Layoffs and Terminations

This section of the toolkit provides information and transaction guidance on layoffs and terminations.

Layoffs

A layoff is a termination initiated by the University because the position is eliminated due to a lack of work, significant change of work/responsibilities, or a lack of funds.

Reference the Termination of Employment Policy for additional information.

Process

Discuss in advance the layoff with your local Human Resources representative as well your HR Client Manager for approval.

Prepare the layoff letter and/or release letter, as appropriate. The letter must be attached to the PAF.  Be sure to calculate the severance payment which is the dollar amount as well as the number of months or weeks to be paid. This is entered on the PAF. To generate the PAF:

  1. Generate an Active PAF for the employee from the Employee Personal Information page in the Manager Self-Service section of the People @ Columbia system. For information on how to print PAFs, access the MSS guide
     
  2. Enter the Action / Reason codes and effective date at the top of the PAF (see the chart below)
     
  3. In the appropriate sections of the PAF, draw / type a single line through information that needs to be changed and print / type the new information in the updated fields. Verify that the form is complete, sign it, attach the appropriate documentation and route it to the appropriate office for approval, along with the required supporting paperwork for the transaction

Reference the Completing a PAF job aid for information on field entry.

Action / Reason Codes

Terminations

There are many reasons why an employee may separate from the University. Termination of employment may be voluntary, involuntary or the result of a job elimination. Please ensure that you are familiar with the Termination of Employment Policy, available in the Administrative Policy Library.

Exit Interview: The Exit Interview Report should be completed by all terminating employees and their supervisors. Attach a copy of the report to the eTerm transaction.

Voluntary Terminations: Resignation

A resignation is a voluntary termination initiated by a faculty or staff member. For guidelines related to academic appointments, consult the Provost’s Office or the Office of Faculty Affairs for CUMC. Support staff employees are expected to give two (2) weeks notice. Officers are expected to give thirty (30) calendar days notice. Upon completing the specified notice period, employees who resign receive vacation pay for earned, unused vacation days and floating holidays. Employees who do not provide such notice forfeit this pay, though supervisors may waive this requirement following consultation with the Office of Employee and Labor Relations.

Involuntary Terminations

To ensure that administrative and support staff are not subjected to arbitrary or discriminatory practices in the termination of their employment, all cases involving a layoff, release or discharge must be discussed with Employee and Labor Relations or CUMC HR prior to the department's notification to the employee. 

All such cases involving academic personnel must be discussed with the appropriate Dean and Provost. At the CUMC, call the Office of Faculty Affairs.

Release (Non-academic personnel only)

A release is a termination at the discretion of the University. A release, rather than a discharge, is used when a) the situation reveals that the employee was willing to work and was attempting to perform the job duties but was unable to perform satisfactorily and was not able to transfer to a lower job classification, or b) the employee's termination is determined by the Vice President for Human Resources, or his/her designee, to be in the best interest of the employee or the University. An employee who is released will receive vacation pay for earned, unused vacation days and floating holidays. 

Discharge (Non-academic personnel only)

A discharge is a termination initiated by the University for cause, including, but not limited to, insubordination, excessive absenteeism or lateness, falsification of records, illegal acts, violation of published Personnel Policy or repetition of behavior for which an oral or written warning was given. An employee who is discharged shall not be employed elsewhere within the University. An employee who is discharged will receive vacation pay for earned, unused vacation days and floating holidays.

Termination Due to Death

The terminating department must send a copy of the termination PAF to the HR Benefits Service Center in addition to sending the original termination PAF to the HR Processing Center.  The electronic termination feature cannot be used.  See below for other types of terminations that can only be processed using a PAF.

Below are the applicable action / reason codes for a termination.  Enter these on the top of the PAF form to indicate the purpose for the submission.  For electronic terminations, the reason is selected via a drop down list and PAC will convert that selection to the appropriate code.

Preventing Overpayments

In instances where an employee’s termination date occurs before the department has the opportunity to submit the paperwork, the Suspension Hotline should be used to stop the individual from receiving a paycheck past the termination date. The Suspension Hotline will stop the employee’s paycheck from being generated and therefore prevent the employee from being paid while out on an unpaid leave of absence or past their termination date. The employee’s benefits are not impacted when an administrator uses the Suspension Hotline.

To use the Suspension Hotline, contact the HR Service Center to suspend future payroll payments to the employee. When calling the HR Service Center, departments should know the effective date of the unpaid leave of absence or termination date. Once the department receives the required paperwork and approvals, a PAF should be submitted with the correct leave of absence or termination action/reason code

The Suspension Hotline should only be used in instances when departments are not able to submit the required paperwork in a timely manner due to unforeseeable circumstances and need to prevent the employee from receiving a paycheck and thus being overpaid. When advanced notice is provided, complete paperwork should be submitted in advance of the termination or leave.

Visit the Overpayment Recovery section of the Finance Gateway for information on how to process an overpayment.

E-Termination is a function within Manager Self-Service that allows managers to electronically submit a termination for faculty and staff.  The function includes the ability to upload documents to the termination transaction.  Please ensure all required documents are attached to the eTerm transactoin.  For example, you may want to attach the resignation letter, the final timesheet, or the final officer time off tracking sheet.

Below is a quick step by step guide on how to process an electronic termination in MSS.  For detailed information, reference the Submitting Electronic Terminations job aid in the Related Documents section.

  1. Sign on to MSS – Terminations via myColumbia 
     
  2. Access the Department employee list
     
  3. Enter the termination date and click the button
     
  4. Select employee record to be terminated
     
  5. Select the termination reason from the drop-down box
     
  6. Enter vacation and personal days (if applicable):
  • For officers, enter whole and half days
  • For support staff, enter whole days and hours
  1. Attach required documents
     
  2. Click the “submit” button
     
  3. A confirmation page appears to verify the transaction has been submitted (this appears at each submission)
     
  4. Transaction routes to approver(s). The number of approvers vary per academic and administrative transaction and campus.  See Workflow section for more information.
     
  5. Transaction receives final approval and routes to Central HR Administration
     
  6. Central HR finalizes the termination
     
  7. Each week, emails are sent to the Manager Self-Service and Enhanced Manager Self-Service roles in the departments notifying them of person(s) terminated
     
  8. To confirm terminations, you can generate the Termination Report (via HR Manager Reports) or the Personnel Action Report (via MSS Reports)

The MSS eTerm process routes the eTerm transaction via workflow to the appropriate approvers based on the department of the terminated employee and whether or not the employee is administrative or academic.

eTermination Workflow

Administrative Employee Termination Workflow:


CUMC = Initiator → School Level Approver → CUMC Payroll → Central HR

Morningside/Lamont/Manhattanville = Initiator → School Level Approver → Central HR

Academic Personnel Termination Workflow:

CUMC = Initiator → School Level Approver → Academic Affairs → CUMC Payroll → Central HR

Morningside/Lamont/Manhattanville = Initiator → School Level Approver → Provost Office → Central HR

Reference the Submitting Electronic Terminations (eTerm) job aid for detailed information on workflow and approvals.

Hotlined Terminations

Employees who have been hotlined or suspended will not appear in MSS. In such cases, you must use the PAF as detailed below.

Note: Terminations that require consultation with HR Client Managers also need to be processed via PAF. In such cases, you must use the PAF as detailed below.

In rare cases, a termination may not be able to be processed via eTerm; for example, terminations that require consultation with HR Client Managers. In these situations, a paper PAF and the accompanying paperwork should be submitted to the appropriate approver. The steps are outlined below:

For involuntary terminations, a paper PAF and other paperwork is submitted.

  1. Generate an Active PAF for the employee from the Employee Personal Information page in the Manager Self-Service section of the People @ Columbia system. For information on how to print PAFs, access the MSS training guide
     
  2. Enter the Action / Reason codes and effective date at the top of the PAF (see the chart below)
     
  3. In the appropriate sections of the PAF, draw / type a single line through information that needs to be changed and print / type the new information in the updated fields. Verify that the form is complete, sign it, attach the appropriate documentation and route it to the appropriate office for approval, along with the required supporting paperwork for the transaction

Reference the Completing a PAF job aid for information on field entry.

Action / Reason Codes