Employment Policies (HR-100)

HR-117 Layoff and Transition Assistance Q&As

1. What does the phrase “all things being equal” mean?

Departments retain the discretion to determine what composition of knowledge, skills, and abilities and the number of staff required for the proper functioning of a department; therefore, factors such as unique knowledge, skills, abilities, training, performance, or other relevant factors may take precedence over consideration of seniority in making decisions regarding layoff. When these factors impact the efficient operation of the department and/or an employee's ability to perform the job, a department may determine that all things are not equal and consider these attributes to justify the retention of a less senior employee.

2. [Administrative, service and support staff only] Can an employee be required to use vacation and/or compensatory time off for the two (2) weeks' notice required pursuant to HR-117 Layoff and Transition Assistance?

No. The employee cannot be required to use accrued vacation during the two (2) week notice period.

3. What are the relevant dates for calculating seniority in the event of a layoff?

The relevant dates for calculating seniority are as follows:

  • Department Seniority Date – The first day of regular continuous employment within a department.
  • University Seniority Date – The first day of regular continuous employment at the University of Missouri.

A change in a regular employee’s status (e.g., a break in service) may change their department and University date.

4. Are employees in a layoff leave guaranteed a job when the leave expires?

No. Upon expiration of a layoff leave, if the employee has not located a benefit-eligible position, the employee will be terminated. For Service and Maintenance employees, see the relevant “Understanding of Policies” document.

5. If an employee is offered a comparable position in the same department while on layoff leave, must they accept the position?

No. Failure to return to work when offered a comparable position will not result in the loss of layoff benefits. It is the employee’s decision whether or not to accept a job offer. If an employee accepts another benefit-eligible University position, the layoff benefits will end upon the new position beginning.

6. If I accept another benefit-eligible position with the University during my layoff leave of absence, but do not successfully complete the qualifying period, is my leave of absence end date extended when I return to the layoff leave of absence?

No. Your original layoff leave of absence end date remains and will not be extended.

7. If an employee’s position is moved to another unit (e.g., division, department, etc.), is this a layoff?

It depends. If the position is not moved to a significantly different geographic location that requires an employee to move or commute, then this would not be considered a layoff, regardless of the administrative reporting structure.

8. Are employees eligible for unemployment benefits during their layoff leave of absence period?

If placed on layoff leave of absence, employees may apply for an eligibility determination to the Missouri Department of Labor’s Division of Employment Security.

9. What happens to voluntary deductions such as the University’s recreation center, athletic tickets, concert series, alumni donations, United Way donations, or other voluntary deductions other than parking?

Voluntary deductions will continue as long as you are in paid status including the weeks you are receiving transition assistance payment. If you would like to stop these deductions prior to the end of receiving your last payment from the University, you will need to contact each agency or department which is deducting these funds (e.g., recreation center).

10. What happens to parking deductions?

Employees should contact their campus Parking and Transportation department.

11. What happens to layoff benefits if an employee is hired for a non-benefit eligible or temporary position with the University during their layoff leave of absence?

  • Insurance – The new position will not have any effect on insurance benefits while the primary (benefit-eligible) position remains in layoff leave of absence. Employees will remain eligible to continue all insurance plans they had at the time of the layoff. Employee premium payments are made directly to the UM System Office of Human Resources, Benefits Department. These premiums cannot be deducted from the non-benefit eligible paycheck.
  • Leave – Employees do not accrue vacation, sick, or personal days for a non-benefit eligible position.
  • Retirement – Neither the layoff leave of absence nor the service in the non-benefit eligible position is considered creditable for vesting or retirement. Non-benefit eligible appointments would have to terminate before an employee may retire in certain cases. Specific situations should be evaluated with the UM System Human Resources Retirement department.

12. Will employees continue to have access to myHR during a leave of absence and after the leave expires to change my employee data?

Employees continue to have access to myHR during the layoff leave of absence; however, once the leave of absence expires or the employee is terminated, access to myHR is locked out for 30-45 days. Access is available again after the 30-45 day period.

To make address changes or obtain information in myHR during the lock-out period, you may contact the HR Service Center.  If access has not been resumed after 45-60 days, you may contact the Department of Information Technology.


Accrued Leave Time

This section applies to benefit-eligible Administrative, Service and Support staff and certain non-regular academic employees as approved by the chancellor and president.

13. When should an employee anticipate receiving their unused vacation payment?

If applicable, vacation accruals and usage will be calculated after the employee’s effective date of layoff and will be paid as a lump sum payment on the paycheck following their final regular paycheck (based on the normal pay schedule).

14. Can an employee elect to retain accrued vacation once the layoff effective date occurs, rather than being paid out lump sum?

No. Unused vacation, accrued as of the last day worked before the commencement of the leave of absence, is paid out as a lump sum.

However, if an employee obtains another benefit-eligible position with the University prior to the layoff effective date, the employee may be able to transfer to the new position with their vacation balance. Contact the campus Office of Human Resources to discuss the circumstances involved.

15. Does an employee in a layoff leave of absence lose their accrued sick leave?

It depends. If an employee is reemployed during the period of the layoff leave of absence, the sick leave will be reinstated; otherwise, the sick leave is lost after expiration of the layoff leave of absence.

If eligible for retirement, unused sick leave will be credited toward your service credit in your pension calculation.

16. What happens to an employee's personal days (if applicable) while on a layoff leave of absence?

The employee retains unused personal days during the layoff leave of absence; however, these days will be lost on the employee's anniversary date. Employees should be provided an opportunity to use the personal days prior to commencing a layoff leave of absence unless they are provided pay in lieu of notice and there is not time to use the personal days.

17. [Non-exempt employees only] What happens to unused accrued compensatory time?

Compensatory time should be paid on the final regular paycheck (based on the normal pay schedule).

18. If an employee finds a job that is eligible for leave accruals within the UM System while in layoff leave of absence, how are each of the leave accrual categories affected?

  • Vacation – employee will begin accruing vacation time in accordance with the new title and continuous years of service.
  • Sick – employee’s sick leave balance will be activated and accruing will begin again.
  • Personal – If the employee returns to work before your anniversary date, they will be able to use the previous leave balance. If they return to work after their anniversary date, they will receive new accruals for the year.

Transition Assistance Pay (TAP)

19. Are partial years of continuous service counted in calculating transition assistance compensation?

No. Partial years of service do not count toward calculating weeks of transition assistance payment.

20. What is the rate of pay for the transition assistance payment?

Transition assistance is paid at the base rate you were being paid as of your last day worked, including shift differential, if applicable. If you worked different shifts that each have shift differential pay, your transition assistance payment will be based on the average weekly pay during the two preceding pay periods.

21. When should an employee anticipate transition assistance payment to begin?

Transition assistance pay will be paid on the employee’s regular pay cycle. Initial payment will begin after the layoff effective date and will conclude when the full transition pay amount has been reached or disqualifying factors have occurred.  The initial payment may be delayed pending the return of the signed University of Missouri Layoff and Transition Assistance Agreement, and payroll deadlines.

22. What is the impact on the payout of transition assistance if the employee accepts another job with the University before their transition assistance is fully paid?

If the new position is benefit-eligible, transition assistance pay will be suspended during the time the employee is receiving pay in the new position. If the new job ends before the layoff leave of absence expires, transition assistance will be resumed and paid through the end date of the leave of absence or until you are paid the number of weeks originally owed, whichever occurs first. The end date of the layoff leave of absence will not be extended by the time worked in the new position.

If the new position is non-benefit eligible, transition assistance pay will continue concurrently with the non-benefit eligible paycheck.


Health and Welfare Benefits

23. How do employees pay for benefits during a layoff leave of absence?

Premiums will be automatically deducted while employees are receiving transition assistance pay. When TAP is complete, the University will bill employees for the premiums for the remainder of the leave of absence.

24. Will COBRA benefits be available to allow for continued medical, dental and/or vision coverage?

Yes. The qualifying event date for COBRA eligibility is the end of the layoff leave of absence. Dependents are eligible for continued medical, dental and/or vision coverage as long as they were covered under the plan on the day before the layoff leave of absence ended. The COBRA administrator will mail information on COBRA benefits approximately two weeks after your layoff leave of absence ends. Packets will be mailed to the home address listed in the HR records. If an employee decides to enroll in COBRA, the employee will have 60 days from the date of notification on the COBRA notice letter to return the continuation election form. Once enrolled, the employee will make payments directly to the COBRA administrator.

25. Will life insurance benefits continue during the layoff leave of absence?

Yes. Basic life, supplemental life, dependent life and/or accidental death and dismemberment insurance plans can continue for the length of the layoff period. While TAP is active, those premiums will be automatically deducted. After TAP ends, employees will be billed for premiums through the remainder of the layoff leave of absence.

At the end of a layoff leave of absence, employees may elect to convert basic and/or supplemental life policies to individual life insurance policies without providing proof of insurability. To convert to an individual policy, complete and submit a life insurance conversion form within 31 calendar days of the end of the layoff leave of absence. Contact the HR Service Center to begin the process.

26. Will long term disability (LTD) benefits continue during the layoff leave of absence?

Yes. Long term disability benefits can continue for the length of the layoff period. While TAP is active, premiums for LTD Option B will be automatically deducted. After TAP ends, employees will be billed for premiums through the remainder of their layoff leave of absence.


Wellness Incentive Program

27. Will employees be eligible to receive the Wellness Incentive pay while on an approved Leave of Absence?

Maybe. Employees must be covered by a University sponsored medical plan and must meet the Wellness Incentive requirements prior to the end of the incentive period in order to be eligible to receive the wellness incentive pay during the Layoff Leave of Absence.

Employees may contact the HR Service Center Wellness Coordinator at wellness@umsystem.edu or 573-882-2146 for questions about the incentive payment.


Tuition benefits for employees, spouses and dependents

28. Will employees who are laid off be eligible to participate in HR-303: Educational Assistance during the leave of absence?

If an employee had begun a course using Educational Assistance benefits while in a paid status and goes into an unpaid leave status after the course begins, the employee will be allowed to complete the course with the coverage of Educational Assistance benefits as long as the employee remains employed (whether paid or unpaid) through the end of the course in which they are enrolled. Employees are not eligible for educational assistance in future semesters.

29. Will spouses and dependents of employees who are laid off be eligible to participate in the HR-309: Tuition Reduction program during the leave of absence?

Spouses and dependents who are receiving tuition reduction will remain eligible for the reduction through the end of your layoff leave of absence, provided they meet the eligibility requirements of the program and remain on a layoff leave of absence through the beginning of the course in which they are enrolled. If the layoff leave of absence ends during the semester, spouses and dependents may complete the semester in which they are enrolled.


Retirement

30. Will the layoff leave of absence time count toward vesting or service credit?

No. Layoff leave of absence time does not count towards vesting or service credit.

31. Will the transition assistance payment be credible towards my pension benefit calculation?

No. Transition assistance payment is not granted salary credit in the pension calculation for retirement.

32. Will employees be able to access their vested benefit during the leave of absence?

No. Employees are ineligible to access a vested benefit during the layoff leave of absence but may do so after the termination date, which is the last day the employee is on layoff leave of absence. Employees can expect to receive election forms within six months following the date of termination. If the employee wishes to terminate the layoff leave of absence earlier, that request must be made in writing to their campus Office of Human Resources. The employee may contact the HR Service Center to discuss the cost of benefit coverage as an employee on leave versus the cost of benefit coverage under COBRA.

33. Can an employee who is on a layoff leave of absence elect to retire?

Retirement-eligible employees may elect to end their layoff leave of absence early in order to retire or choose to retire instead of being placed on a layoff leave of absence. An election to retire in lieu of a leave must be made in writing and submitted to the campus Human Resources office. Employees may contact the HR Service Center to discuss the cost of benefit coverage as an employee on leave versus, if eligible, the cost of benefit coverage as a retiree.

34. If an employee returns to a benefit-eligible position after the layoff period ends, are their years of service bridged for vesting purposes?

Maybe. Employees do not lose service credit. However, how this is applied depends on the employee’s current amount of service time and the gap in employment with the University. These are reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine whether time is bridged for vesting or if the employee will be required to vest without prior service and then add it on. Employees may consult with the HR Service Center.

35. Are employees required to pay the retirement employee contribution during transition assistance?

No. The contribution is not charged on transition assistance payments.

36. May an employee elect to retire rather than take a layoff leave of absence?

Maybe. If eligible to retire, employees may do so instead of taking a layoff leave of absence.

37. Is it possible to reach retirement requirements (i.e., service credits and/or age) during the layoff period, and then retire?

Typically, no. Employees should contact the UM System Human Resources Retirement department for additional information specific to their situation.

 

Date Created: 09/26/1997
Last Updated: 01/03/2019

Reviewed 2019-01-09.