Reduction in Force
VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY AND MEDICAL CENTER HUMAN RESOURCES POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
SUBJECT: REDUCTION IN FORCE
EFFECTIVE DATE: March 14, 2012
While Vanderbilt University strives to provide a stable and secure environment in which to work, under certain circumstances, it may be necessary to eliminate staff positions due to budgetary needs, program reductions, reorganization, or other business needs. This policy establishes a process for the position elimination of regular full-time and part-time staff positions at the University and Medical Center.
A reduction in force (RIF) is defined as a separation from employment due to lack of funds, lack of work, redesign or elimination of position(s) or reorganization, with no likelihood or expectation that the employee will be recalled because the position itself is eliminated. A RIF may be necessary or appropriate when there is redundancy in roles, or excess capacity within a work group or across work groups, such that it would be economically feasible and responsible to reduce the number of employees in a unit without unduly impacting the work performed by the department, unit, or work group.
When a department becomes aware there may be a need for a RIF, the supervisor should contact their Human Resources Consultant, who will guide the department in assessing options and developing a plan for implementing the RIF. The planning must be based on the work of the eliminated position being reassigned to another position or no longer being performed. Once the position is eliminated, the work may not be covered by temporary or term positions. If the department determines the work needs to be resumed, the recall procedures will become effective.
Exclusions: The following positions are not eligible for RIF benefits, as outlined in this policy, and the manager should consult with Human Resources when such positions are under consideration for elimination:
- Term limited positions where the duration of the position is defined at the time of hire (term, post-doctoral fellowships)
- Temporary or PRN positions
- Grant or contract funded positions (employees in these positions will have access to priority applicant status but not separation pay)
- Positions covered by the collective bargaining agreement
- Seasonal layoff/Partial year schedule
Assessment and position selection
Following an analysis of the academic and business needs and determination of the new organizational structure, the following steps should be used to identify the positions that will be eliminated by a reduction in force.
- The first step is an analysis of the job functions that the department needs going forward and the positions that will be retained and eliminated. This step is based solely on the job functions of positions and the business needs of the department.
- Only when there are multiple incumbents in a position that has been selected for elimination, the second step is to evaluate the skills and qualifications of the individual employees. The Office of Human Resources will assist in the review process, evaluate performance criteria and provide seniority validations. In this multiple incumbent situation, the following factors may be considered in this assessment:
- Skills and qualifications - special skills may be considered, additional education, licensure and certification
- Performance- a comparison of performance reviews, recognized exceptional performance, performance improvement plans, discipline, attendance
- Length of employment – review Vanderbilt University employment to the extent that employees are otherwise equal in skills, qualifications and performance. Seniority is based on the University hire date and prorated for periods of part-time employment.
Employees will be given at least 45 calendar days' notice that their position is going to be eliminated. In some situations, it is in the best interests of the employee or the department that the notice period is a non-working notice period. This decision should be made in consultation with Human Resources. The employee should be informed during the notification meeting whether the notice period will be working or non-working (or some of both). For a non-working notice period, the employee shall be placed on a paid administrative leave.
During the notification meeting with the employee, the supervisor must provide the employee with written notification regarding the position elimination. The notice period begins the first day following the in-person meeting and delivery of written notice to the employee.
Priority Applicant Status
Priority applicant status provides an employee whose position has been eliminated the opportunity to work with a recruiter in human resources and priority in being offered interviews within Vanderbilt. The priority applicant status will be in effect for three months from the date of the notification meeting.
Employees may be eligible for priority applicant status if they meet the following criteria:
- Performance evaluations for the immediately preceding two years reflect at least "meets expectations" job performance
- No performance improvement plan or equivalent for the preceding two years
- No disciplinary action or equivalent for preceding two years
Responsibilities of a priority applicant:
- Attend initial meeting with recruiter
- Apply for each position of interest
- Remain in contact with the recruiter
- Attend scheduled interviews
Hiring managers are required to interview all priority applicants who meet the minimum qualifications. However, priority applicant status does not guarantee employment and the maximum number of interviews guaranteed under this policy will not exceed 12.
Eligible employees will receive separation pay according to a standard separation pay schedule based upon years of service. Generally, separation pay will be provided in a lump sum payment, less withholding for taxes at the end of the notification period.
The separation pay will include COBRA pay, which is an amount equal to one month’s premium for continuing the employee’s current health and dental insurance coverage, if applicable.
Separation payments will be calculated as two weeks of compensation for every full year of service, with a minimum of 2 weeks and a maximum of 24 weeks. Employees with less than one full year of service will receive a 2 week separation payment.
The rate of separation pay will be calculated based on the employee’s most recent rate of pay and the budgeted full time equivalent (FTE) for the position. The COBRA payment will be a lump sum payment to the employee. If the employee wants to continue health and dental insurance, it is the responsibility of the employee to pay the insurance premiums to continue coverage.
Separation and COBRA pay will not be paid if the employee accepts a position within the notification period with Vanderbilt or outside of the institution.
Employees impacted by position elimination will have the option of being reinstated into their former position if the position is restored within twelve months. Recall will take place in reverse order of position elimination. Individuals recalled under this provision will not be required to serve a new initial orientation and evaluation period. An employee who rejects an offer of recall will forfeit any remaining benefits of this policy. An employee will not be eligible for recall if, on the RIF notification date, there is an active final performance plan or final disciplinary warning.
End of Employment
The employment relationship will end on the last day of the notification period, unless the employee has accepted another position within or outside Vanderbilt.
Employees who separate from employment will be paid for the balance of unused vacation and personal accrued leave up to the maximum allowed by policy. No payment will be made for unused sick leave at the time of separation.
Health, Dental, Flexible Spending Accounts
All health and dental insurance continues through the end of the month in which employment ends. Flexible spending account deductions continue through the last paycheck, and can be used for expenses incurred through the last day of employment. Upon separation, employees may elect to maintain their current health care, dental care and medical flexible spending account at their expense for up to 18 months under COBRA.
Life insurance ends on the last day of the month in which employment ends. Life insurance can be continued as an individual policy by contacting the insurance company within 31 days of termination.
Long-term and short-term disability insurance ends on the last day worked. Long-term disability insurance can be converted to an individual policy by contacting the insurance company within 31 days. There is no conversion option for short-term disability or for the COLA option.
Vested retirement plan contributions made by Vanderbilt or the employee may remain in Vanderbilt’s plan. The employer contributions to the retirement plan cease at the time of termination.
Other Voluntary Benefits
Other voluntary benefits, including long-term care, home/auto insurance, and supplemental disability insurance may be continued on a self-pay basis by contacting the insurance carrier.
Vanderbilt will honor an approved tuition benefit request for the employee’s dependents during the remainder of the semester for which the student is currently enrolled in accordance with the Education Assistance Programs Policy on Education Assistance Programs.
Vanderbilt will provide tuition reimbursement for the employee or employee’s spouse, when the employee or spouse is enrolled in a class at the time of the RIF notification, in accordance with the Education Assistance Programs Policy on Education Assistance Programs.
Approved by Traci K. Nordberg, Chief Human Resources Officer and Associate Vice Chancellor
Approved by Jerry Fife, Vice Chancellor for Administration
Approved by Jeffrey Balser, M.D., Ph.D., Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs