I. General Policy
Consistent with an employment at will relationship, the University or the employee may end the employment relationship, with or without cause, at any time unless the relationship is governed by written contract. Rice University has two types of separations: voluntary separation and involuntary termination. This policy sets requirements for initiating and processing different types of separations at Rice University.
II. Roles and Responsibilities
The Office of Human Resources is responsible for reviewing and approving involuntary terminations. For voluntary separations of employment, Human Resources may conduct Exit Interviews upon request by the employee or the supervisor or at its discretion. Additionally, Human Resources is responsible for executing all final transactions for involuntary terminations and voluntary separations.
Supervisors are responsible for following the guidelines for all separations of employment. For voluntary separations, supervisors are required to provide staff members with exit guidance and resources, and to initiate the separation process as soon as possible but no less than three (3) business days prior to the date of separation.
Staff members are asked to submit at least a two-week notice to their supervisors for voluntary separations (e.g. resignations). Staff members are encouraged to complete an Exit Survey and may request an Exit Interview with Human Resources.
At Will Employment. The University or the staff member may end the employment relationship with or without cause, at any time, unless the relationship is governed by written contract in which case the terms of the contract govern separation.
Benefits Eligible. Staff members who are in a position that requires 20 or more hours of work per week and at least 1,000 hours each year are eligible for fringe benefits.
Involuntary Termination. A separation that is initiated by the University.
Job Abandonment. A staff member who is absent without authorization for three or more consecutive work days may be considered to have abandoned their position voluntarily.
Reduction in Force (RIF). An involuntary termination initiated due to lack of funds, lack of work, job redesign or elimination of position(s) or reorganization. Contact Human Resources for RIF Guidelines.
Temporary Staff Member. A staff member employed for a specific, predetermined period of time, typically no longer than six months, to support units in response to temporary work demands.
Voluntary Separation. A separation that occurs when a staff member initiates leaving the University.
IV. Elaboration of Policy
A. Voluntary Separation
Staff members who voluntarily resign from the University should provide their supervisor with a written notice at least two (2) weeks in advance of their separation date. The supervisor must initiate the separation process, upload any letter of resignation, and submit to Human Resources as soon as possible but no less than three (3) business days prior to the separation date.
The staff member’s last day worked is the date of separation. For temporary staff members, the advance written notice of resignation prior to the job end date is preferred but not required. The same guidelines and deadline for initiating the termination process apply to temporary positions.
Employees who do not return to work following expiration of an unpaid leave of absence (LOA) and who do not have approval to extend their leave will be terminated and considered to have separated voluntarily. The last day of the approved leave will be considered the last day worked.
At the University’s discretion, job abandonment may be considered a voluntary separation, and the individual’s file may be marked “not eligible for rehire.”
For purposes of this policy, retirement is considered a voluntary separation.
Staff members are responsible for updating or verifying any benefits or personal contact information prior to the last day of employment/termination date, and are encouraged to complete an Exit Survey.
B. Involuntary Termination
Involuntary termination may result when attempts to improve a staff member’s unsatisfactory job performance, and sustain those improvements, have not been successful over a reasonable period of time.
When violations occur of Policy 401, Staff Expectations for Working at Rice, or when misconduct is serious, immediate termination may be warranted.
Staff members in their probationary period (See Policy 421: Probationary Period) may be terminated at any time within their probationary period.
When termination due to misconduct or unsatisfactory performance is being considered, the Office of Human Resources should be consulted prior to the department discussing the termination with the staff member.
Supervisors must work with Human Resources to alert the applicable offices to ensure the appropriate actions are taken to adjust access or removal from Rice systems and execute final payroll payments.
C. Reduction in Force (RIF)
A reduction in force (RIF) may be necessary or appropriate when there is redesign or elimination of work, redundancy in roles, or excess capacity within a work group or across work groups, such that it would be economically feasible and responsible to reduce the number of staff members in a school, division, department or unit. Managers are required to follow the RIF Guidelines, which can be obtained from Human Resources.
Staff members who are affected by a RIF are encouraged to request Exit Instructions for Employees from their assigned Human Resources Business Partner (HRBP) for more information about the process and resources available.
D. Return of University Property and Clearing Amounts Owed to Rice
On or before the last day of employment, the exiting staff member is required to turn in to their supervisor all University property, including but not limited to identification card, keys, tools, library books, electronic equipment, electronically stored data and any other property provided to the staff member to perform their job.
The exiting staff member, including any working remotely, is required to make arrangements for clearing all personal debts owed to the University. In accordance with the Authorization for Payroll Deduction Form, the University is authorized to deduct from a staff member’s paycheck any monies owed to the University at the time of separation.
E. Exit Surveys and Exit Interviews
Staff members may request an Exit Interview from their supervisor. Staff members may also complete the Exit Survey or contact Human Resources to request an in-person interview.
F. Payout of Paid Time Off (PTO)
Staff members (other than a postdoctoral research associate as described in Policy 405: Paid Time Off) with at least six months of continuous benefits-eligible employment, are eligible for payout of accrued but unused paid time off pursuant to policy 405.
V. Cross References to Related Policies
Rice University Policy 401: Staff Expectations for Working at Rice
Rice University Policy 403: Benefits Eligibility
Rice University Policy 405: Paid Time Off
Rice University Policy 411: Performance Commitment and Accountability for Staff
Rice University Policy 413: Staff Employment
Rice University Policy 421: Probationary Period
Rice University Policy 439: Temporary Employment
VI. Responsible Official and Key Offices to Contact Regarding the Policy and its Implementation
A. Responsible Official: Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration
B. Other Key Offices: Human Resources
VII. Procedures and Forms
David W. Leebron, President
September 28, 2021; October 1, 1994 (replacing 401-82, Reductions in Force and Termination Pay)
February 1, 2023
August 15, 2023
Clerical Change: January 25, 2018 (added VP and formatting changes); January 18, 2023
Issued: Policy No. 424-94, October 1994
Policy No. 401-82, Reductions in Force and Termination Pay