The Office of Human Resources

Elimination of Positions: Criteria, Notice Period and Severance Pay Policy

Brandeis strives to maintain a stable work environment. However, at times it may become necessary to eliminate positions due to budgetary constraints, lack of work, reorganization and similar reasons.

Affected employees will be provided with a notice period and/or pay in lieu of notice. They are also eligible for salary continuation pay (severance pay) in accordance with this policy.


This policy applies to exempt and nonexempt full-time and part-time staff employees. Bargaining-unit employees are covered by the terms of their specific collective bargaining agreement. Senior management employees are covered under a separate policy. Faculty are covered under separate policies or collective bargaining agreements.

This policy does not apply to employees terminated due to misconduct, unsatisfactory performance, poor work habits or conduct-related issues, nor does it apply to temporary employees, or individuals employed in positions with appointment end dates.

Grant-funded positions that end when grant funding is exhausted are covered under a separate policy, end of grant-funded positions.

Employee performance, attendance or conduct issues are not managed through position elimination. These types of concerns should be managed through the corrective action process. Please refer to the policy on conduct standards and corrective action.


Change or Elimination of Position

Decisions to change or eliminate a position due to budgetary constraints, lack of work, reorganization and similar reasons should be made by the department head, dean and/or department/program chair, and reviewed by the Office of Human Resources. A reduction-in-force template will need to be completed by the department prior to elimination of the position. The information in the template will be carefully reviewed by human resources and university administration. Appropriate time should be allowed for such review. Possible alternatives to job elimination should also be discussed.

Decision Criteria

Often, layoff decisions are based on a business rationale that there is no longer a need for a specific job or skill. At other times, the decision to layoff or reduce hours may be more complex. For example, this may occur when there are several employees performing similar or related work. In these cases, department heads, deans and/or department/program chairs should carefully consider individual performance, the skills an individual possesses and the importance of retaining these skills to the department when making layoff selections. Once the reduction-in-force template is reviewed and approved, human resources will notify the department.

Declining an Alternative Position and Reduction in Hours

Employees may be offered an alternative position or a position with reduced hours, if available. An employee who is offered and declines an alternative or changed position for which the employee is qualified, with hours and pay reasonably similar to their previous position, is generally ineligible to receive severance.

Employees may decline a reduction in hours and elect, instead, to receive severance pay in accordance with this policy. If a reduction in hours is accepted, the employee will be eligible for prorated severance payments for the duration of the severance pay period for which he or she is eligible.

Elimination of Positions

If during the severance pay period the employee finds a lower paying job at the university, the employee will receive the difference between the new pay and the severance payments through the severance eligibility pay period.

Notice Period

Employees will receive a notice period of four weeks prior to elimination of their positions. Managers will determine if an employee should continue to work through the four-week period, be paid in lieu of notice or receive a combination of working notice and pay in lieu of notice.

Separation Date

An employee’s separation date will be the last day of the notice period.

Severance Pay

In addition to notice period pay, employees who sign a standard release are eligible to receive severance pay as follows:

  • Four weeks of severance pay for up to two years of service.
  • Eight weeks of severance pay for two to five years of service.
  • Twelve weeks of severance pay for five to 10 years of service.
  • Sixteen weeks of severance pay for over 10 years of service.

Severance pay is calculated on base pay only.

Severance Payments

Severance payments will consist of payments by Brandeis equal to an employee’s regular weekly or semimonthly rate of pay, whichever applies, less any legally required and voluntarily authorized deductions, payable in accordance with Brandeis’ customary payroll practices and consistent with this policy.

Typically, severance is paid weekly or semimonthly as appropriate to the individual’s payroll group.

Severance Pay Funding

The department funds severance pay and payment of any accrued, unused vacation. Departments should plan any job eliminations or reductions in anticipation of these expenses.

Reemployment During Severance Pay Period

If employees are reemployed at Brandeis in any capacity during the severance pay period, severance pay ceases upon the effective date of the change. If the individual is hired into a lower-paying position, the new pay will be offset by severance pay for the remainder of the length of the severance pay period.

Effect on Benefits

The university will continue its contributions to health and dental insurance during the severance pay period for employees enrolled at the time of separation. Health and dental insurance may be temporarily continued, in accordance with Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) regulations at the end of the severance pay period.

If enrolled, both the employee’s contributions and the university’s contributions toward retirement cease on the separation date (end of notice period), as do deductions for flexible spending accounts. Other benefits, such as life insurance, cease at the end of month in which the date of separation occurs. Long-term disability insurance coverage will end on the last day of the month in which the separation occurs or the employee becomes ineligible due to a change in employment status. Within 31 days following termination of employment, the employee may be eligible to convert all or part of long-term disability insurance benefits to individual coverage. Information will be provided at the time of separation.

If participating, pretax MBTA benefits will terminate at the end of the month of separation. If participating, employee education benefits will end on the last day of the semester.

At the end of the notice period, and consistent with the university’s vacation carryover policy, employees will receive payment for any accrued, unused vacation.

Unemployment Compensation

Employees whose jobs are eliminated in accordance with this policy may apply for Unemployment Benefits with the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA). The University will accurately report the reason for the separation and will not contest these claims; however, eligibility is determined by the DUA, not by the University.


A department initiating the need for job elimination, reduction or change will submit the "reduction-in-force template" to the Office of Human Resources' employee relations unit with all appropriate information and rationale. The "reduction-in-force template" will be carefully reviewed with potential for additional questions and discussion of alternatives.

Once a decision is reached, the department will be notified. At that point, the department will formally notify the affected employee(s) in writing. Sample letters can be obtained from employee relations.

For employee(s) accepting a job change, a new letter of appointment will be issued by the Office of Human Resources, and a new job description will be completed by the department.

For employee(s) experiencing layoff, the department will connect the employee(s) to the Office of Human Resources for important information on benefit programs, health care continuation eligibility, unemployment and related end-of-employment matters.

The Office of Human Resources will initiate the termination with payroll and ensure that severance benefits, if eligible, and vacation payout benefits are appropriately calculated and scheduled for payment on the last day of employment.

Relevant Documents

  • Reduction-in-force template (department obtains from Office of Human Resources).
  • Sample termination notification letter (department obtains from Office of Human Resources).
  • Health care continuation notice (provided by Office of Human Resources to the employee(s)).