Human Resources

University System of Georgia

Human Resources Administrative Practice Manual


Reduction in Force

Citation Reference  
Official Title Policy on Reduction in Force
Abbreviated Title Reduction in Force (RIF)
Volume Human Resources
Responsible Office Human Resources
Originally issued January 2008
Revised July 2019

Policy Statement

The University System of Georgia is committed to providing a stable and secure environment for its employees to work and each institution shall have the authority to determine the appropriate staffing levels to meet the mission of the institution. However, under certain circumstances it may be necessary to eliminate employee positions through a reduction of the workforce.

Examples of situations where a workforce reduction may be appropriate include:

  • A budget reduction and/or funding changes (including Financial Exigency);
  • Elimination or decrease in services due to programmatic changes;
  • Reorganization resulting in a shift or elimination of certain tasks or responsibilities altogether;
  • Significant business process improvements or new technologies rendering a position(s) obsolete; and
  • Other organizational changes that might impact staffing levels.

In an effort to avoid reducing employees due to budget cuts or funding changes, each institution reserves the right to implement a furlough or other such programs to achieve the necessary budget reduction. Employees should only be terminated through a reduction in force after examining other available alternatives. If a workforce reduction will not occur for a particular situation, this policy is not applicable and shall not be utilized. Additionally, this policy is not for use in removing an employee if the sole reason is substandard performance, incompetence or misconduct (including demotion, suspension or dismissal as may be appropriate). See HRAP.

Reason for Policy

This policy provides institutions with guidelines for developing and implementing RIF plans that are necessary to meet University System, State and Federal regulations and laws; supports the University System and Financial Management goals; and ensures consistency among University System institutions as it relates to the fair and equitable treatment of employees in the application of RIF plans.

Entities Affected By This Policy

All units of the University System of Georgia are covered by this policy.

Who Should Read This Policy

All institutional Human Resources personnel, managers, supervisors and employees within the University System of Georgia should be aware of this policy.

Process and Procedures

  1. Intent to RIF: When the possibility of workforce reduction is identified, a supervisor/manager must submit written request for approval of a proposed reduction in force to designated institutional administrators (for example: Dean/VP, Human Resources Administrator, AA/EEO Administrator, or CEO/COO). In addition, the highest level of authority within the business unit, Human Resources and Legal must also be consulted early in the planning stages and in the completion of the Reduction in Force Plan.

    Upon receipt in Human Resources, the appropriate Human Resources official will identify the affirmative action information (i.e. race, gender, age, disability status, veteran’s status) for each employee identified for the RIF for use in an Affirmative Action review. Institutional Human Resources departments will also notify the USG Office of Human Resources of the impending RIF in writing prior to execution of any aspect of the plan.

  2. Reduction in Force Plans: All RIF plans must be written and encompass the following considerations for approval by the President (or his or her designee):

    1. Business Needs Assessment
      • Evaluation of current academic programs, institutional business needs and the organizational structure
      • Analysis to determine which entities (units, departments, services, etc.) should be reduced
      • Identification of the functions that will/must remain within the unit after the reduction (if applicable)
      • Identification and analysis of job classifications and/or positons that will be eliminated in the RIF
      • Identification of expected outcomes (savings, process improvements, etc.)
      • Development of a new organizational structure (as applicable)
      • A review of reassignment opportunities for impacted positions/employees when applicable
      • Proposed timeline and effective date
      • Appropriate approval signatures at each level of the organization

      1. Positon Selection Criteria: Positions will be identified for elimination based on institutional and/or departmental needs as outlined in the business needs assessment. The decision as to which employee position(s) must be eliminated is determined at the institutional level, subject to the approval of administrators identified by each institution. When identifying employee positions for a reduction in force, management should consider the following:

      2. Employee Appointment Type: Regular employees must be retained over employees with temporary, provisional, and time-limited appointments within the same scope/area of impact. Temporary employees, employees funded through sponsored programs and/or contracts, regular employees scheduled less than 20 hours per week and provisional period employees may be separated without following this policy. Separation of these employees are subject to policies on demotion, suspension or dismissal and must adhere to institutional policies regarding adverse employment actions.

        Faculty. Decisions and actions impacting faculty must be made in accordance with BOR, Termination/Layoff of Tenured Personnel due to Program Modification. Additionally, a reduction in force that is in response to a financial exigency as approved by the Board of Regents may result in the layoff or termination of tenured or non-tenured faculty or other contract employees before the end of their contract term. Such actions must comply with the procedures and notice requirement outlined in BOR Policy 8.5. Financial Exigency. Human Resources must be involved to the extent the action involves layoffs or termination of faculty or staff.

        All regular employees who have completed their provisional periods are covered by this policy (including full-time and part-time employees working twenty (20) or more hours each work week).

      3. Job Functions: An analysis of the job functions needed to move forward in the relevant business area (division, unit, and/or program area) and the resulting position(s) that will be retained or eliminated in support of those functions must be conducted.

        Where multiple positions in the same job classification exist within the department but only a subset of those positions has been identified for the RIF, each employee must be evaluated against the same factors in making a determination in the following order. The factors should include:

        Competencies; Evaluation of each employee’s relative qualifications and proficiency levels in the knowledge, skills and abilities required to successfully perform the job.

        Performance; The primary component for determining employee performance should be the most recent two (2) annual Performance Evaluation ratings, unless the employee has been employed for one (1) year or less in which case there may only be one (1) annual Performance Evaluation available. Additional performance related considerations include:
        • Any active disciplinary action for either job performance or personal conduct;
        • Documented performance difficulties communicated to the employee, but not rising to the level of disciplinary action; or
        • Any other documented indicators of performance deficiencies.

        Institutional Seniority; Review institutional employment to the extent that employees are otherwise equal in skills, qualifications and performance. Seniority is based on the institutions hire date and prorated for periods of part time employment. In the case where a RIF may be related to a consolidation, the potentially affected employee’s hire date at the pre-consolidated institution may be used for seniority consideration purposes.

      4. Impact Analysis: All reduction in force plans are reviewed to avoid adverse impact on employees in protected classes and limit potential institutional liability. Management is responsible for making reduction in force decisions using the above factors. This list is not exhaustive and other factors as deemed relevant and appropriate by the institution and which conform to any applicable legal or regulatory mandates may also be considered.

  3. Employee Transition Assistance Plan: Each institution must establish an Employee Transition Assistance Plan which includes the following:

    1. Priority Re-employment: Employees separated due to a RIF will receive a six month priority consideration period (immediately following the RIF effective date) for internal positions to which they apply and are qualified. Hiring managers must demonstrate a compelling justification for selecting another candidate.

    2. Priority Recall: Employees displaced by positions that were eliminated via this policy and reestablished within one year of the RIF shall be notified and given first right of refusal for the reestablished position(s).

    3. Resume Sharing: Institutions may establish a resume sharing program with other USG institutions. Affected employees may request to participate in the program and submit updated resumes to HR for circulation to other institutions in consideration of open positions for which they are qualified and are interested in applying.

    The plan may also include the following components: Flexibility in allowing RIF displaced staff opportunities to interview for other USG positions prior to the separation date.Information sessions, partnerships with other local university or state agencies, EAP referrals, professional development resources, DOL in house sessions, other community resources and services as available.

  4. Communications Plan: All employees in affected areas or units where a RIF will occur should receive some form of communication regarding impending changes as appropriate. A communication plan detailing appropriate messaging, timing, and forums (group or individual meetings, emails) must be developed. Impacted employees should be engaged as soon as practical prior to written notice.

  5. Employee Notice: After receiving approval from institution administrators, the supervisor/manager must notifythe employee in writing of the reduction in force using the institutional RIF template provided by Human Resources. Employees will be given a minimum of 60 calendar days’ notice that their position will be eliminated. Whenever possible, 90 days’ notice should be provided. The notice of layoff or termination shall be written and delivered in person or by certified mail, with return receipt requested. The written notice must include:
    • a statement of the conditions requiring layoff or termination,
    • effective date,
    • a general description of procedures followed in making the decision,
    • a statement of the employee’s right to request a discretionary review.

  6. Employee Off Boarding: The last day the employee works is the effective date of the reduction in force. The employee must complete the institution’s standard clearance procedures. Where feasible, Human Resources will assist in processing termination related matters on the employee’s behalf.
    • Employees who transfer to other USG institutions within 30 days from the RIF effective date will be treated as an external transfer in accordance with HRAP Transfer policies.
    • An employee separated by a reduction in force is paid for accumulated vacation leave (as permitted by Board of Regents policy) in the same manner as other separations.
    • Employee actions should be appropriately coded, entered and recorded in the institution’s Human capital management system as a Reduction in Force (RIF).
    • Records should be maintained in compliance with the USG Records Management Guidelines (7 years following the employee’s separation from the institution) and applicable state and federal regulations.

  7. Mass Layoff: In the event of a mass layoff, as defined by the Georgia Department of Labor as 25 or more employees, the Office of Human Resources will complete Form DOL-402, titled “Mass Separation Notice” (in duplicate) and a copy of Form DOL-402A “Mass Separation Notice (Continuation Sheet),” setting forth the information required thereon (Georgia Department of Labor Rule 300-2-4-.10 and O.C.G.A. §34-8-70),as applicable.

  8. Discretionary Review: In accordance with provisions of Board Policy Section 6.2.6 (Application for Discretionary Review), affected employee(s) are afforded up to twenty (20) calendar days from the final decision of the President to submit a written application for review to the Office of Legal Affairs of the Board of Regents. The review of the decision is not a matter of right but is within the sole discretion of the USG office of Legal Affairs.

I. Forms

II. Website Address for This Policy

III. Related Documents/Resources

IV. Responsibilities

The responsibilities each party has in connection with the Policy on Reduction in Force are:

Party Responsibility Contact
Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, USG Provide guidance to institution human resources officers on effective utilization of this process, monitor campus utilization of this program through annual reports submitted by each institution on the use of this process, update the system as necessary on the use of this process. 404-962-3235
Office of Legal Affairs of the Board of Regents Evaluate applications on request for discretionary reviews. 270 Washington Street, SW, Atlanta, GA 30334
Institution Chief Human Resources Officers Ensure appropriate utilization of the USG RIF policy, submit intent to RIF and reports in accordance with the vice chancellor of human resources guidelines, and ensure utilization of this program is in compliance with applicable laws. See University System HR Officer Listing at :
Institution Affirmative Action/EEO Offices Monitor RIF process and its appropriate use to ensure an unbiased and non-discriminatory RIF decisions. See University System HR Officer Listing at :
Institution Chief Business Office or designee Notification; serve as a resource for position funding information to ensure accurate identification of positions funded through grants or other sponsored funds, which therefore are not subject to this policy. See University System HR Officer Listing at :

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