Variable-Hour Officers

There are many reasons to hire people on a temporary basis. As with all organizations, Columbia must get its work done when employees become ill or take a leave of absence, make sure that positions are covered when people depart, and occasionally devote extra resources to special projects. On top of this, the seasonal peaks in the life of a university require additional short-term assistance.

The University's hiring policies address this need for flexibility. At the same time, they ensure compliance with collective bargaining agreements, affirmative action plans, and such laws as the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

Policy Statement

Variable hour officers are employees on the University payroll who are performing officer-level work on an irregular and unpredictable basis. The work hours are undefined and vary from work week to work week depending on the nature of the work or project. Variable Hours Officers are limited to a maximum of 999 hours in a rolling 12 month period and should average less than 20 hours in a week. If in any given week the VHO exceeds 40 hours, he/she must be paid one-and-a-half times his/her regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. Please review the entire Employment of Variable Hours Officers Policy in the Administrative Policy Library.

Hiring Process

All variable hour officers (VHO) position must be entered into Jobs at Columbia (JAC).  All Variable hour officer hires must complete an employment application in JAC. A summary of the process is below:

Posting: All variable hour officer positions must be created and entered in Jobs at Columbia. If the department already has a candidate for the position then the online waiver process in JAC should be used.

Application: The candidate must submit an electronic application through JAC.

At CUMC Only:

  • Drug screening is also required for all employees who fall under the Joint Commission mandate area, including variable hour officers.
  • If the VHO will be working in a clinical capacity that requires medical credentialing, then the credentialing process must be completed prior to hire date
  • Background checks are required for all employees, including variable hours officers.

Hiring Paperwork

All applicable hiring paperwork must be submitted to the HRPC via the template-based hire process in a timely fashion. A full description of the hiring transaction process can be found on the Processing Hiring Transactions page  Certain departments may require a background check prior to hiring the variable hour officer.  Depending on the nature of the position, this check may include a criminal background check, Social Security number verification, education and employment history verification, an employment reference check, consumer credit check and testing for current illegal drug use.  


  1. Review the Employment of Variable Hour Officers policy
  2. If a candidate has been selected, you may request a posting waiver. See the Quick Guide for submitting a Short-Term Casual Waiver in JAC
  3. A department may post the VHO position if they need to search for a candidate
  4. Complete a JAC job posting requisition
  5. Ensure applicant completes the following new hire forms:
  6. Process the new or rehired VHO using the PAC template-based hire process. (Do not use a paper PAF for VHO employees)
  7. Attach all of the following required documents to the PAC TBH and submit for approval:
    • Completed and signed tax forms
    • Signed JAC application
    • NYS 195 form