Tosa could withhold raises if performance is unsatisfactory

Published on: 4/27/2009

Wauwatosa - The city has developed a new performance evaluation system that will allow it to withhold pay raises from nonunion employees whose performance is rated as unsatisfactory.

The withholding of so-called step increases - raises that are given based on how long an employee holds a position - can be done beginning in the fall, Assistant City Attorney Beth Aldana said Monday.

And on Tuesday, the Common Council's Committee on Employee Relations could make a recommendation on whether the city also should withhold so-called across-the-board, or cost-of-living, pay raises from nonunion employees whose performance is unsatisfactory. That would take effect Jan. 1.

If the committee makes a recommendation on withholding across-the-board pay raises, the full council would consider it May 5.

Aldana said she believes that if pay raises are withheld, they would affect a small number of employees. But withholding raises gives the city a tool to try to improve employee performance, she said.

The withholding of raises would apply to only the roughly 90 city employees who are not represented by unions. The city has about 340 full-time-equivalent employees who are represented by one of five unions. Any withholding of pay raises for union employees would have to be negotiated with the unions.

If a pay raise is withheld because of a performance problem, the city administrator could still grant the raise at a later time as performance improves, Aldana said.

For example, if employees did not get an across-the-board raise at the beginning of the year because their performance was rated as unsatisfactory, they could get the raise later in the year if performance improved, she said.

The Common Council gave an across-the-board pay raise of 2.75% for 2009 and has approved another 2.75% increase for 2010, Aldana said.

Aldana said she does not know whether other local governments have adopted pay-raise withholding policies.