CSEA is fighting for your job at all levels

Layoff parity for classified employees

For nearly 50 years, CSEA has pushed for layoff parity, and in October 2021, this became reality when Governor Newsom signed AB 438.

As of January 1, 2022, classified employees will never be laid off for lack of work in the middle of a school year again and will receive the same March 15 layoff notice and hearing rights as our certificated and administrative colleagues, regardless of job title. Prior to AB 438, classified employees could be laid off at any point during the year with just 60-days notice, and they had no right to a hearing.

Download the full language of the bill

Assembly Bill 438 (Reyes) School Layoff Parity

Know your rights about layoffs

You can only be laid off for lack of work or lack of funds, and (as of Jan. 1, 2022) you are required be notified by March 15 (unless the layoff was necessitated by elimination of special outside funding for the position, in which case you are still entitled to 60 days’ notice). Districts must also bargain over the effects of a layoff or the decision to reduce hours. Many chapters have successfully negotiated layoff and reemployment provisions into their contracts. Also, AB 438 gives you a right to a prompt administrative hearing to challenge your layoff if it is in violation of your seniority rights or results from bad faith by management. CSEA can represent its members at such hearings. When your union is involved, it gives you a voice in determining your fate.

Continue your CSEA membership


While CSEA membership after layoff is optional, many members choose to retain their union membership. Whether by retaining active membership, switching to inactive membership 

or joining the Retiree Unit, there are several ways to stay involved with CSEA and maintain your union benefits.

Surviving Layoffs


This publication provides dozens of resources for members who are laid off from their job. Learn about options for keeping health insurance, keeping your home, dealing with creditors and

understanding your retirement income in Surviving Layoffs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a layoff and why is it happening now?
A: A layoff is the involuntary separation of employment of an employee due to a district decision that there is a lack of work or lack of funds in accordance with California Education Code 45117/88017.


Q: How much notice of layoff will I get?

A: Education Code 45117/88017 requires as of January 1, 2022 that you receive notice by March 15 for the next school year unless the district loses special funding for your position, in which case you will get at least a 60 calendar day written notice.

Q: What happens if my position is reduced in hours or abolished? How will I know?

A: Official notification will come from the District in the form of a layoff notice from the superintendent or their designee. This notice is required to include the opportunity to exercise your bumping rights if any, and any reemployment rights you may have. We have seen some districts giving notice that does not contain adequate information about bumping and reemployment rights; if that happens to you, you should contact your local CSEA Labor Relations Representative or Chapter Leadership to get more information.

Q: What rights do I have during the layoff and reduction process?

A: The rights and procedures governing layoffs and reductions are outlined in the California Education Code, California Government Code, and the Collective Bargaining Agreement between CSEA and the District. AB 438 provides you with a right to a prompt administrative hearing to challenge the District’s decision to lay you off. At the hearing, only certain issues can be raised—generally, whether the district is wrong about calculating seniority (which affects who gets laid off).  Unless the district is acting in obvious bad faith, the hearing will not be an opportunity to argue that the district should re-prioritize its spending or should retain certain employees because of the good work they do. 

Q: What are the procedures for requesting a hearing after receiving a layoff notice?

A: The employee must request a hearing within seven (7) days of “service” of the notice, meaning the day the district put the notice in the mail.  This is a very short time period and it’s important not to miss it.  A request for hearing can be short, for example, “I request a hearing on the layoff notice I received.”  After an employee requests a hearing the district must provide a lengthier document called a “Statement of Reduction in Force” that states the facts it believes to justify the layoff.  It must also enclose a blank postcard called a “notice of participation,” which the employee must sign and return if they still desire a hearing.  This must be filed within five (5) days, again, a very short time.  Once this is done, the district and all employees who are appealing their notices, along with CSEA, will work with the Office of Administrative Hearings to schedule the hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  Typically, all appeals at a particular district are consolidated.  The ALJ will then conduct a hearing, write a proposed decision, and send the decision to the district’s governing board.  The governing board can accept or reject the decision.

Q: Will CSEA represent me if I’m laid off?

A: The layoff hearing right is an individual statutory right.  That means that CSEA does not have a legal obligation to handle layoff cases for all employees in the bargaining unit.  CSEA will only represent union members in layoff appeals hearings, and before the union takes on one of these hearings it will investigate to make sure there is a reasonable chance of success.

Q: Can the District lay me off and then contract out my job?

A: Districts cannot lay off employees and then contract out the work they perform. See California Education Code 45103.1/88003.1.

Q: Can the District lay me off and then use volunteers to do my job?

A: Districts cannot lay off employees and then allow volunteers to do the work they performed. See California Education Code 35021.

Q: What happens if I get bumped by someone?

A: You are extended the same rights as everyone else: March 15th notice and hearing right, 60 calendar day written notice, the opportunity to exercise your bumping rights if any, and any reemployment rights you may have.

Q: Can I bump into a classification that I've never held a position in? What about Tucker Rights?

A: You can only bump someone else out of a job if this right is contained in your chapter’s contract. In many contracts, you cannot “bump” into a classification in which you have never previously held permanent or probationary status. However, Education Code section 45298/88117 provides that employees have reemployment rights to vacant positions where they meet the minimum qualifications, even if they never held the position. These are called “Tucker reemployment rights”, and they mean that the laid off employee has superior rights to a position over outside applicants.  Bumping rights between district employees do not change; they are not affected by Tucker.

Q: How is my seniority determined?

A: State law mandates the process used by districts and county offices of education to determine seniority for classified staff in accordance with  Education Code Section 45308/88127. Whenever a classified employee is laid off, the order of layoff “within the class” shall be determined by length of service. The employee who has been employed the shortest time in the class, plus higher classes, shall be laid off first. Seniority can either be counted by hire date or hours worked. Check your local contract to see which your district follows. For further information please contact your local CSEA Labor Relations Representative or Chapter Leadership.

Q: What happens if my seniority is a tie with another employee?

A: Check your CSEA contract to see what your district must do in this situation.

Q: Can I have access to the seniority list?

A: Immediately notify the Human Resources Department of your District and CSEA.

Q: Can I choose to displace (“bump”) any less senior employee in my classification?

A: Check your CSEA contract to see what your district must do in this situation.  Bumping rights are not in the Education Code but rather are a matter of negotiation between CSEA and the employer.

Q: If I worked as a substitute or short-term/limited-term employee in a classification, does this time count towards my seniority?

A: No, this time does not count. Only time served as a regular employee counts towards seniority in a classification.

Q: How long would my name remain on the reemployment list?

A: Persons laid off because of lack of work or lack of funds are eligible for reemployment for a period of 39 months and shall be reemployed in preference to new applicants. Employees who take voluntary demotions or reductions in assigned time in lieu of layoff or to remain in their present positions rather than be reassigned, shall be granted the same rights as persons laid off and shall retain eligibility to be considered for reemployment for an additional period of 24 months. Check your local contract to see exactly how your district handles this. For further information please contact your local CSEA Labor Relations Representative or Chapter Leadership.

Q: If I am on a reemployment list and turn down an offer of employment, what happens to me?

A: Check your CSEA contract to see what limits may exist in this situation, but generally positions will be offered to those on the reemployment lists by seniority for a period you’re on the rehire list from the date of layoff. When offered a reemployment opportunity, an individual may turn down that opportunity and remain on the reemployment list for remaining period unless something else has been negotiated.

Q: What happens to my seniority once I am recalled from the reemployment list?

A: For further information please contact your local CSEA Labor Relations Representative or Chapter Leadership.

Q: If I have questions about unemployment insurance, who do I contact?

A: For information about unemployment, you can contact the California State Employment Development Department at 800-480-3287 or visit their website at www.edd.ca.gov

Q: If I am laid off, what happens to my health benefits? Am I eligible for COBRA?

A: Check your CSEA contract to see what your district has to do in this situation. At least you will be given the opportunity to continue your benefits through COBRA, which gives you the opportunity to continue benefits for you and your eligible dependents at your own expense.

Q: If I am laid off from the District, what happens to my accrued vacation and sick time?

A: All unused vacation time should be paid out. Unused sick time will remain on the books and if you are hired back from a reemployment list the sick time will be reinstated as if you never left. If you are hired by another public agency unused sick time may be transferable within one year in accordance with California Education Code 45202/88202.

Q: What happens to my retirement funds if I am laid off from the District?

A: You can contact CalPERS for available options at 800-225-7377 or visit their website at www.calpers.ca.gov