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Salary Adjustments

While RISD determines and assigns salaries for every position based on the position description, an employee’s salary may change throughout the course of employment at RISD as a result of one or a combination of the reasons listed below. Each year, the Board of Trustees reviews and approves RISD’s operating budget, which includes the total salary increase pool. We use this pool for increases such as cyclical base salary increases, market adjustments, promotions, general increases and/or other organizational changes.

Increases and Other Forms of Compensation

Cyclical Salary Increases

July 1, 2021 COVID Rate Restoration & Salary Increase Pool

Effective July 1, 2021, employees were restored to their base annual salary or hourly rate as existed on June 30, 2020. These restorations happened automatically and were in accordance with the original FY2021 reduction grid.

In addition, the Board approved the 2021–22 budget, which included a 2% salary increase pool for eligible non-bargaining unit staff in good standing* in accordance with the table below.

Non-Bargaining Unit Staff* Hired Between:Proration %Increase % Based on 2% Pool & Date of Hire
July 1 and December 31Not Applicable – No Proration2%
January 1 and March 3150%1%
April 1 and June 300%0%

*Non-bargaining unit staff must be in good standing to be eligible for a salary increase. To be in good standing, a non-bargaining unit staff member may not currently be or have been on a performance improvement plan or received any form of disciplinary action (whether verbal or written warning or suspension) in the six-month period prior to the expected increase, (meaning the period of January 1, 2020–June 30, 2021). Non-bargaining unit staff who are on a performance improvement plan (or who have received disciplinary action) in the January 1, 2020–June 30, 2021 time period who then improve and sustain their performance may be eligible for an increase effective October 1, 2021, at the sole discretion of their manager and senior leader. However, the increase will not be retroactive to July 1, 2021.

Market Adjustment

Commonly referred to as an “equity adjustment.” Market adjustments may be requested when a salary grade is correct, but the salary is low compared to the external marketplace and /or to others, usually in the same grade and with similar credentials, who have comparable responsibilities, experience and skills.


Salary increases may be granted when an employee moves to a position in a higher grade. We account for the employee’s relevant skills and experience, internal and external equity considerations and departmental budget when determining the amount of the promotional increase. Normally, promotions to the next level in the grade structure should see an increase between 5–8%, and those of two grade levels or higher should typically see an increase between between 10–15%. However, promotional increases may be accelerated beyond the guidelines noted here in order to ensure compliance with equal opportunity obligations and/or internal or external equity factors.


A sum of money granted on a short-term basis. A stipend may be used to recognize and reward completion of tasks/duties/responsibilities that are short term in nature (expected to continue for at least six consecutive weeks), fall outside of normal scope of the position, and require a higher level of knowledge, skill or experience to complete. Normally, a stipend should not exceed 10% of an incumbent’s current base salary/rate. In addition, a stipend should be assigned an end or reevaluation date.

Non-exempt employees who receive a stipend will receive it in the form of an hourly rate. For example, non-exempt Employee “A” normally earns $15/hour. Employee A has taken on additional duties that are outside of the scope of the normal assigned position/grade and require an advanced level of skill/experience beyond the assigned position/grade, while another employee is out on an extended three-month leave of absence. The additional duties, as priced to market, are $1/ hour more than Employee A’s current rate. Therefore, Employee A would earn $16/hour for hours worked performing those additional duties during the stipend period.


A one-time, lump sum of money, typically given for exemplary performance. A bonus is not added to, and does not, compound annual salary. Bonus pools are intended to recognize accomplishments that are above and beyond day-to-day responsibilities, require extraordinary efforts beyond high performance of regular job duties, and that positively impact RISD.

General Increase

Commonly referred to as an “across the board increase.” General increases are typically used for RISD’s unionized positions, for which all employees in the union receive the same increase amount. General increases are not typically based on performance or tenure, but rather on regular active employment status.

Need more information? We are here to help. Please direct your questions to Cathy Davis, Director of Compensation and Benefits at 401 454-6429 or cdavis@risd.edu.

Please note that while unionized employees may be the beneficiaries of various salary adjustments, any salary change or adjustment must be negotiated with and agreed to by both the union and the college in order for them to take effect.