The UW-Eau Claire operational policy used in cases of layoff of University Staff for reasons of budget or program follows UW System UPS Operational Policy GEN 13 (UWSA Policy 1232). The System policy is included below in its entirety with the local additions indicated in bold.
1. POLICY PURPOSE:
The purpose of this policy is to provide an operational framework to be used by UW-Eau Claire in the development of layoff procedures for university staff (formerly classified staff).
2. POLICY BACKGROUND:
Wis. Stat. § 36.115(2) requires the Board of Regents and the UW-Madison chancellor to develop personnel systems that are separate and distinct from the personnel system under Wis. Stat. Chapter 230. Effective July 1, 2015, the layoff procedures contained in Chapter ER-MRS 22 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code and the procedures established by the Office of State Employment Relations are no longer applicable to current UW System classified employees. Therefore, this operational policy provides the framework for layoff procedures for university staff with an expectation of continued employment at UW System institutions.
3. POLICY DEFINITIONS:
Please see the Definitions Operational Policy for a list of general terms and definitions.
Definitions specific to this policy:
“Layoff” means separation from employment for reasons of budget or due to the discontinuance, curtailment, modification, or redirection of a program.
“Layoff group” means a combined group of employees in related positions from which the layoff will be made. The layoff group will generally include all employees employed in a particular operational area that are similarly, although not necessarily identically, situated by title, pay range, and/or function.
“Operational area” means an area of focus or function in a school, college, division, department, or office. An operational area will generally be a subset of a school, college, division, department, or office, and need not encompass the whole unit.
“Probationary period” means the initial period of employment in an appointment during which the employee has no right to appeal discharge as identified in the employee’s appointment letter.
“Temporary employment” means employment in a university staff temporary or project appointment.
Institutional layoff procedures shall include the following elements:
A. Temporary and Probationary Employment
Whenever practicable, employees in temporary or project appointments in the operational area shall be reduced or discontinued before invoking the layoff procedures.
Employees in a probationary period may be dismissed prior to laying off non-probationary employees, providing that those remaining employees have the necessary skills, knowledge, and ability to perform the work.
A full or part-time staff member who is designated for layoff must be given written notice as soon as practicable, but not less than 30 calendar days prior to the effective date of the layoff. At any time during the notification of layoff period and with mutual agreement of the employee and appointing authority, a lateral movement or demotion to a different position within the UW institution may be made outside of a recruitment process.
C. Layoff Selection and Plan
Prior to providing layoff notice to any employees, the employer shall develop a plan under which a layoff will occur. Layoff plans shall be discussed by the chancellor or designee with the University Staff Council. The plan will document the justification for the layoff, the effective date of the layoff, identification of eliminated functions, and the position(s) to be eliminated. The plan will identify the operational area(s), position title(s), and the number of employees that are expected to be laid off.
Employees subject to layoff will be determined and evaluated by using the following criteria:
- Needs of institution to deliver services;
- Relative skills, knowledge, or expertise of employees;
- Length of service at UW-Eau Claire of employees; and
- Other appropriate criteria, such as additional state service.
Upon an employer’s layoff notification to an employee, the employee may appeal the layoff decision through the appropriate grievance procedure (see UWSA Policy 1233: Grievance Procedures).
Once the layoff group has been determined, any employee from within the affected layoff group may elect to retire or voluntarily be laid off to avoid involuntary layoffs.
The employer reserves the right to rescind a layoff notice and/or postpone the layoff date. Any postponement of the layoff date shall be mutually agreeable between the employer and the employee. Once the employee has been officially notified of the intended layoff date, the employer may not make the layoff date any earlier.
D. Alternatives to Layoff
An employee may be moved to another position regardless of being designated in layoff status. The employee shall receive written notice as to why s/he is being moved. Involuntary employee movements are not meant to circumvent the recruitment process and should only be used to avoid a reduction in force.
The employee may choose not to accept the involuntary reassignment and as a result be laid off. If the employee accepts the involuntary reassignment, the employee’s rate of pay and applicable benefits will not decrease if the movement is lateral; however, the rate of pay may be adjusted with a downward movement.
E. Employee Benefits upon Layoff
Employees enrolled in State Group Health Insurance at the time of layoff are eligible to continue coverage under the group plan following the layoff date. The employee’s coverage will continue through the month in which premiums are paid and the employer contribution towards the health insurance premium is paid for an additional three (3) months. The employee must pay his/her share of the health insurance premium during these months to maintain coverage. The employee may pay the premium through payroll deduction, personal check, or converted sick leave credits.
UW System employees who terminate due to layoff are eligible for the conversion of their sick leave credits to pay for State Group Health Insurance provided eligibility requirements are met under the Accumulated Sick Leave Conversion Credit (ASLCC) and Supplemental Health Insurance Conversion Credit (SHICC) programs as outlined in Wis. Stat. §§ 40.05(4)(b) and 40.95.
Health insurance premiums are paid from sick leave credits until the earliest of the following events:
- The credits are exhausted;
- The first of the month following the begin date of other employment offering comparable health insurance coverage;
- Five (5) years have elapsed from the date of layoff (no time restriction if the employee has over 20 years of WRS creditable service at time of layoff); or
- The employee dies. If the employee dies, the employee’s surviving spouse/domestic partner and dependents can continue to use remaining sick leave credits to pay for health insurance.
Coverage under all other benefit plans ends according to the normal termination rules of the
Laid-off employees may retain their university email and university identification card for a period of three years. Laid-off employees will automatically be added to the job vacancy listserve.
F. Consideration for Vacant Positions within UW System
An employee who is or will be affected by a layoff may request, in accordance with the hiring authority’s requirements, to be considered for other vacancies within the UW System. Such consideration does not guarantee an interview or mandatory job offer. Every effort will be made to maintain active positions for employees so long as this effort does not adversely affect the operational area’s budget or impede the area’s ability to fulfill its mission.
G. Consideration for Vacant Positions within UW-Eau Claire
A laid off employee may apply for vacant positions in the same manner as a current employee for a period of three (3) years from the date of layoff.
H. Three Year Restriction on Rehiring for Duties of Laid Off
Employee For three years from the anniversary of the layoff, no person may be employed in a position with an expectation of continued employment in that operational area to perform duties reasonably comparable to the duties of the laid off employee, without first making an offer of return to the laid off employee. An employee’s failure to accept such an offer of return shall terminate the employee’s rights under this section.
It is the laid-off employee’s obligation to make certain the Human Resources office has current contact information and employment status.
Human Resources must report annually to the University Staff Council on the status of laid-off positions for three years from the date of the layoff.
5. RELATED DOCUMENTS:
- UWSA Policy 1233: Grievance Procedures
- UWSA Policy 1212: Sick Leave
- Wis. Admin. Code Chapter UWS 5, Layoff and Termination for Reasons of Financial Emergency
- Wis. Admin. Code Chapter UWS 12, Layoff of Academic Staff for Reasons of Budget or Program