Overview of the Change

The University of Alberta introduced a new semi-monthly pay cycle for all NASA staff, graduate students, excluded students and postdoctoral fellows on July 1, 2012. The semi-monthly pay cycle consolidated the prior monthly and biweekly pay cycles into a combined pay cycle featuring two pay periods and two pay dates each month.

Pay dates are now 10 days after each pay period end date. For example, payment for the 1st to the 15th of the month will be made on the 25th while payment for the 16th to the last day of the month will be made on the 10th of the next month. If the 10th or 25th fall on a non-banking day, the pay date will be moved to the previous banking day.

The Previous Cycle

The New Cycle

New Semi-Monthly Cycle

Who was affected by this change?

The semi-monthly pay cycle will be used for all NASA staff, graduate students, excluded students and postdoctoral fellows (PDF).

Who was not be affected by this change?

Employees in the AASUA agreements (Faculty, Administrative Professional Officers (APO), Faculty Service Officers (FSO), Librarians, Contract Academic Staff Teaching (CAST), Sessional and Other Teaching Staff (SOTS), Academic Trust) will remain on the monthly payroll cycle and will not change pay frequencies unless they also have a concurrent appointment outside AASUA. In that case, the AASUA appointment will be paid monthly and the non-AASUA appointment will be paid semi-monthly.

Why the Change?

Moving biweekly and monthly payments into a combined pay cycle paid 10 days after the pay period for employees, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows results in more frequent payment of salaries, increased accuracy in employee/student/PDF payments, fewer manual/off-cycle cheques and improved service to customers. The change was designed to improve the payroll process for you; to ensure that you can be paid accurately and completely more frequently each month. Rather than receive only a single pay cheque each month for the entire month's earnings, now you are paid twice a month. For the University, the payroll processes has become more streamlined, standardized and efficient.

Why did we move to Semi-Monthly pay?

The decision to move to a semi-monthly pay cycle from the previous monthly pay cycle is one that was made after extensive analysis, careful thought and consultation with several stakeholders across the University. The new payment cycle nicely aligns with other colleges, universities and industries and provides for quicker and more efficient payment for employees and students. After implementation, employees, students, PDFs, departments and the University have seen benefits from being paid on a semi-monthly basis.

The previous monthly and biweekly pay cycles proved to be challenging and problematic for employees and students, as well as payroll and the University alike. Due to the time required for departments and Payroll to correctly process transactions such as new hires, rehires, terminations, pay rate changes, leaves of absence, vacation and other transactions, the payroll cut-off that departments adhered to was very early each calendar month and as a result, changes that impacted the employee in the last 2/3 of the month could not be accurately reflected in that month’s pay cheque/deposit. Each year, thousands of employees and students required special off-cycle payments and paper paycheques to ensure that they were paid for the time they worked or to correctly process adjustments to pay. Rather than having the convenience of having payments direct deposited into their bank accounts, off-cycle cheques must be cashed at the bank and are often placed in hold by the bank to ensure they clear. Individuals that start late in the month were forced to wait until the end of the next month in order to get paid or were required to physically come to Payroll or the departments to pick up a paper cheque. To ensure that employees and students can get paid on-time, accurately and effectively as possible, the University must change the method in which we paid.

What benefits will this have to staff and students?

The semi-monthly pay cycle will result in numerous benefits for employees and students including one common payment cycle for all non-academic staff and students, more frequent payments each month, increased accuracy and timely payment of earnings, payment of exception pay (ex overtime) in the current period rather than the next period, more up-to-date vacation and absence reporting, increased use of direct deposit and fewer paper cheques to cash, and ensured compliance with AB Employment Standards Code. Employees will be paid for time worked after they work it and it will be an accurate reflection of the salary earned during that period. Individuals should no longer be forced to pick up a paper paycheque required to correct errors in their pay.

What does this change mean to me?

Beginning in July 2012, we started paying NASA staff, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows within 10 days following each semi-monthly pay period.  All time worked in the first half of the month will be paid on the 25th. Payment for the second half of the month will be paid on the 10th of the next month. In the previous monthly payment cycle, individuals must wait until the end of the month to receive any pay. 

Will the University be holding back 10 days of my pay?

While it may appear as though the University is holding back 10 days of a monthly employee's pay, what will happen in the semi-monthly pay cycle is that you will actually be paid 5 days earlier than you were previously for half of your month's earnings and 10 days into the next month for the 2nd half. You will be paid all salary which you have earned, however just after you have completed the pay period.

In the previous monthly payroll cycle, individuals were paid for the entire months earnings (1st - 31st) on the 2nd last banking day of the month. You had to wait for the entire month to be paid the salary that you earned in that month. Days you worked at the beginning of the month, weren't paid until the end of the month. On a semi-monthly pay cycle, individuals are paid twice each month within 10 days of each pay period. On the semi-monthly pay cycle, days that you work during the first half of the month are paid on the 25th of each month, or five days earlier than you were paid previously. Days worked in the 2nd half of the month are paid 10 days into the next month. On an ongoing basis, individuals will receive two pay cheques each month, on the 10th and 25th, the total of which is the same as a month's earnings.

In the month of July 2012, in order to move to a semi-monthly pay cycle, the University realigned the pay periods and paid you for each pay period's earnings after you have worked them. 

Was NASA been consulted?

In accordance with the Letter Of Understanding on Pay Periods contained in Appendix C of the Common Provisions of the NASA Agreement (available at http://www.nasa.ualberta.ca/collective-agreement

) which has been ratified by NASA members for the last several years, the University served notice to commence the implementation of a new pay cycle beginning July 1. NASA worked jointly with Human Resource Services to openly communicate with all affected members and to minimize the impacts of the change.

How did the one-time cash advance help?

To assist with the financial challenge that many individuals felt in the month of July 2012 due to this change, a one-time cash advance was available for up to 70% of the individual's July 1, 2012 semi-monthly salary and is repayable in up to 24 equal installments. For those individuals choosing to take the 70% maximum advance, because the advance is not subject to income tax, CPP or EI deductions, the net pay received in July closely matched the net pay received had the University not changed pay cycles.  While the advance is not taxable, those taking the advance are assessed a small taxable benefit dictated by Canada Revenue Agency. The taxable benefit is calculated at 1% interest on the amount of the advance taken. For example, if you chose a cash advance of $2,000 repayable back over the maximum of 24 pay periods, you will repay $91.38 each pay period and be assessed a taxable benefit of $0.83 per pay period. The amount of actual income tax you pay on that taxable benefit could be approximately a third of that amount depending on your income tax bracket. The tax paid on the $20 taxable benefit might be equivalent to less than $6 total. The taxable benefit you received would be reported on your 2012 and 2013 year-end tax slip depending on when you completed repaying it.

More information about the Cash Advance is available on the Cash Advance Program page on this site.

More questions?

If you would like more information about the semi-monthly pay change, please take a look at the comprehensive FAQ section.  As more information is made available, we will post it on the site for staff and students to review.  You may also contact us at se2help@ualberta.ca and we will continue to assist you with your questions and concerns.

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The Cash Advance Option Form is no longer available as of June 1, 2012. 


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