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Chapter 12: Compensation And Payroll

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Swarthmore College’s staff compensation program is designed to attract, retain, and motivate a highly talented and committed workforce in support of the College’s mission and goals. Swarthmore, like most other employers, is subject to federal laws that govern salary and wage activity. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the minimum wage rate and defines whether a position is entitled to overtime compensation. Staff positions at Swarthmore are grouped into position categories for a number of purposes, such as administering salaries and benefits and creating various information and reports. According to FLSA legal guidelines, staff positions are categorized as either "exempt" or "non-exempt" (overtime eligible).


Exempt Staff Positions

Exempt staff positions are those that are exempt from certain provisions of the FLSA and are not entitled to overtime pay. These positions generally include administrators, managers, and professionals (including faculty). Staff members in exempt positions receive a fixed weekly salary, which is paid on a monthly basis. The work of exempt staff is evaluated and compensated on outcomes accomplished. When the occasion warrants, exempt employees work beyond the hours that offices are open for business.


Non Exempt (Hourly) Staff Positions

For staff positions that are defined by law as non-exempt, the College is required to keep hourly time records and calculates pay on an hourly basis. Most paraprofessional, technical, clerical, administrative, skilled craft, service, and maintenance positions are classified under the FLSA as non-exempt. Such positions are entitled to overtime pay at 1-1/2 times the employee's regular pay rate for all hours beyond 40 in a work week. Paid time off hours such as vacation, sick, holiday and compensatory time count toward the 40 hour threshold for overtime eligibility.


Types of Employment Status


There are five types of staff employment status at Swarthmore: regular, temporary, limited term, seasonal and on-call employment.

Regular Ongoing Employment

Regular ongoing employees are hired to work in a position on either a full-time or part-time basis, without a pre-established date of termination. This includes benefits eligible and non-benefits eligible employees.

Temporary Employment

Temporary employees are hired to work in positions that will be active for less than six months and must have an end date. The form to submit a temporary hiring request can be found on the HR website at Payroll Action Form for Temporary Employees. Individuals in temporary positions are typically not eligible for benefits.

Seasonal Employment

Seasonal employees are hired to work on a part-time basis by departments that need extra help during a particular season, typically through the summer months. Summer job opportunities are posted near the end of the Spring semester. Applications are sent directly to the department hiring manager for consideration; the hire is processed through the Payroll Action Form for Temporary Employees.

Limited Term Employment

Limited Term employment is intended to meet the needs of departments that have extra work or special projects with clearly defined beginning and ending periods. Limited Term appointments must be for a minimum of six months and must have an end date. Limited Term employees receive the same health benefits as regular staff employees. At the end of their limited term appointment, they are terminated due to lack of work or lack of funds. All Limited Term positions must meet budgetary requirements and be approved by the department VP and posted on the HR website for a minimum of five days. Please contact the HR Manager, Talent Management and Retention to submit a hiring request.

On-Call Employment

On-call employees may be needed during special events, peak hours, or intermittently as business needs warrant. On-call employees are on standby until called to work. These workers are typically hired as part-time or full-time staff with on-call requirements when necessary. If the on-call assignment is less than six months, the hire can be processed by submitting the Payroll Action Form for Temporary Employees. If the on-call employee is working beyond six months, the job must be approved by the department VP and posted on the HR website for a minimum of five days. Please contact the HR Manager, Talent Management and Retention to submit the hiring request.

Full-Time and Part-Time Positions

Under any of the employment categories above, you may be employed in a full time or part time capacity. Full time staff positions are positions of .75 FTE or greater and part time staff positions are those positions of less than .75 FTE.


Position Classifications

Swarthmore is a complex organization, with many different staff position titles. We use an evaluation system to analyze positions and to organize them into position classifications. This helps us be competitive with other employers in the labor market and be consistent within Swarthmore itself.

Positions are evaluated using a number of potential factors such as education, experience, content expertise, technological complexity, organizational impact, internal and external equity, budget responsibility, supervision of others, physical effort, and physical work environment.


Pay Grades and Pay Ranges

Positions that are grouped into a given pay grade have a "range" of pay that is appropriate for the types of positions in that group. The pay range reflects the overall value of those positions to the College, as well as local, regional, and national salary information that is studied by Swarthmore each year. Each grade falls into a pay range with a minimum, midpoint, and a maximum. Your initial pay rate reflects a combination of the pay grade and individual qualifications.

Should your salary reach the maximum of your pay grade, annual increases (see Salary Increase Programs below) will take the form of a one-time cash award, instead of an increase to your base pay. When your salary falls below the maximum of your pay grade, you would once again be eligible for annual salary increases.


Salary Increase Programs

Swarthmore is committed to rewarding high job performance, and our compensation and performance management programs have been designed in support of this principle.

Swarthmore's administration and Board of Managers makes decisions each year about adjustments to Swarthmore's annual operating budget. The budget includes compensation of faculty and staff, including salaries and benefits. Decisions about compensation levels are based on economic and market conditions and on organizational needs. Neither general increases to the budget, nor individual salary raises, are automatic. Decisions about increases take into account a number of factors, including the external marketplace within which we compete to hire and retain employees, internal equity among comparable positions within the College, and individual performance. When salary adjustments are warranted, it has been College practice to make most such adjustments with the start of its fiscal year, which is currently July 1. Employees who have been in their positions for a short period of time (less than six months) may not be eligible for July 1st increases. Please check with your supervisor or Human Resources.


Promotion Policy

Promotion to a job in a higher salary grade involves taking on significantly greater responsibilities. It usually warrants a salary increase to recognize these additional responsibilities and to ensure that a staff member’s salary is consistent with the salary grade. An exception may be if the staff member is already very highly paid in his/her current job.

Managers should recommend a salary within the new grade, based on the employee’s skill, knowledge, experience, and performance. Since circumstances vary and each staff member has a different salary history, it is important to consider multiple factors when making pay decisions relating to advancement. These factors include:

  • Degree of increase in responsibilities.
  • Current level of performance compared to expectations.
  • Current salary relative to the new grade.
  • Salary compared to peers in the new grade with similar skills, knowledge and competencies.
  • Importance (and possible scarcity) of the role and the employee’s skills to Swarthmore.
  • Depth and breadth of the employee’s skills.

Staff who are interested in a posted position are encouraged to apply through the Human Resources web site.



Swarthmore College pays all non-exempt staff on a bi-weekly basis. Your supervisor can provide you with a list of paydays and the dates time sheets are due. All exempt staff are paid on the 15th of each month for work performed between the 1st and the 30th of that month.


Receiving Your Paycheck

For your convenience, paychecks are processed through Direct Deposit to your personal bank account(s) and pay records are available on MySwarthmore. Under certain circumstances, if you are unable to have your check processed through direct deposit, please contact the Payroll department to make alternate arrangements.


Deductions from your Paycheck

Swarthmore deducts federal, state, and local income taxes, as well as all appropriate payroll deductions for benefits. Swarthmore has the right to deduct money from your paycheck for obligations owed to the College or others, such as legally imposed levies and garnishments made against your salary. If you have any questions about garnishments and levies, contact the Payroll Office. You should review each paycheck or deposit notice. If you believe there is an error, or if you have a question about your pay or deductions, bring it to your supervisor's attention immediately.


Awards, Prizes and Gifts

Distributing service awards, wellness incentive program prizes and gift cards/certificates is a way for the College and managers to reward or thank employees. Any award, prize, or gift issued to an employee for above and beyond performance, or any other work related achievement are generally considered taxable under Federal Tax laws and are subject to withholding since they are made in connection with and as a result of an employment relationship. Limited exceptions are described below.

The College relies on managers and supervisors to follow the procedures below to ensure that awards, prizes, and gifts are properly accounted for and any required taxes are recorded and withheld. It is the responsibility of the manager issuing the award, gift or prize to notify the employee of the possible tax implications.

Cash Awards, Prizes or Gifts

Any cash award, prize or gift is taxable and must be processed through the Payroll Office. Cash awards should be recorded on the Request for Additional Pay Form and sent to the Payroll Office. Gift cards, gift certificates, prizes and gifts must be reported on the Award, Prize, and Gift Form.

Please note that occasional gifts (or prizes) of merchandise (e.g., flowers, bookstore items and apparel) that are of nominal value are not taxable and need not be reported. However, items of more than a nominal value are taxable and must be reported to the Payroll Office prior to issuance on the Award, Prize, and Gift Form. If you are unsure whether a gift or prize needs to be reported for tax purposes, please contact the Payroll Office.

Forms should be submitted before the award, prize or gift is given to the employee. Within the next payroll processing cycle the face value of the award, prize, gift or certificate will be added to the employee's paycheck and the required taxes will be withheld.

Length of Service or Safety Awards

A length of service or safety achievement award may generally be excluded from federal wages if:

  • It is in the form of tangible personal property (not cash).
  • It is given as part of a meaningful presentation.
  • It does not exceed a value of $1,600 per employee per year.

Length of service awards must be for at least five years of service and cannot be received more often than once every five years. These awards are distributed by Human Resources.


Guidelines for Additional Pay (Add Pay)


​Additional pay may be considered to compensate employees for work performed that is unrelated to the core responsibilities of the job or if they assume higher level additional duties. All requests for additional pay must be reviewed in advance with Human Resources to ensure appropriateness, internal equity, alignment with College policies and consistency with the law. The purpose of these guidelines is to create consistent practices in these situations.

Opportunities for duties outside an employee's typical responsibilities vary widely, and are not easily reduced to a common formula or a single solution. It is important to consult with Human Resources to determine if an adpay is appropriate. In those cases where it seems appropriate to recognize an employee who has stepped up to new or additional tasks in a way that has recognizable value for the institution, the following guidelines should be helpful.

  • Assess each situation and consult with HR prior to discussing additional pay with the employee. In some cases, the employee may have capacity in their schedule to take on new tasks without the need for additional compensation, in others, redistributing tasks so that an employee can devote themselves to the new duties may be the best route.
  • Ad pay amounts for special projects and temporary additional duties shall be set in consultation with HR. The amount of the ad pay can vary widely, depending on the level of the additional tasks and the amount of additional work.
  • Additional compensation for acting duties should be determined by looking at the following variables:
    • Whether the employee will be assuming full or partial responsibilities of the open position and the current work load of the open position.
    • Whether the employee's normal job duties will be redistributed.
    • The differential between the employee's current salary and the salary of the position in which they are acting.

These decisions should be made jointly by the appropriate manager and Human Resources in order to ensure equity and consistency.


Time Records for Hourly Staff

Your department is required by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to keep accurate time records and pay you for the time you actually work. For this reason, it is extremely important that you and your department keep accurate time records, by means of a time clock or a timesheet. If you don't report your time accurately, it may lead to disciplinary action, including possible dismissal. If at any time you believe your paycheck does not correctly reflect the time you worked and reported, let your supervisor know immediately.

You may work in a department that uses a time clock with time cards or computerized records. It is your responsibility to clock in at the beginning of each shift, clock out for unpaid meal breaks and back in when the meal break is over, and clock out when you leave for the day. You must also clock out whenever you leave work before the end of your shift, such as for scheduled medical appointments.

If your department does not have time clocks, you will record the time you have worked on a timesheet electronically. Your supervisor will explain to you the procedures in your department for filling out and submitting time worked. You should record your actual work time, even if it is slightly different than your work schedule. You should always approve the timesheet to certify your record of time worked is accurate and have your supervisor approve the hours you recorded.

Failure to keep accurate daily time records may constitute falsification of College time records and subject you to disciplinary action, including immediate dismissal.



Sometimes projects and priorities may require extra work beyond your normal schedule. Your supervisor can re-arrange work schedules and can require overtime when necessary to meet the operating needs of your department.

Hourly staff (non-exempt) are paid 1-½ times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a work week. For purposes of overtime calculation, vacation, sick leave and holidays are considered hours worked.

If you have work that you feel needs extra time and effort, your supervisor must approve the additional time first before working beyond the end of your regular shift. If you work unauthorized overtime, you may be subject to disciplinary action.

Exempt staff are not subject to be paid overtime according to the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). They are paid on a salaried basis and do not receive additional pay for hours worked beyond 40 in a work week.


Compensatory ("Comp") Time

Many non-exempt staff at Swarthmore work regular schedules of 35, rather than 40, hours. Hours beyond 35, but not exceeding 40, can be paid at straight time rates or converted to comp time. This comp time earned between 35 and 40 hours must be used by the end of the next pay period. Comp time earned which is not used within the next pay period will be paid in that pay period.

College policy requires that all hours worked over 40 must be paid as overtime hours. Compensatory time is not available.

Exempt staff do not receive overtime pay or comp time when they work additional time beyond their normal expected schedule. Exempt positions may have greater scheduling flexibility than non-exempt positions but compensatory time for hours worked beyond 40 in a week is not relevant or appropriate.