The University is in the process of reclassifying thousands of jobs in an effort to update a system that can no longer reflect the range of jobs that have been created in the past 30 years.

Gearing up for the July 1 implementation of the new job classification system, various University units and academic departments — in collaboration with Human Resources and Affirmative Action — are recategorizing and renaming approximately 18,000 staff positions at the University’s three campuses and in its health system.

The new system will make defining pay and comparing University jobs to positions in the job market easier.

Under the current system, which has been in place since the early 1970’s and has undergone few changes since, the affected positions are grouped into only four job families — professional/administrative, technical, office and allied health.

The new classification system, however, is built around twenty career families, including Academic and Student Services, Facilities Operations and Healthcare Administration and Support. Within each family, employees will also be classified according to their job role — either professional (the largest group), managerial or executive.

HRAA spokesman Dave Reid said that through the classification project, the HRAA hoped to create a more contemporary and less restrictive system that would work well far into the future.

“(The current system) served the University well when it was established, but many things have changed since then,” Reid said. “The system was only able to accommodate so much change, and presently it doesn’t encompass the current work world and the multitude of jobs that have developed over the last 30 years.”

Reid said that the new system is designed to be more intuitive to current as well as potential employees. Salary ranges currently tend to be very broad, but once the system is implemented, these ranges will be narrower. Consequently, Reid said, a potential employee reading a job description would be able to see a more meaningful range of pay for a particular job.

Reid said one of the most visible ways staff members will recognize the switch is through the redesign of the University’s JOBS website, which will reflect the new system.

In addition, the new system will allow the University to obtain more complete information about where its jobs stand in relation to the labor market. This information will be used to track salary and growth trends of particular careers, said Timothy Wood, senior director of HRAA, who has been greatly involved in the project.

“In all of our human resource programs, one of the main goals is to support the recruitment and retention objective of the University,” Wood said. “Another is to provide a clear sense of career path for employees.”

Wood said that many current job titles don’t correspond closely to the dominant terminology used in the general job market.

He said 80 percent of the jobs at the University already have job titles that exist in the labor marked but not at the school. A large portion of these jobs fall within the health system, because those positions are similar across employers, making the mapping process easier. Wood said the new system would also create titles for the remaining 20 percent, which corresponds to jobs that are not common in the market.

The past three years of the reclassification process has included researching other institutions and creating focus groups on campus and involves representatives from all units of the University.

But for Peter Schermerhorn, a research secretary in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts and organizer of the Union of Professional Office Workers, the new classification system raises concerns for the office workers attempting to form U-POWER, a union to represent office and clerical workers at the University. Though he made it clear his opinion was not necessarily that of the entire organizing committee, Schermerhorn said he fears the new system will hinder U-POWER’s ability to be eligible to hold an election on whether it can become a union.

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