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LeadingEdition: E-Newsletter for Purdue University Supervisors

Dealing with Reductions in Workforce

In these times of budget reductions, it is important to remember that the University has a �Reduction in Workforce� (RIF) policy (IV.14.2) that guides unit heads in the decision-making process when it is necessary to eliminate positions.

The policy defines the unit head as �an individual holding a position at or above the level of dean, vice president or director of Intercollegiate Athletics.� The final decision on which employees to RIF rests with the unit head, but supervisors may be asked to participate in the decision-making process, either to provide data or to play a part in telling an employee that his or her job has been eliminated. It is valuable for supervisors to be familiar with the RIF policy and the processes involved.

The decision to RIF a position is not taken lightly. Determining whether positions must be designated for RIF begins with an objective assessment of the need for the existing functions of the organization. The authority to identify positions for restructuring or elimination rests with the unit head. The unit head will determine which staff members best meet the requirements of the remaining positions or other University priorities. Those staff members will be retained.

Consideration must be based on objective, job-related standards, which may include differences in knowledge, skills, abilities and documented work performance. If differences cannot be demonstrated, then RIF decisions will be based on length of continuous service with the University. Supervisors may be asked for copies of employee performance evaluations or other job-related data that demonstrates the employee's level of knowledge, skill and abilities.

Every alternative should be explored prior to making a decision to RIF a position. A unit head has the authority to reduce staff hours, reassign staff to other positions for which they are qualified, or both. Temporary non-students and provisional staff members within the unit must be terminated before regular employees, provided the remaining employees have the knowledge, skills and ability to perform the work.

The RIF policy is not a way to remove individuals who have inadequate performance, poor attendance or have demonstrated inappropriate behavior. Such issues must be addressed through a performance review or disciplinary process.

Human Resources Employee Relations is available to help organizational units through the RIF process and to work with individuals whose positions have been eliminated. The policy requires a minimum of 30 calendar days' notice to the individuals whose positions are being eliminated. It is preferable to provide the employees more than 30 calendar days, when possible, to allow them a longer period of time to seek alternate employment.

Individuals whose positions have been eliminated will be given priority consideration for positions in which they express interest and meet the minimum qualifications. Names of these individuals will be forwarded to the hiring supervisor, who will conduct an interview with the RIF candidate. If the hiring supervisor does not hire the RIF candidate, he or she must supply Human Resources Employment with justification.

The above is a short summary of the provisions of the Reduction in Workforce policy. If you would like further information about this policy, please contact Employee Relations or your Human Resources team.

- Sharon Williams, senior employee relations specialist
Employee Relations

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LeadingEdition is an electronic newsletter for Purdue University supervisors.  It is produced and distributed by Purdue University Human Resources four times annually.  If you have questions, comments or suggestions relating to the newsletter, please call 49-41679 or email us.  Thank you.