Frequently Asked Questions About Layoffs
Whenever it is necessary because of a lack of work or funds, or whenever it is advisable in the interest of economy to reduce the number of permanent and/or probationary employees (hereinafter known as “employees”) in any State agency, the State may lay off employees pursuant to Government Code § (19997 – 19997.12), the Union contract and Department of Personnel Administration (DPA) Rules.
Alternatives to Layoff
When the state determines it is necessary to lay off employees, the state is required to meet with CASE to explore alternatives. Some alternatives include, but are not limited to, voluntary reduced work time, retraining, early retirement and unpaid leaves of absence. The state may offer affected employees a transfer or demotion in lieu of layoff (GC 19997.8 – 19997.10). If an employee refuses a transfer or demotion, the employee can be laid off. The state may also propose to reduce the number of hours an employee works. Before using this layoff alternative, the state will meet with CASE to try to reach an agreement on the work reduction.
Once a layoff is determined necessary, the appointing power must notify the DPA and submit a list of employees in the class or classes of layoff. DPA then computes the layoff list based upon the seniority scores of each employee. (See below for seniority score computations.)
An employee whose position is targeted for layoff must be notified at least 30 days prior to the effective date and not more than 60 days after the seniority score computation. The notice must be in writing and include the reason(s) for the layoff and the classes to which the employee has the right to demote.
Employees compensated on a monthly basis shall be notified thirty (30) calendar days in advance of the effective date of layoff. Where notices are mailed, the thirty (30) calendar day time period will begin to run on date of mailing of the notice. The State agrees to notify CASE no later than (thirty (30) calendar days prior to the actual date of layoff. The notice to CASE should also include the reason for the layoff, the area of the layoff, the classifications affected, the number of employees in each classification to be laid off and the proposed date of layoff.
Order of Layoff
Employees shall be laid off in order of seniority pursuant to Government Code §s 19997.2 through 19997.7 and applicable State Personnel Board and Department of Personnel Administration rules. Layoffs are usually made in accordance with the relative seniority of the employees. Employees with less seniority are laid off before more senior employees in their class. All employees in temporary or limited term positions in the class affected by layoff must be laid off before any permanent or probationary state civil service employee is laid off (DPA Rule 599.843).
In determining seniority scores, one point shall be allowed for each qualifying monthly pay period of full-time State service regardless of when such service occurred. A pay period in which a full-time employee works eleven or more days will be considered a qualifying pay period except that when an absence from State service resulting from a temporary or permanent separation for more than eleven consecutive working days falls into two (2) consecutive qualifying pay periods, the second pay period shall be disqualified. Other factors may affect the seniority computation/layoff score:
Military service: Veterans (except veterans reinstated from military leave) receive seniority credit for recognized military service if the veteran entered the state service after discharge, the end of the national emergency or the end of the state military emergency. Military service is credited the same as if it were service in the state class to which the employee was first appointed, for a maximum of one year’s service credit (GC 19997.6).
Breaks in state service: If an employee has a break in the continuity of state service because of a temporary separation (layoff, suspension, leave of absence, military leave, disability retirement or medical termination), prior service is counted for purposes of layoff (GC 19998.3.).
Probationary employees: No distinction is made between probationary and permanent employees (DPA Rule 599.844).
Performance evaluations: DPA Rule 599.845 describes the procedure for layoff. When the layoff is to be made in a professional class, the appointing power must also submit a report which rates the employees’ current performance in one of the following categories: entirely satisfactory, improvement needed, or unsatisfactory. In computing layoff scores an employee shall have deducted from the score twelve (12) points for a rating of improvement needed and thirty-six (36) points for a rating of unsatisfactory. The appointing power shall give the employee a copy of the report and inform him/her of their appeal rights to DPA on the grounds that it was not made in good faith of was otherwise improper. Such an appeal shall be filed under the provisions of § 599.903 within 10 days from the date the employee received a copy of the report. Once ratings become final they are not reviewable on appeal under G.C. § 19997.14.
Guide to Calculating Seniority
DPA Rule specifies that seniority shall be accumulated by qualifying pay period, defined as: An employee who has 11 or more working days of service in a monthly pay period shall be considered to have a complete month, a month of service, or continuous service. For each month of qualifying State service, an employee receives one seniority point.
All time worked within the California civil service system qualifies towards total State service and seniority scores. Other types of employment with the State of California, as specified in DPA Rule may also qualify for State service and seniority credit.
These other types of employment are referred to collectively as “exempt service” to differentiate them from civil service employment.
The following appointments qualify as exempt service under DPA Rule:
Exempt appointments under the Executive Branch.
Officers and employees of the Legislature, either house, or legislative committees.
Officers and employees of councils, commissions, or public corporations in the judicial branch.
Employees of a court of record or officer employed by the judicial branch.
Officers and employees of the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU). Time as a UC student employee, provided it was at a time base above 50%, counts as service for these purposes; however CSU student employees who are non-benefited are not eligible for credit. In addition, CSU appointments using an A54 transaction code (“special pay” appointments) do not receive service credit.
The teaching staff of schools under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education or the Superintendent of Public Instruction (i.e., the six State Special Schools).
Members of the National Guard engaged in military service in connection with employment by the California Department of the Military.
DPA Rule further provides, “Only that exempt service which can be FULLY VERIFIED for seniority purposes from OFFICIAL RECORDS shall be qualifying for seniority.” DPA considers the following to be full verification of exempt service:
Legislature (Senate and Assembly employees): Transfer Data Form showing start date, time base, separation date, and any leaves of absence (including dates), signed by Legislature personnel, or a letter signed by Legislature personnel that includes all of the above information.
University of California (UC): Month-by-month Record of Earnings (these may be obtained from the UC Payroll Offices). If the employee worked at a time base below 50%, DPA requires verification of student status in order to ensure that all service is credited properly.
For other exempt service where records are not immediately available, some sort of verification similar to the specific standards above will usually be acceptable. DPA is interested primarily in time base, tenure, and all appointment and separation dates.
A number of special situations can affect seniority calculations for employees:
Intermittent employees whose hours have not been posted to the State Controller’s Office system cannot receive credit for the non-reported time period. If there is any question about hours worked, the employing department must provide documentation (e.g., payroll history, time cards, or employee leave cards) verifying hours worked during the affected time period.
Mandatory reinstatement: GC Section 19142 states that every State civil service employee holds his or her position subject to the mandatory reinstatement of another employee. In other words, if an employee is returning to his or her former position on a mandatory reinstatement (because of termination of a CEA appointment, rejection on probation, or any other reason except military leave) and the employee’s former position is no longer vacant, the employing department may lay off the incumbent in order to allow the returning employee to fill his or her former position. This GC section further provides that, if the standard seniority calculation method would result in the layoff of the reinstating employee, then only service in classes with substantially the same or a higher salary range will be counted for the purposes of determining who will be laid off.
Similarly, GC Section 19997.5 provides for employees returning from military leave with a mandatory reinstatement. In this situation, if the standard seniority calculation method would result in the layoff of the employee reinstating from a military leave, then only service in the subdivision of layoff, i.e., the class and location affected, will be counted for the purposes of determining who will be laid off.
In both of these cases, the definition of “former position” specified in GC Section 18522 is used.
Military leave, as specified in GC Section 19775.3, allows the period of military leave to be treated as continuous service upon reinstatement to an employee’s former position.
Retired Annuitants appointed pursuant to GC Section 21221 do not receive service credit. Retired annuitants appointed pursuant to GC Section 21228 are considered permanent civil service employees, and they gain benefits, including total State service and seniority accrual, accordingly.
Veterans, in accordance with GC Section 19997.6, may be afforded up to 12 months’ seniority credit for recognized military service that occurred prior to the veteran’s entry into civil service or exempt appointment with the State of California. This entire provision applies only to SENIORITY CREDIT; it has no impact on an employee’s total State service.
To be considered for demotion instead of layoff, the employee must give the appointing power written notice of her or his election within five calendar days after receiving the layoff notice (GC
§19997.8 and 19997.13). Demotion may be to a vacant or occupied position in a classification with substantially the same or a lower maximum salary in which he/she has served under either probationary or permanent status, or to a class in the same line of work or closely related line of work as the class of layoff if the class is designated as appropriate by the DPA (GC§ 19997.8)
Generally speaking, the employee who elects demotion in lieu of layoff may bump the employee with the least seniority in the demotional class provided he/she has more seniority than the displaced (bumped) employee. An employee does not have the right to select a specific position just because he/she has more seniority than the person holding the position.
An employee who is bumped has the same option of demotion as explained above. (GC§19997.9) Example:
Grade III Employee
A – 214 pts.
B – 210 pts.
C – 205 pts.
D – 100 pts.
Grade II Employee
E – 210 pts.
F – 200 pts.
G – 193 pts.
Grade I Employee
H – 210 pts.
I – 175 pts.
J – 24 pts.
If one Grade III position is abolished, the employee with the least seniority, “D”, does not have sufficient seniority to bump a Grade II employee but does have enough to bump employee “J” in a Grade I position.
If a second Grade III position was abolished, employee “C” has the right to bump employee “G” in a Grade II. Employee “C” does not have the right to bump employee “F” because that position is more desirable even though “C” has more seniority than “F”. In this example, employee “G” would also have the right to demote to Grade I in lieu of being laid off and would then bump employee “J”.
In accordance with Government Code § 19997.11 and 19997.12, the State shall establish a reemployment list by class for all employees who are laid off. Such lists shall take precedence over all other types of employment lists for the classes in which employees were laid off. Employees shall be certified from department or subdivisional reemployment lists in accordance with § 19056 of the Government Code.
State Service Credit for Layoff Purposes
In determining seniority scores, one point shall be allowed for each qualifying monthly pay period of full-time State service regardless of when such service occurred. A pay period in which a full-time employee works eleven or more days will be considered a qualifying pay period except that when an absence from State service resulting from a temporary or permanent separation for more than eleven consecutive working days falls into two (2) consecutive qualifying pay periods, the second pay period shall be disqualified.
Breaking Ties in Seniority Scores
When two or more employees have the same layoff score, preference for retention is given in the following order: (1) veteran; (2) employee with the most service in the class of layoff or in a class at substantially the same or higher salary level as the class of layoff; (3) employee who has served in the service class of layoff or in a class at substantially the same or higher salary level as the class of layoff with the highest maximum salary; (4) employee with the earliest appointment date for any service credit computed; (5) employee with the greatest continuous state service; (6) employee with the earliest date of appointment for any state service; (7) employee whose name is drawn by lot (DPA Rule 599.846).
Any dispute regarding the interpretation or application of any portion of this layoff provision shall be resolved solely through the procedures established in Government Code § 19997.14. The hearing officer’s decision shall be final and upon its issuance the Department of Personnel Administration (DPA) shall adopt the hearing officer’s decision as its own. In the event that either the employee(s) or appointing power seeks judicial review of the decision pursuant to Government Code § 19815.8, DPA, in responding thereto, shall not be precluded from making arguments of fact or law that are contrary to those set forth in the decision.
Departments filling vacancies in Unit 2 classifications shall offer positions to current employees facing layoff, demotion in lieu of layoff or mandatory geographic transfer who meet the minimum qualifications for the vacancy being filled, provided that the vacancy is equivalent in salary and responsibility and in the same geographic area and bargaining unit.
DPA has determined that the Super SROA described above requires hiring restrictions above and beyond those in the SROA Programs as follows:
- Hiring departments who are filling vacancies in BU2 classes must contact the SROA or layoff coordinators in departments that are laying off employees in BU 2 and advise them of the number of vacancies and class titles, salaries, and geographic locations of classes in which the vacancies exist.
- The SROA or layoff coordinator of the layoff department will refer QUALIFIED (i.e., meeting Minimum Qualifications [MQs] and having transfer eligibility) SROA and surplus employees in BU 2 to the contact at the hiring department.
- The hiring department MUST HIRE one of the SROA or surplus BU 2 employees (if any are available).
- There is no provision for exemptions.
- “…in the same geographic area…” has been defined as any county that touches the county in which the vacancy exists. Mileage restrictions such as “within a 35 mile radius” may not be imposed.
If you believe your rights with respect to the layoff process have been violated, contact the CASE Office at 1-800-699-6533.