KB - How to Complete the Actual Wage section
According to the Department of Labor (DOL), the actual wage is the wage rate paid by the UW to all individuals with experience and qualifications similar to the scholar's experience and qualifications for the specific employment in question in a specific operational unit. The actual wage is not an average of the wage rates paid to all workers employed in the occupation. If there are no similarly employed workers in the operational unit, the actual wage is simply the wage paid to the scholar.

How do you do the actual wage?

You may need to work with a supervisor or HR on this (if you aren’t in HR already).

  1. Run a report of your employees in the same title & prefix in the operational unit. You define the operational unit (maybe it’s a lab, or a group of labs that do the same research; or maybe it’s a Division within in a Department). You can use your own internal reports or OBIEE, if you have access to that. UW System users may have a different link to OBIEE or have another way to run a similar report that is specific to your institution. Data points you need are employee name, title, operational unit, and annual salary.
  2. Eliminate anyone whose job function is different than your H-1B employee’s job (for example, not all Research Specialists are the same; some do bench science while others are clinical research coordinators).
  3. Now, look at the people. Is there a job-related reason you’re paying them higher or lower than your H-1B employee? For example, if your Research Specialist Joe has one more year of experience than your H-1B, it makes sense that you’re paying him more. Therefore, Joe is not comparable, and you can eliminate him from the actual wage comparison list. If your Research Specialist Jane has a special skill that no one else has, it would make sense that you’re paying her more for that skill. Therefore, Jane is not comparable, and you can eliminate her from the actual wage comparison list. Job related factors to take into consideration are: education level, specialized skill set or knowledge, work experience, or other business related factors. It helps to look at CVs when completing this step.
  4. You should now be left with only those employees that are truly comparable to your H-1B employee (both in job and in qualifications). List the employee’s name/emplID and salary in TDS (when entering salary, do not enter a “$” or comma. Example, if someone is paid $50,000, just enter “50000”). Also, do not enter your H-1B employee’s name in this section.
  5. At this point, look at the salaries of those you listed as comparable. Is your H-1B employee’s wage equal to or higher than the lowest salary in your list? If yes, great! The actual wage is ok. If not, ask yourself “Why am I paying my international worker less than everyone else?” That usually prompts some additional job-related reasons to come up. If you have questions, email your IFSS contact.*If there are no employees who are comparable, select “No” and move on to the next section. It’s perfectly ok to have no comparable employees (that’s actually the goal of this exercise: to narrow it down as much as you can). When there are no comparable employees, the actual wage determination ends up being exactly what you are paying your H-1B employee.

This is one of the harder parts of the H-1B process. If you have any questions, please contact your ISSS Admin at IFSS.