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1 University of New Mexico
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Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual - Policy 3225: Separation of Employment

Date Originally Issued: 07-01-1994
Revised: 05-08-1998, 09-25-2002, 03-01-2006, 08-01-2006, 01-01-2008, 05-15-2015, 05-02-2016, 12-12-2016

Authorized by RPM 6.1 "Performance Management"

Process Owner: Vice President for Human Resources

1. General

There are four (4) categories of separation of employment from the University: voluntary, death, involuntary for cause, and layoff. Outlined herein are the policies and procedures for recognizing and processing each type of separation of employment. This policy also describes the reemployment and benefit rights of employees being laid off.

2. Voluntary Separation

Voluntary separations include resignation, initiated by the employee or by mutual agreement between the employee and the University; retirement; and completion of the period of a contract or term appointment.

2.1. Resignation

An employee may elect to resign or leave the University voluntarily through mutual agreement with the University. The employee should submit a written resignation giving, except as noted in Section 2.4, two (2) weeks notice to his or her supervisor. For resignations by mutual agreement, the supervisor should obtain appropriate releases of any further obligation of the University as part of the written resignation. Resignations also occur when:

  • An employee walks off the job.
  • An employee is absent for three (3) consecutive work days without the supervisor's permission, except when an emergency precludes giving notice.  Work days are considered consecutive even when broken by normal non-working days such as holidays or weekends.
  • An employee fails to return to work, within the prescribed time limits, following an authorized leave of absence.

2.2. Retirement

Employees may elect to retire after meeting the eligibility requirements; see UAP 3625 ("Retirement"). Employees should give, at minimum, four (4) weeks notice. The University Division of Human Resources will notify retiring employees of their options with respect to health insurance and other benefits.

2.3. Completion of Term Appointment

Certain employees are employed at the University under a term appointment agreement; see UAP 3200 ("Employee Classification"), Section 4. Employees hired for a term appointment will be separated from the University as of the specified date unless the supervisor notifies the employee that the appointment will be extended.

2.4. Expiration of Contract

Certain administrators, designated by the President, are hired on periodic employment contracts. The two (2) week notice provision in Section 2.1 does not apply to contract employees. Terms, conditions, and notification requirements for employees hired under contract are described in UAP 3240 ("Contract Employees").

3. Death

Upon the death of an employee, the department shall immediately notify the respective employment area and the Human Resources Service Center. The Human Resources Service Center will assist the next of kin in completing benefit forms, insurance claims, and other paperwork as appropriate, and provide a checklist to ensure that all necessary steps are taken.  The department will work with the employment area to formally separate the employee.

4. Involuntary Separation

4.1. Separation During Probation

Any full-time or part-time employee may be separated from employment during the six (6) month probationary period (twelve [12] month probationary period for police command staff) with or without cause.

4.2. Discharge For Cause

An employee may be discharged for unsatisfactory performance, misconduct, or for other reasons deemed to constitute proper cause by the University. Under these circumstances, the employee must be given notice of the grounds constituting proper cause and an opportunity to respond verbally and/or in writing before the employee is separated for cause. Refer to UAP 3215 ("Performance Management") for additional information regarding separation for cause.

Employees discharged for cause are noted as ineligible for rehire and are advised in writing at the time of discharge.

4.3. Consultation with Division of Human Resources

A supervisor must consult with the Labor Relations staff at the Division of Human Resources before an employee is involuntarily separated from the University.

4.4. Notice of Separation

Supervisors must give employees two (2) weeks notice of the separation, except in exceptional cases where immediate separation is required for reasons of health and safety or the overriding interest of the University. Pay in lieu of notice may be given at the employee's straight-time pay rate when giving notice is not practical. Pay in lieu of notice is not appropriate in cases of discharge for serious infractions or discharge following suspension for serious infractions.

4.5. Appeal of Ineligible for Rehiring Designation

When an employee is designated as ineligible for rehire, the employee may submit a request to have the designation reconsidered.  Within 30 days of the employee receiving notice of the designation, the employee should send a detailed letter to the Vice President for Human Resources that sets forth the reasons for the reconsideration.  The Vice President for Human Resources will decide whether the employee should:

  • retain the ineligible for rehire designation, or

  • be restricted from obtaining certain positions, or

  • be eligible for rehire.

5. Layoff

From time to time it may be necessary for the University, or any unit within the University, to restructure its programs and services in response to changing demands, or loss of funding for the programs or services. When there is a loss of funding or a unit is restructured, it may be necessary to eliminate one (1) or more staff positions. This section describes the process for eliminating staff positions and the reemployment rights of individuals placed on layoff status as a result of such decisions. Employees who are laid off from their jobs qualify for unemployment insurance.

5.1. Elimination of Staff Positions

The Provostexecutive vice presidentor vice president responsible for the organization being restructured must approve any restructure that results in the elimination of staff positionsAn administrator proposing to modify a program or service that includes the permanent elimination of staff positions must perform the following steps:

5.1.1. The administrator must submit an explanation of the reasons for the restructuring to the Provost, executive vice presidentor vice president responsible for the organization.

5.1.2. The administrator must identify the specific positions that are to be eliminated and the rationale behind each selection. When an organization has more than one individual employed under the position title being eliminated, selection of employees to be laid off generally will be based on seniority. Temporary and on-call employees in similar positions will be released from employment first. If further reduction is necessary, employees on probation in similar positions shall be laid off before employees who have completed their probation. Refer to UAP 3705 ("Seniority") for information on seniority. If seniority within a job classification is exactly equal, then selection of employees for layoff may be based on qualifications and performance as determined by the University.  Performance of individuals within similar positions shall not be a criterion for selection of positions to be eliminated or employees to be laid off unless seniority is exactly equal.

5.1.3. The administrator must make a good faith effort to transfer employees in positions that are being eliminated to other similar positions that are not scheduled to be eliminated.

5.1.4. The administrator must agree that the eliminated position will not be reinstated for at least one (1) year from the date of elimination. During this time period a position may not be reclassified to take the place of the position eliminated. Reinstatement of the position must be approved by the Provost, executive vice president, or vice president responsible for the organization.

If the position was eliminated due to a loss of funding and additional funding is received resulting in reinstatement of the position, the hiring officer must first offer the position to the individual laid off due to the funding loss.

5.1.5. The administrator must give the employee being laid off as much notice, in writing, as practicable, but no less than thirty (30) calendar days. The notice shall include the effective date of the layoff, the reasons for the layoff, and information on the employee's reemployment rights.

5.1.6. The administrator must notify the Division of Human Resources of the approved layoff at the earliest possible time. This will allow time for the employee to be transferred into a vacant position. It is desirable that disruption of employment be minimized. It will also allow sufficient time for the employee to be advised of reemployment and benefit rights.

5.2. Reemployment Rights

Employees who have been laid off because of loss of funding, restructuring, or elimination of programs or services shall be placed on a "layoff roster" for six (6) months.

5.2.1. Benefits

During the time an individual is on the layoff roster:

  • The individual may retain health insurance coverage through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) by paying the full insurance premium.
  • The University shall stop making retirement contributions as of the date of the layoff. Upon reemployment, retirement contributions by the employee and the University will begin as of the date of the reemployment.
  • The individual may continue other employer-supported benefits, such as educational benefits, in which they participated before being laid off. But individuals who are laid off may not initiate any employer-supported benefits while on the layoff roster.

5.2.2. Priority Hiring

Individuals who will be laid off or are on the layoff roster will be given first priority in filling any vacant position at the University of similar or lower classification. The Division of Human Resources will refer individuals on (or to be placed on) the layoff roster to the first department seeking to fill a vacant position of similar or lower classification. Only if the individual on the layoff roster rejects an offer of reemployment into the position, may the hiring officer consider another employee of the University or an external applicant for the position. An individual is given priority reassignment or reemployment status under this policy for six (6) months from the date of the layoff and will retain accumulated seniority to the date of lay-off, but does not accrue additional seniority during the lay-off period.

5.2.2.1. Position of Similar Classification

Hiring officers must give individuals on the layoff roster first priority when filling any University position substantially comparable in duties, responsibilities, salary, and minimum qualifications. Individuals on the layoff roster who are reemployed into such a position shall be paid at least at the salary level of their previous employment. The hiring officer may consider another employee of the University or an external applicant for the position if the individual on the layoff roster rejects an offer of reemployment into the position. If an individual refuses to accept reemployment into a substantially comparable position, he or she will automatically be removed from layoff status and lose any reemployment or benefit rights under this policy.

The Division of Human Resources will determine which positions are substantially comparable in nature to the position previously held by the employee. The individual will be deemed to have met the minimum qualifications of substantially comparable positions since he or she met the qualifications for the position previously held.

5.2.2.2. Position of Lower Classification

Hiring officers must also give individuals on the layoff roster, who are qualified for a position of lower classification and who voluntarily choose to be considered for the position, first priority when filling the position. Only if the individual on the layoff roster rejects an offer of reemployment into the position, may the hiring officer consider another employee of the University or an external applicant for the position. An individual who rejects reemployment into a position of lower classification is not removed from the layoff roster and does not lose reemployment or benefit rights under this policy.

5.2.2.3. Other Openings

During the time the individual is on layoff status, he or she may apply for any other vacant position at the University and compete as a new applicant. The individual will be given priority only for positions described in Sections 5.2.2.1. and 5.2.2.2. herein.

5.2.3. Reemployment

The individual's reemployment shall be considered a six (6) month probationary appointment (twelve [12] month probationary appointment for police command staff), subject to the acceptable performance requirements of any new employment. The reemployed employee, the hiring officer, and the employee's supervisor shall make good faith efforts to establish a satisfactory employee-employer relationship.

5.2.3.1. Sick and Annual Leave

An employee who is laid off will not accrue annual and sick leave hours while on layoff. However, a laid-off employee who is reemployed, into a position that is eligible to accrue leave, will accrue sick and annual leave at the same rate the employee accrued at the time of the layoff, if the reemployment occurs within six (6) months of the date of the layoff. Unused, unsold sick leave hours as of the date of the layoff will be reinstated for those employees who are reemployed from layoff within six (6) months. Employees rehired or reinstated after expiration of layoff status (six [6] months) as specified above will be considered as new hires for annual and sick leave purposes.

Laid off employees are paid for unused annual leave hours at time of separation.

6. Separation Procedure and Supervisor's Responsibilities

To protect both the employee and the University, and to maintain official records to determine if an employee is eligible for unemployment compensation, the following procedure is to be used for all voluntary and involuntary separations.

  • The supervisor shall submit an Employee Separation Form to the Division of Human Resources on or before the last day of employment. (The effective date of separation is the last day when the employee will be in paid status.)
  • The supervisor shall confirm that the employee does not take annual leave or sick leave that would extend the termination date beyond the last day actually worked. (This requirement does not apply to employees retiring from the University who use annual leave to extend the termination date.)
  • The supervisor shall direct the employee to LoboWeb (Employee Self Service) to update his or her forwarding address. 
  • The supervisor shall ensure that the employee completes a Separation Check-Off List for Staff Employees. This process requires that the employee be cleared by each department on the list (Locksmith, Cashier, Parking Services, etc.)

The Division of Human Resources will notify employees who separate from the University of their rights for health insurance coverage under the federal COBRA program.

6.1. Exit Interview

As part of the separation process, supervisors should ask employees to voluntarily complete an online Exit Interview before leaving the University. The information on the online form is confidential and not released to the employee's supervisor. The University will use the information provided by the employee in the aggregate to determine employment trends and identify problem areas.  In addition, an employee may complete a more in-depth Exit Interview Form and submit it directly to the manager or chain of command or with the Ombuds Dispute Resolution Office.

7. Related Links

UAP 3215 ("Performance Management")

UAP 3240 ("Contract Employees")

UAP 3410 ("Sick Leave")

UAP 3705 ("Seniority")

Separation Check-Off List for Staff Employees Form

Exit Interview - Online Version

Exit Interview Form

LoboWeb (Employee Self Service) my.unm.edu