Human Resources Orientation Checklist - Terminology

AFSCME:  American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the union representing Blue Collar, Technical, Security, and Clerical Merit employees employed by the State of Iowa.

Biweekly Payroll:  Paid every other Tuesday for a two-week period; used to pay hourly students.

Benchmark Jobs:  Representative job classifications that are used to build the compensation plan and pay structures.  Benchmarks are jobs that are common in the labor market with a clear and consistent definition, are generally populated by a significant number of individuals both within the University and the external market, and for which reliable data is available from the market the University typically recruits from for that job classification.

Career Advancement:  Change in scope and complexity of Key Areas of Responsibility (KAR's) and/or competencies.  May include the introduction of new KAR's from same or different classifications. 

Career Builder CareerBuilder, is the largest online employment website in the United States, with more than 23 million unique visitors each month and a 34% market share of help-wanted web sites in the United States. provides online career search services for more than 1,900 partners as of March 2008, including 140 newspapers and portals such as AOL and MSN. 

Career Promotion:  Change to a new classification in a higher pay level (whether same or different function/family), demonstrated by significant and sustained changes involving different duties, key areas of responsibilities, expanded scope, and the extent to which the key areas of responsibilities of another classification have become the best fit overall for the work performed.

Career Shift:  Change to a new classification at the same of lower pay level (whether same or different function/family), demonstrated by significant and sustained changes involving different duties, key areas of responsibilities, changes in scope, and the extent to which the key areas of responsibilities of another classification have become the best fit overall for the work performed.

Classification:  One or more positions assigned the same title, minimum qualifications and pay grade/level assignment based upon a common set of job duties.

Contract Transfer:  Employee movement to a position within the same classification. The employee requests transfer into a posted, vacant position and is determined to be the most senior employee making that request. is a career website that serves information technology and engineering professionals.  The website has 3 million registered technology professionals and approximately 2 million unique visitors each month. was rated as the best job site for technology fields and as one of the top ten sites to find a job in information technology.

Dual Track:  A dual career track may exist in a job family if there is more than one path for advancement.  For example, one track may be to assume supervisory and/or managerial responsibilities, while another track might be to assume more technical or specialist responsibilities.  Both can represent opportunities for career advancement.

Evaluation Criteria:  The five attributes that the University has identified to evaluate each University job classification for determining the appropriate compensation.  The five evaluation criteria are knowledge and skills, judgment, breadth and scope of the role, impact and accountability, and communication.


  • May refer to exempt for coverage by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), as an administrative, executive or professional staff member and thereby paid on a salary basis.
  • May refer to classifications or positions exempt from collective bargaining due to supervisory or confidential status.

Extra Compensation:  Additional compensation paid at the discretion of the employing unit for performance of duties outside the staff member’s normal responsibility during a limited period of time.

Exceptional Performance Pay:  Merit staff may receive a lump sum payment for exceptional performance or achievement, not to exceed 5% of the employee’s current annual salary.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA):  Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, record keeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments.  Covered nonexempt workers are entitled to a minimum wage of not less than $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009.  Overtime pay at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate of pay is required after 40 hours of work in a workweek.

Furlough:  Term used to describe the elimination of an occupied P&S position through a layoff or reduction in force.  HigherEdJobs was founded in 1996 by three university employees who felt there had to be an easier way to search and apply for jobs in academia.  Today, HigherEdJobs is the leading source for jobs and career information in academia.  During 2011, more than 4,250 colleges and universities posted over 97,960 faculty, administrative and executive job postings to the company's web site. HigherEdJobs is now visited over 2.1 million times a month by 914,000 people.

Job Family:  A subset of a function and a series (progression) of related job classifications that require like-skills and serve a similar purpose.  Each family is defined by a purpose statement and the classifications within it.  Examples of job families with the finance job function would include Financial Analysts, Accountants and Procurement and Inventory Services.

Job Function:  A major service or discipline which typically exists across multiple units within the University, such as finance, information technology and research.  Job functions are defined by purpose statements.

Job or Position: The duties or responsibilities of an individual employee.

Job Title:  A "working title" that may differ from the employee’s official classification, for purposes of more specifically identifying the function and/or scope of responsibility of the position.

Key Area of Responsibility:  Groups of tasks designed to produce some key results of the function.  Key areas of responsibilities are focused on the outcome.

Layoff:  Term used to describe the elimination of an occupied merit system position through a reduction in force.

Lead Status:  Assignment of an employee to perform limited supervisory duties in addition to regular duties, with pay during the period of such designation equivalent to a one-step increase.

Level Profile:  A system that describes the typical job classification attributes associated with each of nine pay levels. These typical attributes make up the five University evaluation criteria.  The level profile is used to determine the internal job relationships for purposes of compensation through an examination of each job classification's key areas of responsibility in relation to the evaluation criteria.  

Market Ranges:  Market ranges are based on salary market data for representative job classifications (benchmark jobs) within each pay level and structure, and define the minimum and maximum salary rates for a job.

Merit Employee:  A staff member employed in a non-exempt classification governed by the Board of Regents merit system rules.

Merit Employee Confidential:  One whose position is not represented by AFSCME due to employment in the personnel offices with access to information subject to use in negotiating, or employment in a close continuing working relationship with public officers or representatives associated with negotiating on behalf of the employer.

Merit Employee Supervisory Exempt:  One whose position is not represented by AFSCME due to their authority to hire, promote, assign, reward or discipline other employees, or to direct them, or to adjust their grievances or effectively recommend such action.

Merit Lateral Transfer:  A change in position to the same class or to a different class having the same pay grade designation.

Merit Paygrade Adjustment:  A change in the paygrade level assigned to any classification.

Merit Permanent Employee:  An employee who has completed the probationary period and thereby acquired permanent status in accordance with the rules of the system.

Merit Permanent Position:  A position that is established to last a minimum of one year.

Merit Temporary Appointments:  Temporary appointments may be made and approved by the resident director to provide for services needed on a periodic basis. Appointments may be made without reference to the provision of these rules regarding minimum qualifications, certification, and selection. Employees appointed on this basis will not work more than 780 hours in any fiscal year.

MSE/C:  Merit exempt from collective bargaining due to Supervisory or Confidential status.

Monthly Payroll:  Paid on the first of each month for salaried employees.

Non-Exempt:  Staff members covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act and thereby paid on an hourly basis and eligible for overtime compensation.

Pay Level:  Using the evaluation criteria, each job classification is assigned to one of nine pay levels based on the best fit of the job classification's key areas of responsibility with the job factor attributes described in the level profile.

Position:  A group of specific duties, tasks and responsibilities assigned to be performed by one employee. A position may be 12-months or less, full-time or part-time, temporary or permanent, occupied or vacant.

Professional and Scientific (P&S):  A staff member employed in an exempt FLSA classification and governed by University Policy.

P&S At-Will:  "At-Will" status applies to a staff member whose administrative, policy making, or other responsibilities make it inappropriate to confer career status, or to a staff member who holds a temporary appointment.

P&S Career Status: Earned upon completion of continuous and satisfactory performance in a position during the probationary period established for that staff member in the position.

P&S Probationary:  Probationary status is that time during which a staff member’s performance is evaluated to determine whether the staff member is demonstrating the capacity for continued performance at a level necessary to meet the department or unit’s standards for the position.

P&S Temporary:  A staff member may serve in temporary status in a continuous appointment of not more than one year to meet an emergency or temporary need. Staff members in temporary status serve "at will".

P&S Term:  Those appointments of a specified period not to exceed three years, in order to accomplish a specific purpose. No right of reappointment is implied by the appointment.

Reclassification:  A reassignment or change in the allocation of a position by raising it to a higher, reducing it to a lower, or moving it to another class of the same level on the basis of significant changes in the kind or difficulty of the tasks, duties and responsibilities in such position, or because of an amendment to the classification plan, and officially assigning to that position the class title for such appropriate class of position.

Salary Market Data:  Data taken from highly regarded and well established sources representing the different geographical markets, business sectors, and when relevant, internal market comparisons.  Salary market data reflects where the University typically competes to recruit and retain staff in the benchmark jobs.

SEIU:  Service Employees International Union; the union representing Professional and Scientific employees engaged in providing tertiary health care services at the University of Iowa.

Special Assignment:  Assignment of an employee to the duties of a different class for a period generally not greater than six months, without change in title or status.

UE/COGS:  United Electrical and Machine Workers Union/Campaign to Organize Graduate Students; the union representing graduate students employed as Teaching and Research Assistants at the University of Iowa.

Unique Classification:  A job within a function that does not fit with other jobs into a family or series of jobs.  These unique classifications were originally identified as "outliers" during the expert panel phase of the project.

University Job Classification:  A job typically held by one or more individuals that is defined by its key ares of responsibility.  A series of job classifications within a job family reflect a typical career path, such as Financial Analyst, Senior Financial Analyst and Manager Financial Analyst.

Working Titles:  A title used in lieu of the University Job Classification title that may describe the job in terms that are better understood by internal and external constituencies, or in some cases, more accurately describes the individual job assignment.  When approved in accordance with university guidelines, working titles may be used in lieu of the University classification title for searches and job posting, local job descriptions and employee personnel records, regular business correspondence, both internal and external to the University, and the public University directories, both printed and online.  The University classification title is the default if no working title is established.