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Reduction in Force

EFFECTIVE DATE: April 13, 2020 


Vanderbilt is a dynamic organization that works to provide a stable and secure work environment while being diligent to constantly review financial performance, seek opportunities for agility and efficiency, and strive to meet the needs of our students and broader campus community. These efforts may include the development of new programs, the elimination of others, the restructuring of work units, the creation or elimination of positions, or other decisions necessitated by strategic and operational needs, changes to internal or external funding, or other factors affecting the University. As applicable, Vanderbilt complies with all federal and state laws, including the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act.


This policy applies to all regular full-time employees, excluding: faculty, union positions governed by a collective bargaining agreement, and those whose terms of employment are governed by a contract. Additional exclusions apply as outlined in the policy.


When a department determines there may be a need for a Reduction in Force (RIF), the supervisor must contact their HR Consultant in Human Resources, who will guide the department in assessing options and developing a plan for implementation. Planning is based on the expectation that the duties of the eliminated position(s) are being permanently reassigned or will no longer be performed. If the department realizes that the work needs to be resumed within 12 months (one year), the affected employees may be subject to recall, and the recall procedures associated with this policy become effective.

Exclusions: The following positions are not entitled to RIF benefits:

  • Employees who are in the orientation period.
  • Limited-term positions, where the limited duration of the assignment is communicated in writing at the time of hire
  • Part-Time, Temporary/Flex positions
  • Grant or contract funded positions and positions that have been funded 51% or more from sponsored projects (contract or grant funded positions) at any time during the preceding 24 months (two years)
  • Positions covered by a collective bargaining agreement
  • Positions subject to seasonal layoffs/partial year schedules, if RIF occurs during the off season
  • Reduction in full-time equivalency (FTE) where the employee remains in either full or partial benefits-eligibility status. (However, a reduction in FTE that drops the employee to a non-benefits-eligible status is eligible for RIF provisions.)
  • The current position is eliminated, but the employee is reassigned to another position that allows the employee to remain in either full or partial benefits-eligibility status.   (However, a reduction in FTE that drops the employee to a non-benefits-eligible status is eligible for RIF provisions.)
  • Employees who have been subject to any documented disciplinary action or performance accountability plan in the previous 12-month (one year) period.
  • Vanderbilt is transferring or contracting current work to an outside vendor, and the VU employee(s) performing that work are offered employment by that vendor.

Employee Notification

The employee will be given at least 60 calendar days' advance notice (the “Notice Period”) that their position is being eliminated. The Notice Period may be a working, non-working, or mixed period at the discretion of management. Affected employees whose Notice Period includes any non-working time will be compensated as if working their regularly scheduled hours during the entirety of the Notice Period.

Priority Applicant Status

Priority-applicant status provides an eligible employee whose position has been eliminated the opportunity to work with a talent consultant in Human Resources.  The employee may be given priority consideration for positions within Vanderbilt University for which they are competitively qualified. The priority-applicant status will be in effect during the entire Notice Period, unless and until the individual is offered another position at the University. 

An employee is eligible for priority-applicant status if their documented performance during the immediately preceding 12 months (one year) reflects job performance that meets or exceeds overall expectations.   

Separation Pay & Separation Agreement

Eligible employees who have signed a separation agreement and not been offered another position on campus before the end of the Notice Period will receive separation pay based upon years of service. The separation pay will include a Health Care Supplement that may be applied toward health care costs.  Separation pay will be provided at the end of the Notice Period, in a lump sum payment or as set forth in the separation agreement, minus withholding for taxes.

A separation agreement will be provided to the employee at the time of the RIF notification. The separation agreement allows the employee 45 calendar days from the date the employee receives the agreement to consider the terms and conditions of the agreement, including the provision for separation pay, and the requirement for the employee's release of claims.

The amount of separation pay will be calculated based on the employee's most recent base rate of pay and the budgeted standard hours and FTE of the position. Separation pay and the health insurance supplement will be made by lump sum payment, minus withholdings required by law, including taxes.

Separation payments will be calculated based on years of service according to the graph below:

Years of Service 

# of severance weeks 

Health Care Supplement 

Less than 5 years 



5-10 years



10+ years




Employees impacted by position elimination will have the option of being reinstated into their former position if the position is restored in the same capacity within the same work unit within 12 months (one year). Recall will take place in the 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 declines an offer of recall will forfeit any remaining benefits of this policy, including any unpaid separation pay. An employee may not be eligible for recall if, on the RIF notification date, there is a documented performance plan or disciplinary action in the previous twelve-month (one year) period.

  End of Employment

The employment relationship will end on the last day of the Notice Period, unless the employee accepts another position with Vanderbilt University within the Notice Period. If the employee has accepted another position, the employee will transfer into the new position.  Employment will not end and no separation payment will be made. 


Reduction in force (RIF)

A separation from employment due to such reasons as lack of funds, changes in staffing priorities, lack of work, redesign of work processes, redundancy in roles, excess staffing capacity, or department reorganization, with no likelihood or expectation that the individual will be recalled because the need for the position itself is eliminated.   


Violation of this policy may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.  


Departments contact their HR Consultant to initiate a RIF.  


Please direct inquires to







Director, HR Consulting

Human Resources

(615) 343-4788








Disclaimer : The policies and procedures that guide employment practices are intended to assist in consistent administration and compliance.  Vanderbilt reserves the right to modify its policies and practices, in whole or in part, at any time.  Revisions to existing policies and procedures, and the development of new policies and procedures, will be made from time to time at the discretion of the University.   When new policies are implemented or existing policies are revised, the University will notify members of the University community as soon as practicable.  However, where differences occur, the most recent policy as reviewed and approved by the University will take precedence.  The policies and procedures do not create a contract, implied or expressed, with at will employees at Vanderbilt.


Termination, Reduction, Eliminate, Layoff