Staff Compensation Administration Policy

Staff Compensation Administration Policy
Type of Policy
jgastley3 Tue, 05/29/2012 - 15:28
Policy No
Effective Date:
Last Revised:
Review Date:
Policy Owner
Human Resources
Contact Name
Kevin Merkel
Contact Title
Senior Director-Payroll and Total Rewards
Contact Email
Reason for Policy

Georgia Tech is committed to providing a competitive staff compensation program that will attract, retain, motivate, and reward a qualified, diverse workforce at all levels. This Policy outlines staff compensation requirements and is not intended to be a contract of employment, express or implied, between any employee and Georgia Tech.

Policy Statement

Georgia Tech strives to ensure that compensation decisions are made as objectively as possible without consideration of a person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age, disability, or genetic information. Employee compensation administration will be supported by reliable market data, internal equity reviews, and performance evaluations. Implementation of policies and procedures pertaining to payment of salaries is contingent upon the availability of funds.

General Considerations for All Compensation Actions
Salary and wage adjustments will generally be awarded to employees at Georgia Tech upon promotion to a higher level position, upon reclassification to a higher level position, when an equity, market or administrative adjustment is deemed necessary, and on an annual basis provided performance warrants the adjustment. The annual increase will be in the form of a merit increase and developed in conjunction with, and in adherence to the University System of Georgia’s (USG) guidance. Equity and market adjustments may also be developed in conjunction with the budget development process. For all compensation and Pay Grade changes, the unit Human Resources representative and department supervisor will collaborate to develop an appropriate salary recommendation, based on factors such as an employee's skill, knowledge, experience, and performance, criticality of the role, budget, and market data. All adjustments are contingent upon available funding and must be developed in consultation with the unit’s Human Resource representative and GTHR Compensation.

The effective dates of the compensation action will be aligned with a future compensation period corresponding with the position’s compensation frequency.

Exceptions to this policy may be approved in unusual circumstances by the head of GTHR Total Rewards and the AVP of Human Resources, with the support of the appropriate EVP, or Office of the President where the approval is given in writing and such exception does not violate other policies within Georgia Tech, the USG, or related laws.

Communicating Compensation Adjustments
Supervisors must not commit to any change in salary or compensation of an employee without appropriate departmental, Institute, or USG level approval. Georgia Tech is not bound to any agreement made by a supervisor who has not obtained proper approvals.

Maximum Salary Administration
All Georgia Tech departments must adhere to the USG Maximum Salary Administration guidelines in all compensation actions.

Incentive Programs
Georgia Tech may establish incentive compensation programs consistent with state law, USG Policy, and applicable procedures, however, institutional incentive compensation programs must be reviewed and approved by the USG’s Office of Fiscal Affairs and GTHR.

Starting Compensation
Starting salaries for external hires are determined based on the applicant’s prior experience, skills, or education, directly compared to other employees that are similarly situated at Georgia Tech. For starting compensation purposes, external hires include transfers from other USG institutions. Temporary and student workers transitioning to a regular staff or faculty role will be subject to salary increase administration rules for current employees.

Internal and External hires must start at no less than the minimum of the salary range of the Pay Grade for the position into which they have been hired.

Starting compensation for Internal and External hires that is above the midpoint of the salary range of the Pay Grade must gain additional approvals from GTHR. 

Merit Adjustments
Georgia Tech’s compensation programs are designed to recognize, and reward staff members based on individual performance. Merit increases are typically authorized at the beginning of a fiscal year and are subject to salary limitations and guidelines established each fiscal year. Increases reflect each employee’s performance as evaluated by their supervisor and will generally be distributed on a percentage basis around the average percentage increase as determined by USG guidance. Merit salary increases that exceed the range established by the USG salary administration statement must be documented on an individual basis and must be approved according to the guidelines for that year’s merit process.

Promotion or Reclassification Increases
Promotions may occur as a result of reclassification, reorganization, or through competitive recruitment. When an employee is promoted or reclassified to a position in a higher Pay Grade, the employee will normally be awarded a promotional or reclassification increase. Determinations of the actual increase will consider relevant factors such as internal compensation equity and the individual’s qualifications and experience for the position. Not all promotions will result in a compensation increase.

Promotional increases above 9.9% percent, or the minimum of the new compensation range, will require additional justification and review and approval by GTHR. Increases will be capped at the new Pay Grade compensation range maximum.

Newly promoted or hired employees are generally ineligible for a subsequent promotion or a lateral move (unless within their own unit) until completion of one year of continuous service in that position. Exceptions to this are:

  • The individual’s current work is to be curtailed.
  • All available employees with at least one year of service have been considered and rejected for the position.
  • Situations in which the leadership of two units mutually agree to a transition to the benefit of Georgia Tech.

No compensation increases are allowed with a demotion. Regardless of where the individual is in the new salary range, responsibilities, internal equity, and budgetary considerations will be considered and may result in decreased compensation in the new salary range Pay Grade. 

If the demotion is voluntary (e.g., applying to a job in a lower grade), and the employee’s current salary is within the new salary range, no change is necessary. If the current salary of an employee is more than the new salary range maximum, their salary will be decreased to no more than the maximum salary range for the new job on the effective date of the new job. If the demotion is involuntary, and the employee’s salary is more the new salary range maximum, the salary shall be immediately decreased to a level within the salary range of the new grade. Involuntary demotions can also occur when a job is reassigned to a new Pay Grade due to a reorganization. Responsibilities, internal equity, and budgetary considerations will be considered and may result in a salary placed lower in the new salary range due to a reorganization. In these instances, the individual's salary may initially remain the same, but must transition to the Pay Grade salary range of the new job within one (1) year.

Equity and Market-Based Salary Adjustments
Market adjustments do not occur in conjunction with a change in title, grade, or FLSA status.

Official Georgia Tech sanctioned salary survey data and the employee’s personnel record, experience, and credentials will be reviewed by GTHR Compensation. Rationales for considering an Equity and/or market adjustment include:

  • Consideration of a more appropriate alignment between the salaries of similarly situated employees performing work at the same family, sub-family, career stream and career level, with similar levels of experience, background, and performance;
  • Consideration of a more appropriate alignment between the salaries of a supervisor and their direct reports;
  • Consideration of a more appropriate relationship between the salaries of existing employees and the relevant market. Any adjustment that is given to bring employees in line with the external market is subject to internal equity. Adjustments will not be made if differences are explainable based on qualifications, type or length of experience (both internal and external to the Georgia Tech), the work itself, and/or performance and productivity.

Administrative Adjustments
In order to correct an administrative oversight, and subject to funding availability, the AVP – Human Resources or his/her designee may approve an in-range adjustment to an employee’s rate of compensation.

Retention of Employees
Counteroffers from Georgia Tech should be rare, and in all cases, will require approval of the Vice Provost, Vice President, Dean, similar level title, or higher (depending upon circumstance) and the AVP of Human Resources or designee.

Internal Offer and Counteroffer:

  • If approved, the employee's current department may make a counteroffer up to the hiring department's salary offer for a similar level role, with prior approval at the organization level.
  • Neither the employee's current department nor the hiring department can offer more than the hiring department's original salary offer.

External Offer and Counteroffer:

  • Employee’s current Georgia Tech department will determine if a counteroffer will be made following receipt of a signed offer letter or email from an authorized representative of the potential external employer.
  • No counteroffer may exceed the amount of the external offer.
  • The current Georgia Tech department can negotiate with the individual, offering up to the amount approved by GTHR.
  • If external offer changes, the same process for approval of salary rate (described above) will still apply.

Supplemental Compensation
Georgia Tech recognizes the need to assign additional responsibilities of another position to an employee on a temporary basis and to make interim appointments. A supplemental compensation increase does not include a change in position or title and may be made when a significant change in duties and responsibilities occurs. The supplemental compensation increase should be consistent with additional responsibilities assigned and within salary guidelines. The compensation increase should generally be at least the minimum of the salary range for the position for which the interim appointment is made. The former rate of compensation (plus any applicable supplemental earned during assignment) will be re-assigned when the interim appointment is completed. Information regarding interim appointments can be found in the Georgia Tech Service Now Human Resources Knowledge Base.

No compensation increases are allowed with a lateral transfer unless disparity in compensation requires an Internal Equity adjustment. Increases will be capped at the compensation range maximum. The transfer of an employee from a position at one institution within USG to a position at another USG institution or to or from the University System Office is an external transfer. Since USG institutional compensation practices may differ due to market conditions, the transfer may be to a position at a different compensation range.  For compensation purposes, the external transfer is considered an external hire. Additional Human Resources policies regarding external transfers may apply (see Section 10 for related policies).

Timing of Compensation Adjustments
No commitments regarding the effective date for compensation adjustments shall be made to employees until authorization is received from the appropriate department budget official and GTHR. All requests should be submitted and processed in advance of the effective hire date or status change date.  In all cases, the required adjustment should be effective with the beginning of the next compensation period after written authorization has been received. Retroactive compensation adjustments impose significant risk and costs within Georgia Tech and USG. Retroactive adjustments in funding sources (which do not impact compensation rates or classifications) are not impacted by this change.

Additional compensation information can be found at Georgia Tech Human Resources Compensation website, and the Georgia Tech Service Now Human Resources Knowledge Base


This policy applies to all staff employees at Georgia Tech. This policy does not apply to academic faculty, research faculty, affiliates, or temporary employees.

Policy Terms


A shift of an employee to a lower Pay Grade, rank, class, or position.

Internal Equity

Internal Equity exists when employees at an organization perceive that they are being rewarded fairly according to the relative value of their jobs.

Market Adjustments

Market Adjustments are salary adjustments for an employee or group of employees that have fallen behind in base salary as compared to similar positions on campus and/or in the external market.

Pay Grade

Georgia Tech groups jobs with similar external value in to Pay Grades. Within the Pay Grade there are compensation ranges and tiers that reflect the minimum and maximum pay.  All increases will be capped at the compensation range maximum.


A Promotion is the elevation of an employee to a new position, with essential responsibilities that are significantly greater than the current position, and a higher Pay Grade.


A change in a role that results in the employee and/or position being assigned to a different job title and job code.


Georgia Tech groups job grades with similar characteristics. There are five Structure categories at Georgia Tech. Click here to learn more.


AVP-Human Resources
The AVP – Human resources shall provide guidance to management on appropriate application of the policy; ensure that appropriate processes and Institute level policy is in place to facilitate fair and equitable evaluations of requests to extend offers above the minimum of a salary range; and ensure requests are properly evaluated and administered in accordance with policy and applicable federal and state laws.

Georgia Tech Human Resources Compensation Department
GTHR’s Compensation team is responsible for monitoring consistent application and interpretation of this policy, and ensures appropriate approvals are received in compliance with USG Policies and Human Resources Administrative Practice (HRAP) Manual.

Supervisors are responsible for seeking approval from unit Human Resources representatives and/or GTHR for all compensation adjustments. Additionally, supervisors must ensure no communication regarding compensation is shared with employees prior to approval.


To report suspected instances of ethical violations, please visit Georgia Tech’s Ethics Helpline a secure and confidential reporting system, at:

Policy History

Revision Date



10/2020 Human Resources Editorial updates

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