Employment information

Classification of employees
At the time of hire, regular faculty and staff positions are classified as full-time or part-time; and in addition, as either exempt or non-exempt to certain provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Bluffton also employs people for a specific duration, including adjunct faculty, grant-funded employees, graduate assistants and interns, assistant coaches and temporary workers. These classifications are for compensation and benefit eligibility purposes only. Policies described in this employee manual and communicated by Bluffton apply to all employees, with the exception of certain wage, salary and time off limitations applying only to "non-exempt" employees. Employees unsure of their classification should speak to the director of human resources (extension 3377).

Full-time regular employees
Staff members who are regularly scheduled to work at least 40 hours per week and faculty members contracted for 23-25 load hours per year are considered to be full-time employees. Job descriptions for certain full-time staff positions may specify reduced work time during the summer months to match university needs. In such situations, the employee retains full-time benefits for health insurance and tuition waivers.

Part-time regular employees
A staff member who is regularly scheduled to work less than 40 hours per week or a faculty member contracted for less than 23 load hours per year is considered a part-time employee. Certain employee benefits may be pro-rated for part-time employees and/or require at least half-time employment for eligibility.

 Other employee classifications
            Adjunct faculty.  Bluffton hires adjunct teaching faculty on a part-time, per-course basis. These individuals comprise an essential part of the faculty, particularly in covering teaching specialties that might not be available within the regular full-time faculty. Adjunct faculty work agreements do not include eligibility for benefits described in the benefit section of this employee handbook, except as granted on occasion, or to the extent required by provision of state and federal laws or applicable plan contracts.

            Grant-funded employees.  Employees hired with grant funding are normally hired for periods of time not to exceed the duration of grant funding, or as stipulated by the terms of the grant. Eligibility for benefits is determined at the time of employment.

            Graduate assistants and interns.  As is common at institutions of higher education, Bluffton provides employment opportunities for graduate students wishing to gain work experience related to their course of studies. These positions include graduate assistants (e.g., graduate assistants in athletic coaching) and graduate interns (e.g., Bowling Green State University interns in student life.) These staff positions are eligible for limited employee benefits, including tuition remission at Bluffton for graduate assistants and the option to purchase health insurance through the student accident and sickness insurance plan.

            Assistant coaches.  Bluffton hires part-time assistant athletic team coaches on per-season contracts. The job assignment, work schedule and duration of these short-term positions will be determined on an individual basis. These positions do not imply continuing employment beyond the term of the contract and do not carry the benefits described in the benefit section of this employee handbook, except as granted on occasion, or to the extent required by provision of state and federal laws or applicable plan contracts.

Temporary workers
From time to time, Bluffton may hire temporary workers or hire temporary workers through a hiring agency for specific periods of time or for the completion of a specific project. The job assignment, work schedule and duration of the position will be determined on an individual basis. A temporary employee does not become a regular employee by virtue of being employed longer than the agreed upon specified period. Normally, a temporary position will not exceed six months in duration. Temporary employees are not eligible for benefits described in the benefit section of this employee handbook, except as granted on occasion, or to the extent required by provision of state and federal laws or applicable plan contracts.

Exempt employee
An employee engaged in work which is executive, administrative or professional in nature, and which meets the specific tests established by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, is exempt from overtime compensation. Exempt employees are expected to work the hours and/or schedule necessary to accomplish the goals and duties required of the position, and are paid on a salary basis.

Non-exempt employee
A non-exempt employee is defined, based on duties performed, as an employee who receives an hourly wage for work performed. Non-exempt employees are subject to overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and are compensated for all hours worked. Because of that, they are required to account for all hours and partial hours worked on a weekly basis.

Introductory period
The first 90 days of staff employment at Bluffton are considered an introductory period. During that period employees will be eligible for the benefits as described in this employee handbook. This introductory period will be a time for employees to become acquainted with Bluffton University, with fellow employees, their supervisor and the tasks involved in the employee’s job position. Supervisors will work closely with newly hired employees to help create an understanding of the needs and processes of an employee’s job.

During this introductory period, Bluffton will evaluate an employee’s suitability for employment, and the employee can evaluate Bluffton University as well. It is important to note that completion of the introductory period does not guarantee continued employment, as employment is always at-will. An employee is free to terminate his or her employment at any time, with or without reason, and Bluffton may choose to terminate an employee’s employment at any time, with or without reason.

At the end of the introductory period, supervisors will typically discuss with a newly hired employee his or her job performance and inform the employee whether or not they will become a regular employee. This review will be similar to the job performance review that is held for regular full-time or part-time employees on an annual basis.

Performance reviews
Bluffton typically conducts a formal performance review once a year for each employee. The goal of performance reviews is to help the employee work closer to his or her potential and to contribute to the mission of the university. Performance reviews are viewed as opportunities for supervisors and their employees to evaluate work patterns and particular challenges, to reflect upon an employee’s job satisfaction and long-term aspirations, to establish and discuss annual goals and achievements, and to determine strategies for ongoing employee development.

Factors that are typically included in performance review include the quality and quantity of an employee’s work, strengths and areas for improvement, attitude and willingness to work, initiative and teamwork, attendance and reliability, problem solving skills, and ongoing professional growth and development. Additional areas may also be reviewed as they relate to specific jobs. A review may also be conducted in the event of a promotion or change in duties and responsibilities.

Compensation reviews
Each job at Bluffton is placed in the appropriate category of the faculty or staff pay scale depending on the characteristics and responsibilities of the position. Prior work experience at Bluffton and elsewhere, and other employee qualifications, will affect the exact level of pay for each employee. As determined by that pay scale, employees normally receive annual experience-based increases in their compensation as their years of service at Bluffton increase (subject to certain limits.) These increases, as well as any wage changes due to promotion or changed job responsibilities, normally take effect September 1. Additional wage increases for employees will be reviewed annually as part of the university’s budget-building process and become effective the following January, once fall enrollment numbers are final.

Work and payroll procedures
Work schedules
Bluffton’s public office hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, although individual employee’s hours of work may differ depending on specific job assignments and the need for maintaining continuous department coverage that meets the needs of students and other constituents. Work schedules, break procedures and scheduled meal times will be established by department supervisors.

Federal labor law prevents hourly employees from skipping rest breaks or working during meal breaks in order to accumulate additional paid time off that will be taken during a subsequent work week or to accumulate extra vacation days in the future.

Overtime pay and “comp time”
If a non-exempt (hourly) employee works more than 40 hours within a seven day work week, he or she must be compensated at the rate of time and one-half for all overtime work performed during a work week in excess of 40 hours. Federal labor law prevents hourly employees from taking “comp time” in a subsequent work week in lieu of receiving overtime pay. By definition, in most cases Bluffton’s work week starts on Monday and ends on the following Sunday. It is Bluffton’s intention to minimize the need for overtime work for hourly employees (as defined by federal and state labor law). Accordingly, hourly employees are asked to seek approval from their supervisor in advance of working overtime hours. It is possible that arrangements will be made to change other hours scheduled to be worked within the same week to minimize excess working hours.

If, during a work week, an hourly employee is entitled to pay for hours not worked (due to a job-related injury, paid holiday, jury duty, vacation day, paid personal day or paid sick time), those hours not worked will not be counted as hours worked for the purpose of computing eligibility for overtime pay.

Time sheet procedures
By law, accurate records must be kept of the time worked by each non-exempt (hourly) employee. Each employee is responsible for accurately recording his or her hours worked on a daily basis. Approval of pay for overtime hours, paid holidays, sick leave, vacation days, funeral days and paid personal days must be indicated on the time sheet by the department supervisor.

No one may record hours worked on another’s time sheet. Violations of this policy, or tampering with another worker’s time sheet, is cause for disciplinary action, up to and including possible termination of both employees. Recording errors on one’s own time sheet should be reported to the department supervisor immediately.

Pay period and direct payroll deposit
Bluffton employees are paid monthly, on the last business day of the month for work completed that month, including anticipated hours that will be worked from the 20th of the month through the end of the month. For purposes of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, Bluffton’s payroll work week begins at 12:01 a.m. Monday morning and ends the following Sunday evening at 12:00 p.m. midnight.

Faculty on nine- or ten-month per year teaching agreements receive monthly pay equal to one-twelfth of their annual agreement amount.

Direct deposit of payroll is required and may be directed to the financial institution of the employee’s choice. Direct deposit notices are normally sent on the last working day of the month to the employee's Bluffton University email address.

Mandatory deductions from paychecks
Bluffton is required by law to make certain deductions from each paycheck. Among these deductions are federal, state and local income taxes and FICA contributions (to Social Security and Medicare). The total of mandatory deductions depends on earnings as well as the number of exemptions/withholding allowances employees claimed on the Internal Revenue Service’s form W-4. An employee can change that claim at any time, but the request must be in writing and submitted to payroll. To do so, please complete a new W-4 form, obtained from the business office. Each year during the month of January, employees will receive a W-2 form that summarizes the total of mandatory and elective deductions from their pay during the previous calendar year.

Absence or lateness
From time to time, it may be necessary for an employee to be absent from work, including late arrival and early departure. Bluffton is aware that emergencies, illnesses or pressing personal business that cannot be scheduled outside of work hours may arise. Benefit days (vacation, personal and sick days for eligible employees) have been provided for this purpose. Hourly employee requests for making up missed work time must be approved by department supervisors and cannot always be accommodated, since it will depend on tasks at hand and needed coverage within the department.

Regular tardiness or early departure will result in supervisory review and eventual disciplinary action, including possible termination. Hourly employees will have reduction in pay for tardiness greater than 10 minutes, or for early departure, unless the supervisor approves making up the time.

Employees must notify their supervisor in advance of planned or expected absences. When sudden illness or an emergency makes this impossible, notice should be given to the supervisor or designee within 30 minutes of the start of the scheduled work session. Failure to notify the supervisor may result in disciplinary action. Absences should be charged to the appropriate benefit days (vacation, personal and sick days for eligible employees). If no benefit time is available, an absence may be excused without pay with the supervisor’s permission. Continuing absences not covered by benefit days will result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. Absence from work for three consecutive days without notifying your supervisor or the director of human resources may be considered a voluntary resignation.

Work on holidays
Hourly staff employees who are eligible for overtime pay in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act are considered to have worked overtime and will be paid time and a half for any hours worked on a university holiday (including or during the designated staff holidays during university Christmas and New Year’s) break regardless of the number of hours worked during that same week. Alternatively, any hourly staff employee required to work on a holiday may, in consultation with his or her supervisor, take another regular work day during that same work week as a replacement holiday.

Severe weather and emergency conditions
Bluffton University offices are rarely closed and classes are rarely cancelled due to severe weather or other emergency closures. This is particularly true during the school term, since the majority of our students reside on campus, can get to class and need to be cared for even during extreme weather conditions. Bluffton’s responsibility to maintain full operations during all but the most severe weather should be considered by all potential employees, particularly those who must commute from a distance or from isolated locations during bad weather.

During bad weather conditions, both salaried and hourly staff employees are expected to be able to make it to work, unless the university has been officially closed (as described in the next paragraph). Out of fairness to those who do come to work during inclement weather, hourly employees will not be paid for work missed (unless a personal or vacation day is taken) and salaried employees are expected to take a personal or vacation day if they cannot come in for at least half a day and/or their normal work is not accomplished. Given the residential/essential services nature of Bluffton’s campus operation, declared county road emergencies do not affect Bluffton’s need to operate.

In the event of extremely severe weather conditions or other emergencies, the president (or an administrative designee) may decide to close Bluffton University classroom, office or support functions for all or part of the day. If that occurs, affected employees will be notified as soon as possible through the Bluffton e-mail system or with a notice on local radio and television stations. Information will also be posted on Bluffton’s Web site as is possible. Hourly employees will be fully paid for their normal hours in the event of a partial day closure of Bluffton University. In the event the university is officially closed for a full day, essential salaried workers should still report for work as possible, and as directed by their supervisors. Only the hourly employees who are asked by their supervisors to come in to maintain essential services will receive pay for full-day closures of the university. Hourly pay for that day will be at one and one-half the normal rate for actual hours worked. Vacation or personal days may be used by other hourly employees who wish to maintain their normal pay while the university is officially closed.  Alternatively (or in combination with use of vacation), with permission of their supervisor, hourly employees may be allowed to work the necessary hours on another day within the same work week  to replace the time missed.

A full-day closure of the university is defined in a way that may or may not affect the continuing operation of evening classes for non-traditional programs at any of Bluffton’s teaching locations, including the main campus. In addition, any employee who was on a previously-approved paid leave, such as sick leave, will not be charged leave for the closure or emergency period.