With the start of a new fall quarter, this 2021-22 school year has already proven to be difficult for Highlander students and staff. The transition from remote learning to mostly in-person classes, issues of campus business being understaffed and the looming threat of COVID-19 have made coming back to campus challenging after a stressful two years fueled by the pandemic. Another problem that has recently come to the attention of some student workers is the question of why there have been discrepancies with their pay.
New student workers may have noticed that they have not been receiving their paychecks on time or that the amounts they are receiving have been incorrect. The UC system currently handles payroll through UCPath, which was implemented between 2017-18 and operates payroll for all of the UCs. Since this new program was implemented, there have been constant complications, but not to the same extent as this year.
As students are returning to campus, many are being hired for on-campus positions they have not previously held due to classes mainly being remote the last couple of years. This is where problems arise with UCPath. The influx of student workers is causing a delay in the onboarding process for them to be fully hired and entered into the system. The process is currently taking weeks to a month for students to receive their first paycheck because the system is so behind and overwhelmed.
Students who started working at the beginning of the school year may have just recently received one paycheck when they should have already received two. In order for students to be paid, their information is input by UCR, sent to a shared service center and then sent to UCPath, who makes the final decisions. This train of people that the information must be sent through further prolongs the wait for students who are in need of assistance.
“They held a week’s worth of pay for unknown reasons. I have had jobs before and they don’t do that,” said a third-year sociology major and UCR student worker. “I just found it very unprofessional and not very thoughtful since we have bills to pay. I haven’t been contacted about it at all, but I knew something was off.”
This problem is affecting other new student workers or students who changed positions from the previous school year.
One senator from ASUCR was already employed on campus and switched positions to become a senator this year. With their information already in the system, the process should not have been delayed, yet it was. This individual was entered into the UCPath system on Sept. 9, and it took about a month for them to be approved. Their pay period should have been on Oct. 13, but they were not paid until Oct. 21, a week later after already missing their first pay period.
The system has not caught up and is neglecting students who, on top of paying bills, are also concerned with school and outside obligations.
Second-year pre-business major Hansel Chu has yet to be paid from UCPath and is relying on money he made over the summer to get by.
“I’m glad that I was able to work over the summer and earn a good amount of money before school started. However, I am starting to feel the effects of not getting paid yet for UCPath, as I have to pay for rent, groceries and other expenses on my own. I feel a bit more uptight with my money now and am not able to enjoy spending it on things that I like,” said Chu.
UCR wants to retro pay students who have not received paychecks, but is limited on their reach as they depend on the service center and UCPath to make the final corrections. There is no direct access to UCPath. Before UCPath was implemented in 2017-18, UCR had more control over the accounts, but that is no longer the case.
Chu and other students also find the UCPath system to be complicated to operate. During the onboarding process, students are expected to navigate the system themselves and create an account while setting up their direct deposit.
“The UCPath system is a bit complicated, and I had problems signing and logging in to my account, which doesn’t make it easier to get paid,” said Chu.
To make an account, students need to set up five security questions and input other personal information. Not doing this or not creating an account further delays when students will receive their paychecks.
This problem has also been reported at the other UCs. The same UCPath system operates payroll for all the schools, making it easy to see how the system is currently overwhelmed.
UCPath is located in Riverside and, according to their website, serves “all the university’s more than 200,000 employees from each of the campuses, and medical and research facilities.”
If you are a student worker and have been victimized by pay discrepancies, visit the UCPath website and finish setting up your account or send an email to their support center.