Topics Map > 19. Layoffs and Nonrenewals > 19.01 Layoff of University Staff

Layoff of University Staff

This policy addresses the layoff of University Staff employees due to lack of funding, organizational change, or shortage of work.

Functional Owner

Assistant Vice Chancellor for Human Resources

Executive Sponsor

Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration

Policy Contact

Employment Relations Program Coordinator

Policy Summary

This policy addresses the layoff of University Staff employees due to lack of funding, organizational change, or shortage of work.

Who This Policy Applies To

This policy applies to all University Staff employees except those in Temporary Employee (TE) and Fixed-term Terminal (FTT) appointments.


The layoff policy for University Staff is necessary in order to make appropriate operational changes when financial or operational environments change.

Policy Detail

  1. Overview

    1. UW–Madison strives to provide stable employment to our staff members. However, in situations where there is a lack of funding, an organizational change, or a shortage of work, the University may need to reduce our workforce. The decision to lay off University Staff employees is difficult and layoffs may only occur when other options will not meet the University’s needs.
    2. The Office of Human Resources (OHR) will be consulted as early as possible to assist divisions in reviewing potential alternatives to layoff. OHR will also ensure that all layoff actions are conducted in an equitable and consistent manner. Additionally, when OHR has early notice, it can take steps to avoid or minimize disruption to the organization and employees.
    3. Divisions may not use the layoff process to address inadequate performance, poor attendance or misconduct. Such issues must be addressed through a performance review or the disciplinary process. Layoffs may not be made in a discriminatory manner in violation of the Wisconsin or Federal Family Medical Leave Act (WFMLA or FMLA) or as defined under Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), or the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).
  2. Reasons for Layoff

    University Staff employees may be laid off in accordance with this policy for the following reasons:

    1. Lack of funds. If the University administration determines that a reduction in the work force is necessary due to a lack of funds, the employing unit Dean or Director shall determine the title in which layoffs will occur and the number of employees to be laid off within each title.
    2. Organizational change and shortage of work. University administration may determine that a reduction in the work force is necessary as a result of a reorganization to more effectively operate the University for financial reasons, or for lack of work that is expected to be permanent. The employing unit Dean or Director shall determine the title in which layoffs will occur and the number of employees to be laid off within each title.
  3. Operational Area

    Layoffs are identified by title within an operational area. The college, school or division should identify each employee’s operational area in the employee’s appointment letter. OHR maintains the list of operational areas. Units that request to modify an existing operational area must submit a justification to OHR that outlines the basis for the modification. Upon OHR approval, each University Staff employee affected by the operational area modification shall receive an updated appointment letter. All employees in the University Staff category employed prior to July 1, 2015 will be notified of their operational area on or before July 1, 2015.

  4. Making a Layoff Decision

    1. Determining whether position(s) must be designated for layoff begins with an objective assessment of the need for the existing functions within the organization.
    2. Determining which employees should be identified for layoff by title within the operational area will be based primarily on adjusted years of continuous University of Wisconsin–Madison permanent service. Divisions may also consider objective, job-related standards, which may include differences in knowledge, skills, and abilities. Layoff exemption requests for diversity reasons may also constitute justification for an exemption from the layoff order. Divisions must submit requests to use these exemptions (rather than continuous service) to OHR detailing the justification. Layoff decisions will be based on years of continuous service unless OHR grants an exemption. If the employee was in permanent status at UW–Madison on or before July 1, 2015, adjusted continuous state service will be used to determine layoff. In each case, the employee with the least continuous service will be laid off, unless an exemption is approved for use. When two or more persons have equal years of continuous service, the layoff shall be determined by years of continuous service within the operational area.
    3. Temporary and Fixed-term Terminal positions in similar titles identified for layoff within the operational area will be ended prior to layoff or involuntary reduction of full-time equivalent (FTE) of permanent University Staff employees. If an FTE is laid off, they will not be replaced by a TE. Consideration may be given to objective, job-related standards, which may include differences in knowledge, skills, and abilities. Employees on approved leaves of absences may be included in the layoff group and may be laid off while on leave.
    4. Full-time and part-time positions may constitute different groups for purposes of layoff. An involuntary reduction of the appointment in excess of .25 FTE is considered a layoff for purposes of this policy.
    5. When a proposal for layoff has been identified, the employing unit will prepare a comprehensive, written layoff plan and submit it to OHR for review and approval before the layoff plan may be implemented.
  5. Reassignment as an Alternative to Layoff

    1. There will not be a layoff if there is a vacancy within the college, school or division in a similar title to the layoff group for which the staff member qualifies. The employee will be placed in the vacancy unless the employee does not have the minimal qualifications to perform the work.
    2. When a staff member is offered a reassignment opportunity, he/she will not be required to accept a position if it is at a lower job level or salary, is more than .25 FTE greater or less than the position from which the employee was laid off, or is located more than 40 miles from the employee’s home address or previous work location. In such instances, the staff member may decline the offer and be placed in layoff status. However, absent such circumstances, the Dean or Director (or designee) has the discretion to make the reassignment in lieu of layoff.
  6. Layoff Plan

    1. The layoff plan must include the following information:
      1. The division affected
      2. The operational area affected within that division
      3. The titles, number of positions being eliminated, name(s) of employee(s) in titles along with UW–Madison service date, state continuous service date, gender, racial/ethnic code, disability status, and position percentage
      4. Exemption(s) to the layoff (if any) and justification for the exemption
      5. Name(s) of employee(s) to be laid off and the date of layoff
      6. Order of release of employee(s)
      7. Date that written notice of layoff will be provided to the affected employee(s)
      8. The name of the employing unit and OHR contact managing the layoff process
    2. Divisions must complete a layoff plan identifying these elements prior to proceeding with any layoff action.
  7. Advance Notice of Layoff

    1. Divisions must provide permanent University Staff employees designated for layoff with written notice as soon as is practicable, but no less than 60 days prior to the layoff date.
    2. Although in certain instances a layoff may not be absolutely certain, 60 days or more notice should be provided to the employee in cases where it is reasonably certain that a layoff may occur in order to provide the employee with the best opportunity to seek alternative employment.
    3. To ensure that such advance notice can be provided to all affected parties, divisions should provide OHR with enough time to review the materials, discuss the proposed layoff with the employing unit and help draft the layoff letter. A division may not issue a layoff letter until it receives OHR’s approval.
    4. Exempt University Staff employees, once notified in writing that a layoff in the employee’s title may occur, may not then elect to move to an Academic Staff title under the HR Design Strategic Plan Employee Choice Program. If the layoff is rescinded, the employee will regain the ability to elect to move to an Academic Staff title under Employee Choice.
  8. Withdrawal of Layoff Status or Extension of Layoff Date

    1. Layoff status will be withdrawn in writing prior to layoff if the reason identified in the layoff plan changes and a layoff is no longer required. (e.g. funding changes, vacancy in similar title within operational area, vacancy is identified, etc.)
    2. A division may extend a layoff date in writing, after it issues a layoff letter. In the event of an extension, the employing unit should issue an updated letter to the affected employee, with the new layoff date.
  9. Leave of Absence

    A leave of absence will not be granted in lieu of a layoff.

  10. Voluntary Layoff

    With the approval of the employer, a more senior employee who would otherwise not be subject to layoff may volunteer to be laid off in place of another employee with less continuous service. The employer will not challenge the more senior employee’s eligibility for unemployment compensation unless that employee later refuses an offer of re-employment. An employee who is separated through voluntary layoff will be granted all rights and privileges and other such benefits, as may be granted to other laid off employees.

  11. Placement Assistance

    1. An employee in layoff status will be given consideration for placement into positions in similar titles for which he or she qualifies until such time as employee has either secured alternative employment or been terminated due to layoff.
    2. Placement assistance will be given in a manner consistent with the following: Prior to layoff date, an employee who is to be laid off shall have the right to:
      1. Be interviewed for all positions in similar titles within the University for which he/she appears qualified and applies.
      2. Search, apply for and be interviewed for job opportunities at UW–Madison or within the State of Wisconsin without loss of pay, subject to supervisor notification and workplace operational needs.
      3. Attend job search support groups, résumé writing workshops and other similar meetings and events, both on campus and off, to assist the employee in their job search without loss of pay, subject to supervisor notification and workplace operational needs.
  12. Reemployment after Layoff

    1. An employee who has been terminated due to layoff shall have the right to mandatory placement into the same title within the same division from which the employee was laid off, for one year from the layoff date. The employee will be placed in the vacancy unless the employee does not have the minimal qualifications to perform the work. Upon reemployment under this provision, the employee shall be paid at a rate not less than what he/she earned prior to layoff.
    2. Under these provisions, if qualified, the laid off employee will be provided with an offer of the position before a Fixed-term Terminal or permanent University Staff member is hired into the position. The order of offer of reemployment will occur in reverse order of layoff based on UW–Madison continuous service date.
    3. An employee’s right to mandatory placement will be withdrawn if the employee:
      1. Fails to respond within seven calendar days of a notice regarding either a mandatory placement offer or an opportunity to interview for an available position without good cause;
      2. Refuses to accept a position within the University without good cause;
      3. Fails to report to work without good cause (e.g. no call, no show);
      4. Engages in unprofessional conduct, such as disrespectful or discourteous communication with University Staff in violation of university policies; or
      5. Has been placed into an equivalent position, or accepts a position in the same or higher title series within the university which is the same FTE or within .25 FTE of the position from which the employee was laid off, and is within 40 miles of the employee’s home address or previous work location.
    4. An employee who has been laid off shall have the right to be interviewed for any positions at the University in the employee’s title (and for which he/she applies) for one year after the layoff date.
    5. The following employee groups shall receive priority referral rights to Academic Staff positions in accordance with Academic Staff Policies and Procedures (ASPP):
      1. UW–Madison employees who are currently in exempt positions as University Staff and are laid off after July 1, 2015.
      2. UW–Madison employees who have been laid off from classified exempt positions (prior to July 1, 2015) whose position titles are now in the Academic Staff.
    6. All other UW–Madison classified employees in layoff status as of July 1, 2015 shall retain the same rights to restoration and associated benefits provided at time of layoff under Wis. Stat. 230.
  13. Benefits at Layoff

    UW–Madison University Staff employees who are laid off from their positions shall receive layoff benefits in accordance with the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) as administered by the Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) under the provisions of Wis. Stat Ch. 40.

  14. Appeal

    An employee, or former employee who has been notified that he/she may be laid off, or has been laid off, may appeal a layoff in accordance with the University Staff Grievance Policy.

Consequences for Non-Compliance

Failure to comply with this policy will result in the request for layoff being denied, a grievance being filed which may result in the employee’s reinstatement to the position, or consequences for legal non-compliance.

Supporting Tools

University Staff Layoff Plan Form

University Staff Layoff Letter Template

University Staff Partial Layoff Letter Template

University Staff Layoff MyUW and UW Facilities Access Form

University Staff Reemployment After Layoff Sheet

Employee Benefits (including ability to receive employee bus pass at employee rate while in layoff status) (in development)


Continuous Service: all the time in a position with a State of Wisconsin agency as defined in Wis. Admin. Code § ER 18.01(3) or with the UW System in a position with an expectation for continued service, adjusted for any breaks in service. Continuous service at the University of Wisconsin System does not include time served in positions that are ineligible for leave per the UW–Madison Campus-wide Operational Policy: Sick Leave.

UW–Madison Continuous Service: all time employed by UW–Madison in either the unclassified, classified or university staff service in a permanent capacity, adjusted for breaks in service, shall be counted in determining an employee’s length of continuous service. This excludes time served as a temporary or project employee.

Division: a UW–Madison college, school, or equivalent organizational unit.

Employee Choice: Classified and University Staff employees who are in FLSA exempt (salaried) positions may elect to convert their positions to Academic Staff. This is identified in the HR Design Strategic Plan (December 7, 2012).

Layoff: the termination of service of a permanent employee based on a lack of funding, an organizational change, or a shortage of work.

Layoff Group: a group of employees in a single title from which the layoff will be made. The layoff group will generally include all employees in a particular operational area that are in similar, although not necessarily identical, titles, pay ranges and/or functions.

Layoff Status: The period starting with the effective date of the layoff and ending with the revocation of the employee’s mandatory placement rights or upon reemployment at UW–Madison.

Operational Area: an area of focus or function in a college, school or division, department or office. An operational area will generally be a subset of a college, school or division, department or office, and need not include the whole unit.

Part-time: a position less than 1.0 FTE which is regularly scheduled to work less than 40 hours over a one week period, or less than 80 hours over a two week period.

Similar Title: a title in the same title series.


Office of Human Resources (OHR)
  • Serves as the campus expert on layoff policy and consults with the colleges/schools/divisions as needed
  • Provides template layoff policy documents and other pertinent information
Deans and Directors
  • Understands the layoff policy
  • Makes layoff decisions in compliance with layoff policy
College/School/Division HR
  • Monitors compliance with this policy and supports employee and supervisor needs
  • Completes layoff documents and conducts layoff meetings
  • Consults with OHR as needed
  • Understands the layoff policy
  • Supports employee in job search activities, as appropriate
  • Understands the layoff policy

Link to Current Policy

Keywords:Layoff of University Staff   Doc ID:53353
Owner:Jonathan D.Group:HR Policies
Created:2015-06-26 11:11 CDTUpdated:2020-10-28 16:06 CDT
Sites:HR Policies
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