Pay for Exceptional Performance – Merit Employees

The following information is intended for reference only. Pay for exceptional performance is governed by the Merit rules established by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.


3.39(10) Pay for exceptional performance. An employee may be given pay for exceptional performance, not to exceed 5 percent of an employee's current annual salary, at the written request of the employee's department head with appropriate administrative approval and the prior approval of the resident director. The request will describe the nature of the exceptional job performance for which additional pay is requested, indicate the amount proposed, and specify the source of funds. The award may be based on sustained superior performance or an exceptional achievement or contribution during the period since the employee's last performance review. To qualify for an exceptional performance award, an employee must have a cumulative performance evaluation exceeding standards and have no individual rating below satisfactory. Payment will be made as a lump sum award and will not change the employee's established salary. No employee will be eligible for more than one award a year.


The following provide illustrations of work that may warrant consideration of exceptional performance pay. The actual application of the rule to any individual or situation is at the discretion of the employing unit. There is no obligation to provide exceptional performance pay, as individual circumstances may be impacted by multiple factors, including the availability of funding. 

  • Completion of a major project or initiative led by a merit employee or who had a significant role beyond the scope of their normal responsibilities
  • Significant and extraordinary effort beyond the fulfillment of normal job duties and expectations of the job – effort that is major, key, or vital to the unit and that resulted in a significant positive impact or productivity gain
  • Recognition of a merit employee’s exceptional role in revenue generation (or for the support of revenue generation), or cost savings
  • Extraordinary effort to meet emergent times of critical need (e.g., meeting a crucial deadline that could otherwise have an adverse impact on critical business operations or major project)


  1. Eligible staff are merit employees employed at the University in a regular position for at least 6 months.
  2. Must have a cumulative performance evaluation exceeding standards (reflected on the most recent performance review as an overall rating of either ‘Exceeds Expectations’ or ‘Outstanding’)*.
  3. Have no individual responsibility performance review rating below satisfactory (if/where individual responsibility ratings are used).
  4. Limited to one Exceptional Performance Award payment per fiscal year.
  5. Exceptional performance pay is a lump sum award and not included in the base salary.
  6. Exceptional performance pay is subject to taxes and paid as part of the next regular payroll.
  7. The nominating department/supervisor must complete the Microsoft Office document iconMerit Staff - Exceptional Performance Pay Lump Sum Award Notification Form
  8. A Special Compensation – Extra Meritorious (Payment) transaction must be initiated in Workflow by the employee's HR department and approved by the appropriate department head and their Dean, Vice President or a designee with the nomination form attached.
  9. University Compensation and Classification will provide final approval prior to payment based upon the documentation provided, consistent with the provisions of the merit rule.

* For nominations submitted in FY2018 where an overall performance rating may not have been provide for the merit staff member on their most recent annual review, departments may either complete a new performance review with an overall rating or may indicate in the justification for the award how the employee’s performance has met either the ‘Exceeds Expectations’ or ‘Outstanding’ rating requirement during the timeframe since the most recent performance review.