UC seeks employee comment on proposed policy amendments

Several amendments to a University of California employee policy were proposed by the UC Office of the President and effectively released Monday, calling for consideration of performance when making decisions regarding layoffs and time reduction.

The proposed policy changes will allow employers throughout the UC to consider employees’ work performance instead of looking primarily at their seniority before making layoff decisions and will apply to non-union-represented professional and support staff, managers and supervisors, according to UC spokesperson Dianne Klein.

UCOP is seeking comments from employees regarding the proposed changes until Aug. 31. Though the policy only applies to nonrepresented employees, union members are encouraged to comment as well through their union representatives, according to Klein.

“Before, supervisors did not take performance into account in plans for layoff … Now, we’re taking seniority and performance into account,” Klein said.

The previous version of the policy used seniority as the principal determinant for layoffs, with the exception of cases involving additional skills and abilities between employees of the same classification and salary, the policy states.

“Criteria for consideration when determining order of layoff must include relevant skills, knowledge and abilities, documented performance, and length of service,” the revised policy states.

Systemwide, the policy applies to approximately 71,900 employees, including around 62,600 professional and support staff and around 9,300 managers and supervisors, according to Klein.

According to Klein, the proposal was prompted by the current budget crisis in California and the impact it is having on the state’s public higher education institutions.

However, Klein added that no decisions have currently been made regarding actual layoffs and what the timing of layoffs would be.

“There have been no solid plans for layoffs, no numbers,” Klein said. “We’re just getting everything in order in case this becomes necessary, considering the university has financial problems.”

According to Klein, in response to budget cuts to the university and the possible layoffs that may be required in order to offset cuts, UC Human Resources and Benefits, in conjunction with UC leadership, identified the policy adjustments as a potential step that could be taken.

“This policy provides direction and authority to effectuate indefinite and temporary layoffs and indefinite and temporary reductions in time when layoffs or reductions in time are necessary to support the University’s business needs,” the revised policy states.

According to Klein, the proposal is still under review. For any significant policy change, the law requires that revised policies be open to public commentary for 30 days, Klein said.

She added that all the responses are then looked over and may possibly be incorporated. Once further adjustments have been made during the internal review process, the final policy is ultimately approved or disapproved by UC President Mark Yudof.

Klein said if the policy is approved, she would expect it to be implemented within the next few months, adding that the policy changes were not likely  be met with much debate or concern.

“Clearly, we want this to take place,” she said. “It’s common sense. If you’re talking about getting the most efficient workforce, you’d want this tool at your disposal.”