The performance pay or “merit” system at UNLV is designed to reward faculty and other professional employees for excellence in carrying out the responsibilities of their position. In recognition of outstanding work, the performance pay system provides the opportunity for merit-based increases to base salary for performing at a high level according to established criteria.


Following several years in which the state legislature did not fund merit pay for the Nevada System of Higher Education, in 2019 the Board of Regents established a Task Force on Performance Pay. This led to a recommendation adopted by the Board in 2020 that authorized institutions to begin awarding merit-based permanent salary increases to existing employees using institutional funds.

After self-funding a performance pay system in fiscal year 2023, UNLV has committed to funding merit pay once again in FY2024. The guidelines provided here establish the process and procedures to be used by campus units to recommend merit-based salary increases for the upcoming fiscal year. Those recommendations must be approved by the vice president who leads the unit followed by final approval by the President.

​Merit pay increases are awarded at the start of a new fiscal year on the basis of performance during the prior calendar year. For FY2024 (commencing on July 1, 2023), merit pay will recognize employee performance during calendar year 2022.

Eligibility for Performance Pay

Job Classifications

All permanent professional employees who are employed at 0.5 FTE or higher are eligible for merit pay increases. This includes academic faculty, administrative faculty, research faculty, executive leadership (e.g., deans, vice presidents, etc.), and employees in grant-funded positions.

Ineligible groups include classified employees, visiting faculty, postdoctoral fellows, other temporary employees (e.g., LOAs, medical and dental residents, etc.), and individuals employed at less than 0.5 FTE.

Annual Evaluation Ratings

For merit pay eligibility, employees are required to be rated at least "satisfactory" in all areas evaluated and at least "commendable" or "excellent" in at least one of those areas.

Service Date

To be eligible for a performance pay increase, an employee must have begun employment no later than July 1, 2022.

Ineligibility Criteria

  1. Employees who underwent position movement after July 1, 2022, through a recruitment or internal search waiver, are not eligible to apply for merit pay during the FY 2024 merit cycle. 
  2. If an employee is awarded merit for the FY 2024 cycle but changes positions through a recruitment or internal search waiver, and receives a new base salary, the individual is not entitled to the merit pay awarded in the previous position.
  3. If an employee is awarded merit during the FY 2024 merit cycle but terminates employment prior to August 1, 2023 (i.e., the date of the paycheck on which merit pay for FY 2024 begins), the employee will not receive any merit pay.


The pool of available funding is 1% of the UNLV total salary pool.

Funding for state-supported positions will be distributed on a per capita basis. Specifically, units will receive an allocation of funds from the total pool that is proportional to the number of FTE within the unit relative to the total FTE within the overall salary pool.  Therefore, units with higher average salaries may receive a funding allocation less than 1% of its combined salaries.  Conversely, units with lower average salaries may receive a funding allocation greater than 1% of its combined salaries.  This policy is intended to avoid disadvantaging individuals at the lower end of the salary spectrum.

For the purposes of distributing funds, “units” will be colleges and schools or areas reporting to a vice president. Aggregate award recommendations from each unit must be no greater than the amount allocated to that area.

For performance pay to be awarded to grant-funded positions, self-supporting budgets will also be responsible for identifying funding for merit awards equivalent to at least 1% of their salary pool excluding fringe benefits.

Merit pay for “soft-money” positions (i.e., positions supported through recharge revenue), will be absorbed by units and will not be funded by state dollars or the university.

Award Levels

There are three levels of merit awards: $600, $1,200, and $1,800. Awards can only be given in these amounts or $0. The top award level should be reserved for those with highly meritorious performance.

The three award levels reflect an annual increase to base salary for full-time equivalency. Part-time employees will receive the full merit award on their base salary and their earnings will be adjusted accordingly based upon FTE level.

Application Process

To be considered for performance pay, an employee must submit an application. The deadline for submission will be established by units but should be no later than March 15.

The application form for academic and research faculty will be established by departments or colleges / schools on the basis of unit bylaws or guidelines. Faculty members should consult their department chair or supervisor for guidance.

A general application for administrative faculty is available. Units may opt to use this form or create a separate form aligned with unit merit criteria.

Award Criteria

Criteria for merit awards will be determined at the unit level. These criteria must address all relevant areas of performance for the type of employee. Merit pay may not be awarded for reasons of longevity of service, salary compression, restoration of base pay, or equity adjustments.

The award criteria should be written down and established through the typical shared governance process, including input from the faculty / professional employees of the area and approval by the dean or vice president.

Merit criteria for academic faculty require consideration of:

  1. research, scholarly, or creative accomplishments
  2. teaching
  3. service 
The relative weights assigned to these areas can vary across colleges or schools, and also individual employees if allowed by unit bylaws or guidelines, but non-meritorious performance in any one area must be factored into the final award level. Faculty receiving the highest award levels should show merit in all areas of performance.

Depending on the unit, merit criteria for research faculty will relate to research, grant activities, creative work, or other scholarly endeavors.

Merit criteria for administrative faculty and executive leadership are tied to performance of the essential functions of the position as written in the position description questionnaire (PDQ). All areas of the PDQ, in conjunction with the annual evaluation, should be considered in determining the award level. Requests for copies of PDQs can be submitted to the classification and compensation team at

If an evaluation was not completed and there was a change in supervisor, the current supervisor should discuss achievements / efforts with the employee and senior unit colleagues to gain an understanding of the individual’s performance.

Review Process

Academic Faculty

Once applications for merit have been collected, the first level of review and award recommendations should be completed by a committee of peers formed according to rules specified by the respective unit. Those recommendations must then be reviewed and approved through normal administrative channels up to the dean, the Executive Vice President and Provost, and finally the President.

Research Faculty

Merit review for research faculty will be based upon the recommendations of the supervisor. Those recommendations must be reviewed and approved through standard administrative channels (including the dean, the Executive Vice President and Provost, and the President).

Administrative Faculty / Executive Leadership

Due to the variability in job descriptions among administrative faculty and executive leadership, unit leaders may opt to form review committees to provide merit recommendations or they may rely upon the recommendations of supervisors. All recommendations must be reviewed and approved by the unit vice president and finally the President.

Administrative Oversight and Revisions to Merit Award Recommendations

The appointing authority for each unit is ultimately responsible for ensuring a fair and equitable merit review process. Authorities must review merit decisions across their unit / division to ensure there are no major inconsistencies between evaluation ratings and merit amounts awarded.

Adjustments of initial recommendations made at any subsequent level of review must be communicated to those involved in the initial stages of review, including an explanation for why the change was made.


Members of any merit review committees or others involved in the review process must adhere to confidentiality rules. The chair of unit review committees should collect a signed confidentiality form from each member.


  • Employee Merit Application Submission Deadline: Set by the unit, but no later than March 15, 2023
  • Unit Merit Award Recommendations Due to President: April 28, 2023
  • Final Approved Campus Merit Award Listing Posted: May 12, 2023
  • Merit Adjustments to Base Salaries Completed in Workday: July 1, 2023
  • Merit Pay Increase Reflected on Employee Paycheck: August 1, 2023

Fiscal Year 2024 Merit Award Listing

Final approved campus merit award listing for FY24.

Payroll Process

Merit pay will be processed by the UNLV payroll office in coordination with NSHE Payroll.

Salary Formulas

Merit is added to the current base salary of an employee. The Salary Formulas webpage will assist departments in calculating expected salaries for employee’s who receive merit and/or COLA along with other salary adjustments on the same effective date of July 1.

Tentative Dates for Workday Processing

  • April 11 or 14: Merit recommendations due to Provost or HR.
  • April 28: Unit merit award recommendation due to President.
  • April 30: Deadline for divisions/department/area to submit any intended compensation change request for HR review. Freeze expected through August 31, 2023.
  • May 11 - May 19: Freeze for any academic and administrative staff Workday actions affecting compensation (due to merit EIB upload).
  • May 12: HR submits merit rosters for processing.
  • May 19: Merit information is expected to be reflected in Workday.
  • May 22 - May 29: Division / area VP to review Workday to verify accuracy and address merit corrections via google form.
  • May 30: Deadline for divisions/department/areas to submit any merit corrections via google form.
  • July 1: Employees will see merit award in Workday.
  • August 1: Monthly pay date.


Appeals of merit awards are subject to the provisions of the UNLV Bylaws. An academic or administrative faculty member who was denied a merit award or who disagrees with the level of award received may, within 15 calendar days after notification of the merit award decision (i.e., within 15 calendar days after the posting of the campus merit award listing), provide a written request to the dean or division leader asking for a statement in writing of the reasons. The response must be received by the faculty member within 15 calendar days. The faculty member may then request reconsideration of the merit award decision. If the reconsideration request is denied, the faculty member has a right to file a grievance about the decision to the Faculty Senate Grievance Committee.


If you have questions about the performance pay / merit system, please contact