Though the CFT and the Education Coalition fight to ensure
public schools and colleges have enough funding, some
members may still face the possibility of layoffs. Here are
answers to common questions about layoffs for classified
employees and K-12 certificated employees.
Know the basics about the layoff process for classified
employees and K-12 certificated employees and what to do if you
receive a layoff notice.
What is a layoff?
A layoff in California public education is the no-fault
employment termination of a probationary or permanent faculty
member, or a classified employee. The least senior person in
an eliminated position must be the first to be laid off.
Temporary faculty are not “laid-off;” instead they are released
from employment with no right to a hearing.
Who decides which positions will be cut?
The governing board of the school district has the authority to
pass a resolution that specifies the district services to be
eliminated or reduced, as well as the number and types of
positions to be cut, based on recommendations of the district
administration. The administration must follow the board’s
resolution in issuing layoff notices.
What do I do if I get a layoff notice?
- Make sure your union has your current mailing address, phone
numbers, and non-work email address.
- Know whom to contact in your local
union with questions and concerns.
- Attend informational union meetings.
- Read everything carefully you receive from your union and
- Copy your union on everything you submit to your district.
- Keep copies of everything you submit to your district.
- If you are a K-12 certificated employee, review your
credentials on file with the Commission on Teacher Credentialing and
with your district to be sure they are up to date.
- The union may track paperwork for all affected members, so
the local is aware of requests for hearings and possible
challenges, but it remains your responsibility to complete the
paperwork within the required timelines and submit it, whether to
the district or the union. (A district may agree to accept
paperwork submitted by the union on behalf of all affected
members who have authorized the union to represent them in
proceedings; check with your AFT local union.)
Where can I go for help?
Contact your AFT local union
president and/or your CFT Field Representative for more
Update, December 15, 2021: In the last
legislative session, CFT helped win layoff notice for
classified employees that is equal to certificated employees.
Learn more about union-sponsored AB 438 and
watch this space for updated information!
Did you get a layoff notice? Following are
answers to common questions about the classified layoff process
as specified in the California Education Code.
What are the reasons for which classified employees can
be laid off?
Under the Education Code, there are four reasons that classified
employees can be laid off.
- Expiration of a specially funded program
- Bona fide reduction of a service
- Bona fide elimination of a service
- Lack of funds and actual financial inability to pay salaries
of classified employees
How far in advance must the employer issue a layoff
notice to a classified employee?
Under normal circumstances, the employer is required to give
written notice at least 60 days before the effective date of
layoff. However, when the layoff takes place because the employer
has an “actual and existing” financial inability to pay
employees’ salaries, or due to some cause that was not
foreseeable or preventable, the employer does not need to give
any definite amount of advanced notice of the layoff.
How far in advance must the employer notice classified
employees who work in specially funded programs?
For employees working in specially funded programs that end June
30, notice of layoff must be given by April 29. If the program
ends at another time, notice must be given at least 60 days
before the date of layoff. However, when the layoff takes place
because the employer has an “actual and existing” financial
inability to pay employees’ salaries, or due to some cause that
was not foreseeable or preventable, the employer does not need to
give any definite amount of advanced notice of the layoff.
What is the order of layoff?
Employees laid off first are those with the shortest length of
service in their current class, plus higher classes in which the
employee has served as a probationary or permanent employee.
How is length of service defined?
Length of service (as defined after July 1, 1971) means all
probationary or permanent hours worked in paid status. Length of
service includes work time, holidays, recess or other periods
when the school or college is closed. Length of service does not
include overtime work.
However, your local contract may improve upon the Education Code.
It may define the length of service as your hire
date. It may also include credit for unpaid sick leave
or unpaid Workers’ Compensation leave. Read your local collective
bargaining contract and contact your AFT
local union representative with questions.
How do I retain my seniority?
If a permanent classified employee resigns from the district, and
the district rehires the employee within 39 months into a former
classification or a lower classification in which the employee
has had permanent status, there will be no break in service for
determining length of service or benefits such as vacation
What is the order of re-employment?
The classified employees who are rehired first are those with the
longest length of service in the class from which they were laid
off, plus higher classes in which they have served.
How long am I eligible for re-employment?
You are eligible for reemployment for 39 months. If you took a
voluntary demotion or voluntary reduction in assigned time
instead of layoff, you have an additional 24 months to get back
to full hours and your former classification. Classified
employees may also take promotional exams during the 39-month
reemployment period. If you retired instead of being
laid off, you will be placed on the re-employment list.
Can my employer force me to take a reduction of hours
instead of a layoff?
Reducing hours is not the employer’s prerogative. Reductions in
hours must be negotiated with the union.
Can I collect unemployment if I am laid off?
Yes, laid off classified employees may be able to collect
unemployment. Apply for unemployment the day after your last day
of work by going to the Employment Development
Department website. If EDD denies your claim, contact
your AFT local union to file a timely
appeal. If you receive payments from the EDD, be sure to report
any and all other earnings. You are required to look for work,
but not outside your field of expertise or farther than 25 miles
from your home. Save all documents related to your claim, such as
letters from your district and records of contacts made with
What will happen to my health benefits if I am laid
If you get health benefits from the district and you lose your
assignment, you are now entitled to 18 months of continued
coverage. However, you will have to pay the premiums
Did you get a layoff notice? This section
answers common questions about the layoff process for
certificated employees in TK-12 schools as specified in the
California Education Code.
What does it mean if I got a layoff notice?
This means that you may be laid off for the following school
year. A K-12 district is legally required to give certificated
employees notice of possible layoff by March 15. In certain
circumstances, a K-12 district may also give certificated
employees notice of possible layoff after the budget is enacted,
in late June or early July.
Can permanent status teachers receive layoff
Yes, if the district is reducing the size of its workforce, even
permanent teachers may be laid off. Layoffs must occur in
a strict order based on seniority and credentialing according to
Can probationary employees be let go?
Probationary employees can be released without a reason no later
than March 15 of their second year of probationary employment.
But if they are being let go because the district is reducing
services in general, they must be given layoff notices and rights
to the layoff process instead.
What happens to temporary teachers if there are
Temporary teachers do not have due process rights, and can be
released from their temporary assignments without receiving a
layoff notice or hearing. But it’s important to know if you are
properly classified as a temporary employee because districts
often get it wrong. (If you received a notice and don’t file a
Request for Hearing, you will lose the right to challenge any
mistakes that may have been made that might save your
job.) Whether you are temporary depends on the job you
do, not on your credential or intern status. In general, if you
are filling in for a teacher on leave somewhere in the district,
you are a temporary employee.
Will I be laid off if there are too many teachers at my
Layoff is based on your credential and seniority in the district
as a whole. After layoffs, people may be reassigned to other
Does the type of credential I hold make a
It might. It depends on the particular kinds of services the
governing board decides to reduce and the credential and
experience categories it decides to “skip” when it issues layoff
What happens after the notice?
You must give the district a written request for a hearing within
seven (7) calendar days of receiving the layoff notice. If you
don’t file the request on time, you lose the right to challenge
your layoff, even if the district made mistakes about your
seniority date and qualifications. Hearings will be held to
establish the correct order of seniority and to resolve disputed
issues. The hearing officer’s decision is a recommendation to the
school board. The district may then issue a final layoff notice
by May 15 for the following school year. If the layoff process
occurs over the summer, the district must issue its final layoff
notices by August 15 for the upcoming school year.
When will I know for sure whether or not I am being laid
For layoffs that occur during the spring, your district must give
you final notice by May 15. However, people are often brought
back after the May 15 date once the district’s finances are
better understood. For layoffs that occur over the summer,
your district must give you a final notice by August 15.
When and where are the hearings?
Layoff hearings will be held in your district. They usually occur
sometime between March 20 and May 7 during the spring, and over
the summer may occur any time in July or early August. You should
plan to attend your layoff hearing because you may have to
How can I find support during this difficult
Your AFT local union and your
colleagues are the best resources. Some districts may offer
employees free confidential services through an Employee
Can I collect unemployment?
Yes. Apply for unemployment the day after your last day of work
by going to the website of the Employment Development
What will happen to my health benefits if I am laid off?
If you get health benefits from the district and you lose your
assignment, you are entitled to 18 months of continued COBRA
coverage. However, you will have to pay the premiums
Do I have priority rehire rights?
Yes, permanent employees have the right to be rehired in order of
seniority, if at any time within 39 months (or, 24 months for
probationary teachers), the number of employees is increased or
the service that was discontinued leading to your layoff is
re-established. To teach a subject you have not previously
taught, and for which you do not have a credential or in which
you did not major, you must pass a subject matter competency test
in the appropriate subject. The district may only refuse to
rehire in seniority order if it demonstrates a specific need for
special training and experience held by a more junior employee,
and which a more senior employee does not possess.
Can I waive my rehire rights?
Permanent teachers can waive their rehire rights for up to a year
(meaning you can ask to be passed over if the district makes
rehire offers) without losing the right to subsequent offers of
Do I have a priority right to substitute?
Teachers have a right to temporary and substitute positions, in
order of seniority, while waiting to be rehired into a permanent
position. Permanent teachers who teach 21 days or more in a 60
day period shall be paid no less than if they had been
reappointed to a permanent position.
Is my period of layoff considered a break in
If you are rehired, the period of layoff will not be considered a
break in service, but neither shall it count towards CalSTRS or
Can I transfer my accrued sick leave if I get a job in
another California school district?
These timelines apply only to K-12 probationary and
permanent certificated employees.
What is the timeline for summer layoffs?
Five (5) days after the governor signs the state Budget
- Summer layoffs can be initiated as
soon as five (5) days after the governor signs the state Budget
Act. The governor will sign the budget bill anytime between June
15 and July 1. The district has the right to adopt the timeline
for when the layoff notices are issued and when the hearing will
August 15 final decision
- The final decision is required no
later than August 15.
What is the “normal” timeline for layoffs
March 15 or earlier (or following Monday if the
15th falls on weekend)
- The probationary or permanent
employee must be given (in person or by certified mail) a
written notice that his/her services will not be
needed for the following school year.
Seven (7) calendar days after service of
- The employee who received a layoff
notice must submit to the district
a written request for a layoff hearing.
At least fifteen (15) days before layoff
- District will serve an “Accusation”
on all who have requested a hearing. If no accusation is issued
by the district, the case is over and the person still has their
Within five (5) days after service of
- The employee must file a Notice of
Defense with the district.
Within fifteen (15) days of service of
- The employee must submit to the
district a Request for Discovery in preparation for the layoff
Before May 7 (unless the employee agrees to a
- A layoff hearing will be held by an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who works for the California
Office of Administrative Hearings.
By May 7 (unless the employee agrees to a later
- The ALJ will give the district and
the employee a recommended decision.
Before May 15
- The school board must review the
ALJ’s recommended decision and decide whether to adjust layoffs
By May 15
- Final notices of layoff must be
given to the employee. If there is no final layoff notice served,
the employee still has a job the following year.