Layoff Frequently Asked Questions
Are you being impacted by layoff within your agency? Here are answers to many of the questions you may have about this stressful, complicated process.
The following information applies to non-represented employees under the civil service rules. It does not apply to employees who are represented under collective bargaining (union) agreements or who are separated from service due to disability.
What is a layoff?
It is a reduction in your employer’s workforce. The most common reasons for a layoff are:
- Lack of funds.
- Lack of work.
- Organizational change.
(See WAC 357-46-010)
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;
- Employee’s ineligibility to continue in a position following its reallocation to a class with a higher salary range maximum; or
- 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.
These are the impacts that result:
- Separation from service with your employer;
- Employment in a class with a lower salary range maximum;
- Reduction in your work year; or
- Reduction in the number of hours you work.
(See WAC 357-46-005)
How much notice will I receive before a layoff?
Per WAC 357-46-025, permanent employees must receive at least fifteen calendar days notice unless employer and employee agree to waive the fifteen days notice period. Probationary employees must receive at least one calendar days notice, per WAC 357-46-185.
What should I look for in my layoff notice that will help me understand this layoff?
Per WAC 357-46-030, if you are a permanent employee, you must be notified in writing of the following:
- The reason or basis of the layoff.
- Any layoff options your employer identified for you.
- Whether a transition review period is required.
- The date by when you must select any layoff options.
- The layoff lists (internal and state-wide) for which you are eligible to apply.
- Your right to appeal the layoff.
Your employer’s layoff procedure would be another source of information you should consult. (See WAC 357-46-020)
I am a veteran. Is there any sort of preference for veterans in layoff?
Yes. Up to five years of military service is added to the unbroken state service of eligible veterans. (See WAC 357-46-060)
I am a classified employee in my probationary period. If I am laid off, am I eligible for layoff options and to be on layoff lists?
I have worked in a project position long enough to attain permanent status. Now the project is ending. Can I get on a layoff list?
If you have permanent status, even in a project position, you are eligible to be on internal and statewide layoff lists.
What is a 'layoff option'?
When the employer identifies your layoff option (WAC 357-46-035), consideration is given first to classes at the salary range from which you are being laid off in which you have been permanent.
If no option is found, the employer then looks for an option to a class at a lower salary range in which you have held permanent status or an option to lower class in a class series/occupational category in which you have held permanent status (even if you haven’t worked or held status in the specific class). The employer must always consider the classes in descending salary order.
For instance, if an employee who was a permanent Human Resource Consultant 3 also held permanent status in the Clerical, Office Support, and Secretarial Occupational Category he or she may be offered a Human Resource Consultant 2 position before a position in the Clerical, Office Support, and Secretarial Occupational Category if the Human Resource Consultant 2 position is at a higher salary.
When the employer considers what classes or class series/occupational categories you’ve held permanent status in, it only applies to your period of employment since your last break in state service (WAC 357-46-057). Examples of a 'break in state service' are: going to work for a private employer or for a school district. Public higher education institutions in Washington are state employers, so going to work for them is not a break in state service.
Funded vacant positions are considered first. If no funded vacant positions are available, your options may extend to a position in the layoff unit (WAC 357-46-020) occupied by the employee with the lowest employee retention rating (WAC 357-46-050). Positions offered as options need to be comparable (WAC 357-46-040), and you need to meet the competencies (WAC 357-46-045) and other position requirements. If this does not result in a layoff option (WAC 357-46-035), the employer must determine if there is an available position in lieu of separation that meets the following:
- The position is at the same or lower salary range maximum as the position the employee is being laid off from;
- The position is vacant and less than comparable or held by a probationary employee or an employee in a nonpermanent appointment as defined in WAC 357-01-210; and
- The position is one for which the employee meets the competencies and other position requirements.
If more than one qualifying position is available, the position with the highest salary range maximum is the one that must be offered.
I am in danger of, or have been, bumped. What does that mean?
Someone with more seniority or a higher employee retention rating (WAC 357-46-050) than you was laid off. One of his/her layoff options was to your position, and he/she took it so he/she could remain employed. Layoff seniority is calculated differently in Higher Education (WAC 357-46-053) than in General Government (WAC 357-46-055).
I’ve accepted one of my layoff options but it is to a job that requires an hour more commute than my current job. Am I eligible for layoff registers?
Individual employers may define in their layoff procedures what they consider a reasonable commute. If an employer offers, and you accept a position that is beyond what the employer’s layoff procedure has defined as reasonable, you may be eligible to be placed on the layoff list for the job class in which you have accepted the layoff option.
If you are on a internal or statewide layoff list and are offered, and accept, a permanent position in a location you chose as one you would work in, you will be removed from that layoff list and from others for lower levels in the same Occupational Category.
What if I take a job as a layoff option but later either my employer or I determine it is not the right fit for my skills and abilities during a transition review period?
Your employer will determine if a transition review period is necessary, based in part on how clearly your skills match the duties of your new position. This is a period for both you and the employer to assess the fit of your competencies, skills, and abilities (WAC 357-46-120) to the duties of the position.
If your employer determines that it is not a good match, you must be given a layoff option. (WAC 357-46-125)
If you decide not to continue in the job (WAC 357-46-125), your name can be placed on any layoff list(s) for which you qualify. You can also request placement in the General Government Transition Pool. You can also discuss with your previous employer the feasibility of returning to your former position. You may voluntarily separate up to three times as a result of a single layoff option. (WAC 357-46-125)
When can I get my name on a layoff list?
You can get your name on layoff lists as soon as you receive written notice of the layoff, including the effective date. (WAC 357-46-070) You may be eligible to have your name on more than one layoff list. (WAC 357-46-080) Also see the following questions: How do I get my name on internal layoff lists? and How do I get my name on statewide layoff lists?
Although you have 2 years to get your name on the layoff list, it is to your benefit to do this soon after you get your notice because you can only be on the internal and statewide layoff lists for 2 years from the effective date of your layoff. (WAC 357-46-130)
What is the difference between the types of layoff lists?
There are two types of layoff lists. The internal and statewide layoff lists are both maintained by class. Both lists are composed of laid off employees. (Also see the following questions: How do I get my name on internal layoff lists? and How do I get my name on statewide layoff lists?)
The internal layoff list is for use by the employer that laid you off. Each Higher Education institution and some General Government employers maintain their own internal layoff lists. Your layoff letter should advise you if your employer maintains this list.
The statewide layoff list is used by other employers. Since other employers may also employ people with competencies, skills, and abilities that you possess, you can improve your opportunities to be rehired after layoff by getting on the statewide layoff list(s) for classes for which you qualify.
The Department of Enterprise Services maintains the statewide layoff lists for General Government employers. This gives them a central source to consult for names. If you have been laid off from a General Government agency or Higher Education institution, send a copy of your layoff letter to DES. If it does not include the effective date of your layoff and name the class from which you were laid off, you need to also include them.
Higher Education employers maintain their own layoff lists. You must contact each individual Higher Education Employer to apply.
How do I know for which layoff lists I am eligible?
The classes available to you should be listed in your layoff notice. If they are not, contact your employer’s Human Resource office and ask them to identify them for you.
How do I get my name on internal layoff lists?
Your eligibility period for the internal layoff list is 2 years from the effective date of your layoff. Check with the employer who is laying you off to find out if the Department of Enterprise Services or the employer maintains internal layoff lists for the classifications for which you qualify. If DES maintains the internal layoff list, apply to DES. To apply to these lists you must send a copy of your layoff letter, your completed Layoff List Employment Preferences form, and your resume to the Layoff List Administrator.
Dept of Enterprise Services
Attn: Layoff Administrator
P.O. Box 41464
Olympia WA 98504
Fax: 360-507-9240 or email: LayoffandGGTP@des.wa.gov
- If your Layoff List Employment Preferences form is not included, the Layoff List Administrator will send you the form for you to complete and return along with your resume, should you choose to include it.
- If you were permanent in more than one class, be sure to include the names of those classes as well and identify those for which you would like to be on statewide layoff lists.
- Whenever your address, phone numbers, email address, shift, and geographic areas in which you wish to work change, please inform the employer from which you were laid off and DES.
Employees on temporary layoff are not eligible to have their names placed on internal layoff list(s). (WAC 357-46-067)
How do I get my name on statewide layoff lists?
Your layoff notice should indicate who you should contact to get your name on the Statewide Layoff List(s). DES maintains the statewide layoff list for General Government and each Higher Education institution maintains their own layoff list.
You can get onto the statewide layoff list for any job class in which you have held permanent status, even if you are also on an employer’s internal layoff list for the same class(es).
To get on General Government statewide layoff list(s), within 2 years of the effective date of the layoff submit a copy of your layoff notice and your completed Layoff List Employment Preferences form to DES.
Since each higher education institution maintains their own layoff lists, you need to apply separately to each institution.
Whenever your address, phone numbers, email addresses, shift preference, or geographic areas in which you wish to work change, inform DES and the Higher Education institutions where your name is on layoff lists.
Employees on temporary layoff are not eligible to have their names placed on statewide layoff list(s). (WAC 357-46-067)
I had permanent status in classes that no longer exist or have been revised. Did this take away some of my layoff options?
If you previously held permanent status in a class(es) that has been revised or abolished, the employer will determine the closest matching class(es) to offer as a layoff option. The closest matching class(es) must be at the same or lower salary range maximum as the class from which you were laid off. (WAC 357-46-035).
I am a general government employee that has been laid off but want to apply to a higher education layoff list. How do I know who the higher education layoff lists for which I am eligible?
If you were laid off from a General Government class and apply for layoff lists at Higher Education employers, the Higher Education employers will determine the class(es) that uses the same, or essentially the same skills, abilities, and competencies as the class from which you were laid off and for which you are eligible.
If you were laid off from a Higher Education job class and apply to the Department of Enterprise Services (DES) to be on the statewide layoff list for employment in General Government, DES will determine comparable General Government class(es).
How long can I be on layoff lists?
What other things can I do to look for another job?
- Keep your eye on new job announcements for the state and other employers, and apply through the usual process.
- Get on as many eligible lists and Higher Education statewide layoff lists as you can.
- Contact as many employers as you can (state and otherwise) for whom you think you might like to work. Try to find out if they would be interested in you should a position come open with duties that your skills and abilities might match.
- Update your resume.
- Watch for new job announcements so you can apply for them.
I’ve been employed by two agencies in the time that I have worked for the state. I had permanent status in a class with my first employer. Then, I promoted to a job with my second employer and later gained permanent status there, too. There was no break in service between the two. Can I get onto the first employer’s internal layoff list?
No. Internal layoff lists are only for the employer who laid off the employee. If you apply for the statewide layoff list, you are eligible to be on it for both classes in which you were permanent.
While I am laid off will I still have my health insurance?
The Department of Enterprise Services does not maintain the health insurance system, and cannot answer this question. For an answer that addresses your circumstances, contact your agency’s human resource office or the Health Care Authority for more information.
While I am laid off will I qualify for Unemployment Insurance?
The Department of Enterprise Services does not maintain the unemployment insurance system and cannot answer this question. Contact the Employment Security Department to find out if you’re eligible.
- TTY: 800-365-8969
- Online: go2ui.com
Can I still apply as a promotional candidate while I am laid off?
This is something that each employer can choose, so check the promotional policy of the employer that laid you off.
What if I get called for an interview while I am laid off?
When you are called for an interview, you may ask the employer to send you the position description and any information about their organization so you can review it before your interview.
As with any interview, be prepared to detail your skills and to discuss what makes you a good fit for the employer and for the position. The employer is under no obligation to hire you so be prepared to sell your skills. It is a good idea to take your updated resume with you.
Remember that the employer does not need to retain you during the transition review period if the position does not seem to be a good match to your skills and abilities.
If you currently work for the state, it’s up to your current employer if you can attend an interview or other assessment during work hours. You may need to submit a leave slip instead.
If the position you are interviewing for requires you to relocate, ask about subsidized moving costs – each employer has its own policy regarding moving expenses.
How will I get considered for rehire from a layoff list?
Hiring processes differ for employees based on whether the vacancy being filled is represented by a labor union or not. For non-represented positions, consideration for rehire will be in accordance with the Civil Service rules, Title 357 WAC, and the employer’s layoff procedure. For represented positions, hiring is done in accordance with the Master Agreement. The information presented here applies to non-represented positions.
All internal layoff candidates who fulfill position-specific requirements are certified to the employing official. (WAC 357-16-130) Depending on an employer’s promotional policy, internal promotional candidates may also be included in this certification. (WAC 357-16-150) The employing official may appoint an individual from either of these lists.
If there are no internal layoff candidates, all statewide layoff candidates and general government transition pool candidates who satisfy competencies and others position requirements are certified to the employing official. Other eligible candidates may also be certified at that point. If any promotional preference is given, it must be in accordance with the employer’s promotional policy. (WAC 357-16-130)
Can I waive interviews or job offers that I get while I am laid off?
Yes, non-represented employees can waive interviews or job offers. If you waive three times you may be removed from a layoff list, so if you have waived twice when called a third time you should ask if waiving again would result in your being removed from a layoff list. (WAC 357-46-135)
If I am rehired from a layoff list, do I serve a probation period or trial service period?
Employers may require that employees serve a transition review period (except when an employee is being appointed to a comparable position performing the same job duties as the position held prior to layoff). During this time, both the employer and employee should take time to see if the position is a good fit to the competencies, skills, and abilities of the person who fills it. (WAC 357-46-110)
The employer may involuntarily separate an employee from a position during the transition review period, or the employee may choose to voluntarily separate. An employee may voluntarily separate three times. (WAC 357-46-125)
If an employee is separated during a transition review period, the employee’s name is reinstated on any layoff list from which it was removed at the time of placement in the position. The employee remains on the list until the employee’s initial eligibility expires or period of eligibility for a layoff list or the transition pool.
Separation during the transition review period cannot be appealed.
Employers may not require an employee to serve a transition review period when an employee is appointed to a comparable position performing the same job duties as the position held prior to layoff. This is because the employee may have already satisfactorily demonstrated that he or she can do the work up to the employer’s standards and is a good match for those duties.
What happens to my salary if I am rehired from a layoff list?
An employee’s salary is retained if it is within the new range. If it is not in the new range, the employing official may set the salary at the maximum of the range or retain the employee’s previous base salary depending on their salary determination policy. These options apply to:
- Employees appointed to a lower level position as a layoff options
- Employees that accept a voluntary demotion in lieu of layoff
If employees are hired for a lower level position from a layoff list, the employer’s salary determination policy will direct the salary level at which the employee is to be paid. The previous salary is not guaranteed. (See WAC 357-28-135.)
If I am rehired from a layoff list does my seniority date, vacation accrual rate, and sick leave start all over again?
No. Your seniority date remains the same as it was before you were laid off if you are rehired within two years of your layoff. (WAC 357-46-058) You would have been paid out all of your vacation leave in a lump sum when you were separated due to layoff per WAC 357-31-225. Upon re-hire off of a layoff register you will start your vacation accrual rate (number of hours earned per month) at the rate given in WAC 357-31. Your sick leave balance remains available to you for up to five years. If you are re-hired to state service within the five-year timeframe you will regain those sick leave hours.
I worked full-time before I was laid off. Will I be removed from the layoff lists I am on if I accept a nonpermanent, part-time or project appointment?
No. If you accept an appointment from a layoff list for less than comparable positions you will remain on your layoff list(s). (WAC 357-46-035 and 357-46-080) Another important source of information for you to consult to answer questions of comparability is the employer’s layoff procedure.
I am a Washington Management Service (WMS) employee and am being laid off. Am I eligible for layoff lists?
There are no layoff lists for WMS positions. If you were permanent in positions before you moved into your WMS position and have no break in service, you may be eligible for layoff lists for those general service classes for which you previously held permanent status. Regardless, you are eligible for the General Government Transition Pool.