Payroll Services Salary and Benefit Encumbrances

Salary and Benefit Encumbrances

An encumbrance is an estimate of the salary and benefit expense which will occur for the future. Salary and benefit expense encumbrances are generated semi-monthly. Negative encumbrances (liquidations) reverse the prior semi-monthly period encumbrance by changing (reversing) the sign. Encumbrances are only generated for salaried appointments.

The controlling factors of an encumbrance are an employee’s appointment to a position and its assignment of accounts. By reading the start and end dates of (1) the appointment, (2) the position and (3) each assignment, a factor (equating to the number of months) is created and used to multiply the employee’s pay rate. If the position to which the employee is appointed is a cyclic position (less than twelve months), then the position cycle begin and end dates are also used to create the monthly factor amount. The result of this calculation results in a salary encumbrance.

Since State-funded positions are only allocated monies on a fiscal year basis, the encumbrance for these positions run through the earliest of the appointment end date, the position end date, the assignment end date or the fiscal year date. Allocation is the process by which WSU specifies where the State appropriated dollars are to be spent. Appropriation refers to the legislation act which authorizes State agencies to spend a specific sum of money.

Encumbrances for grant-funded positions are not constrained by the fiscal year end date. Employees having annual appointments to grant-funded positions will have an encumbrance through the earliest of the “appointment end date”, the “assignment end date” or the “account end date”.

Encumbrances for salaried Graduate Assistants who are also work study will have the salary encumbrance factored by the work study expense so only the charge which the department is responsible for will
be passed to the departmental account. All estimated benefit expenses for salaried work study students will be encumbered on the departmental account.

Benefits are encumbered by taking the encumbered salary, reading the specific job classification benefit rate, then multiplying the benefit rate for the job classified by the encumbered salary.

Job Classification Benefit Encumbrance Rate

Title Codes

Job Classification
Benefit Rate
0001 - 1998
Faculty and Administrative Professional
2000 - 7999
9000 - 9902
Teaching Assistant
Research Assistant
9904 - 9999
Graduate Staff Assistant

The Benefit Encumbrance Rate is the average for the classification and is not specific by individual. Individual benefit rates differ by the types of benefits offered and the amount of pay an employee receives. The fixed cost of medical insurance contributions drastically affect the benefit rate. An employee covered under the medical plan receiving $1,000 of compensation per month has a benefit rate of 31.3% for medical insurance alone. Add retirement (7%), Social Security (6.2%) and Medicare (1.45%) and you are at an actual 45.75% benefit cost.

Since benefit expenses for State-funded positions are paid from the Central Benefits Pool, benefit encumbrances for State-funded positions are not fed into or reported by the accounting system.

Temporary employees paid wages (object 01) neither have a salary nor benefit encumbrance. There is no legitimate way to calculate if or how many hours a temporary employee will work in the future.

In order for an encumbrance to calculate, there must be either an N or P in the leave indicator field on the appointment. A blank in the leave indicator field of the appointment prevents the encumbrance from calculating.

A BNA (Benefits Not Allowable) on the account prevents a benefit encumbrance from being created.