Total Talent Management

Recruitment incentive payments

Last updated: May 1, 2024

To support the ability to compete with local organizations and attract top talent, with approval from the Vice President for Human Resources, units may establish a recruitment incentive payment program for staff positions.

A recruitment incentive payment (sometimes called a signing bonus) provides an additional lump sum payment to support the recruitment of specific positions in hard-to-fill job classifications. Job postings in UWHIRES indicate which positions are approved for a recruitment incentive payment and are posted for broad visibility to potential applicants.

Program request

Units considering offering a recruitment incentive program for open staff positions must submit a request to UWHR using the Recruitment Incentive Payment - Program Request (Campus) (MS Word) template. The request must be signed by the unit’s administrative official who has delegated authority to approve such a payment such as an appointing authority, dean, vice president, or medical center CEO or their delegate.

Program requests must include a detailed statement of reasons for requesting the program, to include degree of difficulty to fill, education and training required for the job classification, and market/competitor research, including any current UW positions eligible for a recruitment incentive payment.

Repayment commitment terms must be the same across units, unless otherwise stated in a collective bargaining agreement or by approval by the Vice President for Human Resources. If a recruitment incentive program already exists for a classified or contract covered job profile that is used elsewhere or in other units at the UW, the recruitment incentive payment amount must be the same unless otherwise stated in a collective bargaining agreement or approved by the Vice President for Human Resources.

UW Human Resources reserves the right to amend, interpret, end or suspend programs at any time.

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Unless an exception is authorized by the Vice President for Human Resources, the program is not available to:

  • Current employees working in a position in the same job profile in a regular capacity if they move laterally to a different position in the same job profile in another department.
  • Previous UW employees who return to the same job profile within one year of termination.
  • Employees in positions with end dates such as nonpermanent, temporary hourly staff, professional staff project or hourly limited term appointment.
  • Employees in intermittent positions.

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Payment and amount

Unless a collective bargaining agreement states otherwise, recruitment incentive payments are paid as a lump sum up to a maximum of $10,000 and are not prorated based on FTE. No payment may exceed fifteen percent of the employee’s base salary and amounts offered for the same job profile must be the same across units. Exceptions may be approved by the Vice President for Human Resources.

Recruitment incentive payments must be made by the hiring department from the organization’s existing resources and amounts should be based on degree of difficulty to fill, education and training required for the job classification, and market variables. Payments should appear by the second regularly scheduled paycheck following the employee’s start date and under no circumstances may be made in advance of the individual’s first day of employment.

If your unit has a need to pay a recruitment incentive to a new employee but has demonstrably insufficient fiscal resources within any fund type to accommodate the action(s), a request for Provost Reinvestment Funds can be submitted for consideration if the request meets funding thresholds. Please accompany your request with an email to if the need is urgent.

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Employee responsibilities and repayment

Recruitment incentive payments are paid to eligible employees after they complete new employee orientation and sign the employment offer that includes repayment conditions. Employees who terminate or change jobs out of the position/department they were hired into before 12 months of continuous service are required to pay back the full amount of the incentive payment. Units may exercise discretion regarding repayment obligations if an employee’s FTE or shift changes. Employees shall not be required to repay the recruitment incentive payment if they:

  • Are involuntarily separated as part of a layoff or reduction in force.
  • Are promoted or laterally move to a new position within the same employing department.
  • Leave UW employment due to receipt of military orders for themselves or their spouse.
  • Have an injury or illness that prevents the employee from working resulting in a medical separation.

Federal law requires that employees pay payroll taxes on lump sum recruitment incentive payments. UW reports these payments on the W-2 form. Employees may wish to seek advice from a tax professional.

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Program review

Units should monitor staffing patterns to determine whether recruitment incentive payments should continue to be considered for specific position recruitments. Approval by the Vice President for Human Resources is required to add additional job profiles to an already approved program.

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Department responsibilities

Departments are responsible for ensuring compliance with the recruitment incentive payment program including:

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Employment offer

The conditions of the recruitment incentive payment must be established in writing and specify the required period of continued employment. In advance of authorizing a lump sum recruitment payment, units must discuss the recruitment incentive payment with the successful job candidate, informing them that the payment can only be made after the individual is appointed and on the payroll, and is conditioned on agreeing in writing to the repayment terms.

Units (or UW Medicine recruiting for medical centers jobs) must prepare the Recruitment Incentive Payment - Repayment Attestation (Campus) (MS Word) which confirms the employee’s understanding of the amount, repayment obligations, and possible tax implications.

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WAC 357-28-095

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