Faculty Policies and Procedures

Outside Work for Pay: Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated: 5/5/2006

Revisions to the Outside Work for Pay Policy (the "Policy") were approved by the Board of Trustees on May 5, 2006. Academic Human Resources has worked with the University Committee on Faculty Affairs to prepare this list of frequently asked questions related to the Policy.

1.   What standards govern an administrator's decision to grant or deny a faculty member's request to engage in outside work for pay?

The Policy provides that faculty members may request approval to engage in outside work for pay if all of the following conditions exist:

  1. All approved outside work for pay and overload pay assignments for the faculty member will not exceed a total average of four days a month.
  2. The work in question will enhance the faculty member's expertise as a teacher and scholar in his/her discipline.
  3. The work will not interfere with the performance of the faculty member's University duties, including those non‑classroom responsibilities expected of all faculty members.
  4. The work will not adversely affect the University's interests or violate University policies or regulations.
  5. The work will be of a professional nature.

These conditions are required because the OWP Policy is not an entitlement, nor is the policy intended to be a mechanism to merely supplement a faculty member's salary. Rather, the policy is intended to permit a member faculty to engage in outside activities that enhance his/her expertise as a teacher and scholar but yet also remain accessible to students, colleagues, and the public as part of the faculty member's full-time professional efforts for the University. The Policy establishes a presumption that if all of the above conditions are met, approval to engage in outside work for pay will be granted. Similarly, if all of the conditions are not met, the request should be denied by the relevant department chair.

2.   Must a faculty member report or obtain permission for outside work for pay that is not related to his/her area of academic expertise?

No. The Policy only covers outside work in the general area of expertise for which the faculty member is employed by the University. For example, a chemistry professor who is compensated for playing the piano in a local restaurant on Saturday night or who is paid to referee youth soccer games does not need to obtain approval for or to report such work under the Policy. However, faculty members' outside activities (whether paid or unpaid) may not interfere with the performance of their University responsibilities. See question 11 below.

3.  Are any paid scholarly activities related to a faculty member's general area of expertise not regulated by this Policy?

Yes. Section II of the Policy provides that certain normal scholarly activities are expected of faculty and are not regulated by the Policy, even if a faculty member is paid to do them by some outside entity. Examples of such activities include presentations at professional meetings; peer review of articles and grant proposals; preparation of scholarly publications; leadership positions in professional societies; service as editor of a scholarly journal; service on advisory committees or evaluation panels for government agencies, foundations, or other universities; and certain musical or other creative performances and exhibitions, if there is an expectation in the faculty member's discipline that he/she will engage in such performances or exhibitions.

The policy exception for "presentations at professional meetings and other similar gatherings" is intended to cover meetings at which a faculty member presents original research. It generally does not include meetings sponsored by industry or other private organizations, even if other professionals are in attendance. Presentations for the purpose of providing continuing education to other professionals may fall within this exception or within the definition of "outside work" depending on all of the relevant facts and circumstances. It is the responsibility of the relevant department chair, with input from the affected faculty member, to determine which category specific commitments fall within.

4.  What is a "duty period?"

The duty period for faculty members on an AY appointment is the nine-month period running from August 16th through May 15th of the following calendar year. If a faculty member on an AY appointment receives a summer assignment, the duration of the summer assignment is also part of the duty period. The duty period for faculty members on an AN appointment is the 12-month period running from August 16th through August 15th of the following calendar year (or any other 12-month period specified in the relevant appointment letter). During the duty period, faculty members are expected to devote their full professional efforts to the University, including weekends and evenings.

5.  Why does the Policy require that faculty provide advance notice of outside work for pay performed during non-duty periods?

Outside work for pay performed during non-duty periods does not require approval. Nevertheless, a faculty member must submit an Outside Work for Pay form prior to engaging in outside work for pay during non-duty periods to confirm that the outside work will not adversely affect the University's interests, violate University policies or regulations, or circumvent University policies or regulations that would apply if the work was performed during the duty period. The unit administrator will review the form to determine whether the faculty member's outside work will involve any of the following: use of University facilities, supplies, materials, or equipment; use of University intellectual property; use of University employees; participation by or payment to University students; research involving animals, human subjects, or radioactive, hazardous, or other regulated materials.

6.   Does the four day per month limit on outside work for pay include evenings and weekends?

Yes. During their duty periods, full-time faculty members are expected to devote their full professional efforts to the University, including weekends and evenings. Accordingly, outside work for pay performed during the evening or weekend counts toward the total average of four days per month allowed by the Policy.

Any portion of a day during which outside work for pay is conducted is considered a "day" for purposes of the four day per month limit.

7.   Does the Policy apply to faculty who are on a sabbatical or terminal year consultantship?

Yes. Faculty who are on an approved sabbatical or a terminal year consultantship are eligible to perform outside work for pay pursuant to the Policy.

8.  Does the Policy apply to faculty members who hold part-time appointments?

Yes. The Policy applies to faculty members who hold appointments of at least 50% time. Faculty with appointments of less than 50% time are not covered by the Policy.

Part-time faculty with appointments between 50% and less than 100% may engage in outside work for pay so long as that work is not performed during the normal duty period. For example, a part-time faculty member with a 60% appointment to work Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays may not seek release time on those days to engage in outside work for pay. The faculty member may, however, perform outside work for pay on his/her non-scheduled days consistent with the provisions regarding outside work for pay performed during non-duty periods. (See #5 above).

9. How is the ownership of intellectual property addressed by this Policy?

The Policy provides that the University's policies regarding intellectual property are applicable to faculty members engaging in outside work for pay. Questions about application of the University's Development of Copyrighted Materials Policy and Patent Policy to outside work for pay should be directed to the Office of Intellectual Property at 355-2186.

10. What is the difference between overload work and outside work for pay?

Overload work is an overload assignment related to teaching, research, outreach, or academic/student support that represents a substantial increase over regularly assigned duties and that is performed for the University. Outside work for pay is any paid service or activity in the general area of expertise for which the faculty member is employed by the University that is performed for a person or entity other than the University. Faculty may request approval to engage in overload pay and/or outside work for pay up to a total average of four days per month.

11.  What is the interface between conflict of commitment principles and the   Policy?

A "conflict of commitment" occurs when the time and attention a faculty member devotes to outside activities interferes with the performance of his/her responsibilities to the University. When involvement in outside work for pay substantially interferes with a faculty member's performance of his/her University duties, the faculty member's unit administrator may issue an administrative warning to the faculty member or the faculty member and his/her unit administrator may arrange by mutual agreement a voluntary unpaid leave of absence or a reduction in the faculty member's appointment. The unit administrator may also terminate approval for outside work for pay when a conflict of commitment exists. Conflicts of commitment arising from outside activities not covered by this Policy are addressed through normal faculty review and/or disciplinary processes.

12. Are faculty members required to disclose information about outside work for pay that might be confidential or subject to a recognized privilege, such as attorney-client or doctor-patient privilege?

No. The approval process for outside work for pay requires only a general description of the outside work to be performed. Confidential or privileged information related to specific clients or underlying matters need not be disclosed on the Outside Work for Pay form. For example, a faculty member in the College of Law could request approval on the Outside Work for Pay form to "engage in outside work for pay providing legal advice and services in the area of elder care law to residents at area nursing homes and hospices." The information provided, however, must be sufficient for the unit administrator to determine whether the conditions described in the answer to question 1 above have been met, and the administrator may seek additional information if he/she needs it to make that determination.

13.  Under what type of circumstances might approval for outside work for pay be terminated?

The Policy provides that approval for outside work for pay is subject to termination at any time the University considers such action to be advisable. Such termination might occur if circumstances have changed and the outside work for pay no longer meets the conditions for approval described in the answer to question 1 above. For example, approval might be terminated when the outside work interferes with the performance of the faculty member's duties or adversely affects the University's interests or violates University policies.

14.  How can a faculty member challenge the denial or termination of approval to engage in outside work for pay?

A faculty member may challenge a decision to deny or terminate approval for outside work for pay through the Faculty Grievance Procedure if the faculty member alleges that the denial is contrary to this Policy, to another University policy, or to established practice, or that it is an unfair application of this Policy.

15.  How does the Policy relate to the University Practice Plan?

Faculty in the Colleges of Human Medicine, Nursing, and Osteopathic Medicine may engage in outside work for pay pursuant to the Policy. However, outside work for pay that includes patient care or activities significantly related to patient care is also subject to the University Practice Plan. Questions about the University Practice Plan should be directed to the MSU Health Team Administrator and the faculty member's department chair.

Faculty in the College of Veterinary Medicine ("CVM") may engage in outside work for pay pursuant to the Policy, provided that any private veterinary practice by CVM faculty must also conform with applicable CVM policies.

16.  Does the Policy preclude a full-time faculty member from simultaneously holding a faculty appointment at another college or university?

Yes. Full-time faculty members are compensated for full time professional effort to the University. Simultaneously holding a faculty appointment at another college or university is inconsistent with full time employment at MSU and would generally constitute a conflict of commitment. Moreover, accepting a faculty appointment at another college or university would usually necessitate a commitment of more than an average of four days per month.

Faculty who wish to teach on a more limited basis outside of MSU may request to do so as outside work for pay. Faculty and department chairs should be mindful that the policy prohibits faculty from engaging in outside work that diverts research or teaching opportunities that might reasonably be offered to the University or engaging in outside work that competes with the University's programs.

Additional questions about the Policy may be directed to the Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Academic Human Resources at 355-5300.

Back to Faculty & Academic Staff Policies and Procedures

©