April 2, 2018

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 employees, 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/reorganizations.

Definitions

Layoff—reduction in workforce

A reduction in workforce is the elimination of a department, unit, office or position that results in the termination of one or more employees and which reduces headcount. This may be due to financial necessity or programmatic redefinition.

Layoff—reorganization

A reorganization may involve the elimination of one or more positions that changes the organizational structure within a department, unit or office resulting in termination of employment.

Reorganization – may involve change in:

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

Policy

When a department is considering a layoff/reorganization, the appropriate HR Partner and the decision-maker attempting to initiate the action must meet with Human Resources Administration (HRA) to discuss the proposal before any action is taken or plan/justification written. During this collaborative meeting, HRA will review the proposed changes in organizational structure to ensure the proposal conforms to university policies and practices and is carried out appropriately. For details regarding this step, see Step 1 in Appendix A, below.

If HRA preliminarily authorizes the department to proceed with the layoff/reorganization, the department must then prepare and submit a formal, detailed layoff/reorganization proposal with the support of the department head and appropriate dean or vice president. Employees who prepare, submit, and approve layoff/reorganization proposals are expected to provide accurate and complete information. Failure to disclose relevant information may result in disciplinary action. See Step 2 in Appendix A, below.

If HRA approves this proposal, the HR Partner and the decision-maker must meet with HRA one more time to review layoff notification procedures. See Step 3 in Appendix A, below.

The proposal is considered finally approved only after this meeting has taken place. Only at this point may the affected employee(s) be advised of the personnel action. Notice of the personnel action must be provided no later than one month before the date of the personnel action.  Notice must be made in writing and when possible, during a private face-to-face meeting with the HR Partner and the decision-maker for the layoff/reorganization.. Administrators, staff, and faculty involved in notifying affected employees of a layoff are expected to exercise sensitivity in the notification meeting and afford the employee appropriate respect and dignity during the transition period. See Step 4 in Appendix A, below.

In some cases, there may be need for the affected employee to be removed from his/her day-to-day duties immediately following the layoff notification meeting. HRA must authorize any such immediate release before the layoff notification meeting.

Pay in lieu of notice is not allowed.

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

Severance benefits

Severance pay

Employees affected by a layoff receive severance pay as indicated below upon the signing and returning of a Confidential General Release.  The University encourages employees to return the Confidential General Release no later than seven calendar days before the termination date and requires that the Confidential General Release be returned by the termination date, except where a longer period is permitted by the terms of the Confidential General Release.

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

Severance pay for an employee working less than 100% is prorated based on the percentage of time worked. Severance pay is paid according to the employee’s normal pay cycle and cannot be paid out in a lump sum.

Health insurance continuation subsidy

Health insurance continuation subsidy means that employees affected by a layoff will continue to receive the employer-paid portion of health insurance premiums (medical, dental, vision) provided they elect to continue coverage under COBRA, and sign and return a Confidential General Release no later than the termination date, except where a longer period is permitted by the terms of the Confidential General Release.

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 are counted toward the employee’s COBRA eligibility period.

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

Outplacement services

Outplacement services are available to employees affected by a layoff to help with transitioning to new employment opportunities. Laid-off employees have 90 days from their termination date to contact the vendor and engage outplacement services.

Financial responsibility

Severance pay and outplacement service fees are the responsibility of the school/department.

Reemployment

Severance pay, outplacement services, and health insurance continuation will be provided until the end of the severance benefit period or until the employee is reemployed, whichever is sooner. The former employee must report to the university when new employment is found.

Contact information

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

Responsible office

Human Resources Administration
uschr@usc.edu
(213) 821-8100

Issued by

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

 

Appendix A—Layoff/Reorganization Procedures

Step 1. Mandatory Preliminary Meeting

The department human resources representative along with the decision maker for the layoff/reorganization must schedule a meeting with Human Resources Administration to present a verbal overview of the proposed layoff/reorganization. The following documents must be presented at the meeting:

  1. Current and proposed (new) organizational charts including all job profile code and business 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 unit/department, highlighting the affected employees—report should include information consistent with Workday for all staff employees:
    • length of service in position
    • length of service in department
    • length of service with university
    • race/ethnicity
    • gender
    • age
    • reported disability
    • salary/wage rate
    • job profile title
    • business title
  3. Report listing all staff employees in the affected unit/department, highlighting the affected employees, and reflecting protected leaves taken in the 12 months preceding the termination date

Step 2. Create a Written Layoff/Reorganization Proposal

The proposal submitted to HRA must:

  1. Explain the rationale for the layoff/reorganization, including support documents of financial performance if financial necessity is cited (why the reorganization/layoff is being proposed) along with the signature of the appropriate dean or vice president supporting the proposal
  2. List the positions to be eliminated or transferred in the department including:
    • employee’s name currently in the position or if the position is vacant
    • job profile title and business 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 (the duties and responsibilities worksheet is preferred)
  3. Provide a demographic report listing all staff employees in the affected unit/department, highlighting the affected employees—report should include information consistent with Workday for all staff employees:
    • length of service in position
    • length of service in department
    • length of service with university
    • race/ethnicity
    • gender
    • age
    • reported disability
    • salary/wage rate
    • job profile title
    • business title
  4. List all staff employees in the affected unit/department, highlighting the affected employees, and reflecting protected leaves taken in the 12 months preceding the termination date
  5. Provide current job description of the positions being eliminated with employee’s signature
  6. Provide a job description for each position which is being created in the proposed reorganization including:
    • indication of essential, marginal or not applicable for each accountability
    • percentage of time for each accountability
    • addendum, if applicable, or other department-based description of duties and responsibilities
  7. Provide current and proposed (new) organizational charts including:
    • job profile title and business title
    • employee’s name currently holding position or indication of a vacant position
  8. Provide signed arbitration and at-will forms for affected employees
  9. List all current vacant positions (posted or not) and list other new positions within the school or division which may be created in the 12-month period following the layoff/reorganization which are not directly related to the proposal

When requested by HRA, include the following as part of the proposal:

  1. Original personnel file of employees adversely affected by the layoff/reorganization
  2. For any new positions created within the department, a description of how the candidates for those positions will be recruited and how those positions will be filled
  3. Proposed timeline for all actions related to the layoff/reorganization including:
    • date scheduled for notifying the employees of the layoff
    • effective date of terminations (changes in schedule, transfer or hires)
  4. Drafts of correspondence to employees announcing the layoff/reorganization

HRA requires a minimum of ten working days to complete the review of the layoff/reorganization proposal.

Step 3. Employee Notification

Departments may not notify employee(s) of a layoff/reorganization until authorization is received in writing from HRA and the decision maker receives coaching from HRA in how to properly notify the employee of a layoff/reorganization.

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

  1. Minimum of a one-month notice period
  2. Notification in writing
  3. When feasible, notification conducted in person by the department HR representative and the decision maker
  4. Notification conducted in a private location
  5. Compassionate and sensitive conduct from the HR representative and decision maker during the notification meeting and during the transition period

Anticipate possible employee reactions; remember the employee’s livelihood is being taken away. Keep in mind that layoffs/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/reorganization has been authorized, the local HR office must initiate the termination process five days before the termination date to guarantee the final paycheck (pay for all time worked during the notice period and unused vacation/winter recess accruals) is available to present to the employee on his/her last day of employment.