The Faculty Senate has been conducting an investigation into problems with the new human resources management system that was implemented this past July. To further that end, a HRMS Task Force was formed to identify short and long-term solutions to the many issues.
After the concerns were brought to light, the university formed a task force to try to address their concerns. The task force had four assignments – identify and address immediate problems, find long term solutions to problems, to engage outside resources and ensure that normal activities are not disrupted during the course of the investigation.
In August, the senate sent an e-mail to all employees asking for feedback about the payroll system.
“Within 12 hours, from four in the afternoon to the following morning at 10, we had already heard back from 70 people,” professor of political science and Chair of the Faculty Senate Gerald Gamm said. “Of the 60 departments that we heard from, 56 reported their experience with the system was negative.”
Continuing, he said, “Overnight, in an instant, we went from being an institution where for staff and administration’s in every department, doing payroll was a very straightforward thing, to being an institution where, in every department, in every unit including clinical practice and labs, doing payroll has become a burdensome and difficult activity.”
Many of the complaints concerned the new time keeping system.
According to Gamm, the previous system was mostly invisible. Timekeepers would fill out a time card, stating the hours worked, and then a central payroll departments would collate the information and send out paychecks.
In the new system, however, each department does its own payroll processing. This change is in line with President Jackson’s renaissance plan to move to a decentralized university.
Many departments have been having problems with this system. A professor from the physics and astronomy department said that the new system was very time consuming. “For every hour with the old system, it takes four now,” the professor said, who asked not to be named. “What used to take two minutes now takes an hour.”
Sophomore Melinda Huang, who works at the Educational Technology Center experienced similar problems. “[In the beginning], there were some errors when you try to log in, and since you can’t log in you couldn’t clock out,” Huang said.
Professor of computer science and member of the Faculty Senate Michael Scott explained how HRMS software works. “[The system] collects data that has been entered on pages from around the university, makes them a batch, and applies a set of rules to them,” Scott said.
But tech support from both PeopleSoft and UR Human Resources have not yet figured out why this process takes a lot longer that it should.
One of the biggest changes is that employees now need strictly clocked hours, that is they sign in when they arrive and sign out when they leave – this differs from the previous system where departments would often write the normal workday as 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Clocked hours, many report, are unreliable, inflexible, demeaning and demoralizing,” Gamm’s report to the senate said.
However, clocked hours are an important feature of the system.
As Associate Vice President of Human Resources Charles Murphy explained, “The capture of time minute by minute or hour by hour basis, is the essence of what New York State directs us to do.”
Continuing, he said, “This isn’t a university option that we are exercising.”
According to him, the university has to pay all employees for all hours worked, and the new system of clocked hours is to ensure that happens.
“Many of the problems they noted were caused by departments that had previously reported time in ways that violated state or federal law,” Murphy said.
Despite its shortcomings, the system has some positive aspects which are often overlooked.
The system is Web-based and gives users the opportunity to look at their paychecks as far back as July 1999 via the Web.
Another advantage is that the process of applying for a job at UR has become streamlined. “I submitted to the university [my] name, my address, my social security number, my telephone number no less than six times [when I first applied],” Murphy said. “All of that stuff now is eliminated.”
Huang acknowledged the early problems but felt the new system still had potential. “I like this [new system] since you get to see your paycheck online and don’t have to go to your mailbox,” Huang said.
Freidman can be reached at