IV. Compensation (HEO Guidelines)

Salary schedules and special compensation programs10 applicable to HEOs are included in the collective bargaining agreement and may not be modified for employees who are covered by the collective bargaining agreement.

The compensation system for HEOs nonetheless serves many purposes and provides the colleges with considerable flexibility in using the system to attract new talent, retain existing employees, acknowledge years of service, recognize excellence in performance, and compensate increased responsibilities. In exercising this discretion, the colleges must be vigilant in applying the requirements of the PSC/CUNY collective bargaining agreement, University policies, and good compensation practice.

The colleges have considerable discretion in determining compensation; all salary steps are regarded as appropriate within a HEO title. In making initial salary offers or pay changes, the college should consider the experience and expertise that the person brings to the particular position, the market for such skills (including his/her previous compensation), opportunities for advancing to higher steps in the pay structure, and the comparable pay of others in the organization performing work of similar value. Employers who ignore these factors are often faced with problems such as poor morale, excessive costs, difficulties in recruitment, and legal challenges to their fairness. The colleges must exercise prudent fiduciary management and comply with the law and applicable contractual constraints.

OFSR is available to consult with colleges, when requested, regarding compensation models, comparability across colleges, and particular rates in specialized fields. All compensation decisions are subject to post-audit. The University will intervene in compensation determinations only in those situations in which actions taken by the college conflict with contracts, specific University policies, or applicable laws.


The colleges may from time to time recognize excellent performance or increased responsibility by granting a salary step increase. The purpose of such an increase is to relate the employee's compensation to the level of performance. When excellent performance has been sustained over a period of time, or additional responsibilities have been assumed (short of warranting reclassification), a salary step increase may be appropriate.11 The college must notify OFSR of all such increases. Increases of three or more steps require the prior approval of OFSR.

In reviewing and approving these adjustments to compensation, the College HEO Committee should be guided by the following considerations:

One and Two Step Increases

The College HEO Committee must verify that the employee's evaluations support the recommended step increase, that the college has properly calculated the new pay step, and that the prospective effective date is in compliance with University practice.

Increases of Three or More Steps

In addition to the above, the College HEO Committee should consider the following:

  • the employee's entire performance history and contributions to the college, including specifics about the extraordinary nature of the accomplishments;
  • the salary history of the employee at the college, including all full-time appointments and any other increases which the employee has received;
  • pre- and post- job descriptions which clearly identify the new job duties when those duties are a factor in the justification for the multiple step increase.

Increases of three or more steps may be considered only in cases of extraordinary performance and/or significant expansion of job responsibilities and require extensive justification.


In rare and unusual circumstances, a college may wish to recommend a "special increment" involving the five-year or seven-year steps before the payment of the increment is otherwise due. In such circumstances, the following procedures must be followed:

  • A cover letter, signed by the President, should be forwarded to the Vice Chancellor for Faculty and Staff Relations, requesting approval of the "early movement" to the five-year or seven-year step. The letter should include the name, the payroll title, the functional title, the department, the social security number, and the current salary of the candidate, the step being requested (i.e., the five-year or seven-year step), the proposed effective date for payment of the early movement, the date on which payment of the step would otherwise be mandatory, and the special circumstances that formed the basis upon which early payment of the step is being recommended. The letter should also indicate that appropriate college review procedures have been followed and that the University's personnel practice and the University's Affirmative Action Policy have been considered.
  • Upon review of the material submitted, OFSR will respond in writing.
  • Requests that are approved will be effective not earlier than the first of the month following the meeting of the Board of Trustees at which the request is approved, except that requests approved at the September meeting may have a September 1 effective date.
  • Colleges must enter approved requests on the Chancellor's/University Report, utilizing the appropriate code.

As noted earlier, a college may find it necessary to employ the five-year and seven-year steps in recruiting for particular positions. In such circumstances, when a candidate has been identified, the President must submit a letter to the Vice Chancellor similar to the letter used to request early movement to the five-year or seven-year step for incumbent employees. If the request is approved, the college must enter it on the Chancellor's/University Report, subject to the University rules governing retroactivity for appointments.


Payment Upon Reclassification to a Higher Title

Except in the case of a reclassification owing to a prospective introduction of new duties, reclassification of a position acknowledges that an employee has been performing higher level work than appropriate to the prior title. Nevertheless, if the salary range of the reclassified position overlaps the employee's current salary, there is no obligation on the part of the college to accompany a reclassification with a salary adjustment. The college may choose to offer an advancement of one or more steps at its discretion. Attention should be paid that such discretion is exercised in a consistent manner for persons similarly situated.

Frequency of Salary Adjustments

As a general rule, salary adjustments should be limited to not more than once a year.

Payment Upon Return of a Substitute to a Lower Title

When a substitute appointment to a higher title ends, pay increases associated with the special service in the higher title are not retained upon the return of the employee to the prior lower position.

Payment Upon Appointment to a HEO title from a Position with the Same Duties in the Research Foundation

Salaries in the Research Foundation are presumed to represent fair compensation for the duties performed. Mere movement from the Research Foundation to a position in the University performing the same or similar duties does not therefore warrant an increase. Eligibility for merit adjustments in the HEO series, once appointed, follow the same guidelines as for other employees.

Pay Upon Appointment to a Different College in the Same Title Performing Similar Work

In recruiting for positions, persons hired from a search who are currently performing the same tasks in the same title at a different college will now be afforded the same compensation opportunities as are afforded candidates from outside the University.

10 From time to time, the University may negotiate special compensation programs with the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY. Recent examples of such special programs are the Performance Excellence Awards and the Recruitment/Retention Initiative.

11 See Section 22.5 of the PSC/CUNY collective bargaining agreement.

12 The last two steps on the salary schedule are known as the five-year step and the seven-year step. The five-year step derives its name from the fact that, in general, an employee must serve five years on the step immediately preceding it (known as the last one-year step) before becoming eligible for the increment. Similarly, the seven-year step derives its name from the fact that an employee must, in general, serve two additional years, at the five-year step, before becoming eligible for it.

III. Recruitment Procedures Table of Contents V. Reviews of Delegated College Personnel Actions

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Last Updated: 9/10/02

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