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Policy: Managing Short-Term Wage Employment 

Date: 06/08/09 Policy ID: HRM-029 Status: Final

Policy Type: University
Contact Office: Consulting Services (UHR)
Oversight Executive: Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer
Applies To: Academic Division and the College at Wise.
Table of Contents:  Policy Statement
  1. Retired Employees Returned to Work
  2. 1500 Hour Limit Maximum Observed
  3. Responsibilities
  1. Monitoring the 1500 Hour Limit
Reason for Policy: The University of Virginia applies fair hiring and employment practices, and hires short-term wage employees on a limited basis for rational business reasons. In addition, the University is required to comply with federal and state law regarding eligibility for employer-provided health benefits, including provisions of the Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Commonwealth of Virginia 2013 Appropriations Act (§4-7.01 Manpower Control Program).
Policy Summary: 
Definition of Terms in Statement: 

Wage Employee: An employee whose terms and conditions of employment stipulate an hourly rate of pay rather than a fixed salary and who is paid on an hourly basis for actual hours worked. Wage employees are not eligible for leave or other benefits. These employees are not covered by the Virginia Personnel Act and are non-exempt for purposes of overtime compensation as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Standard Measurement Period (SMP): The retroactive measurement or “look back” period established by the University as October 1 to September 30 as required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. 

Short-Term Project: Work assignments not to exceed an average of 29 hours per week or 1500 hours in an annual Standard Measurement Period.

Policy Statement: 

The University of Virginia employs wage employees to supplement the workforce in order to: cover seasonal or temporary workload, provide interim replacements or perform short-term projects.  Beginning on January 1, 2014, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide health benefits to all employees who work, on average, 30 or more hours per week. In addition, the Commonwealth of Virginia limits the maximum number of hours that wage employees are permitted to work to 29 hours weekly or 1500 hours annually (1500 hours per year=28.8 hours per week which is roughly equivalent to the 29 hour limit).

As required by the PPACA, the University has identified its SMP (retroactive measurement or “look back” period) as October 1 to September 30.  The SMP is used by the University to determine which employees meet the PPACA’s definition of “full-time” employment, thereby qualifying them for employer-provided healthcare coverage. Failure by the University to comply with the PPACA could result in significant financial penalties.

Departments or schools may not use a short-term wage employee for a position that is considered a long-term, part-time salaried position (20 hours or more per week).  Full- and part-time wage employees are limited to a maximum of 1500 hours of work for the University (from October 1 to September 30). If an employee holds multiple positions at the University, the 1500 hour limit applies to time worked in total for all positions.

The 1500 hour limit established in this policy does not apply to faculty, students, graduate teaching assistants or graduate research assistants. For the definition of part time faculty, see <LINK to be added >.  For restrictions on the hours worked by students, graduate research assistants or graduate teaching assistants, see Wage Authorization).

The calculation of the 1500 hour annual maximum is based on hours paid beginning with the first bi-weekly payroll closest to Oct 1 of each year even though that pay period is actually compensation for hours worked during the preceding period. Those hours worked in the preceding period are, for purposes of this policy, counted in the new year and not the previous year in which the hours were worked.

  1. Retired Employees Returned to Work:
    Retired employees enrolled in the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) should note that based on IRS rulings, VRS requires that a retired employee have a bona fide break in service if the employee returns to work in a non-VRS-covered part-time position (not to exceed an average of 28 hours per week and 1500 hours per fiscal year).  This means that the retired employee and the employer must not have a predetermined date for the retired employee to return to non-benefit-eligible employment, and that the retired employee must be off the payroll for no less than 30 days.  Also, the retired employee must not have the same duties or hours that were performed prior to retirement. Without this break in service, the retired employee will not be considered to have retired and the employee will not be permitted to begin their retirement benefits until the required break has occurred (Handbook for Members Virginia Retirement System, 2006-2007, p. 45). [Faculty are covered by the policy on Part-Time Employment of Retired Members of the Faculty.]

  2. 1500 Hour Limit Maximum Observed:
    No exceptions to the 1500 hour limit are permitted. When a wage employee reaches 1500 work hours beginning on or after October 1 of the current year and before September 30 of the following year, the employee must not be allowed to work again until October 1 of the following year. A manager should anticipate whether more than 1500 hours might be necessary for the job and seek an alternative type of appointment.


  1. Responsibilities
    The supervisor is responsible for:
    • Managing the total hours worked of each wage employee, including those wage employees previously employed by other units, so as to limit those hours to 1500 or less from October 1 to September 30;
    • Managing their positions so as not to hire a short-term wage employee for a long-term, part-time position; and
    • With reasonable notice, terminating a short-term wage employee who has reached the 1500 hour limit.
University Human Resources is responsible for:
  • Monitoring the total hours worked of each wage employee so as to limit those hours to 1500 or less from October 1 to September 30;
  • Notifying departments when a short-term wage employee is approaching the 1500 hour limit; and
  • Notifying managers who have not done so, to terminate those employees who have reached the 1500 hour limit.
  1. Monitoring the 1500 Hour Limit:
    The number of hours worked by a wage employee may be monitored by having the department HRMS specialist run the IS.HR_Wage Limit Hour Balances Discoverer report.
Related Information: 

HRM-030, Recruiting and Hiring of University Staff Employees
PROV-003, Part-Time Employment of Retired Members of the Faculty
*Student Employment (link to be added)

Policy Background: 
Major Category: Human Resource Management
Category Cross Reference: 
Next Scheduled Review: 06/08/16
Approved By, Date: Policy Review Committee, 06/08/09
Revision History: Updated 4/17/13.
Supersedes (previous policy):  Wage Employment Policy