University of California, Berkeley

Seniority Points Calculations

The seniority provisions of the policies and contracts require the University to lay off the person with the least seniority in the classification affected. If there is more than one employee in the classification, you must calculate seniority points and develop a seniority list. The situation may require that a more senior employee "bump" a less senior employee, or you may find that an out-of-seniority layoff is necessary because the position requires very specialized skills that cannot be learned in a reasonable amount of time. These situations are explained below.

The Records Management unit in central HR is responsible for compiling the seniority point calculations as needed. When you receive the seniority points for the affected employees, you can develop a seniority list.

Since it is critical that seniority points be calculated correctly so that the correct person receives the notice of layoff, please send a request for seniority points calculations to with the following information:

  • Employee names
  • Employee ID
  • Hire date
  • Job title

Please also provide the date when you would like this information. Be sure to check union contracts or personnel policies for layoff guidelines.

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Click on the appropriate item for more information.

What to consider

  • Determine your layoff unit (contact
  • Determine which classifications will be affected by the layoff.
  • Contact the Records Management unit as indicated above.
  • Consider all University service since the most recent date of hire (without break in service).

Include service from:

  • Other UC campuses; Service with Department of Energy Labs managed by UC (except LLNL Service after 10/01/2007)
  • All paid status (including Workers' Compensation, extended sick leave, as well as limited and casual service if there was no break in service)
  • Personal leave, if on vacation.

Exclude service from:

  • Time on non-work disability
  • Time on Leave Without Pay (LWOP)
  • State of California, Hastings College, California State Universities, and colleges.
How calculations are determined

Records Management calculates seniority by figuring one seniority point for each month of full-time equivalent (FTE) service to determine FTE months of seniority to four decimal places (.0000) of a standard month [174 hours].

For example:

  • 100% Appointment: An employee who worked 20 full months plus 12 days (96 hours) has 20.55 months of FTE seniority points [20 + 96/174 = 20.55]
  • Less than 100% appointment: An employee who worked 80% time for 59 months has 47.20 months of FTE seniority points [.80 x 59 = 47.20]
  • Hourly Appointment: An employee paid by the hour who worked 10,550 hours has 60.63 months of FTE seniority points [10,550/174 = 60.63]
What does a sample seniority list look like?

The following is a sample seniority list for an Administrative Assistant II position, with the most senior person at the top (date calculated, 06/01/03):

Name Most Recent Date of Hire Appt Seniority Points Not on Pay Status
Mary 1/05/1970 100% 372.3181 5/7/80-9/24/80 (disability)
Bob 3/16/1993 100% 122.5217  
Alice 12/20/2002 100% 5.3636  

In this example:

  • Mary has the most seniority
  • Alice has the least seniority
How do you use a seniority list to determine who gets laid off? What is bumping?

In our example above, Mary's position is the one slated for layoff. Therefore, Mary's supervisor should:

  1. Tell Mary that her position is being eliminated.
  2. Consider whether to transfer Mary to Alice or Bob's position.
  3. Ask Mary for an updated resume. Give her a job description and a list of qualifications needed for the other jobs below Mary's job (in this case for Alice and Bob's positions).
  4. Interview Mary to determine whether she has the qualifications needed for Alice's job (start with Alice's job because she has the least seniority).

After assessing the information provided, if the supervisor determines that Mary can do Alice's job, Alice is laid off and Mary takes her position. This process is called bumping.

If Mary cannot do Alice's job, then Mary is interviewed for Bob's job. If it is determined that Mary can do Bob's job, then she bumps Bob and the process is repeated, i.e., Bob is considered for Alice’s job.In this example, if Mary decides that she does not want to bump Alice or Bob, then theoretically she would lose preferential rehire rights and is effectively resigning. However, the campus practice is to allow the employee who does not wish to bump another to participate in the layoff process and either opt for severance pay where appropriate or receive layoff rights according to the Policy or contract which covers their position. If the employee is covered by a contract, the union must be noticed in the case of a voluntary layoff; in some cases, the union may stop the employee from voluntarily being laid off, and they would not receive layoff rights.

What if there is a reduction in time?

A reduction in time is a layoff. In the above example, Mary's position was eliminated at 100%. What if Bob's position goes from 100% to 50%? This is a reduction in time and would be considered a layoff. In this example, Bob has seniority over Alice and if he can do Alice's job, he will take 50% of Alice's position. Alice would be laid off at 50%.

In a reduction of time layoff, what are the employee's preference and recall rights?

The employee's rights extend back to the original percentage of the position. In the above example, Alice's position goes from 100% to 50%. However, she still has preferences and recall rights to 100% positions. If you have questions about specific reduction in time situations, contact your Employee Relations Consultant or the Human Resources Center as appropriate.

Out of Seniority Layoffs

Click on any of the following items for more information:

What if the position held by the least senior employee requires special skills that the most senior employee does not have?

In some circumstances, positions require special skills and the department needs to retain those employees with special skills, resulting in an out-of-seniority layoff action. For the special skills exception to seniority, consider:

  1. Does the position require licensing or credentials that cannot be easily acquired?

    Example:A position requiring a particular class of driving license is held by a junior employee. The senior employee does not have the license, but could acquire it by making a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles. A special skills exception would be inappropriate. Example:A position requiring the incumbent to be a licensed engineer is held by a junior employee. The senior employee does not have the license and would require substantial training and time to secure it. A special skills exception would be appropriate.

  2. Does the position require skills that can be acquired through training?

    Example:A position held by a junior employee requires skills and experience in budgeting and accounting using the University's accounting software. If the senior employee can be trained in the software within a reasonable amount of time (3-6 months), and the business requirements do not require that someone be up to speed right away, then a special skills assessment would not be appropriate. Be sure to check the appropriate contract for special skills layoffs. Some contracts specify that the training period to obtain “special skills” is six months.

What's an example of an out-of-seniority layoff situation?

The following is a seniority list for an SRA II position (effective 4/01/01):

Name Most Recent Date of Hire Appt Seniority Points Not on Pay Status
Walter 1/5/1970 100% 346.3181 5/7/80-9/24/80 (disability)
Fred 4/3/1988 100% 155.9524  
Niles 3/16/1993 100% 97.5217  

In this example, Fred's position is being eliminated. His supervisor should consider him for Niles' position. Niles, however, has very specialized skills in stem cell research, which cannot be learned by Fred in a reasonable amount of time. Therefore, Fred is laid off out of seniority. Fred's supervisor must document the rationale for the out-of-seniority layoff.

The bumping process and out-of-seniority layoffs can be very complicated. Be sure to check with your Employee Relations Consultant or the Human Resources Center about your specific situations.

Key points to remember:
  1. Contact the Records Management unit to obtain seniority points for all employees in the layoff unit with the same classification (same title codes) as the position scheduled for layoff.
  2. Consider all University service since the most recent date of hire (without a break in service).
  3. In out-of-seniority layoffs, evaluate special skills carefully. Can they be learned in a reasonable amount of time (3-6 months - see union contract if applicable)?
  4. In an out-of-seniority layoff situation, document your rationale for the decision in writing.