Out of the University of Wisconsin System’s thousands of salaried employees, 60 surpassed a soon-to-be eliminated cap on how much extra work they can be paid for.
Under state law, salaried employees cannot be paid for more than $12,000 of extra work, but a Gannett Wisconsin Media report Tuesday showed 60 UW System employees went over this cap on the extra work they can do on top of their salaries.
The majority of those employees are professors or lecturers who took on more work than their salaries originally called for, according to Gannett.
UW System spokesperson David Giroux said the UW System should have had more training with campuses, as some did not report some things correctly. Some of the cases, however, did in fact have to do with people working more than they should have, Giroux said.
“It’s an issue where we should have had systems and training in place that would’ve prevented this from happening,” Giroux said.
Those who were paid for extra work did “mission critical” work that benefited students and institutions, Giroux said. That includes professors who teach above their normal class loads or administrators who are asked to be part of a research project.
Despite the statute requiring the money to be given back, the UW System will not order employees to repay the extra money for work already done, as such a request would violate a law requiring employers to pay people for their work, Giroux said.
“We are legally obligated to pay people for the work they’ve done,” Giroux said. “We cannot take pay back from people who’ve done work to earn that pay.”
The statute that sets the $12,000 cap will be gone in June, Giroux said. That cap has been in place since the 1970s, despite the UW System’s efforts against it.
“This [cap] constrains faculty creativity and entrepreneurship by removing the incentive to pursue outside funding for projects that have the potential to employ others, give students hands-on research experience and benefit the local economy,” Reilly said in the letter.
Reilly also said every UW System institution has struggled with ensuring nobody goes over the cap.
Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, who chairs the Assembly’s Colleges and Universities Committee, is concerned over the Gannett report, according to his spokesperson Mike Mikalsen.
Although Mikalsen said the 60 employees Gannett found went over the cap was not a large amount, he it should not have happened regardless.
“Yes, the state statute goes away at the end of this year, but at least up until then, this is a binding law,” Mikalsen said. “This is a statute. The UW System clearly ignored it.”
With some disagreement between campuses and the UW System regarding the exact number of overpaid employees, Mikalsen said Nass is also concerned about the UW System’s administering abilities.
This was in addition to Nass’ concerns on the UW System’s roughly $33 million in health and benefits overpayments, Mikalsen said.