Reduction in Force (RIF) 

Number:

3.5 

Policy/Procedure Name:

Reduction in Force (RIF)

Sponsor:

Kathy McKinley
Executive Director, Human Resources

Custodian:

Human Resources

Effective Date:

April 3, 2018

Next Review Date:

2019-2020

Location:

durhamtech.edu/policies-and-procedures/reduction-in-force

Citation:

1C SBCCC 200.94

 

Policy Statement

Durham Technical Community College strives to provide a secure and stable work environment. In certain circumstances, a reduction in force may be necessary due to budget constraints, program changes, reorganization, and other operational demands. This policy outlines the College’s reduction in force procedure.

Procedure

A reduction in force (RIF) is defined as separation from employment due to insufficient funds or work, redesign or elimination of position(s), or reorganization, with no likelihood or expectation that an 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 impacting the quality or amount of work performed. Durham Technical Community College (Durham Tech) is committed to retaining employees who meet job qualifications and performance expectations. When possible, the College will first try to redeploy employees into comparable vacant positions for which they meet the minimum requirements.

Although performance may be a factor in determining which employee(s) will be impacted by a RIF, a RIF must not be used as a means to terminate individuals whose unsatisfactory performance has not been appropriately documented.

Organizational Review and Program/Service Elimination

Organizational review and/or program/service elimination may result in a reorganization or reduction in force.

Organizational review may result in a variety of solutions, including the following:

  • Elimination of programs, centers, and/or departments;

  • Mergers of units and/or functions; and

  • Reductions in force (department-wide or at any other level).

Program/service elimination may be appropriate when one or more of the following circumstances exist:

  • There is a reduction or loss of funding or resources;

  • A function or service is not critical to the core academic or scholarly mission, or can be performed or delivered through alternative means; or

  • Student enrollment/demand in the program/service has declined to a level where the program is no longer self-sustaining.

A division head, after gathering information from their department head, if applicable, may recommend a RIF to the president only after consultation with the director of Human Resources. This recommendation should be made prior to identifying employees who will be impacted by a reorganization or reduction in force. All decisions should be based on a careful analysis of the College’s needs, financial resources, and all available options.

Once the president determines that a RIF is necessary, the director of Human Resources will guide the unit in assessing options and developing a plan for implementing the RIF. The implementation plan must be based on the duties of the eliminated position being reassigned to another position or no longer being performed. If the unit determines that the work needs to be resumed, recall procedures will go into effect.

Assessment and Position Selection

Retention of employees in classes affected by a RIF shall be based on systematic considerations. The division head, in consultation with the department head and with guidance from the director of Human Resources, will analyze the unit’s academic and business needs and determine the new organizational structure. The following steps complete the assessment and position selection process:

  1. The division head, in consultation with the department head, will analyze the unit’s functions of positions and future needs and identify the positions that will be retained and eliminated. This step is based solely on the functions of positions and the business needs of the unit.

  2. If there are multiple incumbents in a position that has been selected for elimination, the division head, in consultation with the department head, will 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. The incumbents will be assessed based on consideration of the following factors:

    • Skills and qualifications (e.g., unique skills, additional education, licensure, and certifications);

    • Performance – A comparison of performance reviews, recognized exceptional performance, performance improvement plans, and discipline;

    • Length of employment – A review of College employment history to the extent that the employees’ skills, qualifications, and performance are comparable. Seniority is based on the College hire date and prorated for periods of part-time employment. Temporary or probationary employees shall be retained in classes separate from employees with permanent appointments. In determining the length of service, an eligible veteran shall be afforded one (1) year of College service for each year or fraction thereof of military service, up to a maximum of five (5) years credit; and

    • Actual or potential impact on the diversity of the College.

  3. When the positions and employees are identified, the division head, in consultation with the department head, and the director of Human Resources will make a recommendation to the president. The president will make the final decision on the reduction in force recommendation and will notify the division head and the director of Human Resources.

Employee Notification

The director of Human Resources will notify the employee in writing at least thirty (30) calendar days prior to the elimination of the employee’s position. In certain circumstances, it is best that the notice period is a non-working one. The written notification should inform the employee whether the notice period will be working, non-working, or a combination. For a non-working notice period, the employee shall be placed on paid leave.

The written notification should also include the following information:

  • Reason(s) for the reduction in force;

  • Expected date of separation;

  • The employee’s eligibility for priority reemployment consideration;

  • Applicable appeal rights; and

  • Availability of benefits.

Affirmative Action

All RIF decisions must be analyzed to determine their impact on College utilization goals by race and sex and to avoid adverse impact in violation of Section 1607.4.D of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedure.

Appeal Process

An employee has the right to appeal the decision to terminate his or her employment if he or she believes that the reduction action is a form of discrimination or if the appropriate reduction in force procedures were not followed. The employee must submit a written appeal to the director of Human Resources within five (5) working days of receipt of the termination notification. If the appeal is based on the grounds of discrimination, the director of Human Resources will send a copy of the appeal to the Title IX Coordinator. The employee has the burden to demonstrate through clear and convincing evidence that his/her appeal is neither arbitrary nor capricious. The director of Human Resources, in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator when appropriate, will assess the validity of the appeal within five (5) working days, notify the employee of the appeal’s status, and forward the appeal to the president if it is deemed valid. The president will review the appeal documentation, reevaluate his or her original decision, and notify the employee of the final determination within ten (10) working days. If the president accepts the employee’s grounds for appeal, the employee will be reinstated. If not, the employee may request a formal hearing before the Board of Trustees. This request must be made in writing to the chair of the Board of Trustees within ten (10) working days of receiving notification from the president.

Priority Applicant Status

Eligible employees impacted by position elimination may receive interview priority for College employment and should notify Human Resources when they apply for an open position. Priority applicant status will be in effect for twelve (12) months from the date of termination notification. Employees are eligible for priority applicant status if they meet the following criteria:

  • Performance evaluations for the immediately preceding twelve (12) months reflect an overall job performance rating of at least "meets expectations";

  • No documented performance improvement plan or equivalent for the immediately preceding twelve (12) months; and

  • No documented disciplinary action or equivalent for the immediately preceding twelve (12) months.

Priority applicants must follow the College’s standard application process, including completing an employment application via the College’s website and participating in scheduled interviews.

Supervisors will receive priority applicants’ application materials if the applicants meet the requirements of their open positions. Supervisors are encouraged to interview these candidates; however priority applicant status does not guarantee an interview.

Recall Procedures

Employees impacted by position elimination will have the option of being reinstated if their former position is restored within twelve (12) months of their RIF notification date. Individuals recalled under this provision will not be required to serve a probationary period. An employee who rejects a recall offer will forfeit any remaining benefits of this policy. Employees will not be eligible for recall if, on the RIF notification date, they are on a documented performance plan or have been subject to disciplinary action in the preceding twelve (12) months.

Benefits

Benefits are available to employees impacted by a RIF as follows:

  • Annual Leave – Employees may elect to exhaust annual leave upon their last day of employment and be paid a lump sum for the balance (not to exceed 240 hours). Annual leave in excess of 240 hours shall be reinstated if the employee is reemployed at the College within one (1) year of separation.

  • Sick Leave – Employees’ sick leave shall be reinstated if they secure a permanent position at any state agency or community college within five (5) years of separation.

  • Health and Dental Insurance – Health and dental insurance will be continued for up to one (1) year for employees covered by the College’s insurance plan for at least one (1) year prior to separation. Employees should notify the College’s benefits administrator to discontinue coverage once they are eligible or sign up for health and dental benefits elsewhere. Employees that are not gainfully employed following the one (1) year of coverage may apply for eighteen (18) months of additional coverage through COBRA.

  • Flexible Spending Accounts – Flexible spending account deductions continue through the last paycheck and may be used for expenses incurred through the last day of employment. Upon separation, employees may elect to maintain their current account at their expense for the remainder of the calendar year.

  • Life Insurance – Life insurance coverage ends on the last day of employment.

  • Disability Insurance – Long-term and short-term disability insurance coverage ends on the last day of employment.

  • Retirement Plan – Vested retirement plan contributions may remain in the state retirement system. The College’s 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 appropriate provider.

Purpose/Definitions

This policy provides a basis for the consistent application of Durham Tech’s personnel policies and procedures. It does not constitute a contract, implied or expressed, with any employee as all Durham Tech employees are employed on an at-will basis.

Arbitrary – Existing or coming about seemingly at random, by chance, or as a capricious and unreasonable act of will

Capricious –Subject to, led by, or indicative of a sudden, odd notion or unpredictable change

Clear and Convincing Evidence – Evidence that is substantially more probable to be true rather than untrue

Working Days – Days the College is open and operating under a normal schedule. This excludes weekends, closings due to adverse conditions, and holidays.