Human Resources Recruitment & Classification

Civil Service Rule 11 - Frequently Asked Questions

The following is a list of frequently asked questions regarding the County's staffing reduction process, which is administered in compliance with Civil Service Rule 11, Layoffs.

Please contact your department’s Human Resources Recruitment and Classification Analyst regarding any question related to Civil Service Rule 11 and layoff administration.

General Layoff Guidelines

Is a layoff confined to a department?

Yes, layoffs are confined to the affected department.

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Is a reduction in hours considered to be a layoff? Must a reduction in hours be accomplished in accordance with the order of layoff as defined by Section 11?

Any reduction of hours that is involuntary and is a result of budgetary limitations or lack of work, then it is a form of layoff and must be done in accordance with rules governing the order of layoffs and displacement.

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Is the employee whose position is abolished the person actually laid off; or is the person in the class with the least seniority the one to be laid off?

The person to be laid off is the employee in the class with the least seniority, based on the order of layoff in Section 11.1. In the case where a program is cancelled and therefore the position no longer needed, the order of layoff is still by seniority and not the program.

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Does a bilingual designation of a position have any effect of differentiating that position in the order of layoff?

No. Section 11.1 speaks to layoff by class. Any designation of the bilingual status of a position does not affect or alter the order of layoff.

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Does overtime count in computing seniority?

No.

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Do extra-help service hours count for purpose of layoff, displacement or restoration?

No. Since September 1, 2002, no extra-help hours, regardless of when accumulated, will be counted toward seniority for layoff, displacement or restoration (see CSR 11.1G.).

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Does provisional service (appointment of an outside candidate to a vacant position pending completion of competitive exam process) count as continuous County service?

Yes, if it is in the same class or in another class with the same or higher salary allocation.

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If regular part-time service counts, how is it to be calculated?

Yes, regular part-time service counts. Rule 11.1D states that it shall be prorated on an hour-for-hour basis in its relationship to full time work. Count all hours actually worked exclusive of overtime. Any leave without pay is to be based on the employee’s allocated hours or full-time equivalent (FTE) position. For example, a.5 part-time employee would receive 20 hours per week toward seniority while on leave without pay.

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In the case of layoff, what criteria determine who is to be laid off?

Section 11.1 specifies the order of layoff. Within that order, the hours in the class in which the layoff is to occur includes all hours the employee has in the affected class as long as there was no break in service. Hours in class include time spent as a CETA employee or provisional employee in any department. For the purpose of seniority, hours in class also include time in another class with the same or higher salary allocation on the date notice of layoff is served.

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In the case of two employees having the same seniority hours in a class, what criteria should be used in breaking the tie?

The agreed upon criteria to break a tie in seniority are to first consider continuous County service irrespective of class; second, prior total County service; and third, chance. (E.g. Employees draw a number. Low number remains)

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Does a leave of absence constitute a break in service?

No. The Civil Service Rules define continuous County service as meaning continuous employment by the County, with or without pay status.

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Should time on leave without pay be deducted from continuous County service?

No. Continuous service is with or without pay status.

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Does an employee on leave without pay accumulate seniority hours for purposes of layoff and displacement?

Yes.

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How are seniority hours to be calculated for an employee on a leave without pay?

The employee would accumulate seniority hours based on his or her allocated position’s normal work schedule.

  • Full-time: 80 hours per pay period
  • 3/4-time: 60 hours per pay period
  • Half-time: 40 hours per pay period
  • Etc.

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Does resigning and then returning to County employment in the same position constitute a break in continuous service?

Yes. Once an employee separates, seniority status terminates. An employee who is reemployed is treated for this purpose as a new employee.

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An employee resigns from County employment and is later reappointed. Does continuous employment begin with the date an employee is reappointed, or the date payroll uses for purpose of vacation accrual?

The date the employee was reappointed.

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Does a layoff constitute a break in continuous County service?

Yes, except for permanent and probationary employees who have been restored in accordance with Sections 11.4 A and 9.4 Restoration nullifies separation. Continuous employment prior to layoff and after restoration are added together. Time not employed is not counted.

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An employee held status in two different classes that were assigned the same salary range at one point in time (e.g., Assessment Clerk Trainee and Clerk Typist II). They are no longer tied due to subsequent negotiations. What date is used to determine if service in one class counts towards service in the class affected by layoff?

If both classes still exist, seniority is to be determined based on each class’s salary allocation (salary range Step “A”) as of “the date layoff notice is served”.

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Years ago a number of employees were reclassified from an existing class to a new class of equal pay, and the former class was abolished (e.g. Clerk Typist II to Office Assistant II). Given continuous County service, should time worked in the class that was abolished, count towards seniority in the new class?

Yes, when limited to a change in title. Time in a class which has the same or higher salary allocation as the new class counts towards seniority. If the prior class had a lower salary allocation than the new class, seniority for purpose of layoff is the date of appointment into the newly created class.

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What happens if an employee with probationary status has more seniority hours than an employee with permanent status?

Section 11.1 B. states that Probationary employees are to be laid off before those with permanent status. An employee who has attained permanent status at any level of an alternate class (i.e. LVN I/II) has permanent status for purpose of layoff, even if serving a probationary period at the higher level.

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Can an appointing authority release a probationary employee who was promoted from another department so that the employee can be restored to his or her former department and class, rather than being laid off from County employment?

Yes, but inter-department transfer or voluntary demotion in lieu of layoff is strongly advised.

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Is a probationary period required when an employee with permanent status transfers from one class to a closely related class with the same salary range? If yes, does the employee have return rights to his or her former class in the event of layoff?

No, a probationary period is not required when an employee transfers to a closely related class. No, the employee does not have return rights to the former class in the event of layoff in this situation.

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A person has been continuously employed by the County with work experience in a higher paying class which is interrupted by experience in a lower paying class (e.g. SOA, OAII, and SOA). What time period(s) are to be included in calculating seniority hours for the higher class? (Note OAII and SOA are not alternate classes.)

A break in County employment does not exist, so all service in the higher class is added together. Time in the lower class is excluded unless displacement rights are being calculated.

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Does time worked in another department in a totally unrelated class of equal or higher pay count towards seniority hours for a class in which layoff is to occur?

Yes. Section 11.1 C states continuous service in any other class that has the same or higher salary shall be counted a service in the affected class provided that it has the same or higher salary as the affected class at the date layoff notice is served.

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Does employment in a regularly allocated position interrupted by a “contract” service arrangement constitute a break in County service?

Yes. Employment as a County employee would have been voluntarily terminated.

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Does employment in a regularly allocated position interrupted by extra-help employment constitute a break in County service?

Not unless separated from County employment; even a day of separation would constitute a break in service. The transition between regular/extra-help employment status must be consecutive.

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When implementing layoff, should the COS for Extra-Help Employees read “laid off”?

No, “Separated”. Extra-Help employees have no right to continued employment.

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One form of layoff is an involuntary reduction in regularly scheduled work hours. An incumbent has routinely been scheduled to work 64 hours per pay period, although the annual budget has approved funds for 80 hours. Does a reduction in hours occur if funding for the position is reduced to 64 hours?

No. The incumbent’s allocated FTE/regularly scheduled hours have not been reduced, therefore there is no reduction of hours/layoff for this employee.

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What determines if an employee’s employment is terminated?

The primary resource for determining if a break in continuous County employment has occurred is the payroll “Change of Status” Form.

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Are different payroll class codes separate classes?

No. A class is defined by the class specification formally adopted by the County’s Civil Service Commission as part of the Classification Plan; not reference to differences in employment status, compensation, payroll code, department, or work assignment.

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A position is reclassified and the incumbent promoted without examination in accordance with Section 3.3 B. based on having “…satisfactorily performed the duties of the position for a continuous period of not less than one year.” Does seniority in the affected class start when the employee is promoted or one year prior to promotion?

Upon promotion following reclassification by the Civil Service Commission and adoption of the Civil Service Commission’s action by the Board of Supervisors.

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If someone is transferred into County service from another county or city, does the employee’s time in the other county or city count for seniority purposes?

No. Civil Service Rule 1 states, “county” means County of Sonoma.

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Is “total continuous County service” to include non-civil service agency employment such as in the Sonoma County Water Agency, or the Sonoma County Superior Court?

Civil Service Ordinance Section 12-B. states “Whenever such employees (employees holding permanently allocated positions with the Sonoma County Water Agency, Community Development Commission, the Sonoma County Library, or the Sonoma County Fair) transfer to the County service without a break in pay status with the other agency or organization greater than two working days, service with the agency or organization, shall be deemed to be service with the County for purpose of…seniority credit…and other such benefits to which the employees would be entitled to had the employees been continuously employed by the County of Sonoma.” Similar language is not known to exist for Superior Court employees. However, AB 2011 grants Court employees the same rights as County employees until January 1, 2005.

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An employee with permanent status in the County’s classified service transfers to a position in the same class in the Water Agency (non-civil service) and then transfers back to a position in the classified service. Does a break in service exist, or does “total continuous County service” include service prior to transfer to the Water Agency and after return to the classified service?

No break in continuous County service would exist unless there was a break in pay status with the Agency of greater than two working days. See Civil Service Ordinance Section 12-B.

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Is layoff or voluntary demotion restricted to employees who have received a written notice of layoff?

An employee is not to be laid-off or voluntarily demoted in lieu of layoff until a written notice of layoff has been issued. This formal notice of layoff distinguishes layoff/displacement from dismissal or voluntary resignation, and is required by Section 11.5 C. (Note: notice period requirements are outlined in employee MOU's and the Salary Resolution.)

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After formal notices have been received, may an employee not scheduled to be laid off, choose layoff in place of another employee?

Although Section 11.1 D. requires employees with “less” seniority in the affected class to be laid off first, past practice has enabled an employee with greater seniority to volunteer for layoff in lieu of a less senior employee in the affected class who has been formally notified of layoff. Acceptance of the employee’s offer would need to be conditioned on the employee being separated in place of the most senior employee in the affected class formally notified of layoff, at the time of layoff, and the employee being separated forfeiting any right of displacement pursuant to Section 11.3. However, the employee may request voluntary demotion to a vacancy in a lower class in accordance with Section 8.8.

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Given multiple layoffs within the affected class at the same time or within a short duration of time, what is the order of restoration for an employee who volunteers to be laid off in place of an employee with less seniority in the affected class?

Section 11.4 C. requires that restoration be in the reverse order of layoff. The last employee in the class to be separated based on seniority would be the first employee to return.

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How do we count seniority for an employee who has worked both full-time and part-time during his or her most recent period of continuous County service?

The employee is to receive credit for each hour worked, less overtime. Any leave without pay is to be based on the employee’s allocated full-time equivalent position.

  • Full-time: 80 hours per pay period
  • 3/4-time: 60 hours per pay period
  • Half-time: 40 hours per pay period
  • Etc.

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A time limited position exists in a job class that is not specifically classified as a “limited term” or “project” class (e.g. Programmer Analyst – Project). The term expires. Absent a vacancy in same job class, who would be laid off – the person in the time limited position or the least senior employee of the job class?

The least senior employee of a represented job class would be laid off, unless layoff were further restricted pursuant to CSR 11.1 A. after meeting and conferring in good faith with the position’s recognized employee organization.

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A “limited term” or “project” position is in a job class that has been specifically established by the County’s Civil Service Commission and adopted by the Board of Supervisors as a project class (ex: Programmer Analyst - Project). The term expires. Who would be laid off - the least senior person in the job class or the least senior person in the job class within the same project?

For “limited term” or “project” designated classes, layoff is contained to that job class. If there were more than one person in this job class then it would depend on what has been communicated in writing in advance of appointment to the position, the department’s established procedures/practice regarding reassignments from project to project, differences in any specialized skill/skill mix, and if different project positions are grouped into organizational or budgetary subdivisions. When set up properly it would be by project. When not set up properly, the default is the job class.

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Is there any exemption to layoff/displacement based on a specialized technical skill or skill mix above and beyond that required of the job class in general?

Yes. Civil Service Rule 11.1 F. authorizes such an exemption by the Director of Human Resources for job classes with a project or limited term designation. To qualify for an exemption there must be a continuing need for a specialized skill/skill mix identified by a written plan as an essential function of the job prior to filling it, and the incumbent(s) must have been appointed to the job based on that skill/skill mix.

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If an employee is temporarily promoted to a higher job classification, does service time in the higher job class count towards that class?

This question is answered by Civil Service Rule 9.3 F. Service time in a temporary promotion would only count if the employee is appointed to an allocated position in the same class as the temporary promotion and there is no break in service between the temporary promotion and the permanent appointment.

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Alternate and Substitute Classes

How do we deal with alternate classes?

Alternate classes are treated as one class. The duties of alternate classes are essentially the same and only the degree of supervision or independent judgment varies. Generally, when a position is abolished, it is abolished as an alternate, e.g., Office Assistant I/II.

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An employee worked as a Correctional Officer I/II (alternate) prior to becoming a Probation Officer II/I (alternate). If layoff were to occur in the Probation Officer I/II series, what hours should be applied towards the affected class?

The salary allocation attached to the “highest alternate level” of the alternate class series should be compared. (E.g. CO II to PO II) Service as a CO I/II (alternate) should not be counted towards the affected class, if the salary allocation (“A” Step) of the PO II is greater than the A step of CO II. ) See definition of “Alternate Position”.

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Is a “substitute or underfilled position” to be treated the same as an alternate position or class?

No. Substituting or underfilling an allocation does not equate to status in the allocated class. However, since Civil Service Rule 11 provides that hours worked in any class with the same or higher salary range as the affected class be counted towards seniority, the hours worked in the substitute assignment (Senior Office Assistant) would count towards seniority hours in the employee’s allocated class (Receptionist) if the salary range for both classes is the same. This still does not grant “status” in the Senior Office Assistant class as the employee was never appointed to the class.

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A department does not have an allocated Receptionist position. It is granted permission to substitute a Receptionist for an allocated Senior Office Assistant position. A year later the Senior Office Assistant position is reallocated as a Receptionist. Does the incumbent have probationary/permanent status as a Receptionist and a Senior Office Assistant?

No, only as a Receptionist. Status in a “substitute position” (class) does not equate to status in the class being substituted.

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A Legal Processor I/II (alternate) is used to under fill a Senior Legal Processor. If a Senior Legal Processor position is abolished, would an employee in the “substitute position” (class) or the least senior Senior Legal Processor be laid-off?

An employee in a “substitute position” (class) should be removed from the substituted class allocation (Sr. LP) and returned to a position in the class in which they hold permanent or probationary status (LP I/II). If removing the employee from the allocation which they are substituting/underfilling (Sr. LP) and returning the employee to an assignment in their allocated class (LP I/II), necessitates a reduction in that class (LP I/II), a layoff would occur in the employee’s allocated class (LP I/II). As this reassignment creates a layoff, not a displacement, implementation would occur based on order and seniority as defined in Civil Service Rule 11.

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May an employee in a substitute position (class) which is not contained in the department allocation list be laid off if the department abolishes a position in the class being substituted? (E.g. Appraiser Aide substituting for Appraiser I/II/III)

Yes. However, the appropriate class would need to be referenced. In this case, the Appraiser Aide.

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Displacement

Can an employee displace outside the department?

Displacement is confined to the same department, except when a position and the incumbent have been transferred together from one department to another department pursuant to Civil Service Rule11.3 D.

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How is displacement exercised under Section 11.3D (allocation transferred from one department to another) if an employee has displacement rights to job class(es) allocated in both the current and former department?

Displacement rights are exercised in the current department first. If an employee is not eligible for displacement in the current department in accordance with Section 11.3A, then the employee will seek displacement in the former department.

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What criteria determines which class(es) an employee may displace in?

Displacement may be to any and all other classes with the same or lower salary allocation in which a laid-off or displaced employee previously had permanent, probationary, or part-time status, and for which the employee is qualified for certification, transfer, or voluntary demotion. Section 11.3 C. requires the employee to first displace in the class with the highest allocated salary.

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Is the formula for counting seniority for displacement different than for layoff?

Yes. Layoff: total continuous County service in the affected class, based on order of layoff defined in Civil Service Rule 11.1B. Displacement: total continuous County service for all job classifications held in a permanent or probationary status since hire, regardless of current status (probationary or permanent). The same displacement date (total continuous service) is applicable for any and all classes into which the employee can displace.

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Does an employee have a right to displace to a class held prior to break in service resulting from resignation or dismissal?

No. It is not the intent of Section 11.3 A. to extend a right of displacement to a class in which the employee has no status or seniority during his or her most recent period of continuous County employment.

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When an employee exercises displacement rights to a class, is the employee’s displacement date compared with other employee’s date of hire into the class or with other employee’s date of hire into the County?

In cases of displacement, both employees total continuous County service irrespective of class is compared.

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What does “the junior employee” mean in Section 11.3 A.?

The least senior employee in the affected class and department. (e.g. the least senior OAII in the same department as a laid-off SOA who has a prior permanent, probationary, or part-time status as a OAII.)

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May the displacing employee elect to displace anyone with less seniority?

No. The employee displaces the least senior employee in the class.

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Does the department have the right to tell an employee trying to displace that the employee must accept a vacant position rather than displacing someone less senior who has a more desirable job?

Yes, the department has the right.

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Does the next person displaced need a formal written notice of layoff?

Yes. It should be personally presented to the employee or mailed to the employee’s last known address. Certified mail is preferred. The notice of layoff needs to indicate that the employee has been displaced pursuant to Section 11.3 and accordingly informed of layoff effective (date) pursuant to such rule.

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Does the displacement rule in Section 11.3 A. equally apply to the displaced employee in determining his/her displacement right?

Yes. A laid-off Office Support Supervisor may be able to displace a SOA within the same department; who in turn may be able to displace a Receptionist or OAII within the same department.

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Must the department follow this displacement scenario exactly, or may consideration be given towards the needs of the department?

Displacement needs to be conducted in accordance with the County’s Civil Service Rules and past practice. Questions or concerns related to service needs that appear to be in conflict with existing interpretations should be discussed with the Human Resources Department, and the Civil Service Commission having final authority.

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Does time in grade in the class from which the employee is being displaced count as time in grade in the class to which the employee is displacing?

Yes. Displacement is based on total continuous County service.

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Is displacement by department, division, unit, or class regardless of location?

An employee’s seniority is based on his or her total continuous County employment irrespective of department. Displacement is applied on a departmental basis unless further restricted in accordance with Section 11.1 A. or 11.3 D.

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What happens if an employee has a displacement right to more than one class with the same salary allocation?

The employee shall exercise his or her displacement right against the junior most employee in all such classes, absent a vacancy which is equal in allocation to that held by the employee immediately prior to layoff. If such a vacancy exists, the employee shall be appointed to the class with the vacancy, unless not qualified.

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May a laid off employee elect to displace the junior employee of a class when a vacancy exists within that same class and department?

No.

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Restoration

If an employee voluntarily demotes in lieu of layoff, does the employee have restoration rights to the class from which he or she voluntarily demotes?

Yes.

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An employee goes on long-term medical leave and returns to work. All positions have been filled. What Civil Service restoration rights does the employee have?

The Civil Service Rules give an employee on a medical leave of absence the same rights to his or her job as any other employee. Additional rights are provided by Federal and State laws such as family leave, pregnancy and disability laws.

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Who is eligible for restoration?

Sections 11 and 9.4 (A) limit restoration to probationary and permanent employees who have been laid off, displaced from, or demoted voluntarily in lieu of layoff.

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Is restoration the same thing as reappointment?

No. Reappointment does not confer the same benefits and rights as restoration.

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Does an employee have a right to be restored to exactly the same job (assignment, premiums, location, program, shift work, department, job class, allocation (e.g. 1.0,.9,.75, and.5), etc.) from which separated?

No, the County’s Civil Service Rules only authorize restoration to the same department, job class, and allocation from which laid off or displaced.

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Is restoration restricted to a vacant position?

Yes.

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Can a restoration letter be handed to an employee as opposed to sending “certified mail return receipt requested”?

As a matter of past practice yes. Written notification shall be receipted or witnessed to minimize problems related to a waiver or forfeiture of the offer.

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An employee is "laid-off" based on a reduction in hours from a full-time to a part-time allocated position. The employee subsequently resigns, or requests and is granted a voluntary demotion or further reduction in hours. Does the employee maintain a right of restoration to a full-time allocation?

No. Separation is no longer involuntary.

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How is restoration to be offered, given the interpretation that different methods are to be used to determine seniority for purposes of layoff based on total continuous County service in the affected class, and displacement based on total continuous County service irrespective of class?

Section 11.4 C. requires that restoration be in the reverse order of layoff. The last employee in the class to be separated based on seniority would be the first employee to return.

For example:

Assume Employees “A” and “B” are the two least senior OA II's in a department. On 10-1-93, Employee “A” has more seniority than Employee “B” in the affected class (10,000 hrs. vs. 3,000 hrs.) for purpose of layoff, but less overall seniority irrespective of class (14,500 hrs. vs 13, 000 hrs.) for purpose of displacement.

  • If both Employees “A” and “B” were laid-off on 10-1-93 pursuant to Section 11.1, “A” would be restored first as the more senior employee in the affected class.
  • If both Employees “A” and “B” were displaced on 10-1-93 pursuant to Section 11.3, “B” would be restored first as the more senior employee irrespective of class.
  • If Employee “A” were to be displaced on 10-1-93 as the class’s junior employee pursuant to Section 11.3, and Employee “B” were to be subsequently laid-off on 1-24-94 pursuant to Section 11.1; Employee “B” would be restored first, having been entitled to remain in the class on 10-1-93.

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A Secretary is laid-off. Based on total continuous county service, she cannot displace the junior SOA in the department, however, she can displace the junior OA II and does. A SOA position in the department becomes vacant. Does a right of restoration exist to the SOA vacancy?

No. However, the employee may request and be granted reappointment if done in accordance with Section 6.8 B.

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An allocated position is reduced from full-time to part-time (.7). Two months later a .5 allocated position becomes vacant in the same department and class. Does the employee who was “laid off” have an absolute right to have his or her regular work hours restored up to f/t, before the department can fill the vacancy by some other means?

No. An employee only has a right to be restored to a vacancy with the same allocation in the department and class from which laid-off or displaced. However, the.5 allocation may be split and the employee restored to a higher allocation, or employee’s hours increased above the present allocation based on the needs of the service.

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Can an offer of restoration be contingent on an employee possessing a certain skill (e.g. licensure or certificate, bilingual) based on the needs of the service or reimbursement requirements of a funding source? If so, if the most senior employee on the restoration list does not possess what is required, may the department offer restoration to the next most senior employee who does, or if none qualify fill the position from an open recruitment?

Section 11.4 presently does not authorize an exception based on a skill.

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If layoff is restricted to one or more divisions or smaller units of a department in accordance with Section 11.1 A., is restoration to the divisions or smaller units in addition to the department?

Section 11.4 authorizes restoration to a vacant position in the classification and department which the employee was laid-off.

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Seniority Lists

Does the County’s Civil Service Rules require that a seniority list be established?

No. Seniority lists are a tool for implementing layoff.

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What date should a seniority list reflect in the context of anticipated layoffs?

The list should be based on the last payroll closest to the anticipated date of layoff as possible.

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Given limited time, how important is it to update seniority lists to reflect changes in employee status or seniority hours?

The more accurate a list, the better it is. The order of layoff can easily change with a change in employment status (temp., prob., and perm.) or seniority hours between the date a list is published and layoff.

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Should a layoff list have a particular format?

The list should identify the job class; date (usually the end of a particular payroll period); each employee’s name, employment status, and seniority (usually in terms of hours) for the affected class and displacement. Employees should be listed in descending order based on employment status and/or continuous County service. A comment section is recommended.

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When positions are allocated on an alternate basis e.g. Eligibility Worker I or Eligibility Worker II (alternate) are separate seniority lists to be prepared for each class?

No. A single consolidated seniority list is to be prepared whenever all persons employed in the lower alternate class (e.g. Eligibility Worker I) may be promoted to the higher alternate class (e.g. Eligibility Worker II), and all could be employed in the higher class at the same time.

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Who is responsible for preparing and maintaining seniority lists?

The department head or designee.

Please contact your department’s Human Resources Recruitment and Classification Analyst regarding any question related to Civil Service Rule 11 and layoff administration.

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Contact Information

Recruitment & Classification

Business Hours
Monday – Friday
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Address
575 Administration Drive
Room 116 B
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.465237, -122.725363

R&C Staff Assignments

Civil Service Commission

Civil Service Commission

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Oversees the County personnel system and hears appeals of discipline, lay-off, examination, classification and discrimination.