Layoff Q&A for Employers

This information primarily applies to non-represented employees. Employers should consult the Collective Bargaining Agreements and the Labor Relations Office for specific questions concerning represented employees.

General Questions

Layoff Lists

Layoff Options

General Questions

What is the difference between layoff and other types of separation?

Layoff is not a disciplinary action. Layoff actions are caused specifically by:

  • Lack of funds.
  • Lack of work.
  • Other organizational needs.

Examples of layoff actions due to lack of work may include, but are not limited to:

  • Termination of a project or special employment.
  • Availability of fewer positions than there are employees entitled to such positions.
  • An employee's ineligibility to continue in a position following its reallocation to a class with a higher salary range maximum.
  • An employee's ineligibility to continue, or choice not to continue, in a position following its reallocation to a class with a lower salary range maximum.

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How are positions selected for layoff?

Management determines which positions will be selected for layoff.

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May an employer temporarily lay off an employee?

An employer may temporarily lay off an employee by:

  • Reducing an employee’s scheduled hours to no less than 20 hours per week and for no more than 60 calendar days.
  • Furloughing an employee for 30 calendar days or less.

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Can an employee appeal a layoff action?

Yes.

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What happens to a laid off employee's salary if appointed to a lower level class?

An employee who accepts a demotion in lieu of layoff, or accepts a layoff option to a position with a lower salary range, will generally receive his or her current salary. However, if the previous salary exceeds the new position's salary range, the salary will be set to the top of the new position's range. The employee's salary may be set higher than the top of the salary range if allowed by the employer's salary determination policy.

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What is an employment retention rating and how does it factor into layoff?

The employment retention rating is the basis for determining layoff options for non-represented employees.

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What are competencies?

Competencies are the measurable and observable knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors critical to an employee's success in a key job role or function.

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Are 'competencies' as used in the rules the same as 'skills and abilities' as used in the collective bargaining agreements (CBAs)?

Operationally, the CBA term 'skills and abilities' is equivalent to 'knowledge, skills, and abilities' as defined in Washington State's Competency Model. Competencies also include behaviors, but most organizations will likely focus on knowledge, skills, and abilities when determining layoff options. Some CBAs specifically define 'skills and abilities' for layoff as documented criteria found in:

  • Licensing and certification requirements.
  • State and federal requirements.
  • Position descriptions.
  • Recruitment announcements.
  • Bona fide occupational requirements approved by the Washington State Human Rights Commission.

Consult the specific CBA for more information.

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What happens if competencies have not been identified prior to a layoff activity?

Washington State's Civil Service Rules to not require establishment of competencies prior to a layoff. However, some collective bargaining agreements require that skills and abilities be identified at least three months in advance of a layoff. Employers should establish required competencies in advance of a layoff to avoid suspicion and complaints. If an employer must clarify competencies at the time of layoff, consulting an attorney is advised.

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How does an employer determine if a layoff candidate meets a position's requirements?

Employers may require a state application, resume, employee profile, or other information from candidates to determine if they meet position requirements.

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Layoff Lists

 

Where do employees apply for layoff lists?

If the employer maintains its own internal layoff list, the employee must submit an application directly to the employer. To join the General Government Statewide Layoff List, the employee must submit an application to the Department of Enterprise Services.
Employees interested in being placed on higher education’s statewide layoff lists must apply directly at the institutions. Similarly, higher education employees need to apply separately to general government’s statewide layoff list.

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How long may employees stay on layoff lists?

Two years from the effective date of the qualifying action.

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Are all candidates on layoff lists certified for a vacant position?

Yes, as long as they meet the competencies and other position requirements, and are not under a collective bargaining agreement that says otherwise. Employers may also choose to certify internal promotional candidates along with their internal layoff candidates. If so, this should be addressed in their layoff procedure.

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How many times may an employee that is hired from a layoff list voluntarily separate before being removed from the list?

An employee may voluntarily separate a maximum of three times.

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Layoff Options

What factors can be considered when determining layoff options for employees? Can performance be included?

Seniority and position requirements, including competencies, are the two main factors to consider in determining layoff options for employees. To also consider performance, employers must receive Performance Management Confirmation (PMC) from the State Human Resources Director.

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How do bumping options work when the layoff unit spans both represented and non-represented positions?

The laid off employee’s position determines the bumping options. If it is within a bargaining unit, bumping options will be governed by the collective bargaining agreement. If it is not part of a bargaining unit, bumping options will be governed by Civil Service Rules.

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How does an employer know if the position offered as a layoff option will be a good fit for the employee?

Employers may require that employees hired as a layoff option or from a layoff list serve a six-month transition review period

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What other options are available to employees after a layoff?

Employees subject to a layoff may also be placed on one or more layoff lists.

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