Compensation FAQ (from HR)


HR Compensation Manager Dana Tucker’s December 8th, 2020 presentation regarding compensation and Market Studies (for odd years) can be viewed here.

FAQ from 2019:


How are salaries calculated?

When applying for another position within the college that has a different pay range, how is compensation handled for a current employee if the new position is offered?

How is my education calculated into my compensation?

Posted pay range for positions – minimum to midpoint of the pay range

We have a structured hiring process that maintains fairness/internal equity

We count related experience at hire – 100%; 75%; 50%; 25%

To count…experience must be 6 months or more in length; 15 hours/week or more and paid…not volunteer or unpaid experience.

Our hiring grid is 12 years to midpoint with a cap at midpoint for new hires (12 years to midpoint because we don’t want new hires to come in higher than current employees with the same # of years of experience)

For current employees moving positions –

Look at the pay range of your current position and the pay range of the position you are applying for.

If lower, your current salary is decreased by 3% per pay range that you are moving down (Why would you do that? – better career growth options in another area, etc.)

If higher, your current salary will increase by at least 3% per pay range that you are moving up, even if you are over the midpoint of the new pay range….it may move higher than that, we do a salary placement on your experience related to the new position….under our current placement methodology, that may give us a higher offer to make.

We don’t negotiate with candidates…they may give us additional work experience that was not included in their application that we can count towards their salary placement.

Living Wage

The ACC Board of Trustees has adopted a living wage….or ACC minimum wage for all non-faculty employees – $15/hour ($31,200/annually). Each year, the Board reviews the living wage and may make adjustments to it if needed.

Each year when the annual increase is given on September 1, we do a check of salaries to determine if every non-faculty employee is at least at the living wage. If they are not, we bring their salary to the living wage for that year.

The living wage does cause pay compression where employees are sometimes making the same living wage rate (or close to it) even if they have more experience, more education, higher level of skills, etc.

At ACC, the living wage impacts:

Assistant levels 1 through 7

Specialist levels 1 through 5

Technician levels 1 through 3

Benefits, TRS, etc.

What benefits does ACC offer? Does ACC contribute to Social Security?

Benefits at ACC make up an important part of your compensation. ACC pays the employee’s premiums for health insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, and a portion of the family premiums for health insurance as well. Many companies are not this generous.

In addition, we are part of the Teacher Retirement System that offers a generous pension.

ACC does not participate in Social Security and because we have TRS, there are some provisions that limit our Social Security if you have worked under that system prior to coming to ACC.   ACC chose in 1981 not to participate in Social Security.


What does it mean to be an Exempt vs Non-Exempt employee?

The US Department of Labor under the Fair Labor Standards Act determines exemption status. Exempt means a position is exempt from paying overtime to the employee if working over 40 hours/week. An employee in a non-exempt position must be paid overtime at 1-1/2 hours for every hour worked over 40 in a week.

At ACC, we call our non-exempt employees, classified employees. Our exempt employees are called Prof-Tech employees. We are all employees, just under different exemption status as determined by the US Department of Labor.

The Fair Labor Standards Act sets forth guidelines that must be met if a position is to be determined to be exempt. The FLSA was adopted as a means to protect employees from being made to work over 40 hours/week without additional pay. It was also originally set up after the depression so that companies would hire more workers and put America back to work.

Current ACC positions have been reviewed by legal to determine their status. If we have questions about positions, they are sent to our Employment Lawyer for exemption review.

Under the dual employment administrative rules, classified (non-exempt) employees are not eligible to teach as adjunct faculty or hold additional hourly positions. Overtime worked must be pre-approved by your supervisor.

Reclassification Review Process

Please explain the reclassification request process.

Is there an option to request a title change only? If so, what is the process?

 In FY18, two reclassification review periods were opened…one in the fall and one in the spring. The Reclassification Review Process is a time that employees or supervisors can submit a request to review a position. The position must have substantially changed where the job description no longer reflects the work being done. In many cases, the job description does need an update, but the position is still slotted correctly in the pay range with no pay change needed.

Title changes can be made through this reclassification review process or the supervisor can contact Compensation and discuss the need for a title change.

No formal reclassification review process is scheduled for FY19. This is a market study year so positions will be reviewed during the market study.

Career Connections

What types of services does ACC offer to help employees further their professional and career goals?

What can I do to move up to higher positions at the college?

The Staff Professional Development website has information on growing your career at ACC through its Career Connections Program. In addition, we are working with the President’s Cabinet to get a Promotional Policy approved to make it easier for you to move up within your department. We are also looking at expanding career ladders….keep watching for more information.

Tuition Vouchers/Educational Recognition Award

Remember that tuition vouchers are available so that you can take classes that expand your skills….or just for fun. There is also a program where you can complete your Associate’s degree through ACC at no cost. Contact Staff Professional Development for more information.

If you receive an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, or higher, ACC offers an educational recognition award to staff where you get a one-time stipend for completing the degree.

Experience Substitution for Education – NEW!!!!

I understand that years of work experience can stand in place of a degree for the purpose of qualifying for a position. If so, are those years also considered in determining compensation?

For FY19, experience substitution for education has been approved for most classified (non-exempt) positions. This is a great opportunity for you to be able to move up to a higher pay range position even if you do not have a degree. How it works is this….

If a position requires an Associate degree, you can substitute 4 additional years of experience for the Associate degree. These 4 years are not counted toward salary placement or to meet the required years of experience but will count for the degree.

If a position requires a Bachelor’s degree, you can substitute an Associate’s degree and 4 additional years of experience.

This information will be on the posting under the “Required Education”. It will indicate that the substitution of experience is available.

This is great news …. And something that we have been working hard to get approved. This is not available on Prof-Tech positions at this time.

Board Approved Increase

Every year during the Budget Process, the Board of Trustees approves an annual increase for all employees. For the past few years, it has been 3%. The board reviews the movement of salaries in the market from various sources to determine the increase to be given…City of Austin, Travis County, local school districts, local salary budget surveys, etc. This past year, 3% was generous compared to others in the area that were giving 2 – 2.5%.

The Board reviewed and discussed merit pay (pay for performance) during the Classification and Compensation Study conducted by Evergreen Solutions. At that time, very few institutions of higher education in the country had a merit pay system. It also can have its issues with supervisors distributing pay fairly among their employees, etc. The Board decided at that time to maintain the across-the-board increase for all employees.

Questions of why someone does less work than others, miss work, etc…..those are performance management issues that supervisors are encouraged to handle. Employees on probation do not receive the annual increase.

Market Survey

How do you determine compensation when the position does not exist at any of the Metro 8 colleges?

Do we compare job titles that are similar in job duties with other colleges when looking at salaries?

According to Board Policy, every two years, in the odd years, Compensation conducts a market survey on our non-faculty positions. FY19 is an odd year….so we will be conducting the survey in the spring to make sure our jobs are paid to market. Any needed changes will be included in the Budget to be adopted for implementation next September.

We work to get data from sources that compare our jobs with jobs in the local Austin area market as well as the Texas Metro 8 community colleges. We match jobs based on the job purpose, not just title.

For transparency, Compensation reviews the Market Study Results with a Market Study Review Committee consisting of 4 representatives from the Classified Association, 4 representatives from the Prof-Tech Association, and 4 representatives from Administration. We will be getting with your President after Winter Break to see who will represent your association on the Market Study Review Committee.

The Compensation website is a good resource for you. It has a link to current salary scales, job descriptions, information on the market study and reclassification review process, etc.   There are also some videos that you might find useful on the topics that I have mentioned today….exempt vs. non-exempt, board-approved increase, experience substitution for education, etc.