- Issue Date: May 23, 1994
- Revision Date: June 5, 2014
- Primary Contact: Director of Human Resources
- Responsible Member of Directorate: President and Director
- Responsible Office: Human Resources
Policy StatementThere will be occasions when it will become necessary to eliminate positions due to reduced funding, changes in the nature and scope of the work and/or for other operational reasons that are a result of circumstances beyond the employee's control. If other employment possibilities at the Institution cannot be identified, such an action can result in terminating the employee from the Institution. This policy covers the factors that affect employees who will be terminated in these circumstances and details the guidelines for the notification process to be followed, including the level of advance notice.
Reason for PolicyNotice provision guidelines are intended to assist the supervisor in preparing for job terminations and in communicating these preparations to the affected employees.
Reason for Policy
There will be occasions when it will become necessary to eliminate positions due to reduced funding, changes in the nature and scope of the work and/or for other operational reasons that are a result of circumstances beyond the employee's control. If other employment possibilities at the Institution cannot be identified, such an action can result in terminating the employee from the Institution. This policy covers the factors that affect employees who will be terminated in these circumstances and details the guidelines for the notification process to be followed, including the level of advance notice.
This policy does not address, nor should it replace, the termination guidelines that should generally be followed in cases where employees are being terminated due to performance reasons, or who voluntarily resign. (See Progressive Disciplinary Action for those guidelines.) This notice policy will also not replace the current Institution Policy entitled "Use of Institution Resources for Research Staff Support: A statement of Policy and Practice", dated March 22, 1993 nor is it intended to substitute for salary bridge support, which connotes an on-going employment relationship.
Notice provision guidelines are intended to assist the supervisor in preparing for job terminations and in communicating these preparations to the affected employees. As with other Institution policies, these are not contracts, but instead are guidelines to assist supervisors and managers. When full advance notice is not provided, the salary portion of the remainder of the notice period may be offered as a lump sum as part of a separation agreement. Pay in lieu of notice is supported with limited Institution overhead funds. Therefore, managers and supervisors are urged to review their staffing and work needs on a regular basis so affected employees can be given adequate notice instead of relying on an offer of pay in lieu of notice.
In all cases, Human Resources is available to work with employees, supervisors and managers to ensure that all Institution resources, services and support programs are being used with due consideration for Institution and employee needs.
Positions identified for elimination are dictated by the Institution's judgment about the work to be concluded and/or reassigned and the range of skills and competencies of the employees engaged in performing those jobs.
Principal Investigators, Administrative Managers and other individuals with supervisory responsibilities should weigh these skill factors in addition to length of service and departmental needs in identifying the positions to be eliminated. While no one consideration outweighs the other, each should be judged and balanced in such a way as to attempt to be sensitive to the employee affected while also serving the department/lab/Institution's needs.
Human Resources must be involved in the consideration leading up to these decisions. In many cases, efforts will be made to locate other employment. Advance involvement of and assistance from Human Resources are critical during this process.
In direct consultation with the Director of Human Resources, supervisors/managers must communicate termination decisions in writing to the affected employees. The notification letter will state the amount of notice being provided. It will be made clear that the employee is expected to carry out his/her regular duties during this period and that reasonable time will be available to seek positions at the Institution or elsewhere.
If the employee begins regular employment outside the Institution during the notice period, the notice provisions will cease.
The notice provisions apply to Institution employees in regular full-time, three-quarter, or half-time regularstatus. Because their work schedules routinely fluctuate due to the vagaries or each ship's schedule, marine crew members are not covered by this policy.
Guidelines for Notice Periods
The guidelines noted below are recommended when advance notice is determined to be appropriate:
- 12 weeks of notice for eight or more years of Institution service;
- four weeks of notice for less than eight years and more than one year of service;
- two weeks of notice for more than six months of service but less than one year;
- notice periods are not provided for employees with less than six months of service.
Increases, reductions or other alternatives to these notice guidelines must be discussed with the Director of Human Resources and approved by the appropriate Vice President in advance of employee notification; more extensive notice periods are encouraged if they are determined to be compatible with the Institution needs and contraints.
When full advance notice is not provided, the general policy is to offer pay in lieu of salary that would otherwise have been paid during the balance of the notice period in exchange for a separation agreement, including a release of legal claims. Pay in lieu of notice is typically made as a lump sum.
Pay in lieu of notice is authorized by the Director of Human Resources and approved by the appropriate Vice President and paid from an HR overhead account. An offer of pay in lieu of notice arrangements will be communicated in writing by the supervisor and Director of Human Resources to the affected employee.
Job assistance resources and services may be available within the Institution through Human Resources in conjunction with others. Supervisors and managers are urged to explore these avenues as part of their notice provisions for terminating employees.
There are occasions when the Institution may consider providing support for the services of an Outplacement agency to aid the terminating employee in locating new employment. The decision on whether to provide Outplacement services will be reviewed on a case by case situation.
Employees facing potential job loss should consult with Human Resources as soon as possible to make arrangements for continuation of benefits, if appropriate, and to initiate other steps in the check-out process, including:
- health/dental conversion privileges;
- unemployment filing information, procedures and support services;
- re-payment of outstanding WHOI loans (e.g., personal computer, educational loan for dependents);
- return of any Institution property, equipment and other materials.
Without limiting any of the Institution's other rights, in the event that any Institution property has not been returned or arrangements for loan repayment have not been made, the value of the property or the loan balance shall be applied to reduce any final pay or pay in lieu of notice under this policy.
The employee’s final paycheck is due on the last day of employment. It will include all pay through the date of termination, including all accrued unused vacation time.
Termination Procedures and Alternative Employment EffortsInstitution termination procedures may coincide and overlap with other activities that may be on-going in efforts to obtain other Institution employment for the employee.