Budget and Layoff Considerations for Support Staff Employees
Increasingly, units are being asked to assess budgets and identify budget cuts that may result in restructuring and/or support staff reductions. MSU Human Resources will collaborate with units to provide information on factors that influence the layoff decision-making process. The following is a summary of relevant considerations and options relating to restructuring and support staff reductions:
1. Assess your budget and identify the amount of reduction needed.
2. If reduction requires changes in staffing, review functional responsibilities to determine what work can be restructured, redesigned or eliminated. (MSU HR will discuss classification information with you.)
3. Assess whether the changes in staffing will result in eliminated responsibilities that may result in support staff layoffs.
4. Consider options beyond the layoff process, such as:
i. Eliminating positions that become vacant through termination or retirement.
ii. Non-renewal of end-dated positions.
iii. Transferring underutilized employees to vacant lateral or lower level positions.
iv. Unpaid leave ending in retirement. (Staff who are within two years of meeting the official retirement requirements: 25 years or 15 years/age 62, may be approved for an unpaid leave of absence ending in retirement. This subject should not be initiated or influenced by the supervisor or administrator. Service credit accrues during the leave, allowing the employee to officially retire at the end of leave. Vacation and sick leave accruals are paid out at the beginning of the leave—vacation payoff is funded bythe unit and sick leave payoff is funded centrally. Unpaid leave ending in retirement must be voluntary.)
v. Changing positions from full-time to part-time. (Staff retains benefit eligibility if they work 50% time for at least nine months per year. The MSU contribution for health care coverage becomes proportionate if hours are reduced below 90%. Staff who meet the official retirement requirements and change to part-time status receive full health and dental contributions. An involuntary reduction in hours results in bypass opportunities to vacant positions.)
vi. Changing full year positions to flexible positions for APA, APSA and CTU staff only. (Provides full benefits to employees with 9, 10, or 11-month appointments. Changing to a flexible position must be voluntary. An involuntary change to a flexible position results in bypass opportunities to vacant positions.)
vii. Consider working retirement proposals. (Staff who officially retire may request to continue working on a fixed-term or on-call basis after their retirement date.)
5. Keep in mind that other units are also considering staff reductions and that your unit can be affected by these reductions in other units, as follows:
i. If another unit gives layoff notice to a CTU, 1585, or SSTU employee in their unit, that employee may be able to displace a less senior employee in your unit based upon union contract “bumping” provisions. (Example: If a CTU employee in another unit is laid off and has more seniority than a CTU employee in your unit in the same level, and the laid off CTU employee has the ability to perform the responsibilities of the position in your unit, he/she could “bump and replace” your employee.)
ii. If another unit lays off an APA, APSA, or CTU employee, and if you have a vacancy for which he/she is qualified, you will be asked to meet with the individual and assess whether he/she can perform the work of your position in a requalification/evaluation period. If the employee can perform the work in that period, he/she will be placed into your vacancy. This type of placement is called a “bypass” since the regular vacancy procedures are bypassed.
6. There are some financial implications to consider when determining whether a layoff is necessary:
i. Units must pay all accrued vacation (which cannot be offset by the layoff notification period). For APA, APSA and CTU staff, if the laid off employee is bypassed into a vacant position and subsequently fails the evaluation/requalification period, the unit from which the individual was laid off will be responsible for the payout of any additional vacation accrued during that evaluation/requalification period.
ii. Paying a layoff transition benefit (for APA and APSA employees) if the individual has at least six years of service and terminates his/her recall rights after being on layoff status for at least 120 calendar days. This benefit varies from four to 15 weeks' pay based upon the individual's length of employment with MSU. For example, an APA employee can be on layoff status for up to five years (determined by seniority) and can receive a layoff transition payment if they end their recall rights during that five year layoff period. The unit from which the individual was laid off pays this transition payment. The employee also receives a portion of his/her sick leave accruals (determined by seniority). The sick leave accrual payment is not charged to the unit. For individuals meeting the official retirement requirements, the regular sick leave payoff policy applies.
iii. For laid off CTU Project Technicians, units must pay a severance benefit of one week's pay for each year of university service to a maximum of five weeks' pay.