There are two classifications of employees: non-exempt and exempt. All employees are classified as non-exempt unless the duties performed meet criteria established under federal and state regulations that would allow the employee to be classified as exempt. Only the Compensation Office in Human Resources Administration has the authority to determine if a staff position qualifies to be classified as exempt and if the employee in that position is performing the duties that are required to maintain an exempt status. The classification of the employee determines the employee’s pay schedule and eligibility for overtime pay.
University Staff Employees
STAFF EMPLOYEES (excluding hospital employees) are regularly scheduled to work 50 percent or more based on a 37.5 or 40 hour work week on a continuous basis and are eligible to receive university benefits. For employees covered under a collective bargaining agreement, benefits specified in the agreement will apply. The percentage of time worked by a staff employee will affect leave accruals.
Full-time staff employees work 100 percent time at 37.5 or 40 hours per week, depending upon departmental business practices.
Part-time staff employees work between 50 and 99 percent time, based on 37.5 or 40 hour work weeks, depending upon departmental business practices. Accrual of vacation and sick leave is pro-rated based on the percent of time worked.
Contracts and grants employees– Candidates or current university employees hired into positions funded by contracts and grants (full-time or part-time) are hired in connection with a specific contract or grant for a defined period of time. Staff employees working under contracts and grants are eligible to receive all university benefits. However, certain policies (e.g., layoff notice, separation pay), do not apply when the term of the contract or grant is made known to the staff employee at the commencement of or during his or her employment. At time of hire, departments must inform the candidate or current university employee of the date the job will end, subject to contract or grant renewal.
Fixed-term employees– Candidates or current university employees hired into fixed-term positions (full-time or part-time) are hired for a defined period of time. Staff employees working under a fixed-term position are eligible to receive all university benefits. However, certain policies (e.g., layoff notice, separation pay), do not apply when the fixed term is made known to the staff employee at the commencement of his or her employment. At time of hire, departments must inform the candidate or current university employee of the date the fixed-term position will end.
HOSPITAL STAFF EMPLOYEES
Full-time hospital staff employees are regularly scheduled to work 32 hours or more per week on a continuous basis and are eligible to receive university benefits. For employees covered under a collective bargaining agreement, benefits specified in the agreement will apply.
Part-time hospital staff employees are regularly scheduled to work a minimum of 24 hours and no more than 31 hours per week on a continuous basis and are eligible to receive university benefits. For employees covered under a collective bargaining agreement, benefits specified in the agreement will apply.
PER DIEM EMPLOYEES are allowed only in very limited circumstances for certain departments. Per Diem employees have no set or regular schedule, and have an employment duration as required by the job. Per Diem employees are not eligible to receive university benefits.
STUDENT EMPLOYEES must be enrolled at USC and claim student status for employment tax purposes. Student employees are not eligible to receive university benefits.
RESOURCE EMPLOYEES have a limited employment relationship with the university. Resource employees are hourly, non-exempt employees and cannot work for the university more than 1,000 hours within a rolling 12-month period. Resource employees may not be hired without the prior written approval of Human Resources Administration. Resource employees are approved on a case-by-case basis and are only allowed in very limited circumstances. Such circumstances include the need for an employee to work a limited number of evening or weekend hours on a regular basis; specialized skills, expertise or licensure are required for a limited or recurring time period; or when there is a seasonal work flow. Resource employees are paid only for hours worked, are not eligible to receive benefits, with the exception of basic disability and workers’ compensation, and do not accrue vacation leave and may not be eligible for any other forms of leave (paid or unpaid). They do accrue sick leave – see the Paid Sick Time policy. Resource employee positions are exempt from posting requirements, however, candidates must successfully complete the background screening process (see Background Screening policy).
EMPLOYEES OF A TEMPORARY AGENCY are not university employees and are not eligible to receive university benefits. Before a department may engage a temporary employee, the department must consult with their Human Resources office to confirm that the assignment cannot be filled by a university employee in a regular full-time or part-time, fixed-term, per diem, resource or student employee status paid on USC payroll.
Temporary employees are engaged to work for a short period of time, ideally less than 4 months, but in no case for more than 1400 hours in any consecutive 12-month period. The 1400 hour cap is the cumulative total number of all hours worked at the university, for all departments and for all temporary assignments over the course of a rolling 12-month period. Temporary employees who have reached the 1400 hour cap must take, at minimum, a six-month break in assignments at the university before the individual can assume another temporary assignment at the university.
A payrolled employee is a type of temporary agency employee. Specifically, a payrolled employee is an individual a university department has identified for a temporary assignment; the department must refer the individual to Trojan Talent Source for employment.
Ordering and paying for temporary and payrolled employees must be coordinated through Trojan Talent Source.
INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS are not university employees and, as such, are not eligible for university benefits. Payment is arranged via a purchase order charged to the materials and supplies expense category.
In general, to be classified as an independent contractor and not as a university employee, the relationship between the individual and the university must be such that the university does not have a right to direct and control the means and details of the work performed by the individual.
Some indicators of employee and independent contractor status are listed below. To the extent the factors in the first section exist, the person likely would be considered an employee and not an independent contractor. A department should consider these factors and must review each situation on a case-by-case basis with Business Services or Human Resources Administration prior to engaging the services of an independent contractor. Only Business Services and Human Resources Administration have the authority to determine whether or not an individual meets the necessary criteria to be engaged as an independent contractor.
Some of the factors indicating employee status:
- required to comply with other employees’ instructions about when (set hours), where, and how (details) he or she is to work;
- requires training on how to do the job by an experienced employee (as opposed to a general introduction to the department/school and its personnel);
- services integrated into normal business operations (that generally shows that the worker is subject to direction and control);
- a continuing working relationship between the worker and person or persons for whom services are performed.
Some of the factors indicating independent contractor status:
- significant investment (have their own tools, computer, office, etc.);
- performance of the task for a fixed fee;
- unreimbursed expenses, although some contracts include expense reimbursement;
- an opportunity for profit or loss (could expenses exceed the contract amount?);
- free to seek out business opportunities, making services available to others;
- highly trained professionals such as accountants, engineers, and physicians engaged in the pursuit of an independent business or profession who offer their services to the public.
Generally, an employee cannot concurrently be engaged by the university in another capacity (temporary agency worker, independent contractor) or be employed by the university in a different unit or department or in a different classification (exempt, nonexempt) or employment status (faculty, staff, student worker). For information regarding exceptions, contact Human Resources Administration.
Human Resources Administration
Todd R. Dickey, Senior Vice President, Administration
University of Southern California