Compensation Policy

Compensation Policy
Effective Date: January 10, 2009
Revision Date: March 1, 2017
Responsible Office: Human Resources

I.  Scope

This policy applies to Professional and Operational Employees (“Covered Staff”) of William & Mary and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (hereafter the “university”).  The policy does not apply to:

  • Instructional and research faculty as defined and governed by the Faculty Handbook;
  • Administrative Faculty;
  • Executive employees;
  • Classified staff who were employed by William & Mary as of July 1, 2006 and have elected not to participate in the University Human Resources System;
  • Student employees; and
  • Hourly Employees.

II.  Purpose         

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines for establishing and administering a compensation plan for Covered Staff.

III.  Compensation Philosophy

The University strives to pay employees according to market and merit, subject to the availability of financial resources and individual employee performance. Each Covered Staff position is assigned (1) a Category as defined in the Classification Policy and (2) a University pay range based on a competitive pay rate for comparable positions and the unique duties and responsibilities of the particular position. An employee’s salary may not exceed the maximum of the assigned pay range. The employee’s salary within the pay range depends on performance, education, experience, qualifications, relevant competitive markets, and internal alignment within the department, school and/or University. The Provost, Vice Presidents, Deans, and other unit heads are responsible for ensuring that compensation decisions are made in a fair, consistent, and equitable manner. 

IV.  Pay Practices

Employee salaries may not exceed the maximum of their pay range.  Once an employee’s salary is at the maximum, he or she cannot receive future salary increases; however, the employee is eligible to receive a bonus payment. 

All compensation and salary actions are subject to the availability of necessary financial resources.  All employee compensation must be established and approved by the university in accordance with this Policy, regardless of source of funds; by law, no W&M employee may receive any monies or anything of value for the performance of his or her official duties other than the compensation paid by William & Mary.[1] 

A. Starting Salary

  1. Job offers are intended to attract a highly skilled, competent workforce, by offering competitive salaries to Covered Staff.
  2. Hiring managers, in consultation with Human Resources, have the flexibility to negotiate starting pay from the minimum up to the midpoint of the assigned pay range.  Starting pay determinations shall take into consideration the applicant’s prior experience, education and other qualifications directly related to the position to ensure internal equity. 
  3. A starting salary offer above the midpoint of the pay range for a position may be made only with appropriate justification by the hiring department or manager, a documented recommendation from Human Resources and approval from the Provost for Professionals or the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration for Operational Employees.

B. Pay for Performance     

Pay increases may be based on market or merit.  Pay increases require review by Human Resources and approval by the Provost for Professionals or the appropriate Vice President for Operational Employees. The amount of any market or merit-based pay increase is determined in accordance with specific guidance provided by the University’s senior leadership and any state limitations.

  1. Market – Employees are eligible for market-based compensation increases subject to appropriate justification by the department or manager and approval by Human Resources.  Employees receiving an “Under-performer” performance rating are not eligible for a market salary increase.   Any market increase that is greater than 10 percent or results in a salary above the midpoint of the pay range requires a full classification and compensation review and approval by the Provost for Professionals or the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration for Operational Employees.
  2. Merit – Employees are eligible for pay increases based on job performance as measured through annual performance evaluations.  Typically, only employees who have received a “Solid” performance rating or higher are eligible for merit-based pay increases; however, some employees who are Developing Performers either because they are a new employee or are acquiring a new skill can also be granted a merit increase. In these cases, managers should take into consideration the difference between a Developing Performer who is acquiring a particular required skill as compared to someone who is an inconsistent performer. In most cases, a merit increase for a Developing Performer is reduced compared to others at the Solid performance level or higher. The amount of any merit adjustment is determined each year during a comprehensive review of Covered Staff. 
  3. Annual Bonus - In lieu of a base pay increase, the State and/or Executive management may elect to award annual bonuses.  Only employees who have received a “Solid” performance rating or higher are eligible for an Annual Bonus.

C.  Equity Adjustment

An internal equity adjustment may be considered when there is an inequity between the salary of one employee and another in the same or similar job.  Human Resources, together with the appropriate Dean or unit head, will consider various factors in determining whether an internal equity adjustment is warranted or not, including the relative contribution of each employee to the university as well as the employee’s comparable experience, education, qualifications, and performance. An equity adjustment requires appropriate justification by the manager, a documented recommendation from Human Resources, and approval from the Provost for Professionals or the appropriate Vice President for Operational Employees.

D.  Retention Offers

A salary adjustment may be made in order to retain highly skilled and marketable employees who have received an offer or who are being actively recruited by other institutions or where there is compelling evidence that a preemptive action is necessary to prevent the loss of a valued employee and who in the judgment of management has exceptional potential for future contributions to the University.  

Managers shall consult with Human Resources prior to requesting approval from the Provost for Professionals or the appropriate Vice President for Operational employees. A retention offer shall take into consideration the external market for the employee’s current position, the impact on internal equity, and the employee’s performance.

E.  Temporary Pay Adjustments

Certain circumstances may dictate the need to provide employees with additional compensation for limited periods of time.  Departments may work in conjunction with Human Resources to structure pay increases of limited duration for the situations described below.  Once the amount has been determined, approval is required by the Provost for Professionals or the appropriate Vice President for Operational Employees.

Project-based pay increases may be awarded to employees who are assigned a long-term project that significantly adds to their job duties and responsibilities for a discrete period of time.  Such increases may be given in increments tied to project milestones or as a lump-sum bonus at the project’s completion.

Temporary pay adjustments may be provided to an employee who assumes the duties and responsibilities for another position in whole or in part for a specified period of time.  Managers shall consult with Human Resources to determine the appropriate amount of temporary pay. If the employee assumes duties from an individual in a higher pay range, the temporary pay should typically not exceed the midpoint of the higher pay range.

F.  Promotions

A promotion occurs when an employee accepts a different position in a higher pay range.  Promotions may occur through a competitive process or through a reclassification of the current position due to increased responsibilities and competencies moving the position to a higher pay range.

Managers, in consultation with Human Resources, have the flexibility to negotiate promotional increases from the minimum up to the midpoint of the new pay range.  Promotional increases above the pay range midpoint may only occur with appropriate justification by the manager, documented recommendation from Human Resources and approval from the Provost for Professionals or the appropriate Vice President for Operational Employees.

G.  Transfers

  1. A voluntary transfer occurs when an employee accepts a different position in the same pay range through a competitive process or an approved request initiated by the employee.
  2. An involuntary transfer occurs due to management reorganization within the University or as a result of disciplinary action. 
  3. The transferred employee’s salary will not change unless the employee’s salary is out of alignment with comparable positions within the unit or university or disciplinary action warrants a reduction.  Any salary increase/decrease must be discussed with Human Resources. 

H.  Demotions

  1. A voluntary demotion occurs when an employee accepts a different position in a lower pay range through a competitive process or an approved request initiated by the employee.  For demotions in lieu of layoff, see the University’s Layoff Policy for Operational Employees.
  2. The employee’s salary in the new position will typically be adjusted down to account for the lower pay range.  However, depending on the unique market considerations of the new position, as well as the employee’s percentile salary ranking in the new lower pay range, management has the discretion, with the approval of Human Resources, to keep the salary at the current level or increase the employee’s salary. An adjustment cannot exceed the midpoint without appropriate justification by the manager, a documented recommendation from Human Resources and approval from the Provost for Professionals or the appropriate Vice President for Operational Employees.
  3. If the employee’s current salary exceeds the maximum of the lower assigned pay range, the employee’s salary will be reduced in consultation with Human Resources.

I.  Discretionary Bonus

Discretionary bonuses may be awarded to recognize employees who have gone above and beyond expected job requirements to make a lasting and meaningful contribution to his or her job or to the University.  A discretionary bonus requires appropriate justification by the manager that the employee:

  • Demonstrated extraordinary, meritorious performance that goes beyond expected or required productivity; or
  • Successfully completed a special project of significant importance to warrant special recognition, or
  • Organized or implemented a business innovation measure that improves efficiency or reduces costs and expenses; or
  • Assumed and successfully performed an additional substantial workload for a defined period of time.

Discretionary bonuses are generally limited to a maximum of $3,000.  

J.  Competitiveness of Pay Ranges

The University will review the competitiveness of the University pay ranges every three years and determine whether a market adjustment to the pay ranges is necessary.  If adjusted, the new pay ranges will be published on the William & Mary web site.

V.  Authority and Interpretation

This policy was originally approved by the University’s Board of Visitors under the authority provided in the Restructured Higher Education Financial and Administrative Operations Act, Chapter 4.10, Title 23 of the Code of Virginia and the Management Agreement effective July 1, 2006.

The Board delegated to the President the authority to revise or amend this policy at any time. This Policy was amended by the President effective March 1, 2017 to (1) revise the compensation philosophy; (2) update pay practices to conform with current university practices; (3) provide guidelines for the awarding of discretionary and retention bonuses; and (4) conform to amendments to the Classification Policy.

Interpretation of this policy is the responsibility of the Office of Human Resources.

VI.  Related Policies, Procedures, and Other Documents

Classification Policy
University’s Layoff Policy for Operational Employees
Performance Planning and Evaluation Policy for Operational Employees (pdf)
Policy on Appointments and Terminations for Professionals and Professional Faculty (pdf)
Performance Planning and Evaluation Policy for Professionals and Professional Faculty



[1] Virginia Code, 2.2-3103.