Merit compensation is governed by the Iowa Board of Regents Merit Rules, Chapter 3. To view the Merit Rules, please see the link below under Related Content. 

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Effective January 8, 2023, as approved by the Board of Regents, hours worked between 6 p.m. and midnight ("second shift") will be compensated at an additional $1.25 per hour if four (4) or more hours of the shift occur between these hours. Hours worked between midnight and 6 a.m. ("third shift") will be compensated at an additional $1.75 per hour if four (4) or more hours of the shift occur between these hours.

In Merit employment, permanency means the successful completion of a six month probation period in the classification currently being held, or if in continuous employment, the last classification held in which the probation period was completed if currently serving a probation in a different classification. The six month probation period is for determining an employee's fitness for the position.

Probation Note: There is no probation period for a current permanent employee who has successfully served a probation in a class while in continuous employment.

Salary Note: When computing a salary, the new salary cannot exceed the top step of the new pay grade assignment.


A lateral transfer is a change from one position to a different position in the same pay grade.

  • In the same classification does not serve a probation period (for example, clerk II to clerk II)
  • In a different classification serves a six-month probation period
  • Salary remains at the current rate, unless the position to which the employee is leaving has an advanced rate. The salary will be increased to the advanced rate if the employee's current salary is below the advanced rate.

Promotion/Departmental Competitive Promotion

A promotion is a change from one position to a different position that is in a higher pay grade.

  • Serves a six-month probation period
  • Receives the standard 4.5% increase unless circumstances warrant a different increase
  • The department may request an additional 4.5% increase if the promotion is to a position that is three or more pay grades higher than the current one.


A demotion is a change from one position to a different position that is in a lower pay grade.

  • In series does not serve a probation period (ex. secretary III to secretary II)
  • Out of series serves a six-month probation period (ex. secretary III to clerk III)
  • Salary may be set at any step within the lower pay grade that does not exceed the current pay with prior approval from University Human Resources.

Trainee to Journey Status

  • Does not serve a probation period at the journey level if successfully completes the training program
  • A current trainee pay plan is available for download via the Pay Plans Directory.

New Hire

  • Serves a six-month probation period
  • Receives the beginning rate for the classification in which he/she was hired


Reinstatement applies to previous permanent Iowa Board of Regents Merit Employees who resigned in good standing. This reinstatement status applies to classifications where the qualifications are met and are in the same pay grade or lower than the last permanent job previously held.

  • Serves a six-month probation period
  • Will be paid at a rate no greater than what the employee was last paid and between the minimum and maximum of the pay grade. An employee who is returned to a merit system position from a professional position, will be paid in accordance with subrule 3.39(4), pay on demotion.

The following information is intended for reference only. Pay for exceptional performance is governed by the Merit rules established by the Iowa Board of Regents.


3.39(10) Pay for exceptional performance. An employee may be given pay for exceptional performance, not to exceed 10 percent of an employee's current annual salary, at the written request of the employee's department head with appropriate administrative approval and the prior approval of the resident director. The request will describe the nature of the exceptional job performance for which additional pay is requested, indicate the amount proposed, and specify the source of funds. The award may be based on sustained superior performance or an exceptional achievement or contribution during the period since the employee's last performance review. To qualify for an exceptional performance award, an employee must have a cumulative performance evaluation exceeding standards and have no individual rating below satisfactory. Payment will be made as a lump sum award and will not change the employee's established salary.  An employee will be eligible to receive multiple rewards per fiscal year but not to cumulatively exceed 10 percent of the employee’s current annual salary.


  1. A written request must be made by an employee's department head and approved by the appropriate dean or vice president.
  2. The request must explain the details of the sustained superior performance or the exceptional achievement/contribution.
  3. The request should be attached to the special compensation payment form in the HR transaction system. If the college or division does not have an internal nomination form, departments may use our Pay for Exceptional Performance Nomination Template
  4. To be eligible, an employee:
    1. Must have permanent Merit status.
    2. Must have a current performance appraisal with a cumulative rating above satisfactory and no individual rating below satisfactory.


The appropriate HR transaction form for pay for exceptional performance is Special Compensation Payment-Pay for Exceptional Performance. A prior approval transaction is not required.

The annual number of standard hours used to calculate salaries for Merit employees are based on the collective bargaining agreement between the State of Iowa and the AFSCME Union. Merit non-bargaining employee hours are the same as those in the bargaining unit. Merit wages are calculated by multiplying the hourly rate by the number of standard hours in a calendar year. Fluctuations in the number of hours may cause confusion when calculating actual percentage increases for employees. Here is a history of the standard hours used each year since 1999-2000:

AFSCME Standard Hours

Current Year

  • Calendar year 2024: 2096

Future Years

  • Calendar year 2025: 2088
  • Calendar year 2026: 2088
  • Calendar year 2027: 2088
  • Calendar year 2028: 2080

Prior Years

  • Calendar year 2023: 2080
  • Calendar year 2022: 2080
  • Calendar year 2021: 2088
  • Calendar year 2020: 2096
  • Calendar year 2019: 2088
  • Calendar year 2018: 2088
  • Calendar year 2017: 2080
  • Calendar year 2016: 2088
  • Calendar year 2015: 2088
  • Calendar year 2014: 2088
  • Calendar year 2013: 2088
  • Calendar year 2012: 2088
  • Calendar year 2011: 2080
  • Calendar year 2010: 2088

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