Backgrounder: Salary Anomalies

July 5, 2024

Every year, in accordance with Article 25.11 of our Collective Agreement, YUFA members’ salaries are statistically analyzed to determine the degree to which one’s salary deviates from an average base salary, controlling for rank, academic experience and area or field. 

If the analysis determines that a YUFA member’s standard deviation (SD) is below -0.5, then this member qualifies for a salary adjustment.

This exercise is intended to improve anomalous salaries within the bargaining unit, but YUFA has identified three problems with the process set out in the 2021-2024 Collective Agreement:

Problem #1

  •  The funds available for anomalies adjustments are inadequate

To offer meaningful anomalies adjustments, the pool of money used by the Employer for these adjustments needs to be significantly increased.  As it stands, the funds allocated by the Employer only offer a marginal increase to base salary for most members which provides just a token gesture of improvement to salary.

In the previous round of bargaining, YUFA proposed an increase in these funds to provide more meaningful anomalies salary adjustments to members. 

The Employer rejected this proposal in 2021.  The Race Equity Caucus has emphasized this priority in their bargaining submissions, and YUFA is pressing this year for significant increases in funding to address salary anomalies.

Problem #2

  • The funds available for anomalies adjustments should be discrete and separate from the discretionary monies used by Deans to offer individual members  salary increases to retain YUFA members who may have received a competing offer elsewhere or who may be exploring other employment opportunities.

Currently, the fund that is used by the Employer for anomalies adjustments is also used by Deans to offer discretionary salary increases to retain individual members.  The more monies that Deans use for “external marketability adjustments” to individual members for retention purposes, the less monies that are available to address systemic salary anomalies across the bargaining unit. This translates into smaller salary adjustments allocated for members identified as having anomalous salaries through the annual anomalies exercise.

In the last round of bargaining, YUFA proposed to separate funds for anomalies adjustment and funds for external marketability purposes, but the Employer rejected this proposal in 2021.

YUFA is proposing tjat the separation of salary adjustment funds in bargaining this year.

Problem #3

  • Inequities in anomaly Adjustments by Faculty based on how the fund is administered

Currently, anomalies adjustments come from a fund outlined in Appendix C of the YUFA Collective Agreement.  For 2023-24, YUFA negotiated a fund of $463,635 plus benefits. As noted above, this fund is used for the annual anomalies adjustments and for external marketability adjustments.

In 2023-24, the Employer reported to YUFA that they allocated $395, 661 for anomalies adjustments out of a total pot of money of $463,635; the difference of $67,974 was presumably allocated by individual Deans for various external marketability adjustments for particular members.

This $395,661 was then allocated to each Faculty based on the number of members in that Faculty. However, certain Faculties (e.g Health) have fewer members identified as having anomalous salaries through the anomalies exercise than other Faculties (e.g LAPS).  This means that members with a SD below -0.5 in certain Faculties, for example, will receive a larger anomalies adjustment than faculty members with salaries that qualify as being “anomalous” in other Faculties.

YUFA has identified this system as inequitable and attempted to negotiate language in the 2021 round of bargaining that would allocate greater salary adjustments for members farther away from the -0.5 SD line, regardless of Faculty.  YUFA also proposed that the fund no longer be divided based on per capita numbers by each Faculty.

Once again, the Employer rejected this proposal at the bargaining table in 2021, but YUFA is bringing this proposal to the table again this year.

Other Issues with the Anomalies Exercise

  • Many members have asked: why is the standard deviation noted in my anomalies letter every year becoming further away from the - 0.5 SD over time rather than closer to the line?

Many members are receiving anomalies letters with deviations that are becoming more negative each year. 

Part of the explanation for this phenomenon lies with the way the exercise is conducted and how individual salary level changes - such as marketability adjustments, changes in levels of starting salaries, and anomaly adjustments -  impact the “average” base salary.

The anomaly exercise is inherently dynamic. It recalculates average (mean) salaries annually, considering changes in the bargaining unit like academic rank, experience, new faculty hiring and exiting, and the overall salary structure. As these variables change over time, the average base salary also changes, which then impacts YUFA members’ positions relative to the -0.5 standard deviation line.

For example, when anomaly adjustments are made every year, this simultaneously alters the overall salary distribution upward and this new average salary is used for the anomalies exercise in the following year.

So while anomalies adjustment increments may be modest for individual members, these cumulative increases along with other bargaining unit changes that impact relative salary (for example, the number of members who shift in rank annually) typically increase the average mean salary more significantly which is then used in the exercise the following year.

Put another way, as more individual salaries get closer to the original - 0.5 SD, this moves up the average base salary being used in the anomalies exercise the following year which means that members’ salaries are compared to an increased average base salary every year.

As such, when members see that their standard deviation is farther away from -0.5 over time, this shows that the target has crept upin part as the very result of past anomalies adjustments. 

The anomalies exercise is an important - albeit imperfect - measure which provides increases to some individuals whose salaries are sufficiently below the average base salary, and it also simultaneously raises the target by which anomalies are defined. 

On average, YUFA members are better off than they would have been without the cumulative effect of the anomalies process, but this fact is not always reflected in the anomalies letters members receive annually since their salaries are being compared to an ever-moving target upwards.

Without an anomaly exercise, individuals would be unaware of the gradual recession of their salaries relative to average salary levels and there would be no mechanism to address this.


In the current round of bargaining, the YUFA Bargaining team is – once again - putting forward improvements to the anomalies exercise. The bargaining team draws on YUFA member support and mobilization to negotiate these improvements.

If you would like to get involved in supporting the bargaining team, you can join the YUFA Communications Committee or the Bargaining Support Committee by emailing YUFA’s Vice President Internal, Art Redding, at [email protected] and copying [email protected].