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Pay Practices & Guidelines

Local college or unit HR representatives are best equipped to speak to an employee's unique situations and the application of policies and pay guidelines.

Winter Break

All non-academic employees are entitled to six university winter break paid holidays. This year, the winter break holidays are observed Monday, Dec. 25 through Friday, December 29, and Monday, Jan. 1, 2024.

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Applicability
All regular full- and part-time nonacademic staff members, and benefits-eligible temporary employees, are eligible to receive holiday pay.

Please follow University Policy 6.9, Time Away From Work, regarding holiday pay for staff, or the relevant bargaining unit contract for bargaining unit employees. 

Recording Time

For eligible employees holiday time will auto-generate on all designated holidays over winter break. 

If non-exempt staff work on a holiday, please reference this job aide: How to Record Time Worked on a Holiday.


Meal Periods and Rest Breaks (HR Policy 6.7.10)

New York State Law sets forth required meal periods for employees in New York State, and Cornell's guidelines for meal periods and rest breaks, reflects those requirements. The requirement to provide an unpaid meal period is based on the particular shift that an employee works. Meal periods are not counted as hours worked, thus they are unpaid. Managers should ensure their employees are aware of the meal period requirements that pertain to their particular shifts/schedules. Staff and managers should consult the FAQs to determine whether a meal period is required.

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Applicability
Non Academic Staff

Meal Periods
All staff, including temporary and casual staff, must take appropriate unpaid meal periods as described below. Meal periods cannot be accumulated to provide for a prolonged time-off period. Staff members who believe they are not being allowed to take meal periods should contact their local Human Resources Representative.

When a nonexempt employee works more than six hours which includes the period of 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the department must provide and the employee must take at least 30 minutes for the meal period. Such 30-minute meal period must be taken and completed within the 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. timeframe.

If a nonexempt employee is scheduled to work a shift which begins before 11:00 a.m. and continues later than 7 p.m., the employee must take and complete an additional meal period of at least 20 minutes between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. When a nonexempt employee is scheduled to work a shift of more than 6 hours which begins between 1 p.m. and 6 a.m., the employee must take a meal period of at least 30 minutes at a time approximately mid-way between the beginning and the end of the shift.

If a particular work schedule is not covered in the above examples, then whenever a staff member works more than 6 hours, a minimum 30 minute meal period must be taken approximately midway between the start and end of that shift.

Rest Breaks
While not required by law, allowing rest breaks is within the discretion of each department which will establish its own practices within guidelines listed below:
A rest break of less than 20 minutes is considered time worked Rest break time may not be added to the lunch hour or other off-duty time.

Rest break time cannot be accumulated to provide for a prolonged time-off period.
Scheduling of rest breaks for individuals should not interfere with the department’s normal operation.
Rest breaks should not occur at the beginning or conclusion of the work day.

Download the Meal Period and Rest Breaks FAQs.


Inclement Weather

Policy 8.2 Inclement Weather is intended to address the impact of severe weather on campus-based operations (except for the Weill Cornell Medical campus). With the expansion of hybrid and remote work, the impact of a reduction in campus-based operations may impact employees differently. Operating status decisions are made by the appropriate leadership at the particular Cornell work location as identified in Policy 8.2. Additional communication from Payroll Services with specific guidance for entering time in the time collection system will be sent to campus in response to actual closures. Pay guidelines are provided for a variety of situations.

Download the Pay Guidelines for Inclement Weather.


Release Time from Work

Release time provides time off with pay during a staff member's regularly scheduled working hours to serve on official university committees.

The university encourages staff to serve on university committees whenever possible. Release time from work is dependent upon the approval of the staff member's immediate supervisor and the ability of the department to function satisfactorily in the staff member's temporary absence.

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Applicability
Non Academic Staff

Procedure
Participating staff are encouraged to schedule non-job-related committee activities during nonworking hours when participation is not restricted by job responsibilities. However, the university recognizes that certain activities can only take place during regular working hours. In those instances, release time will be granted in accordance with the following procedure: Employees who are appointed to an official university committee shall notify their supervisors when the appointment becomes effective.

Employee members of official committees who desire time off from work to serve on official committees should notify their immediate supervisor of the meeting. The supervisor will grant time off unless the staffing needs of the department require the staff member's presence at that particular time. If approved, nonexempt staff will be paid for release time to serve on official committees during normal working hours. Time off to serve on official committees is entered as Paid Leave on the staff member's regular payroll time collection record. Employees who have not been officially appointed to such committees, but who wish to attend committee meetings or volunteer their services during working hours, must obtain prior approval of their supervisor before leaving their job. As with other non-Cornell- related activity, staff must charge such time to health and personal leave or vacation time, or take the time without pay.

Records
Departments are responsible for maintaining the accuracy of accrued leave records for its exempt staff, and should ensure that time is reported accurately on the timecards for nonexempt staff.


Emergency Call Back

An emergency call-back occurs when a nonexempt staff member is asked by management to return to work after leaving the university premises following his or her work shift to take care of some work-related emergency which cannot wait until regularly scheduled working hours. A staff member must be paid for a minimum of four hours for each call-back.

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Applicability
All non-exempt staff.

Calculation of Call-Back Pay
If the hours worked are less than four, actual time worked should be recorded on the paper/electronic timecard as Hours Worked. The balance of the four hours should be recorded as Leave with Pay. If, at the end of the standard workweek, hours paid total more than 40, the staff member will receive time and one-half for all hours paid over 40 (See Overtime Policy below).

Inconvenience Pay

Regular full-time and part-time nonexempt staff, and benefits-eligible temporary staff who are regularly required to work a shift which includes four or more hours between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. are eligible for inconvenience pay. If eligible, inconvenience pay will be for all hours worked during the shift, not just hours that fall within the 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. timeframe. Inconvenience pay will also be paid for the following paid leave situations: vacation, holiday, health and personal leave, and funeral leave. Inconvenience pay will not be paid during Workers' Compensation and Short Term Disability Absences. Non benefits-eligible temporary staff, casual staff, and exempt staff are not eligible.

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Applicability
Non Academic Staff

Rates
Nonexempt staff who meet the requirements for inconvenience pay as described above shall be paid $1.25 per hour in addition to their regular rate of pay.

Payment
Payment is made during the pay period in which it occurs and is charged as regular wages on the department accounts.

Overtime

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that nonexempt staff receive overtime pay for all hours worked over 40 in a standard workweek. 

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Applicability
All nonexempt staff, as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Calculation of overtime
Overtime pay is calculated at the rate of one and one-half times the covered nonexempt staff's regular rate of pay.

At Cornell, overtime pay is based on hours paid during the standard workweek. The University’s standard workweek for purposes of calculating overtime begins on Thursday, 12:00 am, and ends on Wednesday at 11:59 pm. Employees are required to obtain supervisory approval prior to working any overtime hours. Alternate, flexible work schedules may be used during the course of the workweek, with supervisory approval, to avoid incurring overtime. However, if an employee works unapproved overtime during the workweek, those hours must be paid.

When nonexempt staff hold more than one position at different hourly rates of pay, overtime is calculated at the rate of one and one-half times the weighted average of all hourly rates during the work period for which the calculation is made.

Note: All multiple appointments must be approved by the supervisor, department head, and the HR representative or designee in both the primary and any subsequent hiring departments.

Contact
Division of Financial Affairs, Payroll Office
377 Pine Tree Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-255-5194; Fax: 607-255-3198

Time Collection

In conformance with the Fair Labor Standards Act, all nonexempt employees are required to submit their time worked on an approved university time collection system. The biweekly paycheck calculation is based on the employee's time submitted.

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Recording Time
Employees are to record their time in whole numbers and decimals rather than fractions. For example, 7.8 should be recorded instead of 7 4/5. Six minutes equals one tenth of an hour. Employees are to record their time according to the time collection instructions and errors in recording time must be corrected in accordance with the time collection instructions.

Ensuring Accuracy
Person(s) responsible for time collection must take steps to ensure the accruracy of the data collected. When a person(s) (e.g. employee, supervisor and/ or responsible designee) submits/approves time collection data, he/she is attesting to the accuracy of that data. Knowingly approving inaccurate time collection data is in violation of university policy and illegal under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and may subject the person(s) to disciplinary/legal action (up to and including discharge). Suspected violations of policy involving time collection records that are alleged to include intentional misstatement or omission of information should be directed by the unit head to the University Audit Office for handling. Refer to Policy 3.6, Financial Irregularities.

Contact
Division of Financial Affairs, Payroll Office
607.255.5194
uco-payroll@cornell.edu

Travel Time as Time Worked

Under the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, travel time is considered work time for the purposes of nonexempt hourly wage and overtime computation as outlined below.

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Applicability
Non Academic Staff

One Day Work Assignment in Another City
When a nonexempt staff member travels to another community for a one-day work assignment, all traveling is counted as time worked except travel time between home and airport, bus depot, or railroad station.

Example
A nonexempt staff member who works in Ithaca with regular working hours from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. is given a special assignment to be in Albany at 10:00 a.m. for a meeting. The staff member leaves home at 6:00 a.m. and rides or drives to Albany. The meeting concludes at 4:00 p.m. and after eating supper, the staff member leaves for Ithaca, arriving at 10:00 p.m.

The travel time in this case is counted as time worked. In addition to the normal working hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the staff member must be paid from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. and from 4:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., less time for meals. (If the staff member had traveled to the bus station or airport for transportation to Albany, the travel time between home to the depot [and return] would not be counted as time worked).

Travel Away from the Home Community Overnight
Travel that keeps a nonexempt staff member away from home overnight is treated differently than travel on one-day assignments, from the standpoint of identifying hours worked. Travel time (involving a required overnight stay) is viewed as work time only when it cuts across the staff member's work day. However, travel time that is outside of normal working hours is not considered work time.

Example
A nonexempt staff member who works in Ithaca with regular working hours from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. is given a special assignment to be in Rochester for two days to attend a meeting. The staff member leaves home at 6:00 a.m. on the first day and arrives at the meeting which begins at 9:00 a.m. The meeting concludes on the second day at 4:00 p.m. and the staff member leaves Rochester immediately and arrives in Ithaca at 7:00 p.m.

In this case, the travel time which is outside of the regular work hours (for the first day from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. and for the second day from 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.) is not counted as hours worked. The staff member would be paid only for the regular number of hours worked while at the two-day meeting: from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Special Considerations
Travel on a Non-work Day: Travel time that is required of a nonexempt staff member which occurs during the normal working schedule (e.g. 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) is work time even though the travel may take place on a day, such as Sunday, other than the normal work day.

Performing Required Work While Traveling: When a nonexempt staff member does any work or is otherwise subject to the university's control and supervision while traveling, all such time is considered work time. Thus, travel time is work time when a staff member is required to drive a car, transport equipment to a worksite, or report into work before traveling. However, normal travel from home to work before the regular work day begins, and from work to home after the work day is over, is not time worked.


Commencement

Time off and pay guidelines are specific to the Commencement ceremony at which the staff volunteer. 

If non-exempt employees are not assisting in an entirely voluntary capacity, then they must be paid for all hours worked, regardless of whether those hours fall outside their normal work schedules and/or result in overtime.

More Details: December 2023

Time-Off Policy for Volunteers at University Recognition Ceremony for December Graduates

The Commencement Committee acknowledges volunteers who help at the University December Recognition Ceremony on Sunday, December 17, 2023, and provides them with the following guidelines to ensure that staff volunteers are appropriately recognized.

All volunteers should inform their immediate supervisors of their decision to volunteer.

Please contact hrpolicy@cornell.edu with any questions.

Eligibility

All regular full-time or part-time non-exempt and exempt staff, including benefits-eligible temporary staff.

If volunteer is not a Cornell University employee or is a County Extension Association employee, time-off guidelines do not apply.

Volunteer Time and Paid Time Off

Non-exempt volunteer staff should not record any time in Workday for their volunteer hours on December 17 at the Commencement Event as this is not paid time. If you have questions about time collection, please contact your payroll representative.

Eligible employees who volunteer at the University Recognition Ceremony in December will be granted paid time off equivalent to one-half (1/2) their standard work day. Note that this PTO time is not reflected in Workday when it is earned.

Non-exempt employees who are not assisting in an entirely voluntary capacity must be paid for all hours worked during the December 2023 University Commencement Ceremony whether those hours fall outside their normal work schedules and/or result in overtime. Such work hours must be accurately reported in Workday. In this case, a non-exempt employee will not receive the one-half (1/2) paid day off.

Use of Paid Time Off/Workday Procedure

December Commencement PTO must be used by June 30 of the following calendar year, i.e., for December 2023 commencement, paid time off must be used by June 30, 2024.

The paid time off should be scheduled so as not to disrupt normal work activities and must be approved by the volunteer’s immediate supervisor.

Non-exempt staff should request “Volunteer – Commencement Time Off” via a time off request in Workday when the day off is used.

Exempt staff should use the paid time off according to the procedure established within their department to track time off, as there is no method for recording the ½ day as Commencement paid time off for exempt staff in Workday.

More Details: May 2023

Paid Time-Off Guidelines for Volunteers at the 2023 University Commencement Ceremonies and PhD Recognition Event

The Commencement Committee acknowledges and appreciates those who volunteer at the 2023 University Commencement Ceremonies and/or the PhD Recognition Event on May 27, 2023, and provides them with the following guidelines to ensure that staff volunteers are appropriately recognized by the following.

Paid Time Off

All regular full-time or part-time non-exempt and exempt staff, including benefits-eligible temporary staff, who volunteer* at one of the 2023 University Commencement Ceremonies and/or PhD Recognition event will be granted paid time off (PTO) equivalent to their standard work day. A total of one (1) day of paid time off will be provided even if the staff member volunteers at more than one University ceremony on Saturday, May 27.

Volunteers are encouraged to inform their immediate supervisors of their decision to volunteer.

*Non-exempt employees who are not assisting in an entirely voluntary capacity must be paid for all hours worked during the 2023 University Commencement Ceremonies and/or PhD Recognition Event whether those hours fall outside their normal work schedules and/or result in overtime. Such work hours must be accurately reported in Workday. In this case, a non-exempt employee will not receive the paid day off or the Awardco points as outlined above.

Use of Paid Time Off/Workday Procedure 

The paid time off should be scheduled so as not to disrupt normal work activities and must be approved by the volunteer’s immediate supervisor. In regard to the May 2023 ceremonies, this PTO must be used by December 31, 2023.

Staff should request “Volunteer – Commencement Time Off” via a time off request in Workday when the day off is used. Non-exempt volunteer staff should not record any time in Workday for their volunteer hours on May 27 at either University commencement ceremony or the PhD event as this is not paid time. If you have questions about time collection, please contact your payroll representative.

Exempt employees should use the paid time off according to the procedure established within their department to track time off, as there is no method for recording the one (1) day as Commencement paid time off for exempt staff in Workday.

College/Department Commencement Events 

These guidelines apply to the University Commencement ceremonies and the PhD Event, not to college or department level commencement events. Guidelines, procedures, and requirements for college or department commencement events differ from those described here for University events. If you are assisting with college or department level commencement events, please consult your appropriate college contact (e.g. supervisor, college registrar, HR or Payroll representative) for further information.

Additional Recognition

As an additional thank you to our staff volunteers who help with these two Commencement ceremonies and the PhD event, university leadership will offer the following recognition this year:

  • If volunteering at 1 or 2 Commencement ceremonies, you will receive 60 Awardco points for each event and 1 movie ticket per event.
  • If volunteering at the PhD Recognition event, you will receive 40 Awardco points and 1 movie ticket.

We welcome Cornell retirees and friends and relatives of staff to volunteer, and they will receive 2 movie tickets for each event where they volunteer.

Cornell Cooperative Extension employees and Cornell affiliates will receive 2 movie tickets for each event where they volunteer. Paid time off and Awardco points do not apply.

Slope Day Pay Guidelines

Volunteers significantly contribute to the success of this event. Staff and faculty volunteers are needed for shifts that begin at different times throughout the day. 

If non-exempt employees are not assisting in an entirely voluntary capacity, then they must be paid for all hours worked, regardless of whether those hours fall outside their normal work schedules and/or result in overtime.

More Details

For Non-Exempt Staff Members

A supervisor must approve a staff member’s request to be released from regular duties in order to be re-assigned as a volunteer at Slope Day. Given the re-assignment, hours spent at Slope Day that coincide with the staff member’s regularly scheduled work hours will be considered time worked and should be recorded in Workday as “Regular” time. Hours spent volunteering at Slope Day that fall outside of scheduled work hours (and thus are not a re-assignment of duties) are unpaid and do not need to be recorded in Workday.

Nonexempt staff members who are required to work the Slope Day event must be paid for all hours worked during the event, even if such hours do not coincide with their regularly scheduled work hours. Such time should be recorded in Workday as “Regular” time. If you are unsure whether your assignment at Slope Day is a voluntary one (see above paragraph), or a required assignment, please contact either your supervisor, or your college/unit Human Resources representative for clarification.

For Exempt Staff Members
Exempt staff members who provide assistance during Slope Day in either capacity above will receive their usual compensation.