University Pay Structure & Processes Policy

Policy Statement

Duke University administers compensation polices and programs to provide a method for equitable classification of positions in relation to the level or work performed. Duke University maintains a pay structure based on job families to provide a method of grouping jobs that are similar in nature and function or compensation trends for purposes of determining levels of rate structures that are comparable to rates paid for similar work within the competitive market.

Policy Details

Pay Structure

Job families and job levels are established by Rewards and Recognition and represent comparable rates paid for similar work within the competitive market. Job families and job levels are periodically reviewed for appropriateness and revised based upon compensation surveys that determine compensation trends in the market and a study of economic factors which affect the establishment of equitable rates of pay.

Establishing Pay Rates for New Hires

Factors to consider when determining the pay rate for new hires include the following:

  • Salary range placement guidelines
  • A staff member's applicable knowledge, skills, and abilities;
  • General market conditions;
  • Miscellaneous considerations including budgeting, legal concerns, and internal-salary relationships.

Starting rates for new hires meeting minimum job specifications should generally be made within the first quartile of the established salary range for the classification. The table below provides guidelines for determining starting salaries and wage rates.

 1ST Quartile2nd Quartile3rd Quartile4th Quartile
Description of Minimum RequirementsCandidate is minimally qualified and less experienced. Candidate meets the minimum requirements of the position.Candidate is fully qualified to perform all duties and responsibilities of the position.Candidate is highly experienced professional. Candidate possesses skills, competencies, and capabilities well beyond the minimum requirements.Candidate has long-term experience. Candidate possesses well established skill sets and performance capabilities.

When considering the salary of a new hire either through external recruitment or promotion, Duke requires a review of the background of the new individual as compared to others in the department so as to ensure that the new staff member is paid appropriately in comparison to incumbents. For example, the salary range of a staff assistant is the following:

  • Minimum: $15.43
  • Midpoint: $19.40
  • Maximum: $23.37

Based on the guidelines above, a candidate with the minimum qualifications would be hired at $15.43. A candidate who is fully competent and experienced for the job should generally be hired within the second quartile (greater than $15.43 and less than $23.37).

Merit Increases

Duke is committed to linking the opportunity for annual pay increases to staff performance during the year. The opportunity for an annual merit increase is based on an individual’s annual performance evaluation and annually approved guidelines. The purpose of the annual performance review is to ensure staff receive candid performance information for the year and clear goals and development plans for the coming year. Merit increases are effective in July. The Pay & Performance website provides information and guidelines for the annual process and instructions for completion of the Performance Evaluation and Planning Form.

Merit Increase Guidelines for New Hires

Duke supervisors are guided by the following protocols in determining pay increases for new hires:

  • New staff employed for at least 90 days are eligible for one-half of the available full merit increase based on the applicable fiscal year guidelines and designated performance.
  • New staff employed for at least six months are eligible for the available full merit increase based upon applicable fiscal year guidelines and designated performance.


A promotion is defined as advancement to a job that requires a substantially higher level of competency and substantially greater responsibilities. Staff promoted to a higher classification should receive a promotional increase of up to the minimum rate of the new classification or up to 10 percent of their current rate.

  • The promotional increase should not result in a rate below the minimum or above the maximum for the new classification.
  • The rate of pay should be agreed upon in advance of the transfer.
  • The effective date of the promotion is generally the first day of the pay period in which the promotion occurs.


A demotion is an assignment to a lower-level job. A demotion can occur for reasons initiated by the department or staff member. Demotions should only be used if the staff member can still make a significant contribution to the organization in a new capacity. Staff who are demoted should receive a rate within the range of lower-level classifications commensurate with their proven qualifications. This rate generally represents a salary reduction. The new rate should neither be below the minimum nor above the maximum of the new salary range, as defined by the following factors:

  • Salary range placement guidelines;
  • Applicable knowledge, skills, and abilities;
  • General market conditions;
  • Other miscellaneous considerations including budgeting, legal concerns, and internal salary relationships.


A lateral transfer occurs when a staff member assumes a job that has a midpoint comparable to the staff member’s present job. A lateral transfer generally does not change the staff member’s pay rate, as there is no increase in job level or responsibility.

If a staff member is an internal hire and from the health system, a promotion, transfer, or demotion would be defined as follows:

Present DepartmentNew DepartmentActionDetermination
Health SystemUniversityPromotionThe midpoint is at least 10% higher than the staff member's current rate of pay.
Health SystemUniversityTransferThe midpoint is within 10% of the staff member’s current rate of pay.
Health SystemUniversityDemotionThe midpoint is at least 10% less than the staff member’s current rate of pay.

Premium Pay

Duke provides "premium pay" to staff in hourly-paid positions for working hours other than the standard Monday to Friday workday ("first shift"). Differentials and premiums are not paid on overtime hours.

The following categories of staff are eligible for premium pay:

  • All regular staff in hourly-paid positions.
  • Staff working on an abbreviated schedule (part-time).
  • Staff working within the orientation and evaluation period.

The following categories and classifications of staff are not eligible for premium pay:

  • Staff working in secondary or temporary positions.
  • Staff working out of their assigned position (hourly-paid staff who perform work for a defined period of time at a higher level than their job classification in their own (primary) department).
  • Staff in monthly-salaried positions.
  • Staff in hourly-paid positions as a result of hours extended beyond their regular workday.

The following table provides a definition of the differentials that can be applied to determine whether or not a staff member qualifies:

University Shift, Weekend and Holiday Premium Pay

Second Shift Differential (2:30p.m. to 12:00midnight)All eligible staff who work more than half of their work schedule between 2:30 p.m. and 12:00midnight are paid a second shift premium based on their regular hourly rate for all hours worked. However, this time is not to exceed their regular scheduled hours.
Third Shift Differential (10:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m.)All eligible staff who work more than half of their work schedule between 10:30 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. are paid a third shift premium based on their regular hourly rate for all hours worked. However, this time is not to exceed their regular scheduled hours.
Weekend Differential: Regularly Scheduled to Work WeekendsProvided that no overtime occurs, premium payment will be made to eligible staff for all hours worked on a regularly scheduled shift of both Saturday and Sunday for the second and following consecutive weekends.
Weekend Differential: Regular Rotating ScheduleTo qualify for premium payment, eligible staff who work a variable workweek (or a different number of hours each day) must work an average of their scheduled number of hours per day in a regular workweek on the second Saturday and Sunday of consecutive weekends. This policy is not applicable to staff who work every Saturday and Sunday on a fixed schedule as a condition of their employment or to staff who perform such work as a secondary occupation. Weekend Differential and Holiday Premium must be paid on the same hours. Overtime Premium Pay and Weekend Differential Pay should not be paid on the same hours. Hours qualifying for Weekend Differential Pay must be part of a staff member’s regular schedule.
Designated Holiday DifferentialPay for an unworked, designated holiday will be made at the staff member’s regular straight-time hourly rate of pay for a scheduled day’s work but is not to exceed the daily work schedule. Payment for a designated holiday that is worked – whether or not the staff member works part or all of the holiday – should be made at the staff member’s current rate of pay for the scheduled number of hours worked at the rate of time and one-half plus the designated holiday payment. The staff member may elect to receive only the time and one-half payment and take a day off with designated holiday pay within the first 60 days following the designated holiday. Where a less-than-full-time staff member works an irregular schedule differing in number of hours per day he or she will receive designated holiday pay for time not worked equal to the number of straight hours that he or she was scheduled to work. If the designated holiday falls on one of his or her scheduled days off, he or she should be entitled to a future day off within 60 days. This day off will be equal in hours to the ratio of his or her normal workweek (to 40 hours times eight). For Example: In the case of a 30 hour workweek, one would use the following calculation to determine the hours paid: 30/40 x 8 = .75 x 8 = 6 hours paid The department with position classifications that require work on holidays should schedule such work as equally as practicable.

University Standby and Emergency Call Back Pay

Standby Pay: Eligible staff who agree to stand-by for possible return to work will be paid a specified rate for each hour in stand-by status, regardless of whether or not they are called in to work.In addition to stand-by pay, eligible staff called in to work in a primary occupation will also be paid at a minimum of one hour's pay at the applicable rate for each time the staff member returns to work. Eligible staff who work in excess of one hour will be paid at their regular rate of pay, plus overtime – if applicable. However, no additional premiums other than overtime will be paid. Travel time spent returning to work by staff in stand-by status is not compensable time. Eligible staff receiving stand-by pay for return to work are not eligible for Emergency Callback Pay.
Emergency Call Back Pay: An eligible staff member who has left work and is subsequently required to return to work (as the result of an emergency) for other than his or her regular shift should receive at least four hours of work or four hours of pay at time and one-half his or her hourly rate – plus Shift Premium if applicable.Emergency Call Back pay and Overtime Premium pay should not be paid on the same hours. Shift Premium pay will be paid on the eligible hours qualifying for Emergency Call Back pay. A staff member who, as the result of an emergency, is called back to work while on a scheduled vacation will be compensated for the first eight-hour shift only at the rate of time and one-half.

Policy Number: 07.02


Pay Administration Policy