Have a question about the University Personnel System?  Review the online questions and answers by clicking on the topics on the left side of the screen.  If you can’t find an answer, send your questions to ups@uwsa.edu.

General Info

Act 32 of 2011 (the budget bill) created Wisconsin Statute § 36.115, which directs the UW System Board of Regents to develop a new UW System personnel system, and also directs the UW-Madison chancellor to develop a new personnel system for UW-Madison employees.  These two parallel UW personnel systems will be “separate and distinct” from the system established in Chapter 230 of the Wisconsin Statutes.

A personnel system is a structure of activities and methods of doing business that enable the attraction, development, and retention of talent focused on the mission of the University.  Included in the personnel system are human resource strategies and planning for staffing, compensation, training, performance management, diversity, and legal compliance.

A civil service system generally means employment in government, with such positions filled on merit as a result of competitive examinations or screening.  Employment in civil service brings with it certain rights regarding job security; namely, that in most civil service appointments discipline or termination can only occur where there is just cause and after due process has been provided.

Wis. Stat. § 36.115(4) requires that the new personnel systems include a (1) civil service system, (2) a grievance procedure that addresses employee terminations, (3) and provisions that address employee discipline and workplace safety. 

The grievance procedure shall include all of the following elements:
(a) A written document specifying the process that a grievant and an employer must follow.
(b) A hearing before an impartial hearing officer.
(c) An appeal process in which the highest level of appeal is the board.

Wis. Stat. § 36.115 requires the development of two systems. 

36.115Personnel systems.
(1) In this section, "chancellor" means the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
(2) The board shall develop a personnel system that is separate and distinct from the personnel system under ch. 230 for all system employees except system employees assigned to the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
(3) The chancellor shall develop a personnel system that is separate and distinct from the personnel system under ch. 230 for all system employees assigned to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 
For information about UW-Madison's Human Resources Design project, please visit http://hrdesign.wisc.edu

One thing that will change is that the new personnel systems will not be administered in any way by the State of Wisconsin Office of State Employment Relations (OSER). Other things that will change are those processes that the UW can control and that have been reported as a problem or limitation in the current personnel system. As those changes are identified they will be communicated with stakeholders through this website and other appropriate means.

There are several ways to provide input in the process. The first step in this process was the current state assessment that each institution completed. Working groups are formed around various topics (such as titles & classifications, compensation, etc.), and each UW institution was asked to provide nominations of employees from all stakeholder groups to participate in working groups. 

Each UW institution has been asked to formalize a communication plan to ensure an adequate means to capture feedback. Please contact your institution's Human Resources office if you have questions about communications or the implementation of the new personnel system on your campus. 

Send any questions or ideas to ups@uwsa.edu. There will be ongoing opportunities for all university employees to be heard, and those opportunities will be announced on this website and at your UW institution. 

Wis. Stat. § 36.115(5) specifies that the new personnel systems shall be implemented on July 1, 2015.

The state legislature's Joint Committee on Employment Relations (JCOER) approved both new personnel systems on April 23, 2014. 

Yes. The real and perceived differences in treatment of classified and unclassified employees within the UW System was one of the issues raised most often in the current state assessment of the personnel system in place now and the issue will be closely reviewed.


No. There may be budgetary considerations independent of the personnel system development that will need to be considered, but the implementation of the personnel systems will not require layoffs.

Many Operational Policies (OPs) will need to be created and revised as UPS is implemented starting July 1, 2015. Operational Policy GEN 27: Development, Revisions, and Approval of Operational Policies describes how policies may be created and revised after July 1, 2015. 

Benefits & Leave

No. Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) pension benefits, and other benefits administered by Employee Trust Funds (ETF), will not change as a result of new personnel system provisions.

There are 2 separate sick leave conversion programs: the Accumulated Sick Leave Conversion Credit (ASLCC) program and the Supplemental Health Insurance Conversion Credit (SHICC) program.

  1. The ASLCC program is provided for in sections 40.05(4)(b) & (bc), Wisconsin Statutes, and administered by the Department of Employee Trust Funds (DETF).  There is no intent to change this program as a result of the implementation of a new personnel system.
  2. The SHICC program is also administered by the DETF, but it is not authorized by state statute.  Rather, it is provided for in the compensation plan.  There is no intent to change this program as a result of the implementation of a new personnel system.

Yes. Currently the eligibility and accrual of leave benefits, as well as carryover and banking provisions, are inconsistent between the classified and unclassified staff.  As part of the analysis of our current policies, this will be reviewed.

No.  As part of the mandated Health Insurance Options Feasibility Study, this topic was addressed in the October, 2011 report.  Study topic #2 beginning on page 10 provides a good and clear explanation of the issue.  The conclusion is "the actuary found that the cost factor for employee+spouse contracts to be 3.8% higher than those for all other family groupings combined, including employee+spouse+dependents."  In other words, if the employee+spouse coverage level were available, the monthly premium for this coverage level would likely be higher than the monthly premium for family coverage.

Title Structure & Compensation

Yes. UW System has different compensation tools for different types of employment categories. These tools range from methods that provide pay flexibility for managers to more rigid structures that do not allow managers to negotiate starting pay or make needed adjustments. Work teams developing the new personnel systems will review compensation practices (internally and externally) and recommend options that will ensure the new personnel system implements pay approaches that are competitive and meet the needs of each institution.

Yes. The current state assessment pointed out that career progression in the current personnel system is inadequate.  It is an issue that will need to be addressed, but how the new personnel systems will allow for more career development opportunities is unknown at this time.

Yes. Current titles and classifications will be reviewed to ensure they accurately reflect the duties being performed.


Maybe. Titles and classifications are being reviewed to determine that they accurately reflect the work carried out by UW System employees. 

Academic staff appointments will continue to be either fixed term or indefinite, as determined by the employee's UW institution. 

Yes. The UW System Board of Regents Pay Plan Guidelines, that will include all employees, stipulate that pay plan adjustments will be awarded based on solid and meritorous performance.

Discretionary Merit Compensation (DMC) and Discretionary Equity and Retention Adjustment (DERA) are types of compensation administered by OSER. These specific compensation programs will not be available starting July 1, 2015. However, similar compensation flexibilites will be available and administered at each institution.

The Board of Regents Pay Plan Guidelines will provide the framework for the pay plan increases. Each UW Institution is responsible for developing its distribution policies based on the Board's guidelines.

There will be no add-ons to compensation for academic staff positions. As a result, current add-ons could be figured into the base rate of pay for academic staff positions. No one will see their pay reduced as a result of voluntary reassignment, so each UW institution will ensure that current add-ons are accounted for if and when an employee chooses voluntary reassignment. 


Work Environment

Yes. All UW System employees have been and will continue to be State of Wisconsin employees with the State benefit package. The current personnel system for unclassified employees is administered by the UW System, but the personnel system for classified employees is administered by the Office of State Employment Relations (OSER). Effective July 1, 2015, all UW employees will have their personnel system administered by the UW System, and the State (OSER) will no longer have administrative purview over UW employees.

No. Due process protections will still be in place for all university employees.


Yes. Job security considerations for academic staff are outlined in University Personnel Guideline 3.05 and are defined in each institution's academic staff personnel policies and procedures. The statute directing that new personnel systems be developed does not change existing authority.

No. University staff (currently classified) employees who accept an academic staff position after July 1, 2015 will not be granted a leave of absence and the right to return to a former position. In other words, the restoration rights under Wis. Stat. § 230.33 for classified/university staff members who accept an unclassified/academic staff position are not being carried forward.  

Yes. Under the applicable law, UW System classified employees who currently have the right to form unions, and who have the right to bargain over wages, will continue to have those rights. Classified employees in bargaining units that did not seek recertification will not engage in collective bargaining unless their union becomes recertified.

No.  The Faculty and Academic Staff Labor Relations Act (FASLRA) was repealed and, therefore, faculty and academic staff are not currently allowed to form unions that have the ability to collectively bargain with the university. Employees can still form associations or unions, but those groups will not have the right or ability to collectively bargain.

No, shared governance rights have not been changed.

Yes, seniority will continue to be important within the UW System after July 1, 2015. The adjusted continuous service date will be used for all employees to determine their official seniority date. 

Yes. A probationary period will be mandatory for all university staff positions after July 1, 2015. Probation will be at least six months in length, and there will be circumstances in which the probationary period could be extended. 

Layoff policies will change in a number of important ways after July 1, 2015.  Complete information can be found in GEN 13: Layoff for Reasons of Budget or Program and in the associated Comparison of Layoff Procedures document.  Key changes include:

1. Layoff decisions will be made by operational area, not employing unit. At some small UW institutions, the employing unit may be the entire campus. Operational areas are smaller work units within a campus. 

2. Criteria for determining who must be laid off will change. While seniority remains an important factor in layoff decisions, it will not be the only factor. After July 1, layoff criteria will include:  

  • Needs of institution to deliver services; 
  • Relative skills, knowledge, and expertise of employees;
  • Length of service of employees; and
  • Other appropriate criteria 

3. Affected employees must be notified at least 30 days prior to the effective date of the layoff (current OSER practices require 15 day notice).

Not necessarily. For a university staff employee, any separation from employment (including a reduction in FTE) for reasons of budget or due to the discontinuance, curtailment, modification, or reduction of a program would be a layoff. An FTE reduction of an academic staff appointment during an appointment term would also be a layoff. But if the appointment of an academic staff member is not renewed and the employee subsequently receives an appointment with a reduced FTE, the reduction in FTE would not constitute a layoff.

Recruitment & Job Changes

There will be some changes to the names of some UW System employee categories effective July 1, 2015. 'Classified staff' will become 'university staff,' and 'unclassified staff' will be known as the separate categories of 'faculty,' 'academic staff,' and 'limited appointee.'  Limited Term Employees (LTEs) and Project employees will be known as University Staff Temporary Employees. 

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) is a federal law that pertains to work schedules and compensation. 'Exempt' employees are exempt from the overtime provisions under FLSA, which means these employees are not eligible to earn overtime for working beyond 40 hours per week.  Exempt employees are often paid on a salary basis and are compensated for their 'total job effort.' Non-exempt employees are eligible to earn overtime (either in money or compensatory time). These employees are often paid on an hourly basis.  Under UPS, the distinction between exempt and non-exempt employees is mostly important in how employees are categorized.  Current classified non-exempt staff will become known as university staff. Current classified exempt staff will have a choice to accept an academic staff position or remain as university staff. 

Voluntary reassignment is the process by which current classified exempt employees can choose to accept an academic staff or limited position after July 1, 2015. Classified non-exempt staff will not have the voluntary reassignment option. 

If you are an FLSA exempt classified employee as of June 30, 2015, you may choose to accept an academic staff or limited appointment after July 1. There are many factors to consider in making this decision, and UPS OP TR 3 provides much more information, and the comparison document details very specific differences.

If the voluntary reassignment is effective any time from July 1 to January 1, the employee will receive 36 hours of personal holiday (prorated if part-time). Any remaining personal holiday from the university staff appointment must be paid out to the employee. If the reassignment is effective at any time from January 2 to June 30, the employee will not receive additional personal holiday hours until the beginning of the next fiscal year (July 1). Any remaining personal holiday from the university staff appointment will be transferred to the new appointment and must be used by June 30th following the date of reassignment, or it will be lost.

The institution determines the salary for the academic staff or limited position. 

Before July 1, 2015, any movement of vacation time to sabbatical must be made in accordance with ER 18.02(5). After July 1, 2015, university staff employees will be able to bank leave when offered in the fall of each year.

No. While there is no cutoff date for voluntary reassignment, once an employee chooses to switch to an academic staff or limited position, the employee cannot return to the university staff in that position.  Voluntary reassignment is each eligible employee's own choice, but it is a one-time opportunity.

Yes. If the employee accepted a academic staff position before July 1, 2015 and is currently on a leave from their classified appointment per 230.33, the employee does maintain restoration rights. However, effective July 1, 2015, 230.33 does not apply to UW System employees, so no restoration rights will exist if a university staff member accepts an academic staff position.  

Generally speaking, UW System employees will not be eligible to apply as a permissive transfer candidate to jobs at other state agencies. 

Wis. Stat §36.115(6) provides reinstatement privileges for staff holding classified positions on June 30, 2015.  Employees will retain the privilege of permissive reinstatement as defined in Wis. Stat. § 230.31(1) under UPS.  This means that classified employees in permanent status as of June 30, 2015 will stay eligible for permissive reinstatement to classified positions at state agencies for a period of five years (until July 1, 2020). For classified employees on probation as of June 30, 2015, they will retain the same privilege of having permissive reinstatement to classified positions at state agencies for a period of five years (until July 1, 2020) if they successfully complete the probationary period in the position held on June 30, 2015. 

UW System employees hired on or after July 1, 2015 will not have reinstatement rights as defined in Wis. Stat. § 230.31(1) and therefore will not be able to apply for jobs at other state agencies as a permissive transfer candidate.

Appointment terms for an academic staff or limited appointment will be determined by each UW institution's policies. 

Yes. As with the classified staff recruitment process, many have voiced dissatisfaction with the unclassified recruitment process.  It is important to note that the unclassified staff recruitment process is defined by each institution per UWS 3.02 for faculty and UWS 10.01 for academic staff.  Institutions should take this opportunity to review its own unclassified staff recruitment processes and procedures.

Yes. Many have expressed dissatisfaction with the current hiring process for classified staff.  It is viewed as an unnecessarily arduous process and will be closely analyzed as the new personnel structures are developed.  Exactly how classified recruitment processes will change is unknown at this time but, some change is likely.  

Yes. Many have voiced dissatisfaction with the current exam process for classified recruitments, and it will be examined as the new personnel systems are developed.  It is important to note that civil service protections – such as merit-based hiring practices – will not be discarded.  Whether current policy and practices regarding examinations should be changed has not yet been determined. 


No. The hours worked by an LTE prior to July 1, 2015 will count toward the 1,040-hour cap that temporary employees may work.

No. The total duration of a project appointment cannot exceed four years.

A concurrent position is given only if the university staff member accepts a limited appointment at the same institution.


A. Not necessarily. Qualifications for positions at UW System institutions are determined by each institution's policies.


Yes. Under Wis. Stat. § 16.85(4) the process for approving the appointment of the power plant chief operating engineers is still in effect and is not affected when the chief operating engineer is recruited as an academic staff member.