Contingency Planning Procedure - 63.14.01
College Policy Number/Title:
In fulfilling its educational mission, Howard Community College attempts to make optimal use of its human resources. Optimum utilization may call for a reduction in or a reallocation of staff at various times and for various reasons, e.g., shifting enrollment patterns, changing program directions, or restricted funding. This procedure provides a fair and equitable means of planning for situations brought on by program change or redirection and financial pressures that would necessitate adjustment of operational procedures.
When operational changes are necessary, it is the responsibility of the president to recommend action.
Any recommendations concerning the adjustment of operational procedures such as a reduction or discontinuance of an academic program or department, or reallocation of resources as a result of changing educational priorities, lack of funds or the requirements of legislative or other mandate, will be made by the president to the board of trustees for approval. These recommendations will be made on the basis of the college’s educational mission, the need for maintaining program integrity, the need for financial viability, and the responsiveness of the college to the needs of the college community. Where feasible, recommendations will be made only after input from the college’s appropriate channels of governance and planning.
On a regular basis, the president will review with the president's team data elements relevant to the financial status and program direction of the college. These normal operational reviews are designed to develop recommendations to prevent or minimize the occurrence of a critical financial condition. Each administrative unit shall conduct normal operational reviews. These reviews shall lead to recommendations to the respective vice presidents concerning expansion, retrenchment, modification, deletion, or phase-out of programs or services. Each vice president shall review unit recommendations and develop a contingency plan that will address conditions necessitating operational adjustment procedures. Plans that involve personnel actions shall be submitted for preliminary review to the office of human resources prior to being submitted to the president. After the president evaluates the plan in conjunction with information provided by various other segments of the college, the president will determine the financial condition and the program direction of the college and report the findings to the board of trustees and the rest of the college community.
Adjustment Implementation Procedure
When operational adjustments are necessary, all appropriate alternatives to involuntary reduction in the workforce shall be considered before action is taken.
When alternatives have been considered and deemed insufficient or inappropriate to address the operational problem, it may become necessary for the president to recommend that the workforce undergo an involuntary reduction. In such a case, when feasible, the first priority will be the termination of the following employees, not necessarily in this order:
- Non-budgeted employees, including but not limited to hourly/temporary employees, adjunct faculty, and temporary with benefits employees.
- Budgeted part-time employees.
- Budgeted full-time employees who are serving in their initial probationary period after being hired by the college.
The employees referenced above serve in an "at-will" capacity, and the reduction of these employees will be considered a termination rather than a layoff and these employees are not given access to the layoff rights and benefits noted later in this procedure.
Despite all of the above, there may still be a situation where the president must recommend that the full-time budgeted employees, either on contract or serving in a probationary status as a result of changing positions, be involuntarily separated from employment with the college. When this occurs, these employees are considered to be laid off rather than terminated. In such circumstances, the procedure by which full-time employees are reduced in number will be considered in a fair and equitable manner. Factors considered will be the degree of necessity of the employee's function within the college, the employee's length of service with the college, and the employee's performance appraisal ratings, among other things.
Employee Rights and Benefits
The following notification rights and benefits apply only to the involuntary separation of a full-time, budgeted employee who is either serving on contract or in a probationary status as a result of changing positions.
When an employee is to be laid off, the employee will be given notice of at least 30 calendar days in advance of the layoff date. The employee will be notified of this involuntary separation of employment by the employee's supervisor in a personal interview, if feasible. The employee will also receive written notification of the layoff, either during the notification meeting or afterwards via registered/certified letter from the human resources office to the employee's address of record.
An employee who has been laid off (and the employee's covered dependents) may elect to continue health benefits under the separation of employment through the federal COBRA program. Details of COBRA coverage may be found in procedure 63.07.04 - Extension of Group Health Benefits.
If funds are available, the college will provide outplacement services for any individual who has been laid off.
An employee who has been laid off from the college shall be given preference in hiring for a maximum of two years. It is the obligation of the former employee to keep current contact information on file with the human resources office so that the laid off employee may be contacted about openings; such contact may take place through email or registered/certified letter, whichever is the most expedient method.
If the identical position formerly held by the laid off employee becomes available again during the two-year period, the former employee will be given first priority to fill the position again. The former employee will be notified of this option via email or letter, and will be given seven calendar days to accept the position. If the former employee accepts the reappointment to the position, the employee will be given the same salary earned at the time of separation. However, the employee's salary would be subject to the same reduction in pay as other employees who were not laid off. If the former employee declines or does not respond within the seven-day period, then the position may be treated as any other vacancy, with the caveat that other laid off employees may have priority for the position.
A laid off employee will also have priority hiring rights for a maximum of two years for any other full-time, budgeted position (1) that is at or below the grade level of the former position held; (2) for which the individual meets the minimum qualifications; (3) that is approved for recruitment by the president's team; (4) for which the unit plans to conduct an external search. A laid off employee does not have priority hiring rights for any temporary positions, any part-time positions, any positions at a higher grade level than the former position held, or any position for which an internal-only recruitment was conducted.
When a situation arises where priority hiring is justified, each eligible former employee will be contacted and given seven calendar days to express interest in the position. If interest is expressed, the former employee will be appointed to the position. If multiple laid off individuals express interest in the same position, the one with the longest tenure at HCC will be given priority.
If a laid off individual accepts a full-time, budgeted position with the college during the two-year priority period, all priority hiring rights for that individual will end immediately, regardless of the grade level of the position accepted. The individual's priority hiring rights do not end if the individual declines or fails to express interest in a position offered to the laid off employee by the college, if the individual accepts a temporary or part-time position with the college, or if the individual accepts employment outside the college.
A laid off employee who accepts a full-time, budgeted position at the same grade level as the former position held within the two-year priority hiring period will be appointed at the same salary earned at the time of separation. However, the employee's salary would be subject to the same reduction in pay as other employees who were not laid off. If the laid off employee accepts a position at a lower grade level than the former grade level held, then the former salary will be reduced by 5 percent for each grade level below the former grade level. The employee's new salary may not, however, exceed the midpoint of the new grade level.
Effective Date: 09/14/12
President's Office Use: VPAF/PRES