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Terms of Employment

An Extension instructor applicant only becomes an Extension instructor for a given course in a given term when he or she completes the following three processes:

  1. An employment or independent contractor packet is submitted to instructor payroll (required once);
  2. Formal academic approval for every course an instructor teaches by the UC Merced Extension Dean. For University-level credit courses numbered X and XM 1–499, additional academic approval may be required by the UC Merced academic department or an equivalent advisory board, and possibly UC Merced’s Undergraduate or Graduate Council.
  3. A signed Instructor Contract for every course section an instructor teaches must be submitted prior to each term he or she teaches.

The process of course and instructor selection, academic approval, scheduling and hiring can take up to four months.

  1. New Course Proposals
    Extension looks for new course concepts that would appeal to our student base. As our planning, approving and budgeting cycles may take several months to bring a new course to fruition, we encourage you and other applicants to develop and submit course proposals early to the academic programming unit. You can initiate conversations with departments first to determine how your course idea may fit that department’s teaching needs.
  2. Formal Academic Approval to Teach a New Course
    1. The academic department is required to attain formal academic approval for every new credit course you teach at UC Merced Extension. You may be required to submit an updated Instructor CV/Resume and/or Biography Form when proposing a new course through the online system, which includes updated references to facilitate the academic approval process for teaching a new credit or noncredit course (forms older than three years are not accepted).
    2. Formal academic approval can take several months, depending upon the type of course. A course syllabus is required for all new courses and courses taught by a new instructor. Once academically approved to teach a given course, re-approval is not required unless the department has requested a one-time teaching exception and wishes to resubmit an academic approval request based upon further evaluation of your teaching credentials. For term deadlines, contact your Program Coordinator (contact info can be found here: The instructor agreement (below) is contingent upon the University’s formal academic approval of the course and instructor.
  3. Your Instructor Contract Agreement
    1. Once you and the Program Director agree upon the terms of compensation and employment and the academic approval process is underway, you will be required to complete a hiring packet (required once). Once the hiring packet is completed, you will receive an Instructor Contract Agreement from your Program Coordinator.
    2. Instructor appointments are by agreement for the length of each course section that you teach. Each term that you teach a course section for Extension, you will receive an instructor agreement that must be signed and returned within 15 business days. The University makes no commitment to hire an instructor until it has sent and received a signed instructor agreement for the term.
    3. In addition to being a legal contract between you and UC Merced Extension, the Instructor Contract Agreement contains all of the course information, including schedule, location, instructor applicant’s name and address, payment information and special course requirements. You should review the information for accuracy and notify your Program Coordinator if something is incorrect (contact info can be found here:
    4. Please note that UC Merced Extension does not sponsor work visas for instructor positions and all applicants must be able to prove eligibility to work in the United States at time of hire.
  4. Getting Paid
    1. For fixed-date course sections with fixed beginning and end dates, you are paid once at the end of the course section upon submission of final grades. For continuous-enrollment course sections, you are paid monthly; a report is run at the end of the month that calculates the number of final student grades that you submitted in that course during that month. Payroll staff then schedules a payment for that amount.
    2. For graded or CEU course sections, payment is usually received within 30 days of the submission of the grades or CEUs. For courses without these requirements, payment is usually received within 15 days of the end date of the course section, depending upon payroll deadlines.
    3. If you have questions regarding your terms of employment, compensation or payment, contact your Program Coordinator (contact info can be found here:
  5. By Agreement Employee Instructors
    1. Instructor compensation is processed by Extension’s Financial Services Department and instructor payments are issued by the University of California, Merced Payroll Office on the Merced campus. If you are employed in another UC Merced campus department or at another UC campus or facility, you must inform the Extension Financial Services Department. If you are employed by more than one UC Merced campus department, then the campus department that represents the greatest percentage of your work time will be your “home department.” If you work for more than one UC campus, at the Office of the President or at another non-Merced UC facility, your “home department” will be the unit that employed you first and all of your pay will continue to come through that unit.
    2. All employee instructors paid through the UC Merced systems must select direct deposit. Please see your Employment Packet Pay Options for more information.
    3. The following deductions will be made from your paycheck:
      1. Federal and state income taxes—You can manage your allowances and withholdings through At Your Service, see Section 10: At Your Service.
      2. Medicare (1.45%)
      3. Defined Contribution Plan (DCP) – Safe Harbor (7.5%)—This is deducted in lieu of Social Security. For additional information on this plan, please see Section 2.D: Participation in the University’s Defined Contribution Plan (DCP) -- “Safe Harbor”.
      4. You are also eligible to participate in the University’s Tax-Deferred 403(b) Plan. For additional information on this plan, please see 2.E. Eligibility for Participation in the University’s Tax-Deferred 403(b) Plan.
      5. You will receive a W-2 form at the end of the calendar year which can be downloaded electronically through At Your Service, a University of California website that provides access for employee instructors to view/print their earning statements and W-2 forms and adjust W-4 tax allowances and withholdings. It also provides employee instructors with access to other applicable benefit-related information.
  6.  Independent Contract Instructors
    1. Only about 5% of Extension instructors meet all 20 IRS classification factors to be classified as independent contractors. Independent contractors must provide a certificate of insurance for commercial-level general liability coverage with a minimum coverage limit of $300,000. Independent contractor instructors also have more limited benefits and privileges. If you are an independent contractor, you must submit invoices on business letterhead to your Program Coordinator (contact info can be found here: for each graded or completed course section. If you teach a fixed-date course, you should indicate a flat fee for services provided. If you teach a continuous-enrollment course, Instructor Payroll will send you an email listing the course and section #, the names of the students graded during the prior month, and the amount to be reflected on your invoice. Please include the following on your invoice:
      1. The course information shown on the instructor agreement, including course title, dates, course section number; Payee instructions (individual or company);
      2. Tax ID number; and
      3. Mailing address.
    2. Please issue separate invoices for instructional fees and pre-approved expense reimbursements. Attach relevant original receipts to the reimbursement invoices and describe the expenses to be reimbursed.
    3. Independent contractor payments are processed by Extension’s Financial Services Department and issued by the UC Merced Disbursements Office. You can opt to have a check mailed or complete an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) Authorization form (PDF). Independent contractors will receive a paper check unless they sign up for electronic funds transfer.
    4. Independent contractors receive IRS Form 1099 at the end of the calendar year.
  7. Cancellation/Discontinuance
    1. UC Merced Extension is a self-supporting institution. Extension sometimes finds it necessary to cancel in advance, discontinue, reschedule or combine courses and change instructors. Due to budgetary constraints, Extension requires each course or special program offered to have a minimum number of paid enrollments.
    2. Program Coordinators will contact you if advance enrollment indicates that there may not be a sufficient number of students. A Program Coordinator may visit the first class to check attendance. If enrollment is insufficient to continue the course, students will be given the option of requesting a full refund or transferring to another course.
    3. Should the course be canceled, your instructor agreement also is canceled, including rights to compensation. All events and preparation leading up to the teaching assignment are assumed as pre-course responsibilities of the instructor, without remuneration (exceptions include online curriculum developers who are specifically hired to develop online content).
  8. Emergency Makeup Meetings and Substitute Instructors
    1. The instructor agreement is between the instructor and the University, and instructors may not substitute another instructor to meet any portion of their teaching commitment to the University.
    2. Extension has procedures if you are ill or experience an emergency and need to miss, reschedule or cancel a class meeting. In these circumstances, notify your Program Coordinator (contact info can be found here: immediately. If it is after normal administrative business hours for a class that takes place the same evening, contact the appropriate Extension center directly and, if possible, leave a message for your Program Coordinator. Extension will notify students of the class meeting cancellation. View the Emergency Telephone Numbers for Instructors (PDF).
    3. The missed class time must be made up. Do not directly reschedule the makeup meeting with the students. The Program Coordinator must approve all arrangements for a makeup meeting or will arrange for an emergency substitute instructor. This is to ensure that any emergency arrangements for the class will fulfill the academic and instructional hour requirements for the course.
    4. Do not make independent arrangements for a substitute instructor or a guest speaker. Substitute instructors must also be formally academically approved and officially hired by UC Merced Extension. You are required to maintain a presence in the classroom with all guest speakers. If a substitute instructor is required for a substantial period of time, your compensation will be adjusted to cover the cost of the substitute. Extension does not provide sick-leave benefits.

Instructor Access, Privileges and Benefits

  1. System Access
    1. All instructors (employee and independent contractors) are eligible to receive and required to obtain and maintain a UC Merced email account and to use the Online Learning Management platform as well (Canvas Learning Management System) for all academic credit courses.
  2. 2-Factor Authentication (DUO)
    UC Merced Single Sign-On (SSO) requires 2-factor authentication for all faculty, staff, student, and affiliate accounts. The preferred method for 2-factor authentication is using a mobile phone, either via the Duo app or SMS text messaging. More information on DUO may be found here.
  3. CatCard
    1. Employee instructors are also eligible to receive a CatCard, which provides proof of official campus affiliation.
    2. To receive your CatCard, you must first verify that you have been entered into the payroll system and know your employee ID number, provide government-issued photo identification (e.g., driver’s license, passport, etc.). Please visit the website for more information
  4. UC Merced Library Privileges
    1. Employee instructors can remotely access UC Merced-only article databases and electronic journals through the UC Merced Library website:
    2. Employee instructors are only eligible for library privileges for the duration of their academic appointment; their library accounts are automatically created approximately one week within the start date of their appointment and expire approximately one week after their appointment ends. Independent Contractors are not eligible for library privileges.
  5. Participation in the University’s Defined Contribution Plan (DCP) -- “Safe Harbor”
    1. As a condition of employment, Extension’s employee instructors are required to participate in the University of California retirement coverage, established under Section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code.
    2. The Defined Contribution Plan (DCP) provides supplemental retirement benefits based on the monthly contributions plus any earnings. This plan is in lieu of Social Security. Seven and a half percent is deducted from instructor compensation before income taxes are calculated, reducing instructor taxable income.
    3. Exceptions to this policy apply to those hired before October 19, 1992, who have had no breaks in employment and who have not been rehired. Once there is a break in service, instructors will automatically participate and be coded into the DCP.
    4. It is suggested that employee instructors carefully read the information on the website:
    5. For an explanation of “Safe Harbor,” please see:
  6. Workers’ Compensation Insurance for Employee Instructors
    1. If you are a by-agreement employee instructor, while you are in the classroom, you are covered by the University’s Worker’s Compensation Insurance Plan.
    2. It is suggested that employee instructors carefully read the information on the website:
    3. If you are injured while working for Extension, you must report the incident immediately here:

Section 3: Instructor Conduct

  1. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)
    1. The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) governs the disclosure and confidentiality of student information. Student information is considered confidential and should not be released to third parties without the student’s express written consent. UC Merced Extension has designated student names; terms of attendance; and major fields of study, including any earned certificates or other program completion awards as public information under the policy; however, students can opt out of releasing this information. Please refer all third-party inquiries to
    2. Confidential student information that is protected under FERPA includes class scheduling information and grades. A student’s grade is not to be released without the student’s written permission. Do not communicate information about grades in a manner that would expose confidential student information to a third party, such as publicly posting grades using Social Security or student identification numbers or through email.
    3. You have a Legitimate Educational Interest (LEI) in accessing confidential student information for the express purpose of fulfilling your instructional responsibilities. Outside of those instructional responsibilities, you must not re-purpose, re-use or have continued access to confidential student information for any other purpose.
    4. Please refer to the website for additional information:
    5. For educator preparation programs, only the Credential Analyst or other institutional authorized designees employed by the UNEX will have access to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing recommendation system. Duties regarding credential recommendations will not be delegated to persons other than employees of UNEX.
  2. Ethical Values and Standards of Ethical Conduct
    1. The University’s Statement of Ethical Values and Standards of Ethical Conduct commits everyone in the UC community to the highest ethical standards in furthering the University’s mission of teaching, research and public service. It identifies the University’s core ethical values as integrity, excellence, accountability and respect. These Standards of Ethical Conduct apply to all members of the University community, including UC Merced Extension instructors.
    2. In summary, UC Merced Extension expects you to be committed to the following ethical values:
      1. Fair dealing
      2. Individual responsibility and accountability
      3. Respect for others
      4. Compliance with applicable laws and regulations
      5. Compliance with applicable University policies, procedures and other forms of guidance
      6. Prevention and avoidance of any conflicts of interest
      7. Record confidentiality, privacy and access
      8. Appropriate use of University resources
      9. Reporting of ethical violations including protection from retaliation
    3. Instructors are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and to not exploit the vulnerability of the instructor/student relationship. Failure to comply with Extension’s instructor conduct policies could result in termination.
    4. Extension programs and classes should not—through their content, mode of presentation or promotion— make promises, either explicit or implicit, of financial or business success, job placement, or physical or emotional cure.
  3. Nondiscrimination

You must adhere to the University’s policies on Nondiscrimination and the University’s policies on the American With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.

  1. Sexual Harassment

You must adhere to the University’s policies on sexual harassment and violence. See further information on the policy and available confidential and non-confidential resources.

  1. Substance Abuse in the Workplace

Pursuant to the requirements of the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1989, the University strives to maintain campus communities and work sites free from the illegal use, possession or distribution of alcohol or of controlled substances, as defined in schedules I through V of the Controlled Substances Act, 21 United States Code 812, and by Regulation 21, Code of Federal regulations 1308.

Employees and students shall not use illegal substances or abuse legal substances in a manner that impairs work performance, scholarly activities or student life. Employees in violation of this policy, including student employees, may be subject to corrective action, up to and including dismissal. The University recognizes dependency on alcohol and other drugs as a treatable condition. You are encouraged to seek assistance.

  1. Nonsmoking Policy

You must adhere to the University’s Nonsmoking policy.

  1. Copyright Restrictions

UC Merced Extension must comply with federal law and University policy regarding copyright. Should you knowingly use copyrighted materials without appropriate authorization, you can be held liable.

Materials provided by UC Merced Extension (e.g., workshop curriculum) is owned by UC Merced Extension and is not to be used beyond the intended purpose. Please review Copyright Restrictions and Procedures for Other Course Materials.

  1. New Instructor Orientation
    1. Each new employee instructor will be provided an introduction to Extension, which includes an overview of the information found within this handbook. Professional development is provided based on the program in which the employee instructor is hired (e.g., Teacher Preparation). All UC Merced Extension instructors are hired with a minimum level of online instructional experience. Per instructor job description, all instructors are required to teach synchronous online courses. As a recognized provider of excellent online academic content, UC Merced Extension is committed to making additional instructor development opportunities available to enhance pedagogical expertise.
    2. If you wish to prepare for a specific Extension teaching assignment, you may request to audit courses that are within your own discipline. However, you cannot enroll, submit coursework, or receive credit or a grade for the course on your transcript. Make arrangements to audit courses with your Program Coordinator (contact info can be found here:
    3. For additional policies (e.g., student attendance and participation) are found in other sections within the handbook.