Reductions in Force - RIFs
When VERA/VSIP don’t increase attrition enough, the government may turn to layoffs, called Reduction in Force. RIFs are controlled by OPM regulations which outline the procedures for determining what happens to you in a RIF. Do you keep your current job? Are you offered a different job? Are you entitled to a different position?
When preparing for a RIF, the agency must establish and define the targeted areas for downsizing in terms of organization, geography and job-type. Once the targeted areas are determined, the agency must give you a specific RIF notice at least 60 days before you are released or demoted.
You can protect yourself in a RIF by paying close attention to the official RIF notice. You should make sure that your OPF (official personnel file) is accurate and complete, including:
- Annual performance appraisals for the last four (4) years;
- Position Description, occupational code, and grade;
- Tenure of employment (i.e., type of appointment);
- Veterans' preference; and
- Total creditable Federal civilian and uniformed service.
These are the factors your agency will consider when it places you on a retention register. The retention register will be used to determine who will be released or retained and who will be offered a different job.
If you are fired through a RIF, you may be entitled to discontinued service retirement if you have 20 or more years of service and are at least 50 years of age, or if you have 25 years of service at any age. An employee who is not entitled to discontinued service retirement is entitled to severance pay, which is based on years of service and can exceed the typical VSIP buy-out.
If your agency releases or demotes you through a RIF, it is considered an adverse action and most employees are entitled to appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board within 30 calendar days. If you receive an adverse RIF notice, we recommend that you meet with us right away to evaluate if your agency followed the RIF rules and applied them correctly to your situation. This is especially true if you are the victim of a one-person RIF or if you have concerns that your agency is using the RIF procedures improperly or to retaliate against you or punish you.