As a result of a Reduction in Force (RIF), we have had to reassign certain tasks to other remaining employees. What are some ramifications I need to be aware of as a result of doing so? (i.e. review job descriptions, exempt/non-exempt status, etc.)


A Reduction in Force is not pleasant, but is sometimes necessary to keep the business running in a positive way. The RIF not only affects the person being released from their job, but also the remaining employees who may have an impact on their job duties as well.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the definition of a RIF “occurs when changing priorities, budgetary constraints, or other business conditions requires a company to abolish positions. A RIF can also occur when a position changes so significantly that the employee is no longer able to perform that required duty.”

If an organization is contemplating a RIF or a layoff, there are several factors to take into consideration such as reviewing state and federal statutes including the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA).

When considering a RIF follow these basic compliance steps:

Select the employees for the layoff

Avoid adverse/disparate impact

Review federal and state WARN regulations to stay compliant

Review OWBPA regulations for compliance (for employees age 40 and over)

Determine severance package and additional services (if any)

Prepare for the layoff meetings

Inform remaining workforce of the layoffs

The key is to be prepared with what you are going to say to the employee and review the necessary documents to be sure you are compliant. The next consideration is to have a plan about who will absorb the terminated person’s job tasks. Consider cross training employees on job tasks to be ready for these unforeseen times and to have coverage in the absence of employees when out of the office for personal reasons.

Be prepared with a plan and look at the strengths and weaknesses of your team so you are not caught off guard!


Strategic Human Resources Inc., is a national full-service HR management firm based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Our president and founder, Robin Throckmorton, can be reached at