Office of Human Resources                                                            February 2012 



 Your Source for University Human Resources News and Information

Upcoming Events


Making the Most of Your Meetings

Do you ever feel like you're spending so much time in meetings that you can't get your work done? Are your meetings consistently going over their scheduled time? Do you sometimes feel that your attendance has no impact?  Not to fret - these are all common issues that many employees experience.  Attend an upcoming Effective Meetings Workshop and learn how to become both a more effective meeting participant and meeting leader.  Reserve your seat today for the March 16 session in Chicago or the May 8 session in Evanston. For more information


Northwestern Tuition Benefit Plans 

Please join us for two informative seminars explaining the NU Tuition Benefit Plans available to faculty and staff. Information about the four tuition benefit plans (Tuition Assistance, Reduced Tuition, Employee Portable Tuition, and Dependent Portable Tuition). Learn more about these extremely beneficial plans designed to help with college costs for you, your spouse and your college-aged children.



Monday, March 5th - Noon - 1:00 p.m.

Norris - Rock Room



Wednesday, March 7th - Noon - 1:00 p.m.

Lurie - Baldwin Auditorium


Financial Education Workshop

Join the Office of Work/Life and GreenPath Debt Solutions for an informative financial education workshop in Evanston (2/28) and Chicago (2/29).  Learn how to understand and manage your debt, develop a healthy savings pattern, and rebuild and protect your credit. For more information.  

Inside This Issue
Upcoming Events
Work/Life Resources
Payroll Updates
Benefits Briefs
FASIS Updates
Learning and Organization Development
HR Services
Quick Links



New Office of Human Resources Website - Coming March 2012
The new design will provide ease of access to human resources and employee information for the entire University community. Features include: more intuitive navigation, "How Do I" Guides, and quick access to frequently used on-line tools, including FASIS and Kronos. 

Employee of the Year 2012

Nominations are being accepted for Employee of the Year 2012.  To nominate a staff member for Employee of the Year, download a nomination form and email it to Maudell Gaines.. There is only a short time left to submit your nominations so don't delay.  Nominations are due Friday, February 17, 2012.

Employer Assisted Housing Program

Northwestern University is offering an Employer Assisted Housing pilot program to help eligible faculty and staff take advantage of Live Evanston, a City of Evanston initiative that makes attractive, high quality homes and condos affordable for moderate income families. For more information.


Help the NU Cares Program Grow!

NU Cares offers faculty and staff an opportunity to make contributions to assist fellow employees who may be experiencing a crisis. Thanks to the many generous contributions received to date, we have met our initial goal, and are accepting applications. For more information


Work/Life Resources 


Striving for a Healthy Balance:

The Northwestern University Office of Work/Life Resources provides programs, services and consultation to enable staff and faculty to effectively balance the competing demands of work and home.


Childcare Updates: New Options for 2012!

Bright Horizons, a highly regarded leader in the provision of employer sponsored child care, will be opening a center at 1629 Orrington Avenue, one block south of the Evanston campus. Bright Horizons has a proven track record of service in Evanston, and works with many of the nation's leading colleges and universities. For more information. 


Through an agreement with Northwestern University, faculty, staff and students will have priority access to 60 child care spaces, with particular emphasis at the infant and toddler level. Northwestern faculty, staff and students will receive a 10% tuition discount and a $50 reduction in the registration fee. The center is targeted to open fall of 2012. If you would like pre-enrollment information, send an email to or join us for the upcoming Child care Fair. You may also call the Office of Work/Life Resources at 847-491-3612 for additional information. 


University Children's Center Expansion

The University Children's Center in Chicago recently completed an expansion that offers Northwestern faculty, staff and students access to an additional 32 child care spaces. They have added two infant and two toddler rooms. For more information. 


Child Care Fair: Meet new and existing child care providers

Join us for an opportunity to meet local child care providers, learn about private school options, summer camps, back-up care, access to referrals, fee assistance programs and more...



Wednesday, February 22

Lurie Center, The Gray Room

11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.



Wednesday, February 29

Norris Center, Northwestern Room

11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.


For more information. 


Fee Assistance

Faculty, staff, and students can apply for childcare fee assistance if they are receiving childcare at the University Children's Center or the McGaw YMCA Children's Center.  Applications are available online. Applications can be submitted now for the following 2012-2013 school year.  The applications are processed on a first come, first served basis, so it is important to submit an application as early as possible.  If you are interested in additional information, contact Lori Anne Henderson at 1-3612.

On-Going Programs - New Participants Are Welcome!
Elder Caregiving Support Group

Monday, February 20 - Norris Center, Alumni Room

If you are a caregiver for a relative or close friend, you may want to consider joining this group. These monthly brown bag sessions provide an opportunity to exchange information about care-related issues, such as legal, financial and medical questions. For further information or to respond, contact Phyllis Ellis or 7-1460.


Work/Life Balance Support Group   

Tuesday, February 21 - Norris Center, Alumni Room 

For those who are looking for more balance in their work and personal lives. This group meets monthly during the lunch hour. For further information or to respond, contact Phyllis Ellis or 7-1460.


Weight Watchers @ Work

Meets Thursdays at 12:30 p.m. in the Transportation Center/Chambers Hall (Evanston Campus). NEW IN 2012; Weight Watchers at Work is moving to a Monthly Pass. If you are already on a WW Monthly Pass and want the convenience of attending meetings on campus (as well as in the community), you can switch your monthly plan to NU by canceling current plan (call 1-866-204-2885), and then sign up through the NU Employee Portal at (company ID: 8908, company passcode: WW8908). New members can also join through the portal. For more information, contact Tamara Rosner or 1-2209.  

Payroll Updates

W-2s for Tax Year 2011

If you opted in to receive an Electronic W-2 this year, your 2011 W-2 became available to view and print in FASIS Self Service on Monday, January 23.  If you are a current employee but did not opt in, a traditional paper W-2 was sent to your University check address on Thursday, January 26.  Paper W-2s were also sent to the home address for all inactive employees, and for any graduate student or temp that has not been paid in the last 30 days.


Need to reprint your W-2?  All current employees can easily access and reprint an electronic W-2 at any time, by logging  into Self Service with your NetID and password.  Simply navigate to Self Service > Payroll and Compensation > View W-2 Forms, and select "Year End Form" to download and print an official copy of your 2011 W-2. Reprint requests for inactive employees should be directed to the Payroll Office.


Vacation and Personal Floating Holiday (PFH) Program Changes

This past September, a number of important changes were made to the staff Vacation and Personal Floating Holiday (PFH) programs. These changes were made to remove some of the barriers to using accrued time off and to allow for easier and more consistent management of these programs.


Highlights of these changes include the following:

  • Eligible staff employees may use vacation at any time after it is earned, subject to supervisor approval. This means that new employees no longer have to wait six months before becoming eligible to take vacation time.
  • Three (3) personal floating holidays (PFH) are granted to all eligible staff
  • employees on September 1st of each fiscal year, rather than granting one (1) PFH on the first of January, April, and July. Employees must use their PFH days by the end of the fiscal year (August 31).

During this time of transition, employees have until August 31, 2012, to use their PFH days that were earned and unused in 2011 prior to the program change. During the transition period, the total number of PFH's available to an employee may be comprised of their unused personal floating holidays from 2011 and the PFH's awarded on September 1, 2011, when this new policy was implemented.


Employees hired after September 1st will be granted PFH time at a prorated amount based on their month of hire, rather than having to wait six months before being eligible to earn PFH days.

  • Exempt staff employees in salary grades EXS14 and higher and ITS85 and higher earn vacation at the rate of four (4) weeks per year upon the start of employment.

Additional information regarding the leave accrual program changes can be found here.


If you have further questions you would like to discuss, please contact Anitra Flowers at 7-7608 or your Human Resources Consultant. 


Benefits Briefs


2011 Flexible Spending Account (FSA) Reminder

If you have any outstanding Flexible Spending Account (FSA) claims, remember to file for reimbursement with Payflex as soon as possible because any unused balance in your account will be forfeited as of March 31, 2012.

  • Eligible health care expenses must be incurred no later than March 15, 2012.
  • Dependent care expenses must be from calendar year 2011.

To file a claim:

  1. Go to Payflex.
  2. Click on Login and enter your Username & Password. 
  3. Once you are logged in, the Accounts screen will appear, select Express Claims on the left-hand navigation bar. 
  4. Enter your claim information: type of expense, date of expense and the amount of expense. To add additional claims click Add Row. 
  5. Once you have entered all of your claims, click Submit. 
  6. Review information and click Submit. 
  7. Click on 'claim form', print and sign. 
  8. Fax the claim and itemized receipts to (866) 932-2567. Itemized receipts must include date of purchase or service, description of item or service, name of merchant or service provider, and name of patient if it is a health claim.
  9. Supporting claims documents may also be uploaded.

Claims must be filed by March 31, 2012.


Please contact PayFlex at (800) 284-4885 if you have any questions.

FASIS Updates 


Updating Your Emergency Contact Information


This is a great time to update your emergency contact information in FASIS Self Service. In the event that something happens to you on campus (for example, an injury or illness) and someone close to you needs to be notified, the information on the Family Emergency Contact page is used. (Please note, this is not the list of numbers used to notify you personally of an emergency situation on campus). 


Take this opportunity to review the emergency contacts you previously provided and to add any additional contacts. We certainly hope there will never be a need to use this information, but in the event of a personal emergency, you will want it to be accurate.


It takes just a few quick minutes to review and update this information. Click here to access FASIS Self Service and update your information. You can also access a Do-It-Yourself Guide to updating your family emergency contact information by clicking here. 

Learning & Organization Development


The Northwestern University Learning & Organization Development (L&OD) team collaborates with faculty and staff who want to develop their talent and advance their workplace outcomes, processes and engagement. L&OD provides consulting, coaching, workshops, retreats and tools for individuals, groups and organizations.  


Registration Open for Spring Workshops

Registration is now open for workshops offered in March, April, and May. Check your mailbox for our spring catalogue or look online to see what's coming up.


We offer a variety of workshops and opportunities to help improve workplace performance. Check them out! If you have any questions or comments, e-mail us or call 7-5081.


HR Services


Maintaining the Highest Standards of Conduct

As members of the Northwestern University community, it is our responsibility to conduct our activities with the highest standards of conduct in mind. This requires our personal commitment to becoming familiar and complying with relevant University policies and to following laws and regulations. The University's Standards for Business Conduct provides a framework for administering University resources and establishes guidelines for appropriate standards of behavior.


No set of policies can address every decision or transaction we will face in our daily University activities. If you have a question about the right course of action, there are several resources available for you to consult. You may want to review the University's Standards for Business Conduct and other relevant University policies. You may also contact your supervisor or identify other knowledgeable University officials with whom to consult by visiting the University's Ethics and Compliance website. Finally, you may report your question or concern to EthicsPoint� here or by dialing 866-294-3545 (toll-free within the United States, Guam, and Puerto Rico).




Full Speed Ahead: The Importance of Acting Quickly When Filling a Vacancy

As a manager, one of your most important responsibilities is ensuring you have the right people on your team to accomplish your department's goals. When you have an open position, there may be a number of factors that cause a delay in looking for a replacement. Quite often, it just comes down to the fact that making a hiring decision isn't easy; it takes preparation, focus, and most of all time to ensure you are hiring the best candidate. While it's often easy to find yourself putting the hiring process on the back burner as you manage the day-to-day issues that arise, there are a number of important reasons not to delay this process.


First, moving quickly increases the likelihood of netting the strongest candidates for your position. Strong candidates tend to apply the first few weeks a position is posted. The longer a position is posted, the more dated it looks to candidates, and they may hesitate to apply. Also, the strongest candidates are in the highest demand. They are the most likely to be pursued - and hired - by other organizations. These candidates won't be on the market long, so the faster you move, the better your chance of being able to call them the newest member of your team.


Next, there is a bottom-line financial incentive to filling your position quickly. Not only does the hiring process continue to take up your time as a manager, but it also has a tangible cost associated with it. Frequently, there is a need to post the position on external websites. On many of these sites, the longer the position is posted, the greater the cost. Also, it is not uncommon to see a department's overtime costs go up when there is a vacancy, as managers ask staff to pick up the extra workload that remains. Having a temporary employee may also add to your costs. Furthermore, training costs also frequently increase the longer a position remains open, as more individuals need to be trained on various aspects of the work to ensure it continues to get done during the transition period.


Finally, you'll want to move expeditiously so that your team does not become demoralized. A prolonged period of being understaffed can be stressful to those team members who remain and can result in a loss of productivity.


Your Staffing Consultant is available to guide you through the hiring process and to answer any questions you may have. For more information or to discuss a vacancy in your area, please contact your Staffing Consultant. To identify the staffing consultant assigned to your area, contact 847-491-7507 for the Evanston campus and 312-503-8481 for the Chicago campus.



Understanding the Fair Labor Standards Act  

The news is abuzz with references to overtime, equal pay for equal work, and other common "HR rules". While you may be familiar with the basic concepts of the federal laws that address these areas, our goal is to ensure that all managers and employees have a good understanding of the rules and where to go for assistance if necessary.  


One such area of focus is the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA" or "the Act"). This article may serve as a primer to you if you have had to deal with FLSA issues before. But whether you are a regular "user" or a novice, it is easy to make mistakes in application. To help keep you abreast of the ongoing impacts of this legislation to ensure that the concepts are appropriately, fairly and consistently applied within our organization, this will be the first in a series of articles that help you understand how to navigate this sometimes tricky subject area.


Though commonly referred to as the "Overtime Law", the underlying purpose of the FLSA is to establish that there are differences between employee groups (as defined by the Act) and how they are to be treated. While overtime provisions are certainly covered for applicable employees, the Act goes far beyond this one topic. In fact, coverage areas include establishing the federal minimum wage, defining rules for child labor, recordkeeping, work hours and associated rules, proper salary deductions, travel pay, and much more.


Establishing applicability:  The FLSA provisions apply to most employees in some way (note, the law covers almost all employees in the United States). For example, while some positions may be eligible for overtime, others may be ineligible for overtime but are subject to other work hours rules like salary deductions.


The first step in determining which provisions apply to which position requires that you determine the exemption status of the position (i.e. whether or not the position should be classified as exempt or non-exempt). Simply put, exempt means that the employee is not subject to the federal minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Act. Positions that are subject to federal minimum wage and overtime provisions are referred to as nonexempt. Exempt employees are paid to do a job and work whenever duty calls and that time is not tracked in hours, nor is the employee paid as such. On the other hand, non-exempt employees are paid by the hour for each hour worked (with or without permission).


To aid in determining exemption status, the Act provides two tests (the salary test which includes both basis and level, and the duties test). The criteria for each test must be met for exemption to occur. The salary test has two components, the salary basis and the salary level. The salary basis requires the employee to receive a predetermined amount of pay that does not change from pay period to pay period because of variations in quality or quantity of work (with limited exceptions). The second half of the salary test considers the level or amount of pay. To be exempted, the employee must receive a salary of at least $455 per week without regard to employment level. In other words, this amount cannot be prorated based on full or part time status.


The second exemption test is the duties test. Employees must perform certain duties to be appropriately exempted from the Act. Job titles alone are not sufficient indicators of the work performed by an employee and therefore, alone cannot be used to determine exemption. The specific duties of the role must be compared to the acceptable exemptions criteria contained within the Act. The most common exemptions are the white collar exemptions (i.e. Executive, Administrative, Learned Professional, Computer and Outside Sales roles) but there are others.   Each category of exemption has a specific set of criteria that must be met for the position to be considered exempt.


The decision tree in figure 1 (reprinted with permission) is a helpful way to determine whether or not a position should be considered exempt or nonexempt.




Because of the breadth of the FLSA's provisions, it can be easy to make mistakes in application.  These mistakes can be costly to an organization so it is important to get it right.  The following are common pitfalls made in application and commonly asked questions.  If you are unsure about how to handle a situation, please do not hesitate to contact the HR Consultant or the Compensation Consultant assigned to your unit.

  • Pitfall 1:
    Improper exemption based on job title.  Exemption cannot be determined by job title alone.  Both the salary tests and the duties test must be applied and the criteria met before assigning exemption.    
  • Pitfall 2:
    Outdated job descriptions. As you know, job duties tend to change over time due to staff shortages, increased knowledge and responsibilities of the job holder, or for a number of reasons.  While the FLSA does not mandate the creation and maintenance of job descriptions, it is important that they are kept current so that that a proper assessment of duties can be made vis-�-vis the duties test for exemption.   
  • Pitfall 3:
    Nonpayment of overtime.  Within the private sector, it is not permissible to pay an employee "comp time" in lieu of monetary pay for working overtime.  Overtime must be paid for all hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek at a rate of 1.5x the regular rate.   
  • Pitfall 4:
    Assuming that all employees paid a salary are not due overtime. Employees may be paid on a salary basis and still be classified as nonexempt and eligible for overtime.     
  • What does "suffered or permitted" to work mean?
    When determining the appropriate hours to pay a non-exempt employee, you must consider all hours that are worked whether or not those hours were requested or approved by the employer.  For example, a nonexempt employee who spends her lunch time at the desk working instead of being away from the office eating is working and that time must be paid and counted toward the total hours for determining overtime.   
  • When is it appropriate to pay for training time?                                                          Time employees spend in meetings, lectures, or training is considered hours worked and must be paid, unless
    • Attendance is outside regular working hours
    • Attendance is voluntary
    • The course, lecture, or meeting is not job related
    • The employee does not perform any productive work during attendance