This is the policy Santa Fe Community College (SFCC or College) will follow to implement employment actions in specifically defined situations when required as a result of: A) a bona fide financial emergency, B) discontinuation of one or more college academic programs, and/or C) the restructuring or closure of College offices or functions. Actions under this policy will be made in compliance with all federal and state laws and in compliance with the accreditation requirements of the Higher Learning Commission and/or specific program accreditation requirements. This policy does not constitute a contract, either express or implied, between the College and its employees.
Scope and Applicability
This policy applies to all SFCC employees in circumstances in which the College through its Governing Board has determined that a bona fide financial emergency exists, has decided to discontinue a program, or has decided that an office or function must be restructured or closed.
This policy defines the parameters around which employment actions required by emergency fiscal exigency, program discontinuance, re-structuring and reduction in force apply. It lays out the process for re-employment and for reduction-in-force.
- Adjunct Faculty Member Contracted to teach on a course by course basis. Refer to Policy 4-44: SFCC Employment of Faculty for further description.
- Bona Fide Financial Emergency An actual or impending immediate financial crisis, as determined by the governing board that threatens the continuation of college operations under the current structure.
- Contract Employee Employed under an employment contract or has contractual obligations with SFCC. Any staff employee hired through an employment contract is a Contract Employee. Staff employees who are typically hired through an Employment Contract include Executive Directors/Vice Presidents, Employees in Sensitive Positions, and any other employee which the College proposes to hire as a Contract Employee because the circumstances warrant
- Core Faculty A full-time or part-time faculty member who has successfully completed the faculty probationary period.
- Dean’s Council The committee of all deans currently in place at the college.
- Faculty Probationary Period The period of time during which a new faculty member, except an adjunct faculty member, works for the college prior to becoming a core faculty member. Refer to Policy 4-44 SFCC Employment of Faculty for further description.
- Probationary Employee An employee who has been hired to fill a regular full or part-time position who is working in the position during a probationary period.
- Probationary Faculty Member An employee hired by the college to provide instruction as a faculty member, except an adjunct faculty member, who has not completed the faculty probationary period. Refer to Policy 4-44 SFCC Employment of Faculty for further description.
- Staff Probationary Period The initial period of full- or part-time regular employment by employees who are hired to fill regular positions. The probationary period consists of unbroken employment status for one full year from date of hire in the same position the employee was hired in. If an employee transfers to another position during their probation period, the probation period will start over at the time of transfer.
- Academic Program Discontinuance The cessation of an academic program, center, institute, or department based upon educational, academic, and financial considerations in accordance with Policy 3-5 Academic Program Review.
- Reduction in Force or “RIF” The termination of any employee, or the non-renewal of a member’s or other contract employee’s contract, as a result of a bona fide financial emergency, discontinuation or cancellation of a college program, or restructuring of a college office or function. A RIF constitutes good cause for the termination of an employee’s employment or the termination or non-renewal of a faculty member’s or other contract employee’s contract.
- Employee – Regular Hired to fill a regular full- or part-time position and who has successfully completed his or her probationary period. Regular Employees have an expectation of continued employment and may be terminated only for good cause. Regular Employees are eligible to apply for any position posted as internal to SFCC employees only.
- Restructuring of an office or function The establishment, removal or reclassification of personnel in an office, program, center, institute or department when it is in the best interests of the college to do so.
- Employee – Temporary An employee hired to fill a full- or part-time, non-permanent position for a specified period.
- Employee is any member of the college workforce: all staff (regular full-time, regular part-time, term, temporary, probationary and sensitive position); all student employees; all faculty (full-time, part-time, adjunct and probationary); all administrators, including interim; all contract employees.
A. Bona Fide Financial Emergency as Determined by the Governing Board
- If the President believes that a bona fide financial emergency exists, or if the Governing Board requests from the President a recommendation whether a bona fide financial emergency exists, the President shall consult with the appropriate shared governance groups and make a recommendation to the Governing Board as to whether a bona fide financial emergency does exists.
- If the President determines that a bona fide financial emergency exists, the President’s recommendation to the Governing Board shall include the gravity of the situation and the President’s determination whether the financial emergency can be alleviated by measures other than a reduction-in-force.
- The Governing Board shall make a final determination whether a bona fide financial emergency exists.
- Upon the determination of the Governing Board that a bona fide financial emergency exists, the President shall determine which positions shall be subject to the RIF.
- A bona fide financial emergency is good cause to immediately terminate the employment or employment contract of any employee.
- A determination by the Governing Board of a bona fide financial emergency is not subject to challenge.
B. Academic Program Discontinuance as recommended by the Academic Program Review Committee based on Policy 3-5 Academic Program Review.
- Academic program discontinuance does not preclude the reallocation of resources to other academic programs.
- Unless a bona fide financial emergency exists as described in this policy, a program may not be discontinued for at least six (6) months after the President determines that it should be discontinued to allow for teach-out of students and any other requirements of College or program accreditors such as the Higher Learning Commission.
- Discontinuation of an academic program occurs only after a formal academic program review process in compliance with SFCC Policy 3-5 Academic Program Review.
- Notification of likelihood of program discontinuance shall be provided to the impacted employees as soon as a decision is made.
- The President’s determination that a program should be discontinued is not subject to challenge (SFCC Policy 3-5 Academic Program Review).
C. Restructuring of an Office or Function based on an analysis of workload, service requirements, learning/business/community need and/or service efficiency. Restructuring or closure shall be determined in consultation with the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, associate vice president or assistant vice president in charge of the office or function. The accreditation liaison officer shall be consulted to determine that such closure or restructuring does not place the college out of compliance with accreditation requirements of the Higher Learning Commission:
- The restructuring of an office or function that would result in a reduction-in-force (RIF) may occur only after a determination that the restructuring meets appropriate criteria. Examples of restructuring include, but are not limited to, the merger or separation of programs; the transfer of a particular function from one office to another; the merger of two or more positions into fewer positions; or the change in the job duties of an existing position.
- A vice president or executive director, after consultation with the President and the Executive Director of Human Resources, may determine that a particular office or function under their jurisdiction should be restructured based on an analysis of workload, service requirements, learning, business or community need, accreditation requirements, service efficiency, and other factors.
- In such a case, the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, after consulting with the appropriate governance group(s), may recommend to the President the restructuring of that office or function.
- If the President determines that such a restructuring meets the applicable criteria and is in the best interests of the College, they shall approve the restructuring and determine which positions shall be subject to the reduction-in-force, based upon the needs of the College after the restructuring.
- If a reduction-in-force is the result of the restructuring of an office or function, a regular employee affected by the reduction-in-force shall receive at least sixty (60) calendar days’ notice of the termination of their employment.
- The President’s determination that restructuring is in the best interests of the College is not subject to challenge.
- Wherever possible, regular employees and core faculty members subject to a reduction-in-force shall be placed in other open positions at the College for which they are qualified if such positions are open at the time of the reduction-in-force or at any time within three (3) months following the date of the reduction-in-force. After the initial three (3) months, they can reapply and be considered and internal consideration for an additional three (3) months if they meet minimum qualifications.
- If a regular employee or core faculty member rejects the placement in another open position for which they are qualified, that employee will be considered to have resigned.
D. Loss of Grant Funding.
A loss of grant money or grant funding does not require a reduction-in-force. Terminations may be made based on the loss of funding without notice.
E. Notice of Reduction-in-Force
- Probationary employees, temporary employees, adjunct faculty members, and probationary faculty members are not entitled to notice prior to termination as a result of a reduction-in-force. Such employees shall be provided written notice of termination that includes the date of their termination.
- Notice of a reduction-in-force for a contract employee shall be provided pursuant to the terms of that employee’s contract.
- Regular employees and core faculty members shall receive written notice of their termination stating that the termination is as a result of a reduction-in-force and describing the basis for the President’s determination that the employee’s position should be eliminated. The notice shall also state that the employee may request to be employed in another open position for which the employee is qualified, and the determination to eliminate the employee’s position may be appealed in accordance with this policy.
- Regular employees and core faculty members shall be provided with an opportunity to respond to the notice of termination as a result of a reduction-in-force by submitting a written request for a meeting with the appropriate vice president or executive director within five (5) working days of the date of service of the notice.
- The date of service of the notice shall be the date that the written notice was mailed by certified mail, faxed or e-mailed to the regular employee or core faculty member.
- If this request is not made to the appropriate vice president or executive director within five (5) working days of the date of service of the notice, the termination shall no longer be subject to pre-termination review.
- The appropriate vice president or executive director (or designee) shall meet with the regular employee or core faculty member within five (5) working days from receipt of the request for a meeting. The appropriate vice president or executive director (or designee), after consultation with the President, shall inform the regular employee or core faculty member in writing within five (5) working days of the meeting whether the employee’s position will be eliminated.
F. Review of Reduction-in-Force
- The Governing Board’s determination that a bona fide financial emergency exists and the President’s decision that a program should be discontinued or that an office or function should be restructured are final and binding and not subject to challenge or review.
- Probationary employees, temporary employees, adjunct faculty members, probationary faculty members and contract employees whose contracts may be terminated with or without cause and with or without notice may not seek review of their termination as a result of a reduction-in-force pursuant to SFCC Policy 4-3 Employee Concerns and Complaints.
- If the terms of a contract employee’s contract provide that the contract employee may be terminated only for good cause, the contract employee may seek review of their termination as a result of a reduction-in-force in the same manner as regular employees and core faculty members pursuant to this policy.
- Regular employees, core faculty members and contract employees whose contracts may be terminated only for good cause may request a formal review of their terminations as a result of a reduction-in-force before a College Hearing Panel. The employee has five (5) working days from the date of service of the final written notice that their position is being eliminated (or the close of the five (5) day period to request a meeting with the vice president) to file a request for a formal review. Review under this policy involves two steps: A hearing before a College Hearing Panel, and a final decision by the President.
- Step One – Formal Review before a College Hearing Panel:
- The Office of Human Resources shall provide the employee seeking a review of their termination as a result of a reduction-in-force with a list of the members of the College Hearing Council within five (5) working days of receipt of the employee’s request for formal review.
- The employee shall notify the Executive Director of Human Resources in writing of their selection of one person from the College Hearing Council within five (5) working days of receipt of the list. If the employee does not do so within five working days, the employee shall be deemed to have abandoned their request for formal review.
- The appropriate vice president selects another person from the College Hearing Council and so notifies the Executive Director of Human Resources in writing within five (5) working days of receipt of the employee’s selection.
- Once two members have been identified, these two select a third member from the pool, who serves as the Hearing Panel Chair.
- Either the employee or the appropriate vice president may object to a Panel member selected on the basis of a conflict of interest, such as a current relationship, which might lead to the appearance of bias on the part of the person. Such objection shall be submitted to the Office of Human Resources in writing within five (5) working days of the panel member’s selection. The Office of Human Resources shall evaluate the possible conflict of interest, make a decision whether the panel member shall serve, and so notify the parties.
- The Office of Human Resources coordinates convening the College Hearing Panel within ten (10) Working Days of the selection of the Hearing Panel Chair.
- In consultation with the other members of the Panel, the Panel chairperson will then set a date for the hearing within 20 calendar days of being convened by Human Resources.
- The Office of Human Resources will send a written notice to the employee, the appropriate vice president and others who may be involved in the hearing stating the date and time of the hearing.
- The employee and the vice president may submit a written statement to the panel prior to the hearing.
- The Chair shall conduct the hearing. During the hearing, the vice president must demonstrate that the employee was terminated as a result of a reduction-in-force. If the vice president so demonstrates, the termination shall be presumed valid, unless the employee can show that the reduction-in-force violated another College policy.
- Both parties may call witnesses, cross-examine each other’s witnesses and introduce exhibits.
- Members of the College Hearing Panel may ask questions of all witnesses and require other employees whose testimony may be relevant to attend as the Hearing Panel’s witnesses.
- The rules of evidence shall not apply and the Chair may exclude evidence that they determine is irrelevant, immaterial or unduly repetitive.
- The hearing shall be closed to the public.
- Witnesses (other than the terminated employee and the responding supervisor) shall be present only to testify.
- The employee and the appropriate vice president may each be accompanied by an attorney or another representative of their choice; however, that attorney or representative may not participate in the hearing, they may only advise the employee and the responding supervisor.
- At the conclusion of the hearing, the College Hearing Panel will prepare a report to the President, summarizing its factual findings and including its general recommendations, The College Hearing Panel will issue its written report to the President within 10 working days of the hearing.
- Step Two – President’s Final Decision: The President in their sole discretion may accept, modify or reject, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Hearing Panel. The President will issue a final decision in writing to the affected parties within five (5) working days of receiving the College Hearing Panel report. The President’s decision is final and binding upon the parties.
G. Benefits Following a Reduction-in-Force
- The Office of Human Resources will provide all employees who are terminated as a result of a reduction-in-force with information regarding unemployment compensation, COBRA health benefits and any other benefit available to them.
- The SFCC Career Services Office will be available to help any affected employees with all the services available through that office.
H. Reinstatement Following a Reduction-in-Force
- If the College reestablishes the position of a regular employee or core faculty member who was terminated as a result of a reduction-in-force within one (1) year of the date of termination, the College shall send notice via certified, receipt required U.S. Postal Service mail, of such reestablishment to the last available address for the employee. The College need not provide such notice to a contract employee whose contract may only be terminated for good cause and who was terminated as a result of a reduction-in-force unless the College reestablishes that position during the time that the contract employee’s contract would otherwise have been in effect.
- The employee may be reinstated into their former position by so notifying the Office of Human Resources within 30 calendar days of the service of such notice.
- For the purpose of this provision, the date of service shall be the date that the notice was mailed to the employee. Otherwise, the College may fill the position according to its normal procedures.
Statement of Accountability and Responsibility
The President, through the Executive Director for Human Resources and the Office of Human Resources, shall be responsible for enforcing human resources procedures and policies. The Office of Human Resources shall work with the different departments and offices to comply with this policy and to develop procedures that will enforce this policy regarding awareness, prevention, and remediation.
Policy 3-5 Academic Program Review
Policy 4-3 Employee Concerns and Complaints
Policy 4-44 Employment of Faculty
SFCC Governing Board approved: 1/10/08, 5/27/14, 10/8/15
Revised and SFCC Governing Board approved: 1/27/16