Human Resources

Notice Provision Policy

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Policy Information
  • Issue Date: May 23, 1994
  • Revision Date: November 23, 2015
  • Primary Contact: Director of Human Resources
  • Senior Administration: President and Director
  • Responsible Office: Human Resources
Policy Statement
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.

Reason for Policy

Notice provision guidelines are intended to assist the supervisor in preparing for job terminations and in communicating job elimination preparations to the affected employees.  The policy provides guidelines only, and is not intended to create any contractual rights or notice requirements in favor of affected employees or otherwise change the nature of at-will employment.  There may be circumstances in which the Institution is unable to provide advance notice of the elimination of specific jobs or provide funding for pay in lieu of notice to the affected employees.  Because their work schedules routinely fluctuate due to the vagaries or each ship's schedule, marine crew members may not be eligible for notice under this policy.



Contents
Policy Information
Policy Statement
Reason for Policy
Overview


Overview

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 that the Institution will strive to follow when possible in the discretion of Management, including the amount of advance notice and possible severance offers.

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 of a job elimination cannot be provided, the Institution may instead decide, in its discretion, to offer a lump sum severance payment based on the affected employee’s pay rate for all or part of the notice period as part of a separation agreement. Pay in lieu of notice is supported with limited Institution overhead funds, and therefore its availability and the amount of severance must be decided by the Institution Management, in its discretion, and on a case-by-case basis. 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 effectively utilized with due consideration for the facts and circumstances presented..
Positions identified for elimination are dictated by the Institution's judgment about the work to be concluded and/or reassigned, the range of skills and competencies of the employees engaged in performing those jobs and other factors.

Principal Investigators, Administrative Managers and other individuals with supervisory responsibilities should weigh these skill factors, length of service, departmental needs and other applicable factors  in identifying the positions to be eliminated in their business judgment.

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 will communicate termination of position 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 employee shall not be eligible for any further consideration under this policy.

The notice provisions apply to Institution employees in regular full-time, three-quarter, or half-time regular status. Because their work schedules routinely fluctuate due to the vagaries or each ship's schedule, marine crew members are not covered by this policy.  The Human Resources Department will assist supervisors/manager in determining how notice should be handled in the case of employees who are on medical or personal leaves of absence based on the type and duration of the leave involved.

Guidelines for Notice Periods

The guidelines noted below are recommended when advance notice is determined to be appropriate in the discretion of Institution management under the circumstances:

  1. 12 weeks of notice for eight or more years of Institution service;
  2. four weeks of notice for less than eight years and more than one year of service;
  3. two weeks of notice for more than six months of service but less than one year;
  4. 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 constraints.

When full advance notice is not provided, Institution management, with the approval of the Director of Human Resources, may elect to offer a lump sum equivalent to the pay that would otherwise have been paid during the balance of the notice period in exchange for a separation agreement, including a release of all legal claims by the affected employees against the Institution.. Pay in lieu of notice is typically made as a lump sum, less applicable state and federal payroll and income tax deductions and any amounts owed by the employee to the Institution.

Pay in lieu of notice must be 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.

Outplacement Services

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 due to elimination of their position.

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 and in the sole discretion of Institution management.

Terminated Employee Benefits, Repayment Obligations and Final Paycheck

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:

  1. health/dental conversion privileges;
  2. unemployment filing information, procedures and support services;
  3. re-payment of outstanding WHOI loans (e.g., personal computer, educational loan for dependents);
  4. 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 (subject to applicable state and federal wage payment laws) 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 Efforts

Institution termination procedures may coincide and overlap with other activities that may be on-going in efforts to obtain other Institution employment for the employee.




Last updated: May 30, 2018