Of Record

Policy No. 628, below, published For Comment in Almanac June 30, 1995, has been adopted by the Office of Human Resources. Effective August 15, 1995, it replaces the existing Policy No. 628 in the Human Resources Manual in print and on-line.

Policy on Position Discontinuation and Staff Transition

To maintain its integrity as a steward of public and private resources, the University of Pennsylvania must ensure that its administrative functions and academic programs are fiscally sound and maximally efficient. Increasingly in the competitive, resource- constrained environment of higher education, the University must make difficult choices. Thus, from time to time, in order to respond readily to changing demands, new opportunities for improvements, and increased need to enhance the quality and efficiency of its programs, some staff positions must be discontinued or transformed. This policy is designed to provide for the orderly redeployment, when practical, of staff whose positions are affected by such decisions to other available University positions for which they are qualified, and for fair and consistent treatment of those for whom replacement positions within the University cannot be found.

This policy allows for the discontinuation of staff positions resulting from a management decision that a reduction in the work force is necessary or that work functions should be eliminated or changed. Discontinuation under this policy does not include situations of voluntary separation, including resignation, quit without notice, medical necessity, and retirement. This policy should not be used solely to address issues of unacceptable performance or misconduct. These issues are covered under policies of the Division of Human Resources regarding performance, conduct, and attendance.

This policy does not apply to staff members who are still in their introductory period. It does not apply to staff members in collective bargaining units for whom terms of employment are governed by collective bargaining agreements, to staff designated Temporary Extra Person under Human Resources Policy No. 114, or to staff members on term appointments or appointments made subject to continuation of funding from external sources.

Nothing contained in this policy is intended to alter the at-will employment relationship between the University and its staff employees or to create legally enforceable contractual rights.

I. Responsibilities of Releasing Unit

The "releasing unit" is the organizational entity which makes a decision under this policy to reduce the size of the staff work force. The "releasing unit" includes not only the individual unit which is discontinuing one or more staff positions, but also includes other areas reporting to the same dean, vice president, or vice provost.

A. Transition Activities Before a decision is made to eliminate a position, the releasing unit should carefully assess its work and staffing needs and, in consultation with the Division of Human Resources, should develop a schedule of activities aimed at providing a smooth transition both for staff members whose positions are discontinued and for those in the unit whose jobs are affected by that change.

B. Selection of Positions for Discontinuation Determination of positions to be discontinued will be made by management of the releasing unit. When skills, abilities, performance, and competence of staff members necessary to meet the current and prospective operations requirements are deemed by the management to be substantially equal, then length of continuous employment of staff members with the University and the University's commitment to diversity among its work force will be considered among the factors in selecting positions for discontinuation.

C. Notice Written notice will be provided to the staff member whose position is to be discontinued at least 30 calendar days prior to the expected separation date. In consultation with the Division of Human Resources, management of the releasing unit should prepare a notice letter, enclosing a copy of this policy and the agreement described in Section IV.B. The supervisor or another member of management of the releasing unit should meet with the staff member whose position is to be discontinued to advise him/her of the decision and to respond to questions and concerns.

The period of notice will be no less than 30 calendar days, such period beginning with the date of delivery of the written notice to the staff member and ending with the staff member's last day of work.

D.Initiatives for Redeployment The releasing unit, the Division of Human Resources and the staff member whose position is being discontinued should try to identify current and/or expected openings within the releasing unit. Under the following circumstances, an open position within the releasing unit may be made available as a transfer job opportunity without a competing process: (1) the staff member whose position has been discontinued is substantially qualified for the new position as determined by the hiring officer and the Division of Human Resources; (2) in the judgment of the hiring officer and the Division of Human Resources the new position warrants a salary offer that is within 5% above or below the staff member's salary at the time of notice; (3) the new position and discontinued position are in the same exempt or non-exempt category as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act; and (4) the Affirmative Action Office approves the offer.

The releasing unit should cooperate with the staff member in providing reasonable released time to compete for position openings in other units of the University.

If a transferred employee's performance does not meet departmental standards during the first 90 calendar days in the new position, the staff member may be placed on probation in accord with the final remedial step of Human Resources Policy No. 621 (Performance Improvement/Discipline Policy).

The releasing unit should provide to the staff member access to outplacement services consistent with guidelines established by the Division of Human Resources.

E. Financial Responsibilities of Releasing Unit The releasing unit is responsible for payments to the staff member through the periods of notice and pay continuation. Payments shall include the following: (1) salary at the normal rate throughout the period of notice, (2) compensation for unused and accrued vacation credit, (3) pay continuation (where appropriate).

In those cases where the staff member receives and accepts a job offer from an area outside the releasing unit, the releasing unit will continue to be responsible for payments during the normal period of pay continuation; however, during any part of the normal period of pay continuation when the staff member is on the payroll of the receiving unit, the releasing unit will pay any unpaid pay continuation, in accordance with Section IV.B., to the receiving unit instead of to the staff member.

The releasing unit will pay the cost of outplacement services, if any are provided.

II. Responsibilities of Receiving Unit

The "receiving unit" is an organizational entity reporting to a dean, vice president, or vice provost, different from that of the releasing unit, which accepts into a position a staff member whose previous position has been discontinued.

The receiving unit should work with the releasing unit and the Division of Human Resources to provide a smooth transition for the redeployed staff member. In some cases, the receiving unit will receive into its own budget from the releasing unit some or all of the pay continuation payments that would have been paid to the staff member (see Section I.E). These payments may be used to offset salary and/or training expense.

III. Responsibilities of Division of Human Resources

The Division of Human Resources is available for consultation with the releasing unit during planning for transition and preparation for notifying individuals of the discontinuation of their positions. Human Resources will respond to inquiries regarding these procedures. In addition, Human Resources will provide inplacement assistance, designed to facilitate the smooth transition of staff whose positions are being discontinued to other positions within the University for which they are qualified, and will coordinate the University's relationship with external providers of outplacement services for transition of displaced staff to positions outside the University.

IV. Benefits of Staff Members Whose Positions Are Discontinued

A staff member whose position is being discontinued may receive the following benefits under this policy:

A. Access to Inplacement Assistance Inplacement assistance is intended to facilitate the transition of staff members to other positions within the University for which they may be qualified. It is available to a staff member prior to the separation date provided that he/she meets all the following requirements: (1) the staff member has completed the introductory period as described in Human Resources Policy No. 618; (2) the staff member has a performance rating of "meets established requirements" or above, as recorded in the last performance evaluation; if no performance evaluation has been submitted during the twelve-month period prior to notice, it will be presumed that the staff employee meets this requirement except in cases where performance problems have otherwise been documented; (3) the staff member has not refused the offer of a transfer job opportunity, as defined in Section I.D., since notification of discontinuation. A staff member who is eligible for inplacement assistance and who chooses to participate, may receive such services from the date he/she receives notice of the discontinuation of his/her position through the last date of work.

B. Pay Continuation After a staff member whose position is to be discontinued executes an agreement in a form satisfactory to the University releasing the University, its officers, and employees for all claims arising from the separation from his/her employment, the University will provide pay continuation payments according to the following schedule:

 
Length of Service            Pay Continuation

During Introductory Period None

End of Introductory Period Up to Two Years 4 weeks' pay

Over 2 years Non-exempt (A-3) staff in grades G4-G13 and exempt (A- 1) staff in grades P1-P8 are eligible for 4 weeks' pay plus 1 week's pay for each full year of full-time service or equivalent in excess of two years, except that total pay continuation will be no more than 52 weeks.

Exempt (A-1) staff in grades P9, P10, P11, P12, blank, and ungraded are eligible for 4 weeks' pay plus 2 weeks pay for each full year of full-time service or equivalent in excess of two years, except that total pay continuation will be no more than 52 weeks.

Pay continuation will begin on the date of a valid release or the date of the last day of work, whichever is later.

C. Benefits Continuation Consistent with rules of eligibility and laws governing the University's benefits programs, staff members are subject to the following rules regarding benefits continuation:

A staff member who is notified of a discontinuation will receive full benefits until the date of separation.

By executing the appropriate release, a former staff member who has been separated under this policy without a transfer job opportunity and is receiving pay continuation payments is eligible for benefits continuation during the period of pay continuation, as described in Section IV.B., for the following benefits:
medical, dental, and tuition assistance* with continuation by the University of its normal share of the cost. All other benefits, including disability, life insurance, and retirement, will be discontinued on the date of separation.

Upon separation and within prescribed time periods afterwards, the former staff member may be allowed to continue benefits at his/her expense under federal regulations implementing the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 (COBRA). Such coverage may be available for eligible dependents, as well.

D. Outplacement Assistance An eligible staff member who has received notice of discontinuation should be offered outplacement services consistent with guidelines established by the Division of Human Resources during the period of notice and pay continuation. Outplacement is not available for a staff member who, though eligible for inplacement assistance, has chosen not to accept inplacement assistance or who has rejected a temporary job opportunity as described in Section I.D.

V. Rehire of Former Staff Member

A staff member who has not found employment at the University by the date of separation will be considered in the future for new employment opportunities at the University in the same manner as any other external applicant. A former staff member who is rehired must complete a new introductory period for the new position.

If a former staff member is rehired, the rehire date will be the first day of reemployment. (Bridging of service periods may occur in accord with Human Resources Policy No. 410.) Any pay continuation to the staff member will cease as of the first day worked in the new position.

VI. Grievability of Provisions of This Policy

Administration of this policy, including a decision by the releasing unit to reduce the size of the work force, selection of particular positions for discontinuation, and the designation of individuals for separation from the unit or redeployment, are not matters subject to a grievance.


* Tuition assistance is available only to a staff member who is participating in the tuition scholarship or direct grant program at the time of notice of discontinuation. Such assistance terminates as of the end of the semester following notice of separation.

Note: The above policy on Position Discontinuation and Staff Transition immediately supersedes Policy No. 628 "Staff Reduction" and No. 118 "Assistance to Employees Affected by Staff Reduction." Portions of other policies will be revised as necessary for consistency with new No. 628. These include the following: No. 406 "Tuition Remission for Faculty and Staff"; No. 407 "Scholarship for Dependent Children Attending the University of Pennsylvania"; No. 408 "Scholarship for Dependent Children Attending Other Colleges and Universities (Direct Grants)"; No. 409 "Scholarship for Spouses Attending the University of Pennsylvania"; No. 620 "Staff Grievance Procedure"; No. 628a "Guidelines for Staff Retention Through Use of Reorganizations and Temporary Reassignments"; No. 629 "Termination."

--Office of Human Resources


Almanac

Tuesday, July 18, 1995
Volume 42 Number 1


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