If you plan to hire an employee on your grant, several steps are required before he or she can be placed on payroll.
Personnel Vacancy Notice
If you are hiring a full-time employee--working more than 19 hours a week--you must complete a Personnel Vacancy Notice to advertise the position. (This is a good practice for part-time employees, too, but it's optional.) Complete the notice through the RF website under “E-Services/Personnel Vacancy Notice.”
New Hire Package
Once you have selected a candidate for employment, a new hire package must be fully completed and submitted to the ORSP office. The new hire package is available only on the Research Foundation website. Please see the list of forms that are included and required. The PI and the new employee should complete the package together. Incomplete packages will be returned to the PI.
NO ONE SHOULD START WORK UNTIL THIS PACKAGE IS COMPLETE AND THE EMPLOYEE HAS FINISHED THE I-9 AND E-VERIFICATION PROCESS. If problems arise, we can assist you.
E-Verification and I-9
E-Verify is an Internet-based system mandated and operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA). E-Verify allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of new personnel. The I-9, an Immigration form, is key to the E-Verify process.
All employees must complete the I-9 prior to working and must complete E-Verification within three days of starting work. Any new hire package without E-Verification or submitted more than three days after the start date must be accompanied by a detailed letter from the PI (on department letterhead) that explains why the employee was not E-Verified on time and/or why the hiring package is late. This letter must bear the PI's original signature.
Individuals whose employment authorization cannot be instantly verified are given the opportunity to work with SSA or DHS, as appropriate, to confirm their authorization.
The Office of Research & Sponsored Programs will E-Verify employees from 10 am to 3 pm BY APPOINTMENT ONLY, Monday through Friday.
Once the new hire package is completed and reviewed by ORSP, it is sent to the Research Foundation for final processing, which can take up to three weeks. Then the employee is entered into the RF system. The employee receives an email from the RF with his or her employee ID number. The PI receives a separate email stating that the package has been processed and directing the PI to create an Electronic Personnel Action Form (E-PAF) on the RF website. After the PI submits the E-PAF, and Client Services and the Grants Office reviews and approves it, timesheets can be submitted.
Employee Payroll and PI Responsibility
Once the PI has created the E-PAF, the employee can log on to the RF website with his or her employee ID (www.rfcuny.org) and begin submitting timesheets through the “Time and Leave” screen under E-Services. Timesheets can be submitted as far back as four pay periods. Prior to that, any timesheets that need to be submitted must be done on paper. Employee timesheets must be approved by the PI before they can be processed.
PLEASE DO NOT SEND EMPLOYEES TO ORSP LOOKING FOR AND/OR INQUIRING ABOUT THEIR PAYCHECK. ORSP does not issue paychecks; the RF does. Any employee who contacts our office regarding payroll will be sent back to speak to his or her PI.
A ‘rehire' is defined as any Research Foundation employee who is reappointed after a break in service lasting 120 days or more. In those situations, a rehire package is required. This package must be completed and submitted to ORSP and then sent to the RF. Please make sure to send the paperwork before the employee begins working. The employee may need to be E-Verified. The Rehire package can be downloaded from the RF website. Once the rehire package is reviewed and sent to the RF, the PI can create an E-PAF and submit it to the RF. Once the E-PAF is approved, the employee or PI can submit timesheets.
Stipends vs Payroll
Student stipends and employee payroll are two very different terms. According to the IRS:
“A stipend is defined as a fixed sum of money paid periodically for services or to defray expenses. The fact that remuneration is termed a 'fee' or 'stipend' rather than salary or wages is immaterial. Wages are generally subject to employment taxes and should be reported on Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. Refer to Publication 15, Circular E, Employer's Tax Guide, Section 5, Wages and Other Compensation, for rules on accountable and nonaccountable plans for employee business expenses. The income from stipends is reportable. Is the stipend or fee paid to an employee or an independent contractor reportable? The answer to this question determines the way that the stipend is reported. See also the section entitled Employee vs. Independent Contractor.”
A simpler definition: If an employee-employer relationship exists, it should be constituted as payroll. An employee is classified as anyone who will perform services for you, thereby giving you the right to control what will be done and how.
For all federal grants, stipends should not be charged to research awards, per the new OMB Uniform Guidance (revised on December 26, 2014). See the text below for details.
§200.430 (Compensation - personal services) requires that amounts paid to individuals for their services on federal programs be documented, implying that payments to individuals which are not for services rendered should not be funded by research awards.
§200.466 Scholarships and student aid costs.
(a) Costs of scholarships, fellowships, and other programs of student aid at IHEs are allowable only when the purpose of the federal award is to provide training to selected participants and the charge is approved by the federal awarding agency. However, tuition remission and other forms of compensation paid as, or in lieu of, wages to students performing necessary work are allowable provided that:
(1) The individual is conducting activities necessary to the federal award;
(2) Tuition remission and other support are provided in accordance with established policy of the IHE and consistently provided in a like manner to students in return for similar activities conducted under federal awards as well as other activities; and
(3) During the academic period, the student is enrolled in an advanced degree program at a non-federal entity or affiliated institution and the activities of the student in relation to the federal award are related to the degree program;
(4) The tuition or other payments are reasonable compensation for the work performed and are conditioned explicitly upon the performance of necessary work; and
(5) It is the IHE's practice to similarly compensate students under federal awards as well as other activities.
(b) Charges for tuition remission and other forms of compensation paid to students as, or in lieu of, salaries and wages must be subject to the reporting requirements in §200.430 Compensation—personal services, and must be treated as direct or indirect cost in accordance with the actual work being performed. Tuition remission may be charged on an average rate basis. See also §200.431 Compensation—fringe benefits.
§200.75 Participant support costs.
Participant support costs means direct costs for items such as stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances, and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with conferences, or training projects. The link is as follows: http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?node=2:126.96.36.199.1#se2.1.200_1466
Consultants vs Payroll
IRS guidelines are based on common-law rules, rather than statute, and are thus open to interpretation. The general rule is that if an individual is subject to the control or direction of another merely as to the result to be accomplished by the work and not as to the means and methods for accomplishing the results, s/he is an independent contractor, rather than an employee. However, if the individual has a Social Security number rather than a tax ID, he or she is generally considered an employee. Also, if the person does not have a list of clients, the individual is classified as an employee. The IRS defines independent contractor as follows:
“People such as doctors, dentists, veterinarians, lawyers, accountants, contractors, subcontractors, public stenographers, or auctioneers who are in an independent trade, business, or profession in which they offer their services to the general public are generally independent contractors. However, whether these people are independent contractors or employees depends on the facts in each case. The general rule is that an individual is an independent contractor if the payer has the right to control or direct only the result of the work and not what will be done and how it will be done. The earnings of a person who is working as an independent contractor are subject to Self-Employment Tax. If you are an independent contractor, you are self-employed. To find out what your tax obligations are, visit the Self-Employed Tax Center.
You are not an independent contractor if you perform services that can be controlled by an employer (what will be done and how it will be done). This applies even if you are given freedom of action. What matters is that the employer has the legal right to control the details of how the services are performed.
If an employer-employee relationship exists (regardless of what the relationship is called), you are not an independent contractor and your earnings are generally not subject to Medicare and Social Security Taxes for Self-Employed.”
If the ICA submitted for an Independent Contract is rejected by the RF, a new hire package must be completed instead. For more information please contact ORSP.