University implements paperless payment system

Transition to finish by Feb. 29

AU will transition to a paperless payment system for all employees in February, in its continued effort to become a more environmentally conscious and sustainable campus in February.

Direct deposit and TotalPay Cards will be the only payment methods utilized by the University.

AU employees were informed of the transition Nov. 9 in an official memo from Merenda Tate, assistant director of payroll. The memo outlined the two payment options that AU was offering and provided links to forms for both direct deposit and TotalPay Cards.

TotalPay Cards function the same as debit cards and are the default option for

• all full- and part-time staff who do not change their payment method by Feb. 3,

• part-time faculty and students by Feb. 17

• full-time faculty and staff and full-time students receiving stipends by Feb. 29.

Direct deposit is AU’s preferred option and has been used by a majority of employees since the announcement of the transition, said Nishtha Ram, the front desk secretary for the Office of Payroll and a junior in the Kogod School of Business.

Last year 15 percent of AU employees received paper paychecks. Since the initiative was announced, one-third of that group has opted to receive direct deposit payment, according to Ravi Raman, director of finance communications at AU. Only a very small amount of people have chosen to receive TotalPay Cards.

Approximately 12 percent of employees have taken no action, according to Raman.

AU’s goal is to reduce the amount of paper it consumes on a biweekly and monthly basis. Raman referred to the transition as a modernization of the University’s payment method to help AU become more green and sustainable.

“This will help us achieve our institutional goal of sending zero waste to landfills, as well as our ambitious Carbon Neutrality target of 2020,” said Joshua Kaplan, sustainability outreach specialist in AU’s Office of Sustainability.

By switching to a purely electronic payment system, AU will reduce both its consumption of the resources that go into paper production as well as the emissions that result from shipping paychecks to employees, Kaplan said.

The Nov. 9 memo noted the three major benefits of switching to paperless checking included free access to funds 24/7, a new automatic depositing method that will prove security against lost and stolen and the system’s eco-friendly nature, which will help minimize environmental waste and pollutants.

“I highly support the University’s initiative,” said Josephine Chu, a first-year masters student, employee at the School of International Service and a Green Eagle. “I use direct deposit, and it is really convenient. Lower paper consumption and smaller environmental impact are goals I would see achievable this transition.”

Response to the transition has been positive thus far, according to Raman.

“Many staff members have expressed excitement that Payroll is launching this new initiative – for its increased convenience, efficiency and environmental friendliness,” Raman noted over email.

However, a few individuals said they are annoyed by the absence of paper records, Ram said.

Pay stubs can still be viewed online and printed out for personal records.

“The switch represents the larger idea of thinking outside of the box — changing the way that our systems of information delivery work, but achieving the same result with fewer resources used,” Kaplan said. “It’s more efficient, and is an example of the greater shifts that we’re going to have go through as a society to continue living on this planet with the same quality of life we currently enjoy. That, in a nutshell, is what sustainability is all about.”

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