Staff Personnel Manual (SPP)

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Effective: 7/1/1991

Revised: 7/1/2013

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SPP 213: Reduction in Force

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Purpose

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To describe the university’s policy on reduction in force (RIF) resulting from budget constraints, funding reductions, and/or reorganization due to program or function changes, modification, elimination, or redirection

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Source

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University policy

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Applicability

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Regular classified employees, including those employed in sponsored-grant-funded positions unless funding has ended. Note: This policy does not apply to university staff.

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Policy

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Layoff

Budget constraints, funding reductions, and/or reorganization may necessitate elimination of positions and layoff or severance from employment of employees within a department. Prior to considering a layoff, designated administrative officials are expected to make every effort to identify a position within the department and/or unit for which the affected employee(s) may qualify. Employees receive advance notice of layoff, based on length of continuous university employment, and retain recall and reemployment rights as defined in this policy for six months from the layoff effective date.

Layoff Notice Periods

Employees identified for layoff will receive a written notice of that determination and will receive a layoff notice period based on continuous employment as follows:D

Years of Service Length of Notice
less than 3 years 1 month
3–5 years 3 months
more than 5 years 6 months
endtable

Determining Affected Employees

Designated administrative officials work with the Office of Human Resources (OHR) to identify the job classifications within the department specified for the RIF and to determine which employees in the job classifications will be affected based upon the following criteria:

Probationary Employees

First:
Probationary employees in the job classifications identified within the department for reduction in force shall be terminated. They have no recall, reemployment, or other rights provided to laid-off staff. If there are multiple incumbents in the probationary status, then selection is based on continuous length of service. The employee with the least service is selected before those with more service.

Nonprobationary Employees

Please note: as we transition to a 5-point rating scale, ratings prior to January 1, 2009 were defined as:

  • Level 1—Responsibilities of position not fulfilled
  • Level 2—Responsibilities of position fulfilled
  • Level 3—Responsibilities of position exceeded

Effective January 1, 2009 ratings are defined as:

  • Level 1—Fails to meet performance expectations
  • Level 2—Inconsistently fulfills performance expectations
  • Level 3—Performance expectations fulfilled
  • Level 4—Frequently exceeds performance expectations
  • Level 5—Consistently exceeds performance expectations

During this rating scale transition, when determining affected nonprobationary employees, under the old 3-point rating scale, level 1 would be compared to levels 1 or 2; level 2 would be compared to level 3; and level 3 would be compared to levels 4 or 5.

Second:
Regular employees with an overall rating of 1 (fails to meet performance expectations) on their most recent performance evaluation are selected and terminated with no recall, reemployment, or other rights, except the right of appeal.
Third:
Regular employees with an overall rating of 2 (inconsistently fulfills performance expectations) on their most recent performance evaluation are selected and terminated with no recall, reemployment, or other rights, except the right of appeal.
Fourth:
Regular employees with an overall rating of 3 (performance expectations fulfilled) on their most recent performance evaluation are selected for layoff.
Fifth:
Regular employees with an overall rating of 4 (frequently exceeds performance expectations) on their most recent performance evaluation are selected for layoff.
Last:
Regular employees with an overall rating of 5 (consistently exceeds performance expectations) are selected for layoff based on years of continuous service. Those with the least service are selected before those with more service. For example, an employee with an overall rating of 5 and three years of service is selected for layoff before an employee with an overall rating of 5 and five years of service.

Only 100 per cent FTE employees will be compared to other 100 per cent FTE employees. Benefits-eligible employees working less than 100 per cent FTE will be compared to other benefits-eligible employees working at less than 100 per cent FTE.

In the absence of a recent performance appraisal, the employee identified for layoff is considered to consistently exceed performance expectations (i.e., overall rating of 5).


Procedural Review Board

A department head must prepare a RIF Analysis Form including current and proposed organizational charts and explanation summary. The explanation must provide the reason for the reduction and explain why these positions were selected. When some but not all positions of the same job title are being eliminated, the department head must provide the overall evaluation ratings for the persons holding the positions being eliminated.

Before a RIF occurs, the department head must submit to the Procedural Review Board the proposed plan and completed analysis form for review to ensure compliance with this policy. The Procedural Review Board forwards their decision, the analysis form, and the plan to the appropriate vice provost/vice president for final approval.


Bumping Rights

If a regular employee has been reclassified, career progressed, or promoted to a position within the department in the last 12 months that is now being eliminated, the employee shall be offered a noncompetitive appointment to the next lower classification within the same job family in the department or a unit of the department, provided the position exists. If the position exists, the employee must qualify for the lower classification. When an appointment is made to an employee accepting a noncompetitive appointment, the employee receives a salary rate within the salary range of the lower classification and in accordance with SPP 403–02, “Establishing Rates of Pay.”

This action may result in the layoff of another employee in the same career path within the department. The person who is bumped by this action will be determined by using the same criteria outlined in the “Determining Affected Employees” section of this policy.

Buyout Pay Option

An employee who has received a notice of layoff may elect to receive buyout pay in lieu of layoff notice period, layoff period, and recall/reemployment rights. Buyout pay is paid in a lump-sum payment at a rate of one week’s salary per one year’s service, up to a maximum of 12 weeks’ salary, with partial years of service being prorated. An employee who desires buyout pay in lieu of layoff must submit a written request to his or her immediate supervisor within five working days after receiving the notice of layoff. For an employee who accepts the buyout option the effective date of layoff is 15 working days following receipt of the notice of layoff. The employee is considered terminated from university employment as of that date. An employee cannot combine layoff notice period or layoff period and buyout pay option.


Recall Rights

Laid-off employees with level 3 (performance expectations fulfilled) evaluation or above who have not received buyout pay retain recall rights to the position held at the time of layoff. Recall rights are in effect for six months from the layoff effective date. If a laid-off employee receives buyout pay or another university regular position, he or she relinquishes all rights provided to laid-off employees under this policy.


Reemployment Rights

The purpose of reemployment rights is to give employees who have been notified or laid off priority consideration for comparable university vacant positions during the layoff notice period and layoff period. The laid-off employee should not expect to retain his or her current salary or current campus location. Employees who are laid off under this policy will be referred for comparable positions on all campuses. However, if an employee wishes to be considered only for specific campus(es), the employee must make this decision during the initial reemployment meeting with the Office of Human Resources. Once the decision is made, it cannot be changed. An employee who limits the campus(es) for job referrals should recognize that she or he may be reducing opportunities for reemployment. Salary offers are established in accordance with SPP 403–02, “Establishing Rates of Pay,” and the hiring department’s funding.

Laid-off employees with level 3 (performance expectations fulfilled) performance evaluations or above who have not received buyout pay retain reemployment rights to university positions for which they qualify. Reemployment rights extend from the notice of layoff to six months after the actual layoff or until another position is accepted, whichever occurs first. Within 15 working days after receiving notice of layoff, the employee must meet with the Office of Human Resources (OHR) to identify positions comparable to the employee’s current percentage of employment (FTE), job classification, minimum qualifications, and salary range. Once positions and locations have been identified for the reemployment process, they cannot be modified.

An employee on the reemployment list is given priority consideration for positions that become vacant after the person is notified of layoff and during the layoff period. These positions are identified prior to the position’s being advertised. The employee must notify Recruitment & Selection a week in advance if they are not going to be available to interview for positions. Failure to provide appropriate notice may impact an employee’s participation in the reemployment program. A laid-off employee who meets the minimum qualifications and other relevant or desired qualifications listed in the job posting must be interviewed. If the employee from the reemployment list is not selected, the hiring official must submit written justification for the nonselection to Recruitment & Selection, Office of Human Resources, for approval or disapproval before advertising the position.


Employee Refusal of Job Interviews/Offers

A laid-off employee who refuses two interviews and/or job offers or a combination of an interview and a job offer for comparable positions is removed from the reemployment list as of the date of the second refusal. The employee is notified of his or her removal from the reemployment list. As a result of the two refusals, the employee forfeits all reemployment rights provided by the RIF policy.


Refund of Buyout Pay if Reemployed

Employees who received buyout pay and are rehired into any position within six months of the effective date of termination must refund the full amount of buyout pay received within 60 days of rehire or have the amount deducted through payroll deductions.


Appeal Process

An employee who receives notice of layoff may appeal if he or she believes that this policy or its procedures were not followed. The affected employee must submit a written request specifying the improper application of the policy or procedures to OHR within 15 working days of the occurrence of the action. Upon receipt of the request, OHR forms an Appeal Committee. The Appeal Committee reviews the procedures and provides a written recommendation to the appropriate vice provost/vice president before the layoff effective date. If the committee’s recommendation differs from that of the vice provost/vice president, the committee’s recommendation is submitted to the president for review and decision.

In situations involving allegations of discrimination based on race, sex, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, and Vietnam-era veteran status, the review is conducted by the Office of Equity & Inclusion, Office of Human Resources, which submits a recommendation to the vice provost/vice president, who makes a decision.

An employee who elects to receive buyout pay and pursue an appeal does not receive buyout pay until the appeal has concluded and the appropriate administrator has issued a decision. The affected employee is placed on administrative leave with pay at his or her current salary rate 15 days after receiving a notice of layoff. If the appeal is denied, the amount of buyout pay is reduced by the salary the employee has received while on paid administrative leave.

Decision

The vice provost/vice president or designee provides a written decision regarding the appeal to the affected employee and department head within 15 days of receiving either the recommendation of the Appeal Committee or the Office of Equity & Inclusion, Office of Human Resources. The decision is final and cannot be grieved to a university grievance committee or other university hearing body. In cases in which the appeal is submitted to the president as designated in this provision, the president or designee provides a written decision to the affected employee, the department head, and the appropriate vice provost/vice president within 15 days of receiving the applicable recommendation.

Reprisal for Whistle-Blowing Activity

If an employee who receives a layoff notice believes the action resulted from making a prior disclosure of wrongful conduct to the president, the provost of the university, a vice president, or a vice provost, the employee may file a whistle-blower complaint with the provost or vice president with oversight of the academic or administrative unit. (See the Academic Affairs Policies and Procedures Manual— ACD 204–07, “‘Whistle-Blowing’ and Personnel Actions.”)


Tuition Assistance

Laid-off employees and those who received buyout pay and their spouses and dependents may continue to receive tuition assistance for any semester or summer session when registration for classes has occurred at least one day before the layoff effective date or when classes start during the employee’s layoff notice period.

Laid-off employees who were employed at least five consecutive years at the university immediately prior to their layoff effective date and who received satisfactory or better performance evaluations, along with their spouses and eligible dependent children, may continue to receive tuition assistance for a period not to exceed 12 months from the layoff effective date. This option is not available to any laid-off employee who elects the buyout option.


Insurance Benefits

Laid-off employees may continue group health insurance for up to 18 months under federal COBRA regulations at the end of their Layoff Notice Period if they are not reemployed by the university (see SPP 504–01, “Insurance Coverage”).


Vacation and Sick Leave

Laid-off employees do not accrue vacation or sick leave during the layoff period. Sick leave benefits accrued prior to layoff are retained by laid-off employees during the layoff period, but may not be used during the layoff period. Affected employees are paid for accrued vacation on the effective date of layoff or buyout consistent with SPP 702–01, “Vacation Leave Benefits.”


Retirement Status/Withdrawal of Employee Contributions

Laid-off employees do not earn retirement service credits during the layoff period; they may elect to withdraw the employee portion of retirement contributions, which may include the employee portion and employer portion based on credited service, as of the effective day of buyout or layoff effective date without affecting reemployment rights. Should the employee withdraw employee contributions and resume employment with the university within 24 months of the layoff effective date, the previously forfeited credited service may be repurchased by paying an amount equal to the amount of withdrawn contributions plus interest to the Arizona State Retirement Plan within 60 days of rehire date. Affected employees are urged to consult with OHR staff and the Arizona State Retirement Plan about the consequences of withdrawing employee contributions.

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