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Retention One-Time Payment

Program Summary:

The UC Merced Retention One-Time Payment Program (ROTPP) is a targeted payment provided to a key employee, in addition to their normal compensation, as an incentive to retain them at UC Merced, in support of critical business priorities in exchange for a 12-month service agreement. A Retention One-Time Payment (ROTP) may be offered when an employee has received an offer letter of employment from another organization (outside of UC Merced) and the department wishes to retain the employee. 

Retention One-Time Payment(s) (ROTP) for individuals are treated as exceptions under PPSM 30 – Compensation and require approval by UC Merced’s Associate Vice Chancellor/CHRO, the Division’s Vice Chancellor, the UCOP Director of Staff Compensation Program and Strategies, and the Vice President for Systemwide Human Resources. Local approval by the Chancellor is only required for ROTP in excess of 10% of the employee’s annual base salary. Offering ROTP is at the sole discretion of the University.

Eligibility Requirements:

Policy-covered contract and career Professional and Support Staff (PSS) employees and Managers and Senior Professionals (MSP) are eligible for a Retention One-Time Payment (ROTP) if, at the time of the award, they:

  • Are employed with UC Merced for a minimum of twelve consecutive months in a policy covered contract or career position at time of offer.  
    • Contract employees must have a minimum of 12 months remaining in their employment contract at the time the ROTP is requested, or a contract extension to cover the 12 months of employment duration must be submitted and will be required under the ROTP agreement.
  • Have successfully completed probationary period, if applicable.
  • Are on active status.
  • Are in good standing and most recently received a performance appraisal rating of ‘Successfully Met Expectations’ or greater.

Terms and Conditions:

  • ROTPs are offered at the discretion of the University and must be processed through the payroll system. Payments are considered taxable income and are subject to withholding. For compensation purposes, ROTPs are non-base building. The ROTP is payable as a one-time payment. 
  • Approval of a retention payment does not give any rights to a continued employment relationship.
  • An employee who voluntarily separates from UC Merced prior to completing 12 months of service shall pay back to the University 100% of the retention one-time payment amount received.
  • Where repayment of a ROTP is required, the Department is responsible for notifying to initiate the repayment process.

How to Request a Retention One-Time Payment:

When an employee has an external job offer in-hand (from an institution outside of UC Merced), the employee has expressed interest in staying at UC Merced, and the manager wants to pursue an ROTP, the manager and Position Delegate must contact their assigned HR Compensation Analyst for further instructions by emailing Before the process can begin, the following are required:

  1. A copy of the job offer letter.
  2. Confirm the employee has expressed interest in staying at UC Merced.
  3. Support from the Division Partner confirming funding to cover the ROTP.
  4. Support from the Vice Chancellor. 
  5. For contract positions, confirmation that the position has a minimum of 12 months remaining on the contract, or confirmation that the contract will be extended.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the UC Merced Retention One-Time Payment Program (ROTPP):

Q1: What is the UC Merced Retention One-Time Payment Program (ROTPP)?
A1: The ROTPP is a program designed to provide a one-time payment to key employees as an incentive to retain them at UC Merced for a minimum of 12 months, supporting critical business priorities.

Q2: Who is eligible for a ROTP?
Policy-covered contract, career Professional and Support Staff (PSS) employees, and Managers and Senior Professionals (MSP) are eligible if they meet specific criteria, including employees who are in good standing, and contract employees who have a minimum of 12 months of employment remaining in their contracts.

Q3: How much can a department request for ROTP?
A3: Within a fiscal year, a ROTP cannot exceed 10% of the employee's annual base salary. ROTPs in excess of 10% require Chancellor approval, and no ROTP can exceed 20% of the annual base salary.

Q4: How does the ROTP approval process work?
A4: The process involves multiple levels of approval, including local approvals and UCOP approvals. The ROTP cannot be offered or discussed with the employee until all approval levels are received.

Q5: Can an employee receive more than one ROTP within a specific period?
A5: No, an employee cannot receive more than one ROTP within a three-year period from the time of receipt.

Q6: How is a ROTP funded?
A6: ROTPs are funded by the requesting department. In some cases, departments may seek funding from the Central Budget Office after exhausting salary savings balance.

Q7: Are ROTPs considered part of an employee's base salary?
A7: No, ROTPs are not considered part of the base salary and are non-base building. They are one-time payments.

Q8: What happens if an employee voluntarily separates within 12 months of receiving a ROTP?
A8: The employee is required to repay the full amount of the ROTP, as detailed in the offer letter. Under extenuating circumstances, an exception to the repayment provision can be requested. Repayment exceptions require Chancellor’s approval.

Q9: How are ROTPs reported for tax purposes?
A9: ROTPs are included in the employee's income as wages subject to federal and state income taxes and FICA taxes. They are reportable on the employee's Form W-2.

Q10: Where can I find additional information and templates for ROTPs?
A10: Please contact your designated Compensation Analyst for more information.