decision-making across Grounds. The 7 factors are:

    1. Qualifications (education, experience, unique skills)
    2. Job content and individual performance contribution
    3. The position of the employee’s pay in the market pay range
    4. Employee’s pay relative to similar jobs at UVA
    5. Employee’s pay relative to average market salary for similar jobs outside UVA
    6. Pay history
    7. Length of total State and University service
  • Performance Pay

    Performance is an area where employees can directly influence their pay. University Staff are eligible for pay increases based on their performance evaluation ratings. Contingent on the availability of funds, higher performance ratings result in higher increases. See Performance Management for more detail on performance evaluations.

    • The University develops guidelines for performance-based pay increases.
    • If an employee’s salary is above the market pay range, the increase may be a one-time payment, rather than a base pay adjustment.
  • Promotion Pay

    Promotion pay is available to University Staff in the form of a base pay increase. PA7 is used to support salary decisions. There are no state-mandated limitations on the amount of a promotion pay increase, subject to the availability of funding. If the employee is above the top of the market pay range, the increase is typically provided as a bonus rather than a base salary increase.

    Promotion pay may be granted for:

    • On-the-job application of new skills documented in the employee’s Development Plan
    • Significant changes in job duties and responsibilities with no change in market range

    Significant changes in job duties and responsibilities with a change in market range

  • Employee Recognition

    Employee Reward and Recognition bonus payments, non-monetary awards, and recognition leave (up to five paid days) are available to recognize a University Staff member’s contributions to the overall objectives of the University.

    The employee’s acquisition of a new skill or skills, documented as part of the Development Plan, may be rewarded. Additionally, the program typically rewards:

    • Teamwork
    • A special project
    • A new or modified business practice
    • Exemplary effort
    • Employee appreciation

    There is no cap on the number of bonuses received for skill acquisition, but the total value of employee recognition bonuses received may not exceed $3,000 annually.

Performance Planning and Evaluation

All staff use a performance management process that emphasizes planning and communications between supervisors and employees, but there are greater opportunities for growth and reward for University Staff. Performance Planning is central to the University Staff Plan, and is designed to provide employees and supervisors with opportunities for more meaningful performance discussions; supportive learning and development plans; and opportunities to reward performance and accomplishments with compensation and promotions. There are 3 sections in the performance management process:

  • Goals; what you do
  • Competencies; how you do it
  • Development plan
  • The guiding principle behind the system is managing performance for success. Supervisors help employees make the connection between individual performance goals, departmental objectives, and University-wide strategies. Employees and supervisors work together to set clear goals and evaluate performance and competencies development.
  • The performance evaluation process has a five-point rating scale. The process begins with employee self-evaluation and includes procedures to build consistency into the way evaluation ratings are applied.
  • University Staff are eligible for pay increases based on their performance evaluation ratings. See the Compensation Section for more detail.
  • As part of the annual performance process, the supervisor and employee agree on the employee’s goals, competencies, and development plans for the year and review progress on an on-going basis.
  • The performance management system also focuses on career development. Supervisors support staff career development goals. Together, supervisors and employees work together to set goals, identify strategies and actions to achieve them, and track and measure progress.
  • Career Development is also an area where employees can directly influence their pay. Acquiring skills listed in the Development Plan can result in bonuses; raises when using new capabilities; and can lead to promotions within career paths. See the Compensation Section for more.
  • Acquiring skills listed in the Development Plan can result in bonuses; raises when using new capabilities; and can lead to promotions within career paths. See the Compensation Section for more information.

Classified Staff also use this system as their performance planning and evaluation and career development planning tool. There is no link between performance, career development and compensation for classified employees, as there is for University Staff. For Classified Staff, the five-point rating scale is converted to the State Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) EWP performance evaluation 3-point system for State reporting purposes, as follows:

5-point Classified Staff Rating --> 3-point DHRM Rating

  • 5 = 3
  • 4 = 2
  • 3 = 2
  • 2 = 2
  • 1 = 1

The new Performance Management system is also available for use by A&P faculty. See the HRM-018: Performance Management for University Staff Employees policy for more information.