Position Discontinuation and Staff Transition
To maintain its integrity as a steward of public and private resources, the University of Pennsylvania (the “University”) 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 applies to regular full-time, regular part-time staff members, and to staff members who are in appointments finalized before January 1, 1996, which were made subject to continuation of funding from external sources. This policy does not apply to:
- University executive officers, teaching assistants, student workers, residents, faculty members and post-doctoral positions;
- staff members on term appointments or to staff members who are still in their introductory period;
- staff members in collective bargaining units for whom terms of employment are governed by collective bargaining agreements (unless the agreement provides for coverage by the policy);
- staff members designated Temporary Extra Person under Human Resources Policy No. 114;
- staff members with an appointment, finalized January 1, 1996 or later, which is made specifically (in writing) subject to continuation of funding from external sources unless the staff member has ten years of continuous service on the date of notice that his/her position will be eliminated;
- staff members who qualify for long-term disability benefits under the long-term disability program of the University or a related organization;
- staff members who die while employed by the University or a related organization;
- staff members who voluntarily resign;
- staff members who are terminated for unacceptable performance or misconduct;
- staff members who are offered employment with a new employer as part of a sale, lease or other transfer of a University asset, facility, or operation;
- staff members whose employment is terminated as a result of the University "outsourcing" a service if the staff member is offered employment with the outsourcing entity.
The pay continuation benefits provided pursuant to this policy are provided through the University of Pennsylvania Position Discontinuation and Staff Transition Plan (the "PDST Plan"). The terms of the PDST Plan are described in a separate summary plan description ("SPD") for the Plan that can be found here. The terms of the PDST Plan and the SPD (and not this policy) control the payment of these pay continuation benefits.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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, a copy of this policy, SPD for the PDST Plan, and the release agreement described in Section IV.A below (the "Release"). 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.
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 to provide a reasonable release 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 accordance 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 career transition services consistent with guidelines established by the Division of Human Resources.
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 paid time off; and (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.A., to the receiving unit instead of to the staff member. The releasing unit will pay the cost of career transition services, if any are provided.
All funds used for pay continuation and other eligible costs associated with the position discontinuation should be dispersed in accordance with all applicable University and/or sponsored program stewardship guidelines and regulations. If, per stewardship guidelines and regulations, it is not permissible to use the funding source (e.g., grant funds) that supported the discontinued position for position discontinuation costs, the releasing unit should work with the head of the unit or designee to identify an appropriate budget source to fund the requisite costs.
For staff members whose positions are supported by sponsored funds, pay continuation and other eligible costs associated with the position discontinuation can only be paid from the sponsored funds if the staff member whose position is discontinued does not remain at the University and is not reemployed by the University during the pay continuation period. If the staff member whose position is discontinued receives pay continuation from a sponsored project and is subsequently reemployed by the University in a position outside the releasing unit during the pay continuation period, any unpaid pay continuation that is transferred to the receiving unit, in accordance with Section IV.A., cannot be paid by sponsored funds. In this instance, any unpaid pay continuation must be paid from unrestricted funds.
The amount of position discontinuation expenses charged to any sponsored project must be in direct proportion to the actual pay the staff member received from the project(s). For example, the position discontinuation costs must be allocated to each sponsored project or account that benefited from the staff member’s service. If adequate funds are no longer available in the sponsored projects, the releasing department must cover the position discontinuation expenses using unrestricted funds.
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 expenses.
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. The Division of Human Resources will coordinate the provision of career transition services to staff affected by this policy and the University's relationship with external providers of career transition services (see Section IV.C).
Benefits of Staff Members Whose Positions Are Discontinued
A staff member whose position is being discontinued may receive the following benefits under this policy:
In order to receive the pay continuation payments (described below), you must execute the Release in the form provided by the University. The Release shall include, among other items, a release of all employment-related claims and other claims against the University and all related parties that may, by law, be released. Pay continuation payments will begin on the date of the revocation period for the Release or the separation date, whichever is later. If you violate the terms of the Release, the pay continuation payments will cease.
Pay continuation benefits are provided through (and subject to) the PDST Plan. The University provides pay continuation for the time period specified in the chart below:
Length of Service* Pay Continuation During Introductory Period: None End of Introductory Period Up to Two Years: Four weeks pay Over Two Years: Non-exempt (A-3) and exempt (A-1) staff in grades 21 through 28 and IT grades A through D are eligible for pay continuation for four weeks plus pay continuation for one week 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 29 through 32, IT grades E through H, and ungraded are eligible for pay continuation for four weeks plus two weeks pay continuation 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.
Service time is counted from the last date of hire in a regular staff position until the separation date. Separation date is defined as the date your position is eliminated, as determined by the University in its sole discretion.
*Only time served in a regular full-time or part-staff position is counted towards the calculation of pay continuation.
Consistent with rules of eligibility and laws (and the official plan documents) 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 separation date.
By executing the 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.A., for the following benefits: medical, dental, vision, 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 separation date. 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 in which notice of separation is given.
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. Such coverage may be available for eligible dependents, as well.
Life insurance and dependent life insurance coverage cease at the time of your separation date. This coverage can be converted to an individual policy if done so within 31 days of your separation date. Accidental death and dismemberment coverage will cease at the time of separation date. If you wish to convert your life insurance, you must call the Penn Benefits Center at 1-888-PENNBEN (1-888-736-6236).
Supplemental Long-Term Disability Insurance
Supplemental Long Term Disability Insurance may be continued, at your option, through Standard Insurance Company ("The Standard"). Payroll deductions will continue through the end of the pay continuation period. At the end of the pay continuation period, The Standard will commence direct billing unless you elect not to continue the coverage. If you elect to cancel the coverage, you must contact The Standard directly at 1-877-321-4427.
Career Transition Services
An eligible staff member who has received notice of discontinuation should be offered career transition services consistent with guidelines established by the Division of Human Resources during the period of notice and pay continuation. Career transition services are intended to facilitate the transition of staff members to other suitable positions either at the University or another organization. Career transition services are not available to a staff member who has rejected a transfer job opportunity, as defined in Section I.D.
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 or any of its subsidiaries or components, including any component or affiliate of the University of Pennsylvania Health System or the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, in the same manner as any other external applicant. A former staff member who is rehired in a regular full-time or part-time staff position must complete a new introductory period for the new position.
If a former staff member is rehired by the University in a regular staff position, the rehire date will be the first day of reemployment. Bridging of service periods may occur in accordance with Human Resources Policy No. 410. Any pay continuation to the staff member will cease as of the first day worked in the new regular position at the University or any of its subsidiaries or components, including any component or affiliate of the University of Pennsylvania Health System or the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
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.
This policy provides guidelines for administration of the position discontinuation and staff transition. The policy in some places discusses benefits more fully described in the PDST Plan and other benefit plans maintained by the University. If there is any conflict between this policy, the PDST Plan or these other University benefit plans, the PDST Plan or the other University benefit plans shall control.
Policy Number: 628
Effective Date: 4/2/2008
Supersedes Policy Number(s): 628 (10/17/1997, 06/01/1998, 09/12/2003, 09/15/2004, 12/16/2004
Applicability: Regular staff
Cross-reference: Policy 114, Policy 410, Policy 607, Policy 621, Policy 623, and Policy 624