University Staff Layoff Policy and Procedures

  • Initiator:
  • Robin Van Harpen, Vice Chancellor, Finance & Administrative Affairs
  • Responsible Party:
  • Department of Human Resources
  • University Staff Committee

1. Purpose

To provide UWM with operational practices for implementing the layoff of a University Staff employee or employees for reasons of budget or due to the discontinuance, curtailment, modification or reduction of a program or programs.

2. Policy Background

Wis. Stat. § 36.115(2) requires the Board of Regents 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22 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code and the procedures established by the Office of State Employment Relations are no longer applicable to current UW System University Staff employees. Therefore, this policy and these procedures provide the framework for layoff of University Staff employee(s) that hold positions with an expectation of continued employment at UWM.

Layoff procedures for faculty and academic staff are set forth in Wis. Admin. Code Chapters UWS 5 and UWS 12; UWM Faculty Policies and Procedures Chapter 5 and UWM Academic Staff Personnel Policies and Procedures, UWM Chapter 110.

For group health insurance purposes, an employee separated due to layoff will be treated as if on a leave of absence according to Wis. Stat. §§ 40.02(40) and 40.05(4)(bm).

3. Definitions

Layoff means separation from employment for reasons of budget or due to the discontinuance, curtailment, modification, or reduction 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.

Temporary Layoff means a layoff for a period not to exceed 20 working days.

4. Policy and Practice

This policy shall apply in the event of a contemplated layoff of a University Staff employee that otherwise holds a position with an expectation of continued employment. It does not apply to temporary layoffs, seasonal layoff of seasonal employees; academic year employees during recesses in the academic year or summer session, or temporary employees.

5. Layoff Selection and Plan

Prior to providing layoff notice to any employees, the employer shall develop a plan under which a layoff will occur. 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. The plan will be submitted to the University Staff Committee at such time as the employee is given his/her At Risk notice.

Employees subject to layoff will be determined and evaluated by using the following criteria:

  • The needs of UWM to deliver services and programs;
  • The relative skills, knowledge, or expertise of employees;
  • The length of service of employees; and
  • Other appropriate criteria.

Once the layoff group has been determined, any employee from within the affected layoff group may elect to retire or to be laid off voluntarily to avoid involuntary layoffs.

The employer reserves the right to rescind a layoff notice and/or postpone the layoff date. However, once the employee has been officially notified of the intended layoff date, the employer may not make the layoff date any earlier.

6. Temporary and Probationary Employment

Whenever practicable, employees in temporary or project appointments in the operational area shall be reduced or released 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 knowledge, skills and abilities to perform the work.

7. Notice-At Risk

A University Staff member who is designated for layoff must be given written notice of being At Risk of Layoff as soon as possible in advance of the official notice of layoff. The expectation for the minimum length of the At Risk notice period shall be as follows:

Years Employed Notice Period
0-3 years 3 months
3+ years 6 months

The At Risk notice shall be provided to the employee with a copy to the University Staff Committee at the time the Layoff Plan is submitted to the University Staff Committee. An employee who is designated At Risk has the right to meet with the employer upon request, to discuss the School, College, Department or Division’s Layoff Plan and decision to eliminate the position(s).

8. Notice-Official

The official notice of layoff shall be given not less than 30 calendar days prior to the effective date of the layoff and shall to the extent practicable include specific available job alternatives within UWM.

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 UWM may be made outside of a recruitment process.

Upon an employer’s official notification of layoff to an employee, the employee may appeal the layoff decision through the appropriate grievance procedure. It should be noted that under UW System Administrative Policy SYS 1233, the grievance for a layoff begins at Step One and does not go beyond Step Two.

9. Alternatives to Layoff within UWM

An employee may be moved to another position regardless of being designated in layoff status. The employee shall receive written notice as to why he or she is being moved. Involuntary employee movements are not meant to circumvent the recruitment process and should only be used to avoid a separation from UWM due to layoff.

The employee may choose not to accept the involuntary reassignment and as a result be separated from UWM. 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 downward with a demotion.

In accordance with the hiring authority’s requirements, a UWM employee who is or will be subject to layoff shall be considered for vacancies he or she applies for at UWM. Such consideration guarantees an interview but does not guarantee a 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.

10. Consideration for Vacancies within other UW System Institutions

An employee who is or will be subject to layoff may request, in accordance with the hiring authority’s requirements, to be considered for other vacancies at other institutions in the UW System. Such consideration does not guarantee an interview or mandatory job offer.

11. Reasonable Offer of Appointment

Employees that have been separated from UWM due to layoff may apply for vacancies in the same manner as current employees for three (3) years from the effective date of the layoff.

An employee that is made a reasonable offer of reappointment to a position with an expectation of continued employment has five (5) working days of the offer to accept. An employee who upon acceptance fails to be available for work within five (5) working days after a reasonable offer is made forfeits the position, unless a different start date is mutually agreed upon.

12. 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.

13. 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. The employer contribution towards the health insurance premium will be paid for an additional three months. The employee must pay his or 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.

UWM employees that separate 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:

  1. The credits are exhausted;
  2. The first of the month following the begin date of other employment offering comparable health insurance coverage;
  3. Five 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
  4. The employee’s death. 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 respective plan.

14. Contact Information

For information about the operation of the layoff procedure, contact the Personnel Representative for your respective school, college, division or department.

For information about applying for open positions at UWM, contact Employment Services in the Department of Human Resources.

For information regarding how to appeal a notice of layoff, contact Employment Relations in the Department of Human Resources.

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