Bug in Workday causes student employees to lose wages

January paychecks may seem a little light to some student workers on our campus. Many student employees were affected when the new year started. An unintended effect from an override in the Workday system caused student employees to have their pay set to the state minimum wage of $13.50.

Based on word from the Finance and Human Resources staff, the university set up an automated program in Workday to bring all students employees being paid below $13.50 per hour up to the new minimum wage on Jan. 1. This was to supplement the lists that supervisors send to Finance and HR to enter by hand in December. However, on Dec. 31, the automated process that was set up overrode all of the manual entries and simply updated the wage of most student workers to $13.50 on Jan. 1, even in the cases where an employee made more than $13.50 prior to Jan. 1. 

“Basically, we knew that there was an increase in minimum wage in Tacoma,” said Sean Schmidt, associate director of Finance, Human Resources and Administration. “So, the Workday folks set in place an automatic update that would happen … And then when Monica [Maul] actually went through to audit those changes to make sure they happened, she realized that they had been overridden by the automatic process that was already scheduled to happen.”

The error, which was discovered around Jan. 21, is in the process of being fixed, and any students who have been paid less than what they are due will receive back pay on their next paycheck.

“It will get fixed, there’s no doubt about that,” Schmidt said. “We are just hoping that it happens quickly and smoothly.”

Tacoma’s minimum wage has been increasing for the past four years. In 2016, the minimum wage was $10.35 per hour, which was then bumped up to $11.15 in 2017, $12.00 in 2018 and $12.35 an hour in 2019. At the start of 2020, Tacoma employers were required to increase the minimum wage to the state’s minimum of $13.50 an hour.