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Fermilab Layoffs

Layoffs Homepage | Director's Corner | Questions & Answers | Latest Q&A

Latest Questions & Answers
Posted on March 11, 2008

Layoff Question?
Many employees will have questions about their individual situations in the event they receive layoff notices. At this stage, Fermilab's Human Resources staff lacks the resources to deal with hypothetical individual cases. (Employees who do receive layoff notices will have individual meetings with human resources and benefits specialists to discuss their specific situations.)
Click here to submit a layoff question

Q. What are the criteria for retirement eligibility?

A. To be eligible for retirement, employees must be at least 55 years old. They must have at least 3 years of continuous service. An employee’s age plus years of service must be equal to or greater than 65. For example, an employee who is 55 must have 10 years of service to be eligible to retire.

Q. How do employees initiate the retirement process (if they meet the retirement criteria) after finding out they've been laid off?

A. Every employee who is laid off will have an individual benefits consultation on the day following the layoff notice. Employees who are eligible for retirement can begin the retirement process at that time.

Q. Will laid-off employees who retire receive medical benefits?

A. Yes, they will receive the same medical benefits as anyone else who retires. The benefits representative will discuss insurance continuation at the meeting on the day following the layoff notice.

Q. Is life insurance conversion available as in standard retirement?

A. Fermilab’s life insurance plan has a conversion and portability provision. This allows a person to continue coverage as an individual policy after leaving Fermilab, whether through retirement, layoff or resignation. If employees convert within 30 days,  they do not have to provide evidence of insurability.

Q. What happens if Fermilab approves tuition assistance for a quarter or semester, but the employee is laid off before that quarter or semester ends? Will the employee have to pay the lab back? If not, will the employee still have to submit a zero balance form and proof of grades?

A. If you received a tuition advance, you must pay Fermilab for the amount you received before your last day at the lab. Then, when you successfully complete the course, submit your final grade report, together with all other required documentation as
described in the Tuition Assistance policy (, and Fermilab will reimburse you for the completed course tuition, fees and textbooks.  All paperwork must be submitted within 60 days of completing the course.

Q. During the two weeks of paid administrative leave after layoff notification, will employees still have their IDs, site and office access, kerberos principle and email?

A. Employees will be on administrative leave during the two weeks following layoff notification and will not be expected to report to work. Decisions are pending on access to work space and computer accounts.

Q. The severance pay schedule only extends to "25 to 30 years" for nonexempt and "30 to 35 years" for exempt employees.  Since Fermilab was started in 1967, there could be employees with 40 or possibly 41 years of service.  How are they covered?

A. The severance schedule is set in our contract with DOE. Even if employees have years of service that exceed the maximum number in the severance schedule, they will be eligible for the amount equivalent to the maximum listed. For example, if you are a nonexempt employee and you have 32 years of service you would be eligible for 13 weeks of severance.

Q. Has the list of names of employees who will be laid off been developed? Was it included in the submittal to DOE?

A. As our director discussed in his March 4 th column in Fermilab Today, division and section heads are currently working on the lists with Workplace Development and Resource Section staff.

Q. For nonunion, nonexempt employees, does seniority play a part in who will be laid off in their departments?

A. As Pier stated in his March 4 th column, division and section heads analyzing the present and future needs of the laboratory and making decisions based on those needs. You may wish to read the Lab's policy on reductions in force at

Q. Previous reductions in force at Fermilab have covered part of the cost of medical coverage through COBRA, for example continuing the same monthly employee cost for one year. Will this occur during the present RIF or will those laid off need to pay the complete COBRA cost?

A. Employees laid off who have completed the entry probation period are eligible for continued participation in the health care plan (under COBRA) and pay premiums as follows: 

  1. First year: You pay the active rate.
  2. Second year: You pay half of the COBRA rate.
  3. Third year and subsequent years: You pay the full COBRA rate.

Continued eligibility for coverage is reviewed on an annual basis. Eligibility for coverage ceases if you become eligible for other group coverage or are eligible for Medicare.

Q. What if employees stationed at CERN get laid off?  Will the lab pay to move them back to the US?  How will they receive counseling in this situation?

A. If employees at CERN were laid off we would return them to the place where we hired them. We would have to do the counseling by phone. If the person came from the US and returned too late for things like outplacement services, we could provide them individually.

Q. Is severance pay based on our normal base pay, or on a furlough-reduced base pay?

A. The furlough did not change anyone's base pay rate. Severance pay for eligible employees will be based on the employee's full base pay rate. For H1B visa holders, severance will be based on full-time salary.

Q. Many of us receive information about jobs that may be of interest to some of those who are laid off. It would be useful to have a web site where such information can be posted.

A. We will provide outplacement services for those affected by the layoff. We will coordinate with companies and organizations that have openings and make them available for those who are laid off. When the outplacement details are determined, we will provide an avenue for employees to provide job leads as well.

Q. Are any significant reorganizations planned as part of the layoffs? For instance, removing entire functions from one division or department into another?

A. Fermilab does not plan significant reorganizations as a result of the layoffs.

Q. If a scientist is working on an ongoing experiment, will there be a mechanism to continue working, including taking shifts and analyzing data?

A. Employees who receive layoff notices and who are eligible for retirement may choose to retire. In keeping with Fermilab’s scientific mission, the laboratory has the policy that retiring scientists in good standing may, with prior approval, as “qualified researchers,” be permitted to retain their email accounts, have access to computer work stations and office space, and continue participation in experiments, should they desire. Retirees with other job classifications may also be judged to be “qualified researchers” and may, with prior approval, receive similar privileges. All such arrangements must be approved in advance by the head of the appropriate division, section or center.

last modified 03/18/2008   email Fermilab at Work
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