March 18, 2011

Layoffs and Reorganizations

This policy is Exhibit A of the University of Southern California Severance Pay Plan. It applies to all benefits eligible staff employees; excluded are per diems, resource employees, temporary employment, faculty, those claiming student status (including teaching and research assistants), and staff employees who were employed for a specific period of time only (e.g., in a position funded by contract and/or grant, offer of fixed term employment) where an end date was communicated in writing to the staff employee at the time of hire or during employment. In the event of a discrepancy between this policy and a collective bargaining agreement, the terms of the collective bargaining agreement will govern. The university’s non-discrimination policy applies to layoffs and reorganizations.

Definitions

Layoff—reduction in workforce

A reduction in workforce (elimination) of a department, unit or office that results in the termination of one or more employees, and may be due to financial exigency or programmatic redefinition

Layoff—reorganization

The elimination of one or more job positions within a department, unit or office resulting in termination of employment

Reorganization

  • change in a staff employee’s duties, responsibilities and/or scope of authority of 30% or more; and/or
  • change in duties that results in the decrease or increase of a staff employee’s percentage of effort by 15% or more; and/or
  • change in reporting structure

Policy

The university requires departments to meet with Human Resources Administration (HRA) prior to compiling, writing and submitting the formal layoff action plan. HRA will review proposed changes in organizational structure to ensure the plan conforms to university policies and practices and is carried out appropriately.

A layoff may not be initiated until a detailed action plan with the support of the department head and appropriate dean or vice president has been reviewed and approved by HRA.

The affected staff employee(s) may only be advised of the personnel action after HRA has reviewed and authorized the action. Notice of the personnel action must be done in writing and should be presented to the affected employee during a private face-to-face meeting by the supervisor and the department’s HR representative no later than one month prior to the date of the personnel action.

Pay in lieu of notice may be provided, but is generally discouraged. If the department believes that the employee must be terminated immediately, rationale for this action must be submitted in writing to HRA. If pay in lieu of notice is authorized by HRA this pay will replace any portion of the one month notice period that was not provided to the employee.

Employees affected by a layoff will receive priority consideration for open posted positions for which they are qualified. Hiring managers throughout the university who have open posted positions will be prompted to interview qualified employees who have been affected by a layoff and who have applied for the posted opening.

During the notice period, the staff employee should be given reasonable time off to interview for other employment opportunities.

When a staff position is eliminated due to a layoff, if the same or a significantly similar position within the department is re-established within the following 12 months, the department is required to recall the terminated employee(s) who held the same or similar position prior to the layoff. Departments who find such action necessary must submit in writing to HRA rationale as to why the same or similar position is needed.

Employees who prepare, submit and approve layoff plans are expected to provide accurate and complete information. Failure to disclose relevant information may result in disciplinary action, including termination.

Administrators, staff, and faculty involved in notifying affected employees of a layoff are expected to exercise sensitivity.

Severance Benefits

Severance Pay

Employees affected by a layoff will be granted severance pay upon the signing and returning of a Confidential General Release no later than seven calendar days before the termination date as follows:

  • Employees with four or less completed years of cumulative service will receive four weeks of severance pay
  • Employees with five or more completed years of cumulative service will receive one week of severance pay for each full year of cumulative service

A staff employee working less than 100% will have severance pay prorated based on the percentage of time worked. Severance pay will be paid according to the employee’s normal pay cycle and cannot be paid out in a lump sum. Severance pay is in addition to pay in lieu of notice.

Health Insurance Continuation Subsidy

Employees affected by a layoff or reorganization will continue to receive the employer contribution toward premium payments of health insurance (medical, dental and vision) upon the signing and returning of a General Release no later than seven (7) calendar days before the termination date and the election of COBRA as follows:

  • Employees with four or less completed years of cumulative service will receive four weeks of health insurance continuation subsidy
  • Employees with five or more completed years of cumulative service will receive one week of health insurance continuation subsidy for each full year of cumulative service

Health insurance continuation subsidy means that employees will continue to receive the employer paid portion of health insurance premiums provided they elect to continue coverage under COBRA. The employee portion will be taken according to the employee’s normal pay cycle, based on current plan amounts. The weeks of health insurance continuation will be counted toward the employee’s COBRA eligibility period.

Talent Management Concierge Services

Talent Management will provide concierge services to the affected employees including assistance with resume writing, interview coaching, job matching to open positions and referrals to hiring managers.

Reemployment

Severance pay and health insurance continuation will cease if the former employee who is receiving severance pay and health insurance continuation is reemployed before the end of the severance pay eligibility period. The former employee is obligated to report to the university when new employment is found.

Additional Contact Information

HR Service Center (213) 821-8100
Benefits Administration (213) 740-6027
Center for Work and Family Life (213) 821-0800
Talent Management (213) 740-7252

Appendix A—Layoff and Reorganization Procedures

Step 1. Mandatory Preliminary Meeting

The department Human Resources representative must schedule a meeting with Human Resources Administration to present an overview of the proposed layoff or reorganization. The following must be available at the meeting:

  1. Current and proposed (new) organizational charts including all job code and departmental titles in affected department, as well as name of employee(s) holding position or indication of vacant position
  2. Demographic report listing all staff employees in the affected department, highlighting the affected employee(s)—report should include information consistent with the university payroll system for all staff employees:
    • length of service in position
    • length of service in department
    • length of service with university
    • ethnicity
    • gender
    • age
    • salary/wage rate
    • job code title
    • departmental title

Step 2. Formulate an Action Plan

The action plan submitted to HRA must:

  1. Explain the rationale for the layoff or reorganization, including support documents of financial performance if financial exigency is cited (why the reorganization/layoff is being proposed) along with the signature of the appropriate dean or vice president supporting the action
  2. List the position(s) to be eliminated or transferred in the department including:
    • employee’s name currently in the position or if the position is vacant
    • job code title and departmental title
    • how and why that specific position was identified for eliminating or transfer rather than other positions in the department
    • explanation of how existing duties and responsibilities for that position will be transferred or eliminated (it is recommended to use the position job description and reference each accountability as to how that duty and/or responsibility will be transferred or eliminated)
  3. Provide demographic report listing all staff employees in the affected department, highlighting the affected employee(s)—report should include information consistent with the university payroll system for all staff employees:
    • length of service in position
    • length of service in department
    • length of service with university
    • ethnicity
    • gender
    • age
    • salary/wage rate
    • job code title
    • departmental title
  4. Provide original personnel file of the employees adversely affected by the layoff or reorganization
  5. Provide job description for each position which is being created in the proposed reorganization including:
    • indication of essential, marginal or not applicable for each applicable accountability
    • percentage of time for each applicable accountability
    • addendum, if applicable, or other department-based description of duties and responsibilities
  6. Provide current and proposed (new) organizational charts including:
    • job code title and departmental title
    • employee’s name currently holding position or indication of a vacant position
  7. List all current vacant positions (posted or not) and list other new positions within the school the school or division which may be created in the 12-month period following the layoff or reorganization which are not directly related to the action plan
  8. For any new positions created within the department, provide a description of how the candidates for those positions will be recruited and how those positions will be filled
  9. Provide proposed timeline for all actions related to the layoff or reorganization including:
    • date scheduled for notifying the employee(s) of the layoff
    • effective date of termination(s) (changes in schedule, transfer or hires)
  10. Provide drafts of correspondence to staff employees announcing the layoff or reorganization

HRA requires a minimum of ten working days to complete analysis of fully executed action plans.

Step 3. Employee Notification

Departments may not notify employee(s) of a layoff or reorganization until authorization is received in writing from HRA and the supervisor receives training in how to properly notify the employee of a layoff or reorganization. The offices of Professional Development, Center for Work and Family Life and HRA are available to provide training to supervisors in the employee notification process of a layoff or reorganization.

Employee(s) who are affected by a layoff or reorganization are entitled to the following:

  1. One month’s notice period or pay in lieu of notice*
  2. Notification in writing
  3. Notification conducted in person by the supervisor and the department HR representative
  4. Notification conducted in a private location
  5. Compassionate and sensitive conduct from the supervisor and the HR representative

*Pay in lieu of notice should be requested only in rare cases; it should not be a departmental practice. Providing affected employees with no notice of the layoff or reorganization may generate feelings of animosity toward the department and the university. If the department believes that it would be in its best interest to provide the affected employee(s) with pay in lieu of notice, the department must submit in writing to HRA:

  1. Rational for pay in lieu of notice versus providing a notice period
  2. Date when the employee will be notified of the layoff or reorganization
  3. Termination date
  4. Plan on how the employee can collect personal items

Anticipate possible employee reactions; remember the employee’s livelihood is being taken away. Keep in mind that layoffs or reorganizations not only affect the employee and his/her family and friends, but also co-workers in the department who are not being terminated.

Step 4. Termination

Upon notification from HRA that the layoff or reorganization has been authorized, the Home Department Coordinator must be notified. The Home Department Coordinator will process termination paperwork. The employee must receive the following pay on the last day of employment:

  1. Pay for all time worked during the notice period
  2. Vacation pay for all unused accruals

Responsible Office

Human Resources Administration

www.usc.edu/hra
uschr@usc.edu
(213) 821-8100

Issued by

Todd R. Dickey, Senior Vice President, Administration
University of Southern California