While it sounds bureaucratic, Fort Lewis College’s phased shift to biweekly paychecks from monthly will make a significant budgeting difference for the workforce at one of the largest employers in the area.
The college’s Board of Trustees approved the concept at its meetings Thursday and Friday, with a formal policy to be introduced for approval at its December meeting.
Student employees and part-time staff will make the change first, on Jan. 1. With a two-week lag, they will get their December paycheck on Jan. 13, and the first two weeks of January will be paid Jan. 27.
The ASFLC (Associated Students of Fort Lewis College) asked for this change for student employees two years ago, FLC Comptroller Cheryl Wiescamp said.
“Students start at the beginning of school, which is, say Sept. 1,” ASFLC President Conner Cafferty said, “and they don’t get paid until Oct. 15. And they’re in the most expensive time of the year, when they have to pay tuition and buy books, get their living situation organized.”
Part of the shift is because of changes in the Fair Labor Act and state reorganization of its payroll schedule, Wiescamp said.
“The state as a whole will be going to biweekly on July 1 when it starts its new fiscal year,” she said. “It will make many things in my job easier because I work on two schedules, the calendar year for W-2s and IRS purposes and our fiscal year (July 1-June 30).”
Because the college recognizes that employees often must make a mortgage or rent payment, a significant part of their budget, it will make available one-time no-interest loans to help cover the reduced first payment. The loan will be repaid through payroll deductions.
Faculty and staff won’t phase into the biweekly schedule until July 1, receiving their first paychecks July 28.
“If we were starting from scratch, this is how we would do it,” said Darren Mathews, director of Human Resources for the college. “This will allow us to make better use of software we already have, it will solve a lot of issues for my department, and it will increase our accuracy.”