Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Common inquiries regarding layoffs as they relate to Operating Staff (Civil Service) employees and non-renewals as they relate to Supportive Professional Staff (SPS) employees.
How will layoffs/non-renewals be determined?
As the university reviews programs and functions that may be reduced or eliminated, staff reductions will only be considered as a last resort. Divisions will determine, based on required budgetary reductions, which operations or positions will be considered for reductions. Individual employees would receive a formal notification in accordance with State Universities Civil Service System (SUCSS) or contractual procedures. The elimination of positions will take into consideration factors including scope of budget losses, staff seniority, and job content. Supportive Professional Staff notices of non-renewal will be in accordance with the Board of Trustee Regulations.
What are the non-renewal notice requirements for Supportive Professional Staff (SPS) employees on temporary appointments?
Currently, Supportive Professional Staff (SPS) on temporary appointments will automatically terminate on the last day of the appointment unless the department issues a reappointment to the employee.
Going forward, Supportive Professional Staff (SPS) employees who have been temporary SPS for 5 years but less than 10 will receive 60 days’ notice that their contract will not be renewed and those that have served 10 or more years as temporary SPS will be provided 4 months’ notice. To achieve this, depending on the individual circumstances, interim contracts may need to be issued to supplement the existing employment agreement.
What are the non-renewal notice requirements for Supportive Professional Staff (SPS) employees on regular appointments?
Supportive Professional Staff (SPS) on regular appointments will receive the following notice in accordance with the Board of Trustee Regulations. Please note that the notice requirements indicated below are based on how long the employee has served in the SPS employment category in a regular position.
- One year or less - For employees with one year or less of consecutive full-time service at the time of notification, a four-month notice of nonrenewal shall be required with the provision that termination not occur before the end of the current contract period, except for cause.
- More than one year and less than three years - For employees with more than one year and less than three years of consecutive full-time service at the time of notification, a six-month notice of nonrenewal shall be required with the provision that termination not occur before the end of the current contract period, except for cause.
- Three years or more - For employees with three years or more of consecutive full-time service at the time of notification, a 12-month notice of nonrenewal shall be required with the provision that termination not occur before the end of the current contract period, except for cause.
This period of notice shall not be required in the case of persons filling positions in any intercollegiate athletic program, in positions exclusively dedicated to fund raising, or in the case of employees whose positions are fully funded and contingent upon grants and/or contracts for the provision of services to parties external to the university.
How and when will civil service employees receive notification that they may be affected by a layoff and what are the notice requirements?
In accordance with State Universities Civil Service System (SUCSS) rules: “A status Civil Service employee shall receive written notice, at least thirty (30) calendar days in advance of the effective date of layoff, when such layoff exceeds thirty (30) consecutive work days. However, the effective date of layoff may be extended up to fifteen (15) days without the requirement of further notice.” Upon final approval, HRS will send the official written notice of layoff to the affected employee(s) and to SUCSS. Departments/Colleges/Division should not discuss layoff notices with employees prior to HRS sending the official written notice. If a union represents an affected employee, HRS will also notify the union of the pending layoff. Additional notification requirements may be necessary under federal law or collective bargaining agreements.
Are layoffs based on seniority, and if so, does that mean the number of years at the university or the number of years in the current position?
When a reduction in work force is necessary, layoffs are issued in order of inverse seniority within the affected classification. For example, if a determination is made that an Account Technician II position will be eliminated, the incumbent in that position may have bump rights to a position within the department, college, division, or elsewhere on campus, first to a vacant Account Technician II position if available, or to a position occupied by a person with the least seniority in the Account Technician II classification.
It is important to note that seniority is by classification, but carries down through the promotional line for that classification. In other words, in the example cited above, if the incumbent was the least senior person in the Account Technician II classification and there were no vacant Account Technician II positions available, they would also have retreat rights to positions in the Account Technician I classification. Per State Universities Civil Service System (SUCSS) rules: “Seniority earned in a class shall be counted toward seniority in a lower class in the same promotional line even though the employee may not have served in the lower class. Seniority earned in a lower class in a promotional line may not be added to seniority earned in a higher class in the same line.” Seniority is maintained in all classifications (and promotional lines) in which you have been employed as long as there has not been a break in service, such as a separation from civil service employment.
If civil service employees elect to bump, how will their salaries be affected?
An employee who exercises their seniority rights as a result of a reduction in force, and remains in their current classification, will maintain their current salary. In the event that an employee bumps into a lower-level classification (as defined by having a salary range maximum that is less than that of the employee’s current classification), the pay rate shall be adjusted to the maximum of the new salary range or the employee’s current rate of pay, whichever is less. The exercise of retreat rights into a lower-level classification shall constitute a voluntary demotion.
How are insurance benefits affected by a layoff/non-renewal?
Insurance coverage for employees who are laid off on a permanent basis or receive notice of non-renewal will terminate at midnight on the last day of employment. However, the employee will be eligible to continue health, dental, and vision coverage including dependent coverage under COBRA. Under COBRA and pursuant to CMS policies, employees have the option to continue coverage for eighteen (18) months by paying both the employer and employee premiums for that coverage plus 2% (102% of the cost of insurance). All employees on permanent layoff are eligible to continue life insurance coverage at their expense under the Group Insurance Program for twelve (12) month. Employees will also be given the option to convert or port their life insurance coverage to individual policies.
Employees who are laid off on a “seasonal basis” remain covered by CMS insurance for the first three months of the layoff period. NIU routinely implements seasonal layoffs for various classifications of Civil Service employees during the summer months and semester breaks. This policy does not pertain to seasonal layoffs.
How are SURS retirement benefits affected by a layoff or non-renewal?
Employees who are laid off on permanent basis can elect to have their retirement contributions remain with SURS or elect to receive a lump sum payout. The lump sum payout election can only be selected after the employee has been on a permanent layoff for more than 120 days. Payout elections are administered directly by the SURS office.
How will vacation, sick leave, and compensatory time benefits be affected?
Permanent layoffs are considered a separation from employment. Accordingly, employees placed on permanent layoff shall receive vacation, sick leave, and compensatory time payouts in accordance with university separation procedures, after the 120 day period. A Civil Service employee who returns to employment at the university following a permanent layoff is entitled to a reinstatement of unused sick leave that was on record at the time of layoff and not eligible for payment at termination. Supportive Professional Staff who receive notice of non-renewal will receive vacation and sick leave payouts (if applicable) the pay period following the last day of employment.
Employees on seasonal layoff shall not receive vacation and sick leave payouts unless the seasonal layoff is converted to a permanent layoff.
What are the standards for eligibility for unemployment compensation?
Employees who receive notice of permanent layoff may apply for unemployment compensation benefits with the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). Final determination with respect to the availability of unemployment compensation benefits is made by the IDES.
Will those civil service employees laid off be eligible to be re-employed?
Employees who have completed probation: In accordance with SUCSS rules, employees who have completed the probationary period for a classification and have been laid off through reduction in force will be placed on the reemployment register for the classification that they were laid off from in the order of seniority. Whenever it becomes necessary for the university to hire an employee in a classification that currently has employees in layoff status, the employee last laid off by seniority will be reemployed first and further reemployment will be made in the order of seniority until the reemployment register for that class is exhausted. In other words, the requesting department will only be given the name of the first employee on the reemployment register, no other candidates will be considered for this position unless that person refuses the offer.
Probationary employees: Employees who have not completed the probationary period for a classification and have been laid off through reduction in force may be placed on the register for that classification with credit for total service as of the date of layoff. Employees will be listed on the register in descending order of service. When a vacancy is to be filled in the classification, precedence will be given to employees on the reemployment register as stated above. Once the reemployment register has been exhausted for that classification, employees who were placed on the register according to total service will be referred for vacancies as part of the three candidates standing highest on the register in accordance with SUCSS rules.
Can a non-union employee bump a union employee?
Yes, the civil service system does not differentiate between non-union and union classifications.
Can a part-time civil service employee bump into a full-time position?
Yes, if the laid off employee has more seniority in the classification.
Can a civil service employee be bumped from their position if there is a Specialty Factor in the job description?
Yes, but only by a more senior person who already has that specialization. Individuals employed with a defined area of specialization cannot be displaced in the layoff process by someone who does not possess the defined area of specialization.
Can a civil service employee resign while in layoff status?
An employee can resign while in layoff status. The resignation, however, may result in the removal of the employee’s name from the reemployment register for the applicable classification.