All personnel involved in research activities and who are paid using sponsored research project funds must be compensated in accordance with University guidelines, which establish hiring rates and regulate pay adjustments for employees at the University of Houston. Compensation must be for actual work performed on the project during the project performance period, and this effort must be verified as a portion of total compensated effort. Regular research staff compensation is governed by the MAPP policies on Compensation (02.01). The research pay schedule which defines and lists the pay ranges and pay grades for non-faculty, full time, non-student researchers can be found here. In addition to the MAPP policies, the Faculty Handbook also provides guidelines governing faculty compensation.
Vacation and Sick Leave Accruals
Benefits eligible personnel employed on sponsored research projects accrue leave time. The cost of fringe benefits in the form of regular compensation paid to employees during periods of authorized leave, such as for sabbatical leave, family-related leave, sick leave, holidays, court leave, military leave, administrative leave, and other similar benefits, is allowable if certain criteria are met, including:
(1) They are provided under established written leave policies;
(2) The costs are equitably allocated to all related activities, and
(3) The accounting basis used for estimating each type of leave is consistently followed for each type of employee.
In addition to regular salaries and wages, severance pay will be paid to workers whose employment is being terminated and is are allowable to the extent that, in each case, it is: (a) required by law, (b) there is an employer- employee agreement specifying severance pay, or (c) there is an established written policy. Severance pay in the form of a lump sum payment is not allowed. The university does maintain a reserve for regular severance pay. Each grant from which an employee is paid will be charged a percentage proportional to the employee’s effort on each sponsored project, and those funds will be placed in a central cost center to be paid out as severance pay upon termination.
According to the University of Houston faculty handbook, Faculty development leave or sabbatical leave is granted for either: one academic year at one-half salary paid by the University or for one semester at full salary to be paid by the university. If approval of the sponsoring agency is obtained, faculty members who take a sabbatical leave to work on a particular research project can be compensated from the project funds for the time worked on the project.
According to the UH Faculty handbook, faculty who are on less than a twelve month contract may conduct research and be paid from research funds during the time not covered by that faculty member's contract. Faculty members who engage in advising, teaching, or other paid activities must reduce their grant-funded salary accordingly, such that the sum from all sources does not exceed 3/9ths for faculty on 9 month appointments, 2/9ths for faculty on 10 month appointments, and 1/9th for faculty on 11 month appointments.
Administrative salaries on sponsored project funds
OMB Circular A-21 and the Uniform Guidance establishes the principle that administrative salaries (salaries of clerical and administrative personnel) should normally be treated as Facilities and Administrative (F&A) or indirect costs. For awards incorporating OMB Circular A-21, only administrative costs that are related to a major project can be directly charged to the award. Effective September 5, 2014, the Uniform Guidance (A-81) regulations on administrative salaries allows for the direct charge of administrative salary costs to federally sponsored projects, but only if ALL of the following conditions are met:
- Administrative or clerical services are integral to a project or activity. Integral is defined as services which are essential, vital, or fundamental to the project or activity.
- Individuals involved can be specifically identified with the project or activity.
- Such costs are explicitly included in the budget or have the prior written approval of the federal awarding agency.
- A budget justification must be included in the proposal
- The costs are not also recovered as indirect costs
Additional compensation is pay in a given period (usually monthly) at a rate that exceeds the Institutional base salary (IBS). When additional compensation is paid from federal funds, it requires the prior written approval of the federal agency and must be in compliance with written University policies which are applied uniformly to all employee classes, and not just those working on Federal awards. These requirements and expectations also apply when paying additional compensation on funding from non-federal sponsors. The intended purpose of additional compensation is to address an increase in responsibility or duties that are clearly exceptional to the employee’s regular position, or in the case of teaching duties that exceed what is classified as assigned teaching load by the University’s policy. The additional pay should commensurate with the additional duties and effort.
For tenured and tenure-track faculty members, when sponsored project funding is available during the academic appointment, it is designed to replace institutional funds because the sponsored activity funds “buy” release time from the base period workload duties. However, when a buyout is not possible and additional compensation is considered necessary, the Uniform Guidance (200.430) outlines the conditions and possible limitations in determining the allowability of such costs to federal awards and the standard of documentation required.
When the additional compensation that is part of the IBS is paid from a non-grant during a period that is also funded by grant funds, the percentage effort contributed to the sponsored project will be reduced while the salary charged to the sponsor will remain the same. Therefore, such additional compensation must be justified and the appointment to the assignment representing the extra pay and increase in IBS must be supported by letters of appointment from the Deans and Chairs and/or approved by the Provost.
- When additional compensation is for incidental activities, it must either be specifically provided for in the Federal award budget or receive prior written approval by the Federal awarding agency. Incidental activities are job duties that are clearly unrelated to current duties as demonstrated by the employee’s job description or other documentation, and is not part of IBS. It is usually a one-time lump sum payment for services or jobs with a time commitment of one month or less and is not included in effort reporting. When the additional compensation for incidental activities is from non-grant funding sources, sponsor approval is not required.
- Intra- institutional consulting by faculty members are assumed to be undertaken as an obligation requiring no additional compensation because the consulting tasks are usually part of the faculty’s job description. For example, contributing to a project conducted by another faculty member should be done via a buyout arrangement or paid for by the University as part of regular IBS. However, in unusual cases where consultation is across departmental lines or involves a separate or remote operation, and the work performed by the employee is in addition to his or her regular responsibilities, any charges for such work representing additional compensation above IBS are allowable provided that the arrangement was specifically provided for in the Federal award or approved in writing by the Federal awarding agency. When intra-institutional consulting by faculty members results in extra service pay, the conditions listed below for extra service pay must be met.
- Extra service pay or additional compensation representing a faculty member’s appointment to long term assignments such as Deans, Chairs and Directors, for work that is beyond the level of work in the regular assignment, is allowable when the following conditions exist:
- The assignment is described in letters of appointment from the Provost’s office
- The total salaries charged to federal awards plus any extra service pay from non-grant funds are accounted for in effort reporting
- The additional payment is consistent with the University’s written policy about additional compensation
- The supplemented amount is commensurate with the IBS rate of pay and the amount of additional work performed
- The supplemented amount falls within the salary structure and pay ranges established by and documented in writing by the University.
Related University Policy:
MAPP 02.01.06 - Additional Compensation - Exempt Staff
Faculty handbook - Additional Compensation Policy for Faculty 187-188
- Professional Responsibilities (workload) Section on pages 106-128