Layoff is a common term used whenever an employee is separated from service because of economic or program reductions. Section 80 of Civil Service Law and Rule XXIV of the Dutchess County Rules control the provisions regarding layoffs of competitive class positions. Collective bargaining agreements may extend these rights to other jurisdictional classes, but they cannot be intermixed with the rights of competitive class employees.
When layoffs are contemplated, an agency should contact their Civil Service representative as soon as possible. The rules regarding layoffs are complex and rather confusing, and often agencies are surprised by who ultimately has rights to be retained. Agencies should never attempt to analyze these situations on their own. There are a number of key elements to keep in mind.
Civil Service Status. Candidates will be ranked by their civil service status in their title in the following order, from the most rights to the least:
- permanent and completed probation
- permanent but serving probation
- contingent permanent
Seniority. Often agencies simply look at how long someone has been in a title and assume they know who would be laid off if a position was eliminated. However, Civil Service Law is concerned with the employee’s date of first permanent appointment in the classified service. This would even include exempt, non-competitive and labor class appointments (this is the only situation where other jurisdictional classes are considered in layoffs). In addition, seniority can further be adjusted for service as a war veteran, being a disabled war veteran, being the spouse of a disabled war veteran, or being blind.
Vertical Displacement – Bumping. When an employee is targeted to be laid off from a title, there may be bumping rights. This would be where, based on overall seniority as determined by our office, an employee has the right to move into a position in a lower level direct line position. Direct line is strictly interpreted as positions generally having a common title connection such as Principal Account Clerk, Senior Account Clerk, Account Clerk.
Retreat Rights. If there is no opportunity to bump to a lower level, an employee may have the right to retreat to the position last held on a permanent basis, assuming the position is in the same layoff unit, is at a lower level, is a competitive class position, and the employee has greater overall retention standing.
Preferred Eligible Lists. When incumbents are laid off or displaced from a position they are placed on a preferred eligible list for the agency. They remain on this list and must be offered the next opening for the position from which they were displaced, or any similar or equivalent position, as determined by our department. They must also be offered any position in a lower direct line position, but still remain on the preferred eligible list for their original title. The preferred eligible list lasts for up to 4 years.