Reduction in Force: Overview

Policies and Procedures Manual Section 11


Western Michigan University seeks to provide stable employment. However, situations may arise which require a reduction in the workforce. The University reserves the right and responsibility to make reductions in the workforce.


This policy applies only to staff compensation system employees in regular, continuing positions.

The provisions of this policy are used whenever there is a temporary, ongoing, or indefinite reduction in the number of employees within a division, department or work unit or the elimination of a regular University position or job title. This policy also applies whenever there is a reduction in full time equivalency to the extent that the employee is no longer eligible for University-paid benefits.

Nothing in this policy shall be construed to determine eligibility for unemployment compensation benefits. Eligibility is determined solely by the Michigan Unemployment Agency, based on statutes and agency regulations.

Application of this policy will be made in accordance with all applicable laws and statutes and all applicable University policies. For employees on approved leaves from the University pursuant to the requirements of law, such as family and medical leave or military leave, this policy shall be applied in such a manner to preserve, but not extend, those rights granted by law.


Whenever the University deems it appropriate to reduce staff, divisional leadership will prepare a written plan that defines the extent of the reduction, including specific positions and incumbents. Those plans will be provided to WMU Human Resources to develop a communications plan for effected employees and to Institutional Equity for consideration of fair and appropriate application of personnel policies.

Following review, the president or vice president must approve all reduction in force organizational plans prior to any implementation.

  1. Step one: temporary and probationary employees. Temporary employees and employees with less than six months of University seniority who are performing job duties within the work units defined in the reduction in force should be terminated prior to any regular, continuing employee receiving layoff notice.
  2. Step two: reassignment. During a reduction in force, essential open positions may be filled within the reduction in force unit without being subject to the posting requirements, by temporary reassignment or by permanent reassignment.

    Employees temporarily reassigned or permanently reassigned under this policy must possess the necessary skills, knowledge, and abilities to perform the available work, and will not be subject a probation period. Employees refusing temporary or permanent reassignment during reduction periods will be deemed to have resigned their employment with the University.
    1. Temporary reassignment. An employee may be temporarily reassigned to an essential open position for up to 18 months by the appropriate reduction in force unit president or vice president. This temporary reassignment is limited to positions in the affected employee's current grade or one grade lower. The position the employee vacates may not be filled during the reduction period. At the end of the temporary reassignment, the employee returns to the vacated position
    2. Permanent reassignment. A reduction in force unit president or vice president may authorize an employee to be permanently reassigned to an essential open position within the reduction in force unit on a continuing basis if the permanent reassignment is the result of the vacated position's permanent elimination. This permanent reassignment is limited to positions in the affected employee's current grade or one grade lower.
    3. Pay changes. Employees reassigned (temporarily or permanently) to a position within their current grade or one grade lower are not eligible for a pay change at the time of reassignment.

If further reductions are necessary, the following procedures must be used to identify those employees who will receive layoff notice.

  1. Step three: identifying employees for layoff notice. Before layoff notice is given to any regular, continuing employee, the reduction in force unit president or vice president responsible for the reduction decision will:
    1. Determine, by department or reduction in force unit, which positions are deemed subject to the reduction in force work plan. If there are multiple positions within the unit the with the same job title/pay grade, then the employees with the greatest skills, knowledge and ability to perform the available work will be retained. If all incumbents are equal in skills, knowledge and ability then the employee with the least University seniority in the affected job title/pay grade will receive layoff notice. Include the name of the incumbent on the reduction in force organizational plan.
    2. For each position selected, document the criteria for selecting the employee who will receive layoff notice.
    3. Contact Human Resources to generate the appropriate layoff notice for affected employees.
  2. Step four: required layoff notice compensation period

    All regular, continuing employees identified for layoff must be given written notice. The length of University seniority on date of layoff notice will determine the amount of layoff notice compensation and the corresponding required notice prior to layoff follows - employees subject to the reduction will not need to work following the effective date:
    • Less than six months, no notice required
    • Six months or more, 90 days of notice compensation

Effective date of layoff

An employee will be considered laid off and separated from employment with the University effective the day of the layoff notice.


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