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UTHSC announces layoffs for dozens of employees, hiring freeze

Updated: Mar. 12, 2021 at 12:48 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Layoffs are coming to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

A spokesperson confirms 70 employees received notice Friday morning they would lose their jobs as UTHSC begins a reduction in force. Many of those employees worked in custodial services, the need for which has decreased since the start of the pandemic, according to an email that went to campus Friday morning.

The employees were invited to apply for 17 newly-created positions, according to the spokesperson, and Human Resources is working on job fairs, resume-building workshops and other resources to help those affected find new positions.

A hiring freeze is also in effect through the end of the year with the exception of the 17 new positions.

Hours after the notice went out, a small group protested the layoffs near the campus.

Read the campus email announcing the reduction in force below:

Colleagues,

Due to the evolving needs of the campus, UTHSC is responding by making adjustments in our employee workforce. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic safety measures, there is substantially decreased on-campus density of students, staff, faculty, and visitors, and, consequently, campus work patterns and workloads have changed. We are now in an era of substantially changed work demands. We have used this past year to carefully understand the staffing required to provide adequate services to the UTHSC campus. Staffing requirements have shifted in several operational units due to employees working remotely and students learning virtually. The need for specific services (i.e. facilities and custodial services) have decreased significantly since the pandemic began and are expected to decline further as the university continues with alternate work schedules, virtual classrooms, and into post-pandemic recovery efforts. Certain roles in office environments are no longer required or have significantly reduced job functions due to the way the work has transformed. As a result of the changed work demands, the university is taking the following actions:

  • A campus-wide staff hiring freeze, with the opportunity to approve essential postings, will go into effect now through December 31, 2021, with an option to extend.
  • A reduction in force (RIF) and reorganization, under HR Policy HR0145, will be carried out for some operational units that have identified diminished or obsolete roles. Employees who will be displaced will be notified on or around March 12, 2021 with a last day of pay on May 31, 2021. There are several new positions being created in light of these changed needs and displaced employees may apply immediately.

Faculty workforce decisions remain at the discretion of the Deans who operate within their budget. Please know that this decision was not made lightly, and the university regrets that anyone be displaced as a result of this pandemic. We are hopeful that over time there may be a need to add back some of the positions to meet the demands of campus operation as governed by HR0150 Restoration of Force. Until then, we will continue with a conservative approach to the UTHSC budget, as we work with a “right-sized” staff to provide the appropriate resources for the needs of our students, staff, faculty, and visitors.

Steve J. Schwab, MD, FACP, FASN | Chancellor

Kennard Brown, JD, PhD, MPA, FACHE | Executive Vice Chancellor

Chief Operations Officer Chandra Alston, EdD, SPHR, SHRM-SCP | Associate Vice Chancellor, Human Resources

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