Effective November 1, 1998, the North Carolina General Statue 116-37 excepted employees of the Medical Faculty Practice Plan at East Carolina University (ECU), formerly designated as employees subject to the personnel act (SPA), from Chapter 126 of the General Statues; except Article 5-Political Activity, Article 6-EEO, Article 7-Privacy Act, and Article 14-"Whistleblower" Protection. NCGS 116-37 authorizes the ECU Board of Trustees to adopt policies and procedures governing the terms and conditions of employment for these employees. The Board is directed to establish procedures that effectively promote the hiring and retention of capable, diligent, and effective career state employees. In broad terms, the Board is authorized to establish a human resources system (to be named "Clinical Support Services" - CSS) that meets the needs of CSS, so that it may remain competitive and responsive in the health care marketplace.
Various policy changes have been, and will continue to be, developed to enhance the recruitment and retention efforts of the Clinical Support Services system. Any CSS policies found within the Human Resources section of this Business Manual will be designated as such, as they apply to employees whose positions have been designated as CSS. All other SPA policies will remain in effect until such time as a new CSS policy is developed to address the specific issue.
Refer to Policy Statements # 14 (Clinical Support Services) within the Human Resources section for current approved CSS policies.
Career State employee means a State employee with a probationary, trainee or permanent appointment who is:
A 'primary level position' means a position which is non-supervisory in nature. A primary level position may be responsible for making work assignments to other positions, but the majority of the duties and responsibilities of the position are non-supervisory.
A 'secondary level position' means a position in which the majority of the work performed is directing the work of other positions. A secondary level position has the authority to assign work and to evaluate work; to hire employees; to discipline or dismiss employees; or has significant input into such actions.
A 'professional position' means a position in which the work requires knowledge of an advanced type in a field of science or learning customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction and study, as distinguished from a general academic education, and requires the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment. The majority of the duties and responsibilities of such a position are non-supervisory.
A 'management level position' means a position which manages an established division or subdivision of a department, agency or institution; which directs the work of one or more secondary level employees; which has the authority to hire, reward, discipline, or discharge employees, and which may provide suggestions for changes in Policy to senior executives with Policy-making authority.
A 'consultant position' means a position in which the work requires knowledge in a specialized field. A consultant position customarily exercises discretion and independent judgment and provides research, guidance, and recommendations on Policy matters to senior executives with Policy-making authority.
Separation From Employment (SPA)
Such separations are voluntary separations from State employment and create no right of grievance or appeal.
Prior to separation, the supervisor or Department Head must meet with or at least notify the employee in writing of the proposed separation, the efforts undertaken to avoid separation and why the efforts were unsuccessful. The employee must have the opportunity in this meeting or in writing to propose alternative methods of accommodation. If the proposed accommodations are not possible, the department must notify the employee in writing of that fact and the proposed date of separation. If the proposed accommodations or alternative accommodations are being reviewed, the supervisor or Department Head must notify the employee that such accommodations are under review and give the employee a projected date for a decision on this.
Involuntary separation pursuant to this Policy may be grieved or appealed. The Department Head must also give the employee a letter of separation stating the specific reasons for the separation and setting forth the employee's right of appeal. The burden of proof on the University in the event of a grievance is not just cause as that term exists in G.S. 126-35. Rather, the University's burden is to prove that the employee was unavailable, that the department considered the employee's proposed accommodations for his/her unavailability and were unable to make the proposed accommodations or other reasonable accommodations.
Reduction in Force Guidelines and Policies (Revised March 2009)
1. Introduction to the Policy
A Reduction in Force (RIF) may occur when there are budget constraints, a shortage of work, changing priorities, or a need to abolish SPA positions. A RIF can also occur when a position changes so significantly that an employee is no longer able to perform the required duties. A RIF decision requires an evaluation of the need for specific SPA positions as they contribute to the department’s mission, goals, and provision of services. Separation of employees through reduction in force should occur only after management has considered other feasible alternatives that might avoid it.
2. Covered Employees
2.1 This policy applies to SPA employees (full-time and part-time) holding permanent appointments, employees and apprentices with trainee appointments who have completed six months of service, and employees who attained permanent status prior to entering a trainee appointment.
2.2 Within organizational units as defined by the Chancellor.
2.2.1 Temporary employees in the same or related classifications or band level in the career-banding system must be terminated before any employee with a probationary or permanent appointment, provided that a probationary or permanent employee can perform the temporary employee’s tasks.
2.2.2 Employees with probationary appointments as well as trainees and apprentices with less than six months’ service must be terminated before any employee in the same or a related classification or band level in the career banding system with a permanent appointment, provided that the employee can perform the tasks of the probationary employee, trainee or apprentice.
2.3 Temporary employees or employees with time-limited permanent appointments
may be laid off without following the reduction in force procedures.
3. Development of a RIF Plan
3.1. If it becomes necessary for any department of East Carolina University
to implement a Reduction in Force (RIF), the head of that department must consult
Employee Relations within the Department of Human Resources regarding the desire
to initiate a RIF. Employee Relations will provide the department with the necessary
information to develop a RIF plan.
3.2 After consultation with Human Resources, the head of the department should request, in writing, permission from the appropriate Vice Chancellor to initiate the RIF plan. Once this written approval is received, Employee Relations will assist the head of the department in the preparation/design of a RIF plan.
3.3 The RIF Plan must provide the rationale behind the selection of particular employees to be separated and the ones to be retained. Consideration for reduction in force of permanent employees includes, but is not limited to, the following factors:
i) Type of appointment
ii. Positions considered to be most vital to the department in the delivery of services
ii) Relative efficiency (skills, knowledge and productivity of employees)
iii) Consideration of equal employment factors to avoid adverse impact
iv) Length of service of employees (but not seniority-driven)
The RIF Plan must incorporate, at a minimum, the following:
3.3.1 Narrative description of the issue(s) resulting in the need to abolish positions, including discussion of at least the following:
i) Legal and organizational requirements for the services affected;
ii) Impact of the current situation on overall program objectives;
iii) Consideration of redistributing available resources;
iv) Organization structure;
v) Alternatives and external funding that have been considered;
vi) Economy and efficiencies in service.
3.3.2. The classifications of positions selected by management to be involved in the RIF and a listing of all persons in affected classifications, along with the following identifying data:
i) Performance history, including evaluations and any disciplinary actions;
ii) Length of service in current classification and total state service; Note: In determining the length of service, an eligible veteran shall be accorded one year of state service for each year or fraction thereof of military service, up to a maximum of five (5) years credit.
vi) National origin.
3.3.3 Description of all other alternatives explored by management.
3.3.4 Copy of written correspondence requesting the RIF.
3.3.5 Copy of written approval authorizing the RIF.
3.4 The plan will be signed and dated to indicate approval by the appropriate
Department Director, Divisional Vice Chancellor, Equity Officer, University
Attorney and forwarded to the Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources
for review and approval. The plan will then be forwarded to the Chancellor for
final review and approval:
3.5 When all the approvals have been obtained, the next step is to notify the affected employee(s).
4. Notification of Employees
Before a reduction in force occurs, the director or department head will consult with Employee Relations to create the notification letter. The notification letter provides the following information to the employee(s) being laid off:
i) The reason for the reduction in force;
ii) The effective date of the reduction in force (at least 30 days following notification date); and
iii) Information related to eligibility for Priority Reemployment Consideration, applicable appeal rights and other benefits as indicated below.
5. Priority Reemployment Consideration and Other Benefit
5.1 Priority Reemployment Consideration
Employees who have received official written notification of imminent separation due to shortage of funds or work, abolishment of a position, or other material changes in duties or organization by the process commonly known as reduction-in-force are eligible for priority reemployment consideration as detailed in the Office of State Personnel Policy regarding Priority Reemployment Consideration.
For employees desiring priority consideration, ECU will submit an application to the Office of State Personnel requesting priority consideration. If the employee does not want assistance in finding another State job, ECU shall get a written statement to this effect and share a copy with the Office of State Personnel.
Employees must claim priority reemployment consideration by the date of separation by notifying Human Resources or priority is forfeited. Employees must also complete applications for state government and university employment.
Refer to OSP policy at: http://www.osp.state.nc.us/manuals/manual99/rifprior.pdf.
5.2 Severance Salary Continuation
5.2.1 Severance Salary Continuation: Eligible employees shall be paid severance salary continuation as detailed in the Office of State Personnel Policy regarding Severance Salary Continuation.
5.2.2 Age Adjustment Factor: Employees receive an age adjustment for each full year over 39 years of age as detailed in the Office of State Personnel Policy regarding Severance Salary Continuation. An employee who is reemployed in any permanent position with the State while receiving severance salary continuation, will no longer be eligible for such pay effective on the day of reemployment. Refer to OSP policy at: http://www.osp.state.nc.us/manuals/manual99/seversal.pdf.
5.3 Leave Balances
5.3 Leave Balances
5.3.1 Vacation Leave: Employees may elect, subject to approval by management, to exhaust vacation leave prior to their separation date and be paid in a lump sum for accumulated vacation leave balance not to exceed 240 hours. If an employee has over 240 hours at the time of a RIF, the excess leave will be reinstated if the individual is reemployed by a state agency within one year.
5.3.2 Sick Leave: Sick leave balances are not be paid out. Instead, employees separated due to reduction-in-force shall be informed that their sick leave balance shall be reinstated if employed in any state agency within five years.
5.3.3 Legislative Bonus Leave: Employees shall be paid accrued legislative bonus leave in a lump sum up to the maximum allowed and/or applicable balances of special leave awards.
5.3.4 Compensatory Time: Compensatory time balances are paid out for non-exempt employees. If an employee is exempt from overtime, compensatory time is forfeited.
5.3.5 Community Service Leave: The balance of community service leave can be transferred to other State agencies.
5.4.1 Health Insurance: The State will continue to pay health insurance premiums for up to twelve months for employees with twelve or more months of service who are separated due to Reduction-in-Force. These employees may continue to pay for spouse and/or dependent children coverage. At the end of the twelve month period, the employees may begin paying for their own coverage as well as the coverage for spouse and/or dependent children indefinitely via direct billing with the NC State Health Plan.
5.4.2 Other Insurances: Employees affected by a RIF may be eligible for continuation of other insurances. University Benefits Specialists can provide specific information regarding continuation options.
5.5 Retirement Options
RIF employees have the option of: a) leaving contributions in the retirement system and maintaining all of the earned creditable service as of the date of separation, b) receiving a refund of contributions to the retirement system, or c) having their contributions transferred to an IRA or other qualified retirement plan. Please note, early withdrawal and/or rollover may result in tax penalties or loss of future health benefits. RIF employees may also be eligible for retirement benefits, including Discontinued Service Retirement. University Benefits Specialists can provide retirement information/options specific to the affected employee.
5.6 Unemployment Insurance
Employees affected by the RIF are eligible to apply for Unemployment Insurance through the NC Employment Security Commission.
More information on Unemployment Insurance, including the ability to receive an estimate of eligible benefits, can be found on the NC Employment Security Commission website at: http://www.ncesc.com/individual/default.asp.
Longevity pay is paid to employees with at least 10 years of state service. Payment is made annually based on an employee’s salary and total state service. Eligible employees who are reduced in force receive a pro-rated payment in accordance with State longevity pay policies.
6. Appeal Rights
Appeals of separation due to reduction in force may be made as defined in, and in accordance with, the East Carolina University SPA Employee Mediation and Grievance Policy which can be located in the ECU Business Manual at: http://www.ecu.edu/cs-admin/hr/upload/Mediation-and-Appeal-Policy-Nov-1-2008.pdf or the Human Resources Policy page at http://www.ecu.edu/cs-admin/hr/Human_Resources_Policies.cfm.
7. Policy Access
The RIF Policy can be obtained from the Department of Human Resources, or through the ECU Business Manual. The RIF Guidelines and Policy will be filed with the Office of State Personnel as a public record.