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What to do when you’re

Being laid off

There’s no other way to say it: being laid off is tough. It may ease your mind a bit to know that you may be able to receive priority for reemployment at UC, and you may be able to continue some of your UC benefits for a limited period.

Here’s what you need to know if your layoff is permanent. If you’ve been laid off temporarily see What to do if you’re being laid off temporarily.

Note: The information here applies to non-represented Professional and Support Staff (PSS) who hold career positions and represented employees unless otherwise stipulated by the collective bargaining agreement. If you’re in a position classified as MSP (manager, senior professional) or SMG (senior management group), please see the Termination of Employment Fact Sheet PDF. Talk to your local benefits office to confirm the provisions of your benefits.

Understand your rights and UC’s policies.

If layoffs become necessary, the criteria the university considers include your relevant skills, knowledge, abilities, documented performance and length of service. When multiple employees have the same attributes and are performing equally, those with more seniority will have priority for retention. You may choose to waive your seniority to be designated for a layoff, subject to approval by the layoff department head for your unit. Employment prior to a break in service is not counted toward seniority.

If you’re being laid off indefinitely, the university will provide at least 30 days written notice, or pay in lieu of notice. If you’re a regular status employee, the university will provide opportunities for reassignment and transfer to other positions, if possible. To learn more, contact your Human Resources Office.

UC will also offer severance — one week’s pay for each full year of service, following your most recent break in service, up to 16 weeks’ base pay — to regular status employees facing an indefinite layoff. It will be paid in a lump sum. If you have advance notice of the layoff, it must be paid on your last day of employment; if you receive pay in lieu of notice, it must be paid within 72 hours of your separation from employment.

Know your options.

Some regular status employees may be offered a choice between severance and the Right to Recall (for jobs in the same department) and Preference for Reemployment (jobs on the same campus). If you choose Right to Recall and Preference for Reemployment , you won’t receive severance.

Eligibility for Right to Recall means that for three years after your layoff, you may be recalled into any active or vacant career position for which you’re qualified. The new position must be in the same classification, salary grade and department, and at the same or a lesser percentage of time, as the job from which you were laid off.

Having Preference for Reemployment means that for up to two months before your layoff date—and for a period afterward based on your years of UC service—you have preference for any active or vacant career position for which you’re qualified. Your period of preference for reemployment is:

  • 1 year, if you have less than five years of service
  • 2 years, if you have five to 10 years of service
  • 3 years, if you have 10 or more years of service

The position must be at the same or lower salary grade, at the same or lesser percentage of time, and at the same campus as the job you were laid off from.

If you have questions about how frequently employees have been recalled or reemployed at your location, contact your Human Resources Office.

If you’re a regular status Professional and Support Staff employee being recalled or rehired under Preference for Reemployment, you may be required to serve a period of trial employment of up to six months. If so, you can return to layoff status any time during this period at your or the department head’s discretion. Your trial employment will not count against your period of eligibility for recall or preferential rehire. (Your Right to Recall and Preference for Reemployment continue during, but are not extended by, any temporary periods of employment you may have in limited or floater positions.)

If you choose to retire after being laid off and your location offers both recall/preference for reemployment and severance, you can also retain recall/rehire rights, as long as you choose recall/preference for reemployment rather than severance.

Because of the requirement that you must retire within 120 days of separation from the university to receive UC retiree health benefits, some employees retire when they would have preferred to keep working. If this is your situation, you may return to work if a recall or reemployment opportunity arises. Your return will be subject to UCRP reinstatement provisions and the policy on reemployment of UC retired employees PDF. If you have additional questions, please contact the Retirement Administration Service Center or your human resources office.

Understand your options for continuing your benefits.

If you want to continue some of your UC benefits, you’ll need to pay the full premiums — both your and UC’s portion — yourself.

For some benefits, you also have the option to apply for conversion to an individual policy. This type of coverage, though, is likely to be more expensive, and provide fewer benefits, than your UC plan did.

For most benefits, if you decide not to continue coverage, or you don’t pay the premiums on time, coverage will end on the last day of the last month for which premiums have been paid.

Here’s how to handle specific benefits in preparation for a layoff.

Medical, dental and vision: If you want to continue these benefits for up to 18 months for yourself and/or eligible family members, apply for COBRA continuation coverage. WEX Health, a company that handles COBRA for UC, will send you an information packet with instructions. You’ll send the enrollment forms and premiums directly to WEX Health. You have 60 days from the date you lose coverage (or 60 days from the date you receive notice from WEX Health of your eligibility for COBRA, if later) to apply. If you’re enrolled in UC Blue & Gold or Kaiser, you may be able to continue medical coverage (but not dental or vision) for another 18 months under CalCOBRA. You’ll need to apply within 31 days after your COBRA coverage ends.

If you’re enrolled in the UC Health Savings Plan, your Health Savings Account belongs to you and you can use it to pay for eligible expenses after you leave UC employment. You can continue to contribute to your HSA as long as you are covered by the Health Savings Plan or any qualified high-deductible health plan. Your HSA contributions through payroll deduction end with your last paycheck. However, if you have not yet reached the IRS maximum contribution limit allowed for the year, you can still make contributions directly to HealthEquity. Call HealthEquity for more information at 1-866-212-4729 at any time.

For medical only, another possibility is to apply — within 31 days after your group coverage ends — for conversion to an individual policy. Or you may apply to the insurance carrier directly for individual coverage, which could provide better benefits for less. The Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges might also provide options.

Legal: Contact ARAG directly, within 31 days after UC coverage ends, to apply for conversion to an individual policy.

Life Insurance and Accidental Death and Dismemberment: If you’re enrolled in Basic Life only, you may continue Basic Dependent Life; if you’re enrolled in and continue Supplemental Life, you may continue Basic Dependent Life or Expanded Dependent Life. When your group coverage ends, you have 31 days in which to apply for conversion to an individual policy or port (or continue) your coverage. For AD&D, you have 31 days from the time your group coverage ends in which to apply for conversion to an individual policy.

Supplemental Health Plans: Coverage ends on the last day of the month in which you are laid off. You may continue coverage through porting. Call Prudential customer service toll-free at (855) 483-1438, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. Monday–Friday (PT) to port your coverage.

Disability, business travel accident and workers’ compensation: Remember that your coverage ends your last active day at work. The exception is if you’re a UC police or fire employee; you may remain eligible for Workers’ Comp for certain medical conditions for up to five years after UC employment ends.

DepCare and Health flexible spending accounts: If you’d like to continue Health FSA coverage through COBRA, you can continue to participate through Dec. 31 of the current plan year by making direct after-tax payments to your account.  You cannot continue the DepCare FSA.

For both accounts, be sure to submit expenses by April 15 of the following year or you’ll forfeit funds left in the accounts. For DepCare, or if you don’t continue health FSA coverage through COBRA, you can be reimbursed for eligible expenses you incur through the end of the pay period in which you made your last contribution. If you have questions, your benefits representative can help.

Auto/Homeowner/Renter’s insurance: Contact the carrier if you want to continue coverage to the end of the year by paying premiums directly.

Vacation and sick leave: You’ll be paid for any vacation leave you’ve earned through your last day at work, but won’t be paid for accumulated sick leave.

If you’re rehired during a Right to Recall and Preference for Reemployment period, your sick leave will be reinstated. If you retire within 120 days of your layoff and choose monthly retirement income, unused sick leave will be converted to retirement service credit at the rate of eight sick leave hours for one day of service credit.

Unemployment insurance: Contact your state unemployment office to find out if you’re eligible. Certain restrictions may apply if you choose to be laid off or don’t exercise your employment seniority rights.

Decide what to do with your pension and retirement savings.

Your options include leaving your funds where they are, taking distributions, and electing to retire.

If you want to keep your UCRP contributions in place, you may do so. If you have at least five years of UCRP service credit, you become an inactive UCRP member and retain the right to a pension when you meet the minimum retirement criteria (age 50 or 55, depending on your UCRP classification, with at least five years of UCRP service credit).

If you hope to return to UC employment, keeping your UCRP contributions on deposit may be a good option because you will retain the service credit and need fewer years to be eligible for future UCRP retirement benefits. However, you must take a distribution of your CAP balance (see below.)

You could become eligible for inactive membership even if you don’t have enough service credit, if you’re being laid off for budgetary reasons and could become vested only through a service credit purchase. (See Step 5.) Or, if you don’t have enough UCRP service credit but have service credit in another eligible retirement plan, such as CalPERS, you may be able to become vested because of that service. Talk with your Benefits rep to learn more.

If you take a distribution of your UCRP funds, you lose your right to future UCRP benefits—meaning you won’t be eligible for a pension—unless you return to work at UC and re-establish service credit. The distributions you’re eligible to take include your UCRP contributions, plus interest, but not the contributions UC made on your behalf.

If you decide to retire, contact the Retirement Administration Service Center to begin the process.

Important: You’ll need to retire within 120 days of separating from UC employment if you want to continue any UC benefits you’re eligible for as a retiree.

If you have a CAP balance, you must take it as a distribution. You have the option to roll over all or part of the distribution to an IRA or employer plan; if the balance is paid directly to you, you may be liable for taxes on it.

For the DC, 403(b) and 457(b) plans, you may keep your money in place for any plan that has a balance of at least $2,000. If you don’t meet the balance requirements, you must request a full distribution of all your money from that plan; to do so, contact Fidelity.

If you don’t make arrangements for a distribution, your accumulation will be:

  • Rolled over to an IRA custodian in an account maintained for you (if your balance is more than $1,000 but less than $2,000), or
  • Paid directly to you at your address of record (if your balance is $1,000 or less).

You may be liable for taxes and penalties on the distribution.

If you have a 403(b) loan outstanding, contact Fidelity to pay it in full or arrange to make monthly payments. If you don’t take action within 90 days, the loan will be reported as a taxable distribution.

Understand your options for a UCRP service credit purchase.

If you have a service credit purchase in progress and are making monthly payments, you will receive proportional service credit or a proportional reduction in your Plan 02 or leave offset.

If you have made 12 or more monthly service credit purchase payments, you may make a lump sum, after-tax payment to complete your purchase. You must make the payment within 60 days after leaving the university, and payment is subject to the IRC 415(c) annual limit in most cases.

If you can meet UCRP vesting requirements only through service credit purchase, you may be able to complete a purchase by making a one-time, lump-sum payment before you leave university employment. Your payment options may include a lump sum after-tax payment, a trustee-to-trustee transfer from the UC 403(b) or 457(b) Plan, or a rollover from a UC plan or another qualified plan.

Keep UC informed of your address if you move.

If you choose Right to Recall, leave money in UCRP or continue your health benefits, you’ll need to notify UC any time you change your permanent address. If you’re continuing your health benefits, a change in your permanent address may affect your eligibility for health plans that have a service area. You can change your address online by signing in to your benefits accounts.

Make sure your beneficiaries are up to date.

For UCRP, you can update beneficiaries any time online — before or after you leave UC — on UC Retirement At Your Service (UCRAYS) or via the UBEN 117 form. For your Retirement Savings Plans, contact Fidelity.

If you’re rehired to work at UC, contact your benefits representative.

You may be able to reinstate benefits such as sick leave and purchase UCRP service credit for the time you were away.

If you’re rehired into an eligible position within 120 days of your layoff date, you may sign up for the same benefits plans (with the same coverage) you were enrolled in before you left. You may enroll eligible family members who became eligible after your layoff began.

If you’re rehired more than 120 days after your layoff date, you’re treated as a newly eligible employee and may enroll in any benefits plans for which you’re eligible.

If you’re hired more than 120 days after your layoff — but within your period of Right to Recall and Preference for Reemployment — contact your benefits representative. You’ll need to make sure your health insurance records reflect your original hire date, rather than the date you were rehired. (Eligibility to continue health benefits as a retiree is stricter for employees hired or rehired on or after Jan. 1, 1990.)

Your new appointment will determine your eligibility for benefits.