Beginning in July 2021, all UW System employees who are paid monthly—including UW–Madison employees—will be moved to a biweekly pay schedule. For these employees, most deductions for benefits such as health, dental, vision, and life insurance will be split evenly over the first two biweekly paychecks each month beginning in August. The term “Single Payroll” is often used to refer to this change, as it standardizes the payroll schedule for all UW System employees.

Most of the changes employees will see on their paychecks will happen automatically. However, it is important that employees understand the changes and how they affect their paycheck amounts. Employees may also wish to take action to adjust their personal budgets and any voluntary contributions and withdrawals currently deducted from their paychecks. UW–Madison and UW System are both offering a number of resources to help with this transition.

Transition timeline

Under the biweekly payroll schedule, paychecks will be issued every other Thursday. Employees who are paid over 12 months will receive 26 paychecks per year, while employees who are paid over nine months will receive 19–20 paychecks per year (depending on their contract dates). An employee’s annual salary will not change because of the shift in paycheck frequency.

For employees who are paid over 12 months, the transition to a biweekly pay schedule begins in July, with the first actual biweekly paycheck coming in August. On June 30, these employees will get their last full monthly paycheck for the month of June. The next paycheck, received on July 30, will be a partial monthly paycheck for July 1–17.  On August 12, the first biweekly paycheck will be issued for July 18–31. After that, the biweekly schedule continues. The Single Payroll timeline provides more details.

UW employees who are paid over nine months will receive their first biweekly paycheck in September, with the exact dates dictated by their contract dates. The first pay period covers one week (August 23–28). A Single Payroll timeline for nine-month appointments is also available online.

A more detailed 2021 Pay Schedule—including pay periods, pay dates, and deductions taken from each paycheck—is available as a downloadable PDF. The 2022 Biweekly Pay Schedule is also published online.

Preparing for the new biweekly payroll schedule

Employees who are accustomed to budgeting based on a monthly payroll schedule may wish to prepare for this transition. Some actions employees should consider taking care of in advance include the following:

  • Review their personal finances and monthly budget to prepare for the partial monthly paycheck in July and the biweekly payroll schedule that starts in August.
  • Set aside some savings for the transition period.
  • Review automatic and/or online payments that have been set up and adjust payment dates to align with the biweekly payroll schedule.
  • Align other payment due dates with the new biweekly payroll schedule when possible. Examples—whether these are paid via automatic deductions or not—including mortgages, car loans, credit card payments, and utility payments.

The UW–Madison Division of Extension has prepared a Learning Series that can help employees manage their budgets and make timely bill payments during the transition from monthly to biweekly pay.

Benefits deductions, voluntary contributions, and withholding

Under Single Payroll, most benefits deductions will be split evenly over the first two biweekly paychecks each month, including deductions for benefits such as health, dental, vision, and life insurance. In months where there are three pay periods, the third paycheck will not include these deductions. An employee’s coverage under the various benefits plans will not change.

The transition to biweekly benefits deductions will be made in July and August. In July, the partial monthly paycheck that is received on July 30 will include a full month of benefits premium deductions (even though the paycheck is for pay July 1–17).  Then, the first biweekly paycheck received on Aug. 12 will have no benefits premiums deducted; however, there will be deductions for voluntary contributions to WRS, TSA, and/or WDC accounts. Beginning with the biweekly paycheck received on Aug. 26 and going forward, half of the monthly benefits premiums will be deducted from the first two biweekly paychecks each month. Specific benefits deductions by paycheck can be viewed on the 2021 Pay Schedule for employees.

Many employees have chosen to have other voluntary contributions or withdrawals automatically deducted from their paychecks. Examples include flat dollar contributions to the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS), Tax Sheltered Annuity (TSA) 403(b), and Wisconsin Deferred Compensation (WDC) 457 accounts.

It is important to note that flat-dollar contributions and withholding amounts will not be automatically adjusted to the new biweekly payroll schedule. Employees may wish to make adjustments to these contributions and withholdings so that they do not have more taken out of each paycheck than they intended.

Voluntary contributions and withdrawals that may require employees to take action include:

  • Contributions to a Tax Sheltered Annuity (TSA) 403(b) account
  • Contributions to a Wisconsin Deferred Compensation 457 (WDC) account
  • Additional voluntary contributions to the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS)
  • Additional tax withholding amounts
  • Direct deposit of flat dollar amounts into multiple accounts, including but not limited to an Edvest 529 College Savings Account that is set up with a direct deposit

Employees can review their current voluntary contributions and withholding amounts by viewing their earnings statements under “Payroll Information” in MyUW. Employees who want to make adjustments to their voluntary contributions and withholding amounts will find instructions on how and when to make these adjustments at hr.wisc.edu/single-payroll. UW System is also sending a direct email to employees who have any of these voluntary contributions or withdrawals and providing instructions.

Employees do not need to take action in any of the following areas, which will be automatically adjusted to align with the new biweekly payroll schedule:

  • Contributions to a Health Savings Account (HSA)
  • Health Opt-Out incentive payments received
  • Charitable contributions made through payroll deduction, including Partners in Giving and others
  • Deductions for campus parking fees and recreation memberships

Where to find resources and assistance

Employees who would like to prepare for the change to a biweekly payroll schedule have access to a number of online resources. A Single Payroll website at hr.wisc.edu/single-payroll offers links to payroll calendars, frequently asked questions, a preparation checklist, personal financial resources, a paycheck estimator, and more.

UW-Madison employees are also welcome to attend two upcoming Town Halls hosted by UW System. A Town Hall on Thursday, May 13, from 4–5 p.m. will provide an overview for employees who are paid over 12 months, while a final session on Monday, May 17, from 1-2 p.m. offers another opportunity for all UW System employees to learn more and ask questions. Advance registration is not required, and a recording of each Town Hall will be available for on-demand viewing soon after each event at hr.wisc.edu/single-payroll.

UW-Madison has established a help desk to answer employee questions about the upcoming payroll changes. Trained representatives can be reached during normal business hours by phoning 608-265-2257 or by emailing 2021payrollchanges@ohr.wisc.edu.