Policies and Procedures Manual Section 11
Western Michigan University seeks to provide stable employment. However, situations may arise which require a reduction in the workforce. The University reserves the right and responsibility to make reductions in the workforce.
This policy applies only to staff compensation system employees in regular, continuing positions. In addition to holding a regular, continuing position, an employee must have six or more months of University seniority and documented satisfactory performance.
The provisions of this policy apply whenever there is a temporary, ongoing, or indefinite reduction in the number of employees within a specific job title and pay grade, or the elimination of a regular University position or job title. This policy also applies whenever there is a reduction in full time equivalency to the extent that the employee is no longer eligible for University-paid benefits.
Nothing in this policy shall be construed to determine eligibility for unemployment compensation benefits. Eligibility is determined solely by the Michigan Unemployment Agency, based on statutes and agency regulations.
Application of this policy will be made in accordance with all applicable laws and statutes and all applicable University policies. For employees on approved leaves from the University pursuant to the requirements of law, such as family and medical leave or military leave, this policy shall be applied in such a manner to preserve, but not extend, those rights granted by law.
Whenever the University deems it appropriate to reduce staff, department heads must prepare a written reduction in force organizational plan. The organizational plan must include how the reduction in force division intends to utilize each of the steps below to reduce staffing.
The written reduction in force organizational plan is to be submitted to Human Resources and Institutional Equity for review. Following review, the reduction in force unit president or vice president must approve all reduction in force organizational plans prior to any implementation.
- Step one: temporary and probationary employees. Temporary employees and employees with less than six months of University seniority who are performing the same or similar work as a regular, continuing employee should be terminated prior to any regular, continuing employee receiving layoff notice.
- Step two: reassignment. During a reduction in force, essential open positions may be filled within the reduction in force unit or across reduction in force units without being subject to the posting requirements of the job opportunity program, by temporary reassignment or by permanent reassignment.
Employees temporarily reassigned or permanently reassigned under this policy must possess the necessary skills, knowledge, and abilities to perform the available work, and will not be subject to the six-month probation period. Employees refusing temporary or permanent reassignment during reduction periods will be deemed to have resigned their employment with the University.
- Temporary reassignment. An employee may be temporarily reassigned to an essential open position for up to 18 months by the appropriate reduction in force unit president or vice president, or by agreement between the president/vice presidents. This temporary reassignment is limited to positions in the affected employee's current grade or one grade lower. The position the employee vacates may not be filled during the reduction period. At the end of the temporary reassignment, the employee returns to the vacated position
- Permanent reassignment. A reduction in force unit president or vice president may authorize an employee to be permanently reassigned to an essential open position within the reduction in force unit or to another reduction in force unit (with agreement by both president/vice presidents) on a continuing basis if the permanent reassignment is the result of the vacated position's permanent elimination. This permanent reassignment is limited to positions in the affected employee's current grade or one grade lower.
- Pay changes. Employees reassigned (temporarily or permanently) to a position within their current grade or one grade lower are not eligible for a pay change at the time of reassignment.
If further reductions are necessary, the following procedures must be used to identify those employees who will receive layoff notice.
- Step three: identifying employees for layoff notice. Before layoff notice is given to any regular, continuing employee, the reduction in force unit president or vice president responsible for the reduction decision will:
- Determine, by department or reduction in force unit, the employee with the least University seniority in the affected job title/pay grade who will receive layoff notice provided the remaining employees in that job title/pay grade have the skills, knowledge, and ability to perform the available work. Include the name of the incumbent on the reduction in force organizational plan.
- When University seniority is not the determining factor, document: (1) the criteria for selecting the employee who will receive layoff notice, and (2) the necessary skills, knowledge, and ability to perform the work of each employee in the affected job title/pay grade who has less University seniority than the employee to receive layoff notice.
- Contact Human Resources to generate the appropriate layoff notice for affected employees.
- Step four: required layoff notice period
- All regular, continuing employees identified for layoff must be given written notice. The required layoff notice period is listed below. A reassignment may be made any time during the layoff notice period.
- The University reserves the right to require the employee to work part or all of the layoff notice period. An employee who does not accept work during the layoff notice period, provided there is no change in the employee's pay, will be deemed to have resigned their employment effective the date of non-acceptance.
- A leave of absence will not be granted in lieu of layoff notice.
- Employees on layoff notice are not eligible for any pay increases.
An employee on layoff notice may continue to apply as an internal applicant for positions posted through the job opportunity program. All provisions of the job opportunity program apply. If an employee on layoff notice accepts another position at the University during the layoff notice period, the remainder of the required layoff notice is forfeited on the effective date of hire into the new position. All recall rights to the position from which they were laid off are also forfeited effective the date of hire into the new position.
The length of University seniority on date of layoff notice and the corresponding required notice prior to layoff follows:
- Less than six months, no notice required
- At least six months, but less than one year, four weeks notice
- At least one year, but less than two years, eight weeks notice
- At least two years, but less than five years, 12 weeks notice
- At least five years, but less than 10 years, 16 weeks notice
- At least 10 years, but less than 20 years, 26 weeks notice
- Twenty or more years, 52 weeks notice
If an employee in the same job title/pay grade requests layoff in lieu of the affected employee, the vice president may opt to recall the affected employee and give layoff notice to the alternate employee. The alternate employee would be afforded all applicable provisions of the reduction in force policy, with the exception of bumping rights. If the recalled employee refuses to return to work, the alternate employee would continue employment and the affected employee would continue on layoff notice. The elective layoff process does not apply to step five of the reduction in force procedure, bumping. The approved reduction in force organizational plan should be updated to reflect the name of the employee on elective layoff.
- Step five: bumping. Once an employee in a regular, continuing position receives layoff notice they may, using their University seniority date, replace the employee holding a regular, continuing position, with the least amount of University Seniority first in the same job title, then in the same pay grade in their reduction in force unit.
Employees must contact Human Resources if they wish to invoke their bumping rights. Human Resources will determine whether a regular, continuing position exists for which the employee is eligible to bump based on the employee's University seniority date, job title, and pay grade. If Human Resources is able to identify such a position, the employee requesting to bump must possess the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the job identified. The displaced employee may then be eligible for layoff notice in accordance with the required layoff notice period in step 4 above.
An employee, who has not obtained another University position through the provisions above, will be considered laid off and separated from employment with the University effective the last day of the layoff notice period.
The duration of the recall period is twelve months following the effective date of layoff.
During the recall period, an employee may continue to apply as an internal applicant for positions posted through the job opportunity program. All provisions of the job opportunity program apply. If an employee accepts another position at the University during the recall period, all recall rights to the position from which they were laid off is forfeited effective the date of hire into the new position.
During the recall period, any employee who is offered a regular, continuing position (for which they did not apply through the job opportunity program) meeting either of the provisions below, and who refuses that position, will forfeit all recall rights and will be deemed to have resigned from the University.
- The position offered is in the same grade and pay rate as the position from which they were laid off.
- The position offered is one grade lower and at least 90% of the pay rate as the position from which they were laid off.
Employees accepting a position under the above provisions, which is not the position from which they were laid off, retains their recall rights during the recall period to the position from which they were laid off.
An employee laid off or temporarily reassigned to another position under the provisions of this policy will be recalled to the position from which they were laid off before temporary or new regular employees are hired, provided:
- The recall occurs within the duration of the recall period.
- The employee has retained the knowledge, skills, and ability to perform the work.
- The employee accepts the position offered within seven calendar days and is able to report to work within two weeks.
- Employees not recalled within the recall period may continue to apply as an internal applicant through the job opportunity program for one year after the recall period ends.