Office of the Vice President for
Administration and Finance
SECTION: HUMAN RESOURCES INDEX: C-30
SUBJECT: REDUCTION IN FORCE OF REGULAR STAFF EMPLOYEES
Although the University strives to provide stable employment, certain situations may require a reduction in the work force. This policy prescribes the steps by which reduction in force decisions shall be made and implemented. When planning or budgeting needs dictate reduction in force decisions, this policy is intended to ensure that these decisions are made only after careful analysis and that employees who are affected are treated fairly and with dignity.
The Director, Human Resources/Affirmative Action (Director HR/AA) shall be consulted early in any organizational review that involves personnel reorganization, reclassification, and/or the possibility of reducing the work force. All necessary actions shall be taken to ensure that employees are treated fairly and offered opportunities for reassignment, assistance, and re-employment.
This policy applies to decisions made by administrative and faculty supervisors affecting all non-faculty regular employees at UHV, regardless of the source of funds from which the position is paid. The comparable policy for faculty can be found in Board of Regents Policy 21.07 on Faculty Dismissal and in the UHV Faculty Manual. (References)
Nothing in this policy shall be used as the basis for illegal discrimination or retaliation against any individual or group.
Reduction in force (RIF): The elimination of an occupied position or positions resulting from an administrative decision appropriate under such situations as a lack of funds, a lack of sufficient work, reorganization, changes in technology or research needs, or other factors that require some manner of reduction of university non-faculty personnel. A suspension, dismissal or discontinuance of temporary employment does not constitute a reduction in force.
Regular employee (benefits-eligible): A regular employee is one who is employed for at least 20 hours per week on a regular basis for a period of at least four and one-half (4 ½) months, excluding students employed in positions which require student status as a condition of employment.
All reduction in force decisions must include the following elements:
- Careful analysis to determine which areas, activities, programs, or organizations should be reduced.
- Identification of the jobs and functions that will need to be performed after the reductions.
- Evaluation of qualifications and abilities of present employees to perform the remaining jobs. Presentation of a comprehensive RIF plan(s), as detailed below, through proper channels, including the Director HR/AA and the President.
- A determination that policy has been observed and that the proposed reduction in force does not constitute an adverse impact on protected classes;
- Signature approval of comprehensive RIF plans by the Human Resources/Affirmative Action Officer and the President before written notice is given to affected employees.
- Written notification to the employee(s) affected by the reduction in force as soon as feasible, but not less than 30 days prior to the effective date of the action.
- Reasonable opportunities for displaced employees to interview for other employment.
- Placement and re-employment assistance by the Human Resources Office.
- Opportunity for the displaced employee to appeal, if he/she believes that the reason for the reduction action was not related to a legitimate reduction in force factor or that the procedures were improperly followed.
Development and Approval of a Reduction in Force Plan
The department head planning to reduce a department’s or program’s work force shall develop a clear statement of the rationale for eliminating or reducing programs and/or services. The statement must address the ultimate benefits to be achieved, such as reallocation of resources, effecting a budgetary reduction, or enhanced productivity.
Unit functions and responsibilities must be carefully analyzed to determine which areas, activities, programs, organizations, or classifications should be reduced and which jobs and functions will need to be performed after the reductions.
In evaluating employees to determine who can best perform the remaining jobs, the unit supervisor may consider the following qualifications of present employees:
- Effectiveness on the job, including past performance, records of achievement, and disciplinary history;
- Specialized training and skills necessary for a particular function, such as proficiency in use of equipment, licenses, or special certification;
- Length of time in service within the University of Houston System;
- Amount of total work experience in the field, including applicable non-university experience
The department head proposing the work force reduction shall prepare a reduction in force plan that includes:
- the statement of rationale:
- a list of the positions and the employees affected:
- an explanation of the recommendations,
- a summary of the racial, gender, age and disability composition of the unit, including names and protected class status of employees to be displaced; and
- all documentation prepared in the evaluation process.
The written plan shall then be submitted to the Director, HR/AA, who will assist in completion of these materials, if needed. The Director HR/AA will:
- review the plan to determine that all work force reductions proposed are consistent with this policy and that protected classes are not disproportionately affected by the reduction in force decision.
- After signature approval of the comprehensive plan, within five working days, the Director, HR/AA will forward the plan to the appropriate cabinet-level supervisor for concurrence and signature approval of the plan.
- Following cabinet level approval, the written reduction in force plan shall then be forwarded by the Director, HR/AA to the President for final approval.
Only after the President approves the recommendation may the department proceed with the written notification process.
Notification of the Affected Employee(s)
The department head implementing the reduction in force shall schedule a personal meeting with the employee(s) affected not less than 30 days prior to the effective date of the action. At that time, the employee(s) will be notified and provided with a letter of notification of their reduction in force. Each letter of notification must include language describing transition assistance offered by the Human Resources Office and the employee’s right to file an appeal. A copy of the notice of reduction in force will be forwarded promptly to the Director, HR/AA.
In the case of an employee whose duties are divided between two or more departments, a reduction in force decision by one department will not obligate the other(s) to increase the appointment and funding to compensate for the reduction.
The reduction in force decision is effective upon delivery of the written notice to the employee. An appeal does not affect the effective date of the reduction in force.
An employee who has been notified of reduction in force may be removed from the work site, with pay, immediately upon receipt of the notice of reduction in force, if all the following conditions are met:
- There is reason to believe that the employee will cause damage to university property, including computer and business systems; and
- The employee’s supervisor is able to articulate or prove this danger in written documentary form to the satisfaction of the Director, HR/AA.
Any employee removed from the worksite, regardless of the circumstances, will be given, in writing, a work assignment to be completed away from the worksite.
Replacement Assistance, Recall and Benefits
The Human Resources Office will provide support and services to assist regular employees displaced as a result of reduction in force in obtaining internal placement.
Supervisors shall grant displaced employees reasonable leave with pay solely for the purpose of enabling the employee to interview for other employment.Affected employees should make every effort to notify their supervisor in advance of their need to be absent from the workplace to seek other employment.
Benefits information will be made available to displaced employees, identifying those benefits that cease upon termination, those benefits that can be continued at employee expense, and retirement options (if applicable).
The names of employees displaced as a result of work force reduction will be placed on a re-employment list in the order of displacement for a period of six months following their termination. An employee who has been displaced as a result of a work force reduction will be offered the same position if it is re-established within six months of the reduction in force, provided that the employee has retained the ability to perform the work.
When a vacancy occurs in a position that is determined by the Director, HR/AA to require equivalent job skills within the same or any other department, except as provided below, the name of the displaced worker will be referred to the hiring supervisor for consideration. A displaced employee may be bypassed for re-employment for any of the following reasons:
- Another employee has been or will be voluntarily or involuntarily demoted to that classification within the department.
- The displaced employee did not previously work within the employing department; displaced employees previously employed in that department may be given first consideration for re-employment.
- The employing manager, in consultation with the Director, HR/AA , determines that—on the basis of past performance, training, experience, or skills—the applicant is not qualified to fill the position.
The Director, HR/AA will mail a notice of re-employment opportunity to the displaced employee at his or her last reported address as shown on the official university records via certified mail, return receipt requested. The displaced employee must respond to the notice within 10 calendar days of the date on the notice or will be deemed to have forfeited all rights to remain on the re-employment list under this policy. It is the obligation of the employee to ensure that the university address records are correct.
If, within the six-month period following termination, a displaced employee is offered other employment within the University of Houston System in a comparable position for which the employee is qualified and such offer is refused, the employee will be deemed to have waived all rights under this policy unless his/her former position becomes available.
An employee who is terminated because of reduction in force and who is re-employed by any State of Texas agency or institution of higher education within 12 months shall have his or her sick leave balance restored. Also, regardless of the time lapse, upon re-employment, an employee will receive credit for prior state service in longevity and vacation calculations.
An employee who is terminated because of reduction in force and who is recalled to work in the same position within six months is not subject to an additional probationary period. Under any other conditions, the employee returning to employment following a break in service is subject to the probationary periods outlined in UHV Policy C-23, Probationary Period for Regular Staff Employees. (References)
Any employee affected by a reduction in force may appeal the decision if he or she believes that the reason for the reduction action was not related to a legitimate reduction in force factor (as described in the definition of "reduction in force" above) or that the procedures were improperly applied. The employee may not challenge the nature of the reduction measures taken when evidence can be presented that a reduction is necessary, but must provide evidence that the reduction was based on a reason impermissible under the laws, constitutions, or regulations of the United States, the State of Texas, or the University of Houston System.
The appeal must be presented in writing to the Director, HR/AA within five working days of receipt of the written notice of the reduction in force. Failure to comply with this requirement will be deemed a waiver of the right to appeal.
The Director, HR/AA will review the request for appeal to determine that the appeal is timely and in compliance with this policy. Requests that meet the criteria will be processed in accordance with UHV Policy C-21, Employee Grievances:
- A hearing panel will be appointed and appeals will be heard in the order of receipt. (References)
- At least two working days prior to the hearing, the employee will be provided with a copy of the reduction in force plan and all accompanying documentation by the Director, HR/AA.
- The burden will be on the employee to show that the reduction action is not related to a reduction in force factor or that the procedures were improperly applied. No other issues will be heard or considered by the hearing panel.
- The report of the hearing committee will be forwarded to the Director, HR/AA , who will forward it to a cabinet-level supervisor who is not in the employee’s appeal chain. In no case will the report be forwarded to the cabinet-level supervisor over that employee’s division.
- Within five working days from the receipt of the report of the hearing panel, the cabinet-level supervisor will take action on the recommendation of the panel. The cabinet-level supervisor may accept or reject the recommendation of the panel, or may return the case to the panel with instructions to conduct further deliberations or answer specific questions. If the case requires further deliberation, the Director, HR/AA will establish new time schedules and communicate them to the members of the panel. The cabinet-level supervisor will make a decision and forward it to the Director, HR/AA, who will notify the employee and the supervisor by mailing copies of the decision by certified mail.
- If the appeal process is not completed by the employee’s last scheduled day of work, the employee will be released on the effective date of the reduction in force. If the appeal results in a decision favorable to the employee, the employee will be reinstated with back wages, less the amount of any unemployment compensation received from the Texas Workforce Commission. The Human Resources Office will notify the Texas Workforce Commission promptly in writing of the employee’s reinstatement.
3) UHV Policy C-21, Employee Grievances, Step 3, Request for Hearing
Philip Castille, Ph.D.
Next review date: June, 2016
Originating Department: Human Resources