Human Resources Policies

HR97 Layoff Provisions for Staff Employees (See also HR98)

Policy Status: 


Policy Steward: 

Vice President for Human Resources





This policy outlines the layoff provisions for employees classified as either Standing or Fixed-Term I staff, who have completed their probationary period. It is expected that, where practicable, work units will eliminate part-time positions prior to enacting this policy.


A layoff of an employee can occur because of a lack of either work or funds, a reduction of the operating staff of the University, or an emergency that curtails normal operations, all of which shall be determined by the University in its sole discretion.

A department faced with the need to reduce staff must contact their work unit Human Resources’ Office and Labor and Employee Relations before any actions are taken or discussions are held with employees. Consultation with the Affirmative Action Office and the Office of General Counsel will be sought as appropriate.

It is presumed that individuals who receive layoff notices are valuable contributing members of the University community whose employment cannot be continued due to the above listed conditions.

The position formerly held by a laid off employee must remain vacant for at least one year following the layoff, except in unusual situations where funding is unexpectedly restored and with the prior approval of the Vice President for Human Resources or a designee.


The decision to layoff an employee is made by the work unit's dean or administrative officer with the prior approval of Labor and Employee Relations. The following criteria shall be considered when identifying an employee for layoff: ability to perform the work needed, prior documented performance, and length of University employment.

Length of University employment is measured in months of continuous employment in a Standing or Fixed-Term I appointment from the date of last hire and includes leaves of absence. Employment ceases to be measured when an employee quits, resigns, or is dismissed.

A new employee is not granted credit for length of University employment during their probationary period. However, after the completion of their probation, credit will date from the first day of employment in a Standing or Fixed-Term I position. As a general principle, probationary employees will be laid off prior to employees that have completed their probationary periods.

Layoffs shall be made within job groups in a work unit. A job group is defined as those jobs in a work unit with the same job title and level. It may also include jobs in the work unit in the same job title at lower levels and/or different job titles but which are in the same or lower salary band. This latter type of job group is established by a dean or administrative officer at their discretion.

Fixed-Term I Appointments:

An employee on a Fixed-Term I appointment whose employment terminates at the completion of the appointment is not eligible for the layoff provisions; however, if the employee is terminated from employment prior to the completion of the Fixed-Term I appointment, for reasons other than disciplinary dismissal, the section of this policy entitled Layoff Provisions shall be applicable, but in no event shall they be applicable beyond the anticipated ending date of the appointment.

An employee on a Fixed-Term I appointment, who has not satisfied their probationary period, is not eligible for the layoff provisions.


Written notice of layoff shall be provided to an employee by the work unit's Human Resources' Office, or a designee, four (4) weeks prior to the date of termination. The employee may work during the notice period at the discretion of the work unit. Any time paid, but not worked, during the four-week notice period will be deducted from the severance payment, as outlined in policy HR98 Severance Payment Provisions for Staff Employees.


A laid off employee:

  1. is eligible to elect continuation of medical, dental, and vision insurance coverages in which the employee is enrolled for 120 calendar days following the date of termination.  The employee is responsible for payment of contributions, at the employee rate, during this 120 calendar day period.
  2. has educational privileges for 120 calendar days following the date of termination.
  3. is eligible to use the Employee Assistance Program during the 120 calendar days following the date of termination.
  4. is paid for University holidays which occur within 30 days following the date of termination.
  5. does not accrue vacation and sick leave unless the employee is paid for enough days in any calendar month to qualify under the "Vacation" and "Sick Leave" sections of HR34 Employment Conditions for Staff Employees.
  6. will be paid the cash equivalent of all earned vacation, personal holiday, and holiday compensatory time as of the date of termination, up to the maximums stated in policy.

  7. is responsible for notifying the University of any change of address.


Penn State Human Resources will provide information and be available to employees for employment consultation as may be requested and deemed appropriate.


In areas where employees are laid off during brief closedown periods, the following conditions apply:

  1. Notices of recall to work will be sent out in the reverse order of the layoff — last laid off, first recalled — provided that the employee is qualified to perform the work that is available.
  2. A notice of recall will be sent to an employee at their last known address at least 10 calendar days prior to the date on which the employee is to report back to work.
  3. If an employee does not return to work on the date given in the notice of recall, their employment is terminated. If rehired at a later date, they will be considered as a new employee. In any case of a personal emergency which prevents an employee from returning to work on the date given, the employee must contact their supervisor prior to the date indicated for return to work and the supervisor will determine if special arrangements can be made.
  4. Temporary Assignment - if an employee subject to layoff under this section is assigned to another job on a temporary basis, such employee will not be placed on layoff. During the period the employee is working in the temporary assignment the following apply:
    1. The employee will continue as an employee of the employee's normal work unit, except that time involved on the temporary assignment will not be counted toward the completion of a training period of the employee's normal job, and accrued vacation will be scheduled in accordance with the procedures of the work unit of the temporary assignment.
    2. The employee will be eligible for consideration for promotion in accordance with HR74 Staff Vacancy Announcement Procedure.
    3. Except as modified above, all other terms and conditions of staff policies will be applicable to an employee on such temporary assignment.
    4. If an employee is offered a temporary assignment in the employee's own work unit in lieu of layoff, and the employee does not accept such temporary assignment, the employee shall request a leave of absence without pay.


HR06 - Types of Appointments

HR34 - Employment Conditions for Staff Employees

HR55 - Things to Know When Leaving University Employment

HR74 - Staff Vacancy Announcement Procedure

HR98 - Severance Payment Provisions for Staff Employees



November 28, 2018 - Specified group insurance coverages available to laid off employees and clarified probationary period employee provisions; minor language revisions made throughout policy to update terminology and to reflect appropriate terms and inclusive culture.

May 1, 2011 - Initial Release

Date Approved: 

November 6, 2018

Date Published: 

November 27, 2018

Effective Date: 

November 28, 2018