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COVID-19 response update

On April 21, 2020, President Eli Capilouto announced actions the University is taking to address budget challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes include delaying two initiatives:

  • Expansion of our paid temporary disability leave policies
  • Automatic enrollment of all eligible new hires into our matching retirement savings plan

The University will move forward with increasing the minimum start rate for regular staff employees to $12.50 per hour.

Read President Capilouto's full message >

Original announcement

On December 19, 2019, President Eli Capilouto announced changes to our benefits to advance the University's efforts to remain an employer of choice in our region, in higher education and in health care. Enhancing our benefits keeps us competitive in a time of low unemployment.

These initiatives include:

  • Increasing the University’s minimum start rate for regular staff employees to $12.50 per hour beginning July 1, 2020
  • Automatically enrolling all eligible new hires in our matching retirement savings plan, regardless of age, beginning July 1, 2020, pending Board approval
  • Increasing staff access to temporary disability leave (sick leave) for childbirth, adoption or foster care; and for up to two personal well-being days each fiscal year, beginning January 1, 2020

Below are frequently asked questions about these initiatives. You can also view a video of President Capilouto discussing these changes.


$12.50 per hour minimum starting rate

At the President’s request, a team of our financial and human resource experts examined minimum starting rates at other institutions, including regionally, across the Southeastern Conference and across the country. Paying regular staff employees a minimum of $12.50 per hour keeps us competitive in our market and helps us recruit and retain employees who support our important mission.

All regular hourly paid staff employees will be impacted by this initiative in July. Temporary, student, house staff and post-doctorate employees, as well as individuals compensated through stipends, are not included in this initiative.

Yes. To avoid salary compression, the University is also increasing salaries in July for regular staff in hourly paid positions who earn between $12.50 and $14.50 an hour. This helps ensure more experienced employees continue to earn more than those who are less experienced.

Human Resources recommends hiring managers pay their temporary and STEPS employees at least the minimum pay for the grade level if the position were a regular staff position. However, STEPS and temporary employment is designed to provide greater flexibility for staffing needs, so managers may decide on starting rates for their temporary employees.

Retirement enrollment

Younger employees benefit the most by saving early because their savings have more time to grow.

UK employees do not participate in a state pension plan, so our matching retirement savings 403(b) plan is most employees’ main source of retirement savings. Automatically enrolling all eligible employees, regardless of age, helps set up all our eligible employees for a more secure retirement.

UK offers one of the most generous retirement savings benefits available – a 200 percent match. Eligible employees contribute 5 percent of their salary, and UK matches with an amount equal to 10 percent of their salary.

No. All eligible employees are encouraged to participate in the matching retirement savings plan, and starting early benefits younger employees the most because their savings has more time to grow. But, only employees hired beginning July 1, 2020, will be automatically enrolled in the matching retirement savings plan.

The University’s generous retirement savings benefit increases an employee’s total compensation. For example, an employee making $40,000 per year in salary also receives $4,000 toward their retirement savings each year.

The 5 percent automatic contribution made by employees out of their paycheck is deducted before taxes. So, the impact to their take-home is less than 5 percent of their gross salary. Of course, this 5 percent is pre-tax.

Leave changes

The needs of new parents is a recurring theme in our employee engagement surveys and other avenues of feedback. To ensure the University remains an employer of choice, we are examining our leave policies. We will continue to have discussions on whether an additional paid leave type for parental or other family leave is feasible and would help us stay competitive as an employer.

You may use up to 12 weeks of TDL for childbirth, adoption or foster care if you have that much TDL accrued. If you have fewer than 12 weeks of TDL available, you may use up their TDL and then use your vacation time available, up to a combined 12 weeks.

Yes. Beginning January 1, 2020, you may use TDL for the remainder of your leave. You may not convert leave taken before January 1 to TDL instead of vacation leave. You also may not convert any TDL leave after January 1 once you have already taken it. So, let update your leave request as soon as possible to use TDL for leave after January 1.

No. You will continue to accrue the same amount of TDL days. However, this policy change expands the ways in which you can use those TDL days. Currently, TDL days are to be used only for an injury or illness for yourself or a relative. Beginning January 1, 2020, you may use up to two TDL days per fiscal year for any purpose you deem beneficial for your personal well-being.

No. You may use up to two well-being days before the end of this fiscal year on June 30, 2020. You can then use up to two well-being days for the fiscal year that runs July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.

No. If you wish to convert TDL days to vacation days during the annual conversion period, personal well-being days will not count against your perfect attendance. Personal well-being days will also not count as an absence occurrence for UK HealthCare employees.

You must schedule your personal well-being time according to your department’s existing policy on scheduling time off. Check with your supervisor on how much notice is required for time off requests.

Personal well-being days must be taken in half- or full-day increments. The SAP code is TDL Well-being (7184).

No. Supervisors may approve time off requests according to their existing policies. However, supervisors may not base approval decisions on how an employee plans to use their well-being time.

Because personal well-being days are not accrued separately from all TDL time, managers must keep track of how many personal well-being days an employee has used during the fiscal year.

No. You may only use up to two personal well-being days in any fiscal year.